“What Manner of Man Is This?”
He came to Earth as a tiny, weak and helpless baby, born to a simple, humble young girl who miraculously conceived the child, having never slept with any man. In fact, the news of her pregnancy was so shocking that when the man to whom she was engaged to be married learned about it, he decided to break the engagement and call off the wedding-until a powerful celestial being intervened and instructed him to stay with her and raise this very special child.
Although ordained and predestined to be a king, in fact the King of kings, He was not born in a palace with illustrious members of the court in attendance. Instead, He was born on the dirty floor of a barn amidst cattle and donkeys, and laid to sleep in the animal’s feed trough.
His birth brought no recognition, honor, or great fanfare from the institutions and governments of His day. However, that night on a nearby hillside, a motley group of poor shepherds were awestruck as a brilliant, almost blinding light burst upon them from the starry sky and a host of angels filled the night with their heavenly declaration and song: “Glory to God in the highest! Peace on earth to men of good will! For unto you this day is born a Savior, Christ the Lord!”
Far away in the East, another herald appeared in the heavens. A bright star caught the attention of certain wise men, who interpreted its meaning and followed it. The star led them across hundreds of miles of desert to the little town of Bethlehem, where they honored the young child with their precious gifts.
His earthly father was a carpenter, a humble hewer of wood, with whom He lived and labored. He conformed to our human ways of life, customs and language, that He might understand and love us better and communicate with us on the lowly level of our limited human understanding. He learned to love mankind. He saw our suffering and had great compassion on us. He longed to not only heal our sick and broken bodies, but also to save our immortal spirits.
When the time came to begin His life’s work, He went about everywhere doing good-helping people, caring for children, healing heartaches, strengthening tired bodies, and saving all who believed in Him. He not only preached His message, but He lived it amongst the people. He ministered not only to people’s spiritual needs, but He also spent a great deal of time tending to their physical and material needs, miraculously healing them when they were sick and feeding them when they were hungry, all the while sharing His life and His love.
His religion was so simple that He said you must become as a little child to receive it. He didn’t advocate temple worship; He didn’t preach going to synagogue or church. He didn’t advise people to observe any complicated ceremonies or difficult rules. All He did was teach love and show love as He strove to lead God’s children into the true Kingdom of God, where the only laws are to “love the Lord with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
He had very little to do with the hypocritical, pompous, rich-robed, religious leaders of that day except when they insisted on annoying Him with their critical questions. Then He would rebuke them publicly and expose them as the “blind leaders of the blind” that they were. He went so far as to compare them to whitewashed sepulchers which indeed appear beautiful, clean and holy on the outside, but within are full of rottenness, corruption and stinking dead-men’s bones!
He was not a mere religious reformer, He was a revolutionary! He refused to compromise with the false religious system, but rather worked totally outside of it. He shared His message and love with the poor and common folk, most of whom had long ago abandoned and been abandoned by organized religion.
He never went into any bar with whip in hand, breaking up the bottles and throwing out the bartender. Nor did He ever enter any brothel, beating up the poor girls, overturning their beds, and throwing the men out the window. But He did condemn the religious leaders for turning the temple, which was supposed to be a house of prayer, into a den of thieves! Twice He even made a whip, went into the temple, overturned their tables, spilled their money, and drove the money-mad moneychangers out!
He made Himself of no reputation, and was a companion of drunks and prostitutes, publicans and sinners-the outcasts and downtrodden of society. He even told them that they would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before the so-called “good” people, the self-righteous and the religious leaders who rejected Him and His simple message of love. The power of His love and appeal was so great and gave such great faith to the sincere truth-seekers that many didn’t hesitate to leave everything they had to immediately follow Him!
Once, while crossing a large lake with His dis-ciples, a great storm arose which threatened to sink the boat they were in. He commanded the winds and the waves to cease-and immediately there was a great calm. His disciples, astonished by such a demonstration of miraculous power, exclaimed to one another, “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Throughout His ministry He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, cleansed lepers and raised the dead. In fact, so marvelous were His works that they prompted a leading member of the religious establishment that bitterly opposed and resented Him to exclaim, “We know that You are come from God, for no man could do these miracles that You do unless God were with him!”
As His message of love spread and His followers multiplied, the envious leaders of the religious establishment realized what a threat this formerly unknown carpenter had become to them. His simple doctrine of love was destroying their entire religious system by liberating the people from their power and control.
These powerful enemies ultimately had Him arrested and brought to trial on false charges of sedition and subversion. And though the Roman governor found Him innocent, he was pressured and persuaded by these religionists to execute Him.
Just prior to His arrest, this Man, Jesus Christ, had said, “They couldn’t even touch Me without My Father’s permission. If I would but raise My little finger, He would send legions of angels to rescue Me!” But instead, He chose to die, to save you and me. Nobody took His life from Him; He laid it down. He gave His life of His own free will and accord.
But even His death did not satisfy His jealous enemies. To ensure that His followers couldn’t steal His body and claim He’d come back to life, they placed a huge stone over the door of His tomb and posted a group of Roman soldiers there to guard it. This was a scheme that proved futile, as these same guards became eyewitnesses to the greatest miracle of all. Three days after His lifeless body was laid to rest in that cold tomb, Jesus rose from the dead, the victor over death and Hell forever!
Death itself could not stop His work or His words! He rose to lead His tiny band of followers to ultimate victory-to overthrow the Roman Empire with love and the power of the Gospel! The love of God simply rolled right on over His jealous enemies like a giant tidal wave to cover the whole earth, and they were left far behind, as dead and dry as He predicted they would be!
Since that miraculous day nearly 2,000 years ago, this same Man, Jesus Christ, has done more to change history and the course of civilization and the condition of man than any other leader, group, government or empire. He has saved billions from the death of a hopeless, frightening tomb, and has given eternal life and the love of God to all who call upon His name.
This Man, Jesus Christ, is not merely a philos-opher or teacher or rabbi or guru, or even a prophet. He is the Son of God!
God, the great Creator, is a Spirit and is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere and in everything-far beyond our limited human comprehension. So He sent Jesus, in the form of a man, to understand us and show us what He Himself is like and to bring us to Himself. And though many great teachers have spoken and taught about love and about God, Jesus is love and He is God! Jesus is the only one who died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead. He is in a class all by Himself, because He is the only Savior. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”1
If you haven’t yet experienced God’s love in Jesus, you can right now. See page 94 to find out how.
1 John 14:6