What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 31: IMAGERY, VITALITY, POWER
“Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46) reported the Jewish officers to the Pharisees. Indeed, never before or since has a man spoken or taught as the Lord did. His audiences, whether a silent multitude or a single man, were held, alert and spellbound, by the power of his parables, the penetration of his points.
He took the common things that all his listener’s hands and eyes had touched (the leavened bread, the lilies of the field, the vineyard workers, the mustard seed) and wove them into brilliant shafts of light that pierced the hearts of blind-minded men.
It is clearly a miracle that Christ, knowing all, could communicate perfectly with those knowing relatively little, and it is even more of a miracle that he could communicate equally and simultaneously to both the simple and the learned even when he found them side by side in the same audience.
His parables, perfectly crafted, conveyed knowledge to the listener in exact proportion to the listener’s faith and intelligence; thus those around him were always warmed and filled to their capacity (whatever their capacity). For a period, Christ spoke only in parables (see Mark 4:34), a technique which served as a filter and which sifted out the true hearers who became the disciple-extensions of this word.
Along with its singular sensitivity and intricate imagery, Christ’s teaching carried explosive power. His hearers were listed, carried away, even moved to the point of willingness to die for him (see John 11:16). When he was ready to cease, Christ’s compassion moved him to keep speaking, to keep helping, and then the response and reaction of the people recharged him so that his power and work and spirit continued drawing the people higher and closer to himself (see 3 Nephi 17).
It would appear that the Savior had a powerful, resonant voice. Anyone who has tried to talk above the constant sound of any lake or body of water would know the power required of a voice to speak from a floating boat to a multitude on the shore (see Matthew 13:1-3). Yet Christ’s voice is often described as soft—perhaps soft like the low volume of a high-voltage amplifier—with such power behind the softness that it penetrated the heart and seemed to come from inside rather than outside the listener’s mind.
We must simply try to feel the power of his teaching, because even those who were eyewitnesses could not describe it: “The eye hath never seen, neither the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things…”
“And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things…and no one can conceive of the joy that filled our souls.”