A Look At The Words of Jesus

By: Brian Robertson

jesus teaching



Reading a remarkably wonderful book, The Man From Nazareth: As His Contemporaries Saw Him by Harry Emerson Fosdick, published in 1949. It is a welcome reminder that, underneath the writings and rewritings of the New Testament, the personality and power of Jesus is remarkably evident.

Fosdick writes, “Jesus’ speech was packed with energy — vehement, vigorous, exuberant, often extravagant. One listening to him saw men straining out gnats and swallowing camels; men with logs in their own eyes trying to take specks from others’ eyes; herdsmen offering pearls to swine; men plucking out their eyes and cutting off their hands in order to escape hell; offenders with great millstones about their nexks thrown into the ocean. Hyperbole was his native language — a man forgiven a dept of twelve million dollars denies forgiveness to a man who owes him seventeen dollars; a mountain, because a man prayed that it be done, is ‘taken up and cast into the sea’; a sycamine tree, commanded by a man of faith to be rooted up and ‘planted’ in the ocean, obeys the order; the disciples are to be at one and the same time like serpents and like doves; a camel goes through the eye of a needle; dead men bury dead men. There is no mistaking the kind of person who speaks like that.

“There was power in Jesus, force an drive of personality, daring ideas, strong language, force and drive of personality, daring ideas, strong language. He never minced matters. He felt to intensely that he stretched his words into superlatives before he trusted them to carry what he wished to say. Getting good conduct from bad characters was like picking figs from thistles; God, in his care for men, counted every hair on their heads; children were imagined asking for bread or fish and receiving from their fathers stones or snakes.

“His extraordinary gift of being at ease with all sorts of persons. His was a time when caste lines were sharply drawn, but with unembarrassed ease he ate alike with Simon, the Pharisee, and with tax collectors and sinners. It was a time when stiff conventionalities limited social intercourse between the sexes, but alike in public and in private he associated with men and women on equal terms. He was at home with little children in their innocence and strangely enough at home too with conscience-stricken grafters like Zacchaeus.

“He intended his words to be taken seriously — but not literally. Like Beethoven, composing music for whose expression no existent instruments were adequate, the drive of Jesus’ thought stretched to the limit his available vocabulary and wanted more.”



[I too am captivated by Jesus. For the past several months I’ve been reading the book of John. I continue to be impressed with Jesus – He’s so strong, honest, direct, compassionate and loyal. Scriptures tell me that Jesus is God. I desire to encounter God in my life daily.]