We read in Scripture of an occasion when certain men were sent by the Pharisees and chief priests to apprehend Christ (John 7:32). The Jewish leaders were fearful that many of the people were being drawn to Jesus by His preaching and His mighty deeds.
Eventually the men returned empty-handed – but with a surprising explanation. It was not that Jesus had resisted arrest, or fled. Rather it was what He had said. “Never man spake like this man!” was their response. Sadly the Pharisees remained as proud and arrogant as ever.
There are many things which are unique about the words of Christ. One is their brevity. It has been estimated that if all Christ’s words recorded in Scripture were put together they would comprise only sixteen pages. His longest recorded sermon may be read in ten minutes. Contrast this with the philosophers and thinkers of this world! Their utterances fill volumes and yet do not begin to approach the profundity of our Lord’s teachings. His words are truly weighty.
Another feature of Christ’s words is their unparalleled beauty. Even unconverted men may be moved by the dignity and morality of the parables or famous sayings of the Son of God. We think of the Beatitudes, or the account of the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son.
If this is all men see in the words of Christ though then they are still blind. They are still in their sins. Something much more than this affected the men that went after Christ, such that they were willing to disobey their orders to seize hold of Him, even though it would likely cost them dear. What gives the words of Christ their real power?
There is the simplicity of Christ’s preaching. The Lord ministered in a plain, direct and searching manner. His sermons enforced important truths in a homely way that men could easily grasp. He spoke boldly to the conscience about the great issues of life, death, judgment and eternity. We are told that “the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). Interestingly we learn that Christ’s apostles used “great plainness of speech” (2Cor.3:12). Preachers today should do the same.
Notable too is the purity of Christ’s teaching. Christ always rebuked sin and never excused it. He warned sinners to flee from the wrath to come. At the outset of His public ministry He said: “The kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). At its close He said that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his [own] name among all nations” (Luke 24:47). His words were wholesome, according to godliness, designed to promote holiness of life.
Above all there is the grace of Christ’s words. When He read the Scriptures in Nazareth the people “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). He read from Isaiah’s prophecy and then proclaimed Himself to be the One anointed to “preach the gospel to the poor.” He spoke to the deepest needs of men’s hearts. He brought salvation and hope to the weary and the lost.
Consider the words which the men sent to take Christ heard from His lips: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). Gracious words indeed! Sinners today need to come to this all-sufficient Saviour. Have Christ’s words been blessed to your soul?