By Linda and Richard Eyre
Note: Each week this column provides a short essay on one particular aspect or facet of the Lord’s personality and character. It is intended that the reader focus on this facet while partaking of the sacrament this Sunday. (Click here to read full introductory column.) Review previous columns by going to the What Manner of Man Archives.
Prior to Christ’s ministry, people were told to love their friends; Christ taught them to love not only their friends, but their enemies. People were admonished not to kill; Christ taught them not to feel anger. They were commanded not to commit adultery; Christ taught them not to lust. Under the Mosaic Law of revenge, the code permitted “an eye for an eye”; Christ taught a superior code of turning the other cheek.
Christ replaced then “shalt nots” with one all-encompassing “shalt“: love.
When Jesus brought his gospel to the earth, it was not ten degrees different – it was (often) opposite. In fact, it was more than just a change in degree; it was a change in kind. It was radical and it was revolutionary (in the highest and purest and most extreme use of the terms). It carried no compromise, no adjustment for tradition, no tactful attempt to find “common ground” or “previous precedent.” Indeed, it would be hard to coin a more directly revolutionary preface than the one Christ so often used; “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time . but I say unto you .” (Matthew 5:21-22).
It was not only the content of his teachings that was unique. It was:
His orientation: always to the positive, to “what to do,” never to the negative. He was concerned with omission as much as, or more than, with commission.
His motivation: the love and joy in serving God not the fear and restriction used by other religionists to hold their flocks.
His style: he was not a pacifist without action, not a reactionary without thought, rather the perfect blend of thought and action: saying and doing, condemning and changing.
His consistency: he was not a product of the general attitude or tone of the times, as most revolutionaries are. Changes around him had no effect on his cause or his teachings. He always acted, never reacted.
His method: he did not use the power or political influence and force or any other common revolutionary method. He did not try to start with kings or rulers. He was content to leave the full weight of his message in the hearts of a few simple men, knowing that its light and effervescence would bubble up through any and all obstacles until it lighted and engulfed the earth.
Ernest Renan (author of Vie de Jesus) certainly with some of these elements in mind, said: “Jesus is in every respect unique . and nothing can be compared with Him. To tear His name from this world would be to shake it from its very foundations.”
Starting next week we will turn to a study of Christ as a teacher . the greatest teacher of all time.
2005 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.