A familiar essay anonymously written many years ago says this about Jesus Christ:
Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today he is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.
Impressive words regarding the most phenomenal Person who ever cast a shadow across earth’s landscape. Without question, He is unique. He is awesome in the fullest sense of the term.
But what was He like personally . . . down inside His skin? Is there any place, for example, where He describes Himself? The answer is yes. Does that description fit the common idea of human greatness? That answer is no.
I remember my surprise some years back when I received a slick, multicolored brochure in my morning mail announcing a series of lectures to be delivered in Los Angeles by a man who was a well-known Christian “superstar” of the day. He was a popular speaker who traveled all over the country, and his name is still familiar to most folks in the family of God. But I confess, I lifted my eyebrows in astonishment when I read the words used to describe him in that advertisement:
A phenomenal individual . . .
In great demand around the world . . .
Today’s most sought-after speaker!
That’s a far cry from the way Jesus Christ described Himself:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. (Matthew 11:28–29)
Unlike most influential, celebrity types, Jesus’s description of Himself doesn’t sound like the popular hype we’ve grown accustomed to hearing.
Jesus was a servant, not a superstar. He didn’t consider Himself “a phenomenal individual,” but one who was “gentle” and “humble.” May we pastors follow His example.