When the officers sent by the Pharisees to seize Jesus returned without Him, their explanation for why was the same reason Christ ended up being murdered by those who sent them: “Never has a man spoken the way this Man speaks” (John 7:46).
That’s for sure.
We read Christ’s words today and don’t flinch, but to fresh ears back in that day — oh my. What Jesus said had many labeling Him arrogant, blasphemous, and crazy, with them remarking, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” (John 8:53).
Although hard to do, let’s cut them a little slack and play make-believe for a minute, shall we? Imagine you sit down with Jesus for the first time over lunch and say, “So … tell me about yourself.”
“Well,” He says, “The first thing you need to know is that all authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). And while those two things will pass away, what I say never will (Matt. 24:25). That’s why you should build your life on what I tell you, much like a man who built his house on a rock” (Matt. 7:24).
“You should also understand that anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:54). That’s right, I’m resurrection and life: if you believe in Me, you’ll never die” (John 11:25–26). And if you’re lucky, you might just see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending on Me” (John 1:51).
“Let’s see … what else? Well, I’m bread that’s come down out of heaven” (John 6:51), also the Light of the world (John 8:12), the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), and the good shepherd over sheep like you (John 10:11). I don’t just speak truth, but I am truth and no one comes to God but by Me (John 14:6). And if anyone denies that I’ll deny them before God” (Matt. 10:33).
“Oh, I should also tell you that God and I are one and the same (John 10:30), everything that is God’s is mine (John 17:10), and if you don’t remain with me, you’ll be like a branch that dries up and gets burned if you know what I mean (John 15:6). We can be friends if you do what I command you (John 15:14), but if you oppose me, well, you’re proving that your father is the devil” (John 8:44).
Tell me you wouldn’t be working hard not to soil your fruit of the looms after that discourse. You’d probably be thinking exactly what some did back then: “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?” (John 10:20).
Now, you might not beat a fast retreat if you knew He’d done some pretty amazing things like spontaneously cure major illnesses, bring dead people back to life, give sight to the blind, shut down storms with a single word, stuff thousands to the gills with food that started out as a sack lunch and sent demons reeling back to where they came. That would help, which is why He told some of His detractors they should believe His words “because of the works themselves” (John 14:11).
That didn’t happen, though.
When He brought sight to the man born blind, they called Him a “sinner” (John 9:24). When He raised Lazarus from the dead, they said He had to die (John 11:50). Same when He restored a man’s withered hand (Matt. 12:14). When He expelled demons, they said it was through the power of the devil (Mark 3:22).
And when He rose from the dead, they bought off the witnesses who were there (Matt. 28:12-13).
Why? It all boiled down to the things He said, which they deemed outrageous, arrogant, audacious, and blasphemous.
Never mind they were true.
However, He told them they’d do that: “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me” (John 8:45). Think of that as the forerunner of Jack Nicholson’s famous line in A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”
They couldn’t deal with His over-the-top claims back then and their offspring can’t handle His truth today when we say the same things about Him. That’s because the pesky truth zeitgeist has meandered through the ages, working its way through the Enlightenment, Modernism, and Postmodernism, and is currently entrenched in post-truth, which when coupled with pragmatism is one deadly cocktail.
We’re at the point where it’s considered arrogant to say you have the truth about something, heck, anything. Even math is supposedly fair game and could be racist according to some.
Our culture nods in agreement with Nietzsche who wrote: “What then is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms … truths are illusions … coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”
The only problem with what Nietzsche said is, well, everything. Objective truth does exist, and it always came out of the mouth of Christ.
Part of the problem is that Jesus’ claims and words aren’t fuzzy, accommodating, and safe, but are instead black and white and demand a response. The same goes for us when we speak His truth, as A. W. Tozer wrote, “We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.”
But then that’s the issue, isn’t it, when it comes to the words of Jesus? “Never has a man spoken the way this Man speaks.”
Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.