History's Greatest Communicator

“He was a blue-collar worker with a lower-caste accent, and yet at the age of thirty, he put down his hammer and took to the streets. Speaking to crowds throughout Israel, this carpenter shook the message of traditional Judaism to its core. Where the religious leaders of his day focused on legalism, nationalism, and isolation from the outside world, he preached a message of love, humility, and restoration. Where the textual scholars hid away from the people and exercised a harsh religious code, he preached openness, love, and the need for a salvation that relied not on works but on the grace of God. Where others cast stones, he forgave. Where others passed by the poor, outcast, immoral, and destitute, he fed them, lingered with them, went into their homes, healed them, and spoke with them about their struggles and ideals. Where others saw fishermen, prostitutes, and tax collectors, he saw a group of disciples capable of changing the world.

Jesus never wrote a book, held office, or wielded a sword. He never gained sway with the mighty or influential. He never claimed a political victory. He never took up arms against the governing powers in Rome. Two thousand years after his death, billions of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, agnostics agree that he never preached a word of hate to gain influence with his followers. He did nothing for which those followers must now be ashamed. He was quiet but firm. He used the spoken word to disseminate a revolutionary message that would eventually spread from a small-town wedding in the deserts of the Middle East to the heights of power in Rome, Western Europe, Africa, and the modern United States.

It’s telling that one of Jesus’ followers, John, described him quite succinctly as “the Word” (John 1:1, 14). A symbol. A promise. An exhaled message of hope. A piece of communication strong enough to bridge the divide between God and man. The fulfillment of a story thousands of years in the making. It was in part through his revolutionary rhetoric that this humble man rose to prominence as the most influential figure in history.”

Joe Carter and John Coleman, How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator (Crossway 2009), pages 13-14.