The Candor of Jesus

No one has ever spoken more candidly than Jesus. No one has ever opened more of his heart. Pastor Charles Edward Jefferson explains.

Candor is key to an open heart

“In modern speech candor is openness. . . . It is a rare virtue, one of the most winsome of all the virtues. Many a man does not possess it. He is taciturn, reserved, secretive. He keeps the door of his heart shut. When he says a thing you cannot tell how much he means, for you do not know the extent of his reservations. When he does a thing you cannot tell what he is going to do next, because you do not know how fully his act has embodied all which exists in his heart. . . . He is the man with the barred lips and the bolted heart. Such a man may be respected and even admired, but he cannot be loved. Jesus was loved. Men loved him so intensely they were willing to die for him. One reason was that he was a man with his heart open.”

Candid Praise

“One obtains a hint of a man’s disposition by noting the men whom he admires and praises. . . . Nathaniel was a citizen of a small Galilean village, Cana, situated not far from Nazareth. As soon as Philip had gotten a little acquainted with Jesus he was desirous of bringing Jesus and his friend Nathaniel together. . . . Nathaniel had a deep-seated contempt for dingy little Nazareth, and all that was in his heart came out in the cynical question, ‘Can there come any good thing out of Nazareth?’ He was nothing if not frank. His friend, not at all daunted, mildly said, ‘Come and see.'”

“As soon as Jesus sees him coming toward him he exclaims in a tone musical with praise, ‘Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile.’ This was the sort of man which won at once the heart of Jesus. There was no craft nor cunning in him, no duplicity nor deceit; he was a man of frank sincerity, and Jesus’ heart immediately goes out to him, assuring him that over his open soul there is going to be an open heaven. Outspoken and frank himself, Jesus was en rapport with souls which were free from guile.”

“And here we find one of the reasons why Jesus always extolled the disposition of a child. . . . The child heart is always the open heart. Where can you find such candor, such beautiful frankness, such surprising and sometimes discomfiting outspokenness as in a little child? He will tell you just what he thinks, all he thinks, nothing will he hold back. He will make known his feelings, all his feelings, and will melt and overcome your heart by the fullness of his naive self-revelation. One of the reasons why Jesus set a child in the midst of the disciples, saying, ‘This is what you ought to be,’ is because a little child is the embodiment and personification of candor.”

Candid Condemnation

“A man reveals himself in his dislikes as truly as in his praises. Whom did Jesus most dislike? The Pharisees. They were hypocrites. A hypocrite was an actor, a man who wore a mask, the mask representing a personality other than the one inside of it. ‘Do not be like the actors,’ this was his constant exhortation, and he never lost an opportunity of holding up the hypocrites to contempt and scorn. On one occasion he faced them in Jerusalem, calling them to their face ‘vipers.’ It was a harsh word, and yet it expressed the inmost spirit of the men to whom it was applied. They were as venomous and deadly as vipers.”

“It is an awful thing to tarnish the name of God and render religion odious, and to poison the heart of the world. Yet all this these hypocrites were doing, and to the guileless heart of Jesus there were no men so repulsive and deserving of scorching condemnation. He was himself so genuine and open-hearted that the craft of these treacherous actors stirred him to blazing indignation.”

Candid Warning

“He never held back the truth when it was time that the truth should be spoken. . . . The Gospels teem with illustrations of this surprising and daring frankness. One day in talking with some Sadducees . . . he told them bluntly that they were always falling into error because they were so ignorant. They were ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. It was a needed word, for people who know little and think they know much are sometimes helped by having their attention called to the limitations of their knowledge; but to give such reprimand is not an easy thing to do. It was by his outspokenness that Jesus attempted to cure some of the infirmities of men.”

“He will hold back nothing. The whole terrible truth must be told. No man shall ever follow him without first knowing what risks and dangers discipleship involves. Read the tenth chapter of Matthew as a shining illustration of his candor. He wants the twelve to do his work, but before they start they shall know what sort of experiences they may reasonably expect. ‘Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves’. . . . Beginning thus he goes on to paint a picture black enough to daunt the heart of the bravest, and the only encouragement he has to give them for facing such awful dangers is the promise that he will confess them at last before his Father in heaven.”

“When men rushed to him saying, ‘Master, I will follow you,’ he flashed on them the gloom of a dark sentence, unwilling to accept the allegiance of anyone, even in times when he most needed support, without having first revealed . . . the full significance of a place in his ranks. Men’s heads were filled with dreams of supremacy and sovereignty and glory, and more than one heart was chilled by the searching question, ‘Are you able to drink the cup?’ His candor reduced the number of his followers, but it was just like him to hold back nothing.”

Candid Confession

“But it is in his confessions that his candor reaches its climax. . . . He admits without hesitation that there was a limitation of his authority. One day a man interrupted him with the cry, ‘Speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me,’ and the reply was, ‘Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?’ There was a realm then in which Jesus was not ordained to act. . . . The nation had long pictured a king who should put an end to the cruel inequalities with which the world was cursed, and measure out justice with an even hand. And now the Messiah deliberately turns his back on a man who is pleading for justice, saying that into that realm he cannot now enter. Only a strong man is brave enough to disappoint his friends by candidly admitting that it is impossible for him to do what they have expected of him.”

“More surprising was his confession of ignorance. . . . Jesus frankly admitted that there were things which he did not know. For instance, one day he was talking in graphic phrase about the end of the world. He spoke so definitely and positively that it was a natural inference that he knew when it would take place. To the amazement of his hearers he said, ‘Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, not the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but only the Father’. . . . Candid, indeed, is the teacher who confesses his ignorance. Jesus confessed his.”

“Let us be thankful that Peter was frank enough to tell Mark just what Jesus said, and that Mark was sincere enough to write down just what Peter reported, and that Matthew in a book written especially to prove that Jesus was the long-expected Messiah and King of Israel, did not shrink from writing down the great confession of Jesus’ ignorance as to the day and the hour of the end of the world. The New Testament is like its hero, gloriously candid.”

Candor and Confidence

“Nothing inspires confidence in a man like candor. If a man is frank and open in nine points, we may safely trust him in the tenth. Jesus makes his candor a reason why his disciples ought to trust him in those realms of thought and life which lie beyond their sight. ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you.’ Of course he would. It was his nature to tell men everything it was necessary for them to know. He would not allow his friends to go on holding delusions when a word from him would set them free. . . . Like all normal and unspoiled men they believed that death is not the end. . . . Jesus allowed them to nourish these expectations. . . . He let them go on thinking of heaven, hoping for heaven, working for heaven.”

“On his candor, then, we have a right to build both for time and eternity. When he says that if we do not repent we shall perish, and that only those who are born from above enter the kingdom of light, we have every reason for believing that these statements are true. And when he says that his disciples are going to do greater things than were ever done in Palestine, and that he will be with us always even unto the end of the world, why should we not believe him? And since he is so frank and open with us why should not we be open-hearted and frank with him? If he tells us truly the things in his heart, why should we not tell him truly the things which are in our hearts? He has given himself to us: why do we not give ourselves to him?”

Excerpts from The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1908)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s