What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 28: REVOLUTIONARY UNIQUENESS
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 ten “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 fro 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, if not 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 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 is light and effervescence would bubble up through any and all obstacles until it lighted and engulfed the earth.
Renan, 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 form its very foundations.”