As Pastor Charles Edward Jefferson shows, Jesus will always be our standard. Perfectly poised, beautifully balanced, He is our guide and our goal.

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Behold, the ideal man!

“By the poise of Jesus I mean the fine balance of his faculties, the equilibrium of his nature. . . . How rarely do we find well-balanced men! The average man is one-sided, unsymmetrical, unevenly developed. . . . We are all overdeveloped on one side of our nature and underdeveloped on the other. It seems to be well-nigh impossible to keep our faculties in even balance. If we are strong in certain characteristics, we are well-nigh certain to be weak in the opposite characteristics.”

“If we are imaginative, very imaginative, unless we are on our guard we become flighty and visionary. If we are practical, very level-headed, we are always in danger of becoming prosaic and dull. If we have courage in great abundance, our courage passes readily into recklessness. If we are prudent, our prudence is always on the point of degenerating into cowardice. If we are original and unique, our uniqueness is always in danger of passing into eccentricity. If we are sympathetic, our sympathy is likely to run into sentimentalism. If we are pious, our piety has a tendency to become sanctimoniousness. If we are religious, our religion tends to slip into superstition.”

“But when we come to Jesus we find ourselves in the presence of a man without a flaw. . . . He was imaginative, full of poetry and music . . . but he was never flighty. He was practical, hard-headed, matter of fact, but he was never prosaic, never dull. His life always had in it the glamour of romance. He was courageous but never reckless, prudent but never a coward, unique but not eccentric, sympathetic but never sentimental. Great streams of sympathy flowed from his tender heart to those who needed sympathy, but at the same time streams of lava flowed from the same heart to scorch and overwhelm the workers of iniquity. He was pious, but there is not a trace about him of sanctimoniousness. . . . He was religious, the most profoundly religious man that ever turned his face toward God, but never once did he slip into superstition.”

Balance of Powers

“Because he is so well-rounded and on every side so complete, men have never known where to class him. Of what temperament was he? It is impossible to say. Every man on coming to him finds in him what he wants. He had in him all the virtues, and not one of them was overgrown. He exhibited all the graces, and every one of them was in perfect bloom. He stands in history as the one man beautiful, symmetrical, absolutely perfect.”

“Out of this balance of his powers comes his unrivaled poise in conduct. . . . Men laid their traps and tried to catch him, he walked bravely in the midst of them and never was entrapped. The intellectual athletes of his time tried to trip him — they never did. His enemies did their best to upset him — they never could. They flung their lassos at his head — they never got a lasso round his neck. They dug their pits — he never tumbled into them. Wherever he went he was surrounded by enemies waiting to catch him in his talk — they never caught him. They asked him all sorts of questions, expecting that by his answers he would incriminate himself — he never did.”

“Time and again the evil one came to him with a new allurement, but every time he hurled the tempter back by quoting just the passage of Scripture which that temptation needed. Men tried to convict him of breaking the law in regard to the Sabbath day, but instantly he proved from Scripture and from reason that what he did was right. . . . When Peter at Philippi began to protest against his going to Jerusalem where he would be killed, Jesus said, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’ He had heard that voice before. He recognized it even on the lips of his friend. It is one of the devil’s last resources to speak through the mouth of a friend. Such a trick cannot deceive Jesus.”

Grace Under Pressure

“All the different parties united their forces . . . and concocted schemes by means of which this young prophet should be brought to prison. The Pharisees go to him with this question: ‘Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar?’ It was an insidious question. If he said ‘yes,’ then that would make him hateful to every patriotic Jew, for no Jew who had a patriotic heart believed it was right to pay Jewish money into a Gentile treasury. If on the other hand he said ‘no,’ then he proved himself to be a traitor to Rome, and the Roman officials could immediately pounce down on him. What will he do? Holding a piece of money in his hands he says, ‘Whose superscription is this?’ And when they say ‘Caesar’s,’ he hands the money back to them, saying, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’ The Pharisees were conceited people, but after that they durst ask him no more questions.”

“There was a scribe who thought he would try his hand. ‘What is the great commandment of the law?’ he said, to which Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself.’ ‘But who is my neighbor?’ And then Jesus told him about the priest and the Levite and the Samaritan who saw the man by the wayside. After he had told the story he thrust this question into the man’s heart: ‘Which one of the three was neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ After that the scribes asked him no more questions.”

“He is seized and carried before Caiaphas, and the marvelous poise of the prophet disconcerts and dumfounds the high priest. Unable to do anything with him he sends him to Pilate. Pilate questions him and becomes afraid of him. What a picture! The prophet of Galilee erect, calm, immovable, saying, ‘To this purpose was I born, and for this end came I into the world, to bear witness to the truth.’ See Pilate cringing, cowering, shuffling, washing his hands and saying he does not propose to have anything to do with such a man. Jesus has poise, and Pilate, representative of the Eternal City, servant of an empire of blood and iron, has no poise at all.”

“It is an interesting fact that though Jesus was speaking constantly in public for three years, not one of his enemies was able to catch him in his speech, and when at last they convicted him they had to do it on a trumped-up lie. This also is noteworthy that not one of the enemies of Jesus was able by unfairness or falsehood or hatred to push Jesus into a hasty word or an unrighteous mood. Most men are so poorly balanced you can push them with very little pressure . . . into an unchristian disposition. Jesus was so firmly poised that under the pressure of the most venomous vituperation that has ever been hurled against a man, he stood erect, unmoved, and immovable. His poise was divine.”

A Man for All Seasons

“Because he is so well balanced and so finely poised, each generation comes back to him for inspiration. Is it not remarkable that the men of the first century thought they saw in him the ideal figure of what a man should be, and that men in the fourth century looking at him felt the same, and that men in the tenth century looking at him felt the same, and that men in the sixteenth century looking at him agreed with all the centuries that went before, and that men in the twentieth century looking at him feel that in him they find a perfect pattern?”

“Men of intellect who live the intellectual life look to him for guidance and instruction, men of emotion who desire to replenish the springs of feeling look to him for inspiration, men of high aspirations who desire to lift the soul sit humbly at his feet confessing that he has the words of life. And now that new and complicated problems have arisen in commercial life, and industrial life, and social life, men are turning wistfully to him, feeling that he has the key which will unlock all the doors, that he knows the secret of a complete and perfect life. There is a grace about him which does not fade, there is a sanity about him which compels respect, there is a charm about him which woos and wins the heart, and we like preceding generations fall down before him acknowledging that his character is without a flaw and that his life is without a blemish.”

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

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