Who is the Jesus of the Gospels?

Here’s G.K. Chesterton’s answer:

“Instead of looking at books and pictures about the New Testament I looked at the New Testament. There I found an account, not in the least of a person in his hair parted in the middle or his hands clasped in appeal, but of an extraordinary being with his lips of thunder and acts of lurid decision, flinging down tables, casting out devils, passing with wild secrecy of the wind from mountain isolation to a sort of dreadful demagogy; a being who often acted like an angry god – and always like a god. Christ had even a literary style of his own , not to be found, I think, elsewhere, it consists of an almost furious use of a fortiori. His “how much more” is piled one upon another like castle upon castle in the clouds. The diction used about Christ has been, and perhaps wisely, sweet and submissive. But the diction used by Christ is quite curiously giantesque; it is full of camels leaping through needles and mountains hurled into the sea. Morally it is equally terrific; he called himself a sword of slaughter, and told men to buy swords if they sold their coats for them. The he used other even wilder words on the side of nonresistance greatly increases the mystery; but it also, if anything, rather increases the violence. We cannot even explain it by calling such a being insane; for insanity is usually along one consistent channel. The maniac is generally a monomaniac. Here we must remember the difficult definition of Christianity already given; Christianity is a superhuman paradox whereby two opposite passions may blaze beside each other. The one explanation of he Gospel language that does explain it, is that it is the survey from one who from supernatural height beholds some more startling synthesis.”

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908; repr., Colorado Springs: Westbrook, 2001), 221-22.

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About Eric Smith

Sinner saved by the grace of Jesus, husband of Candace, father of Coleman and Crockett, West Tennessean, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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