The Renown of His Words

“Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).

These words were spoken by officers of Jerusalem who were sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest the Lord and bring Him before them. This was their only excuse for having failed in their duty, and for returning without their prisoner. When those officers left the Sanhedrin they were filled with blind prejudice against Christ. It seemed to them that all the holiest and the greatest men of the temple and of the city took Jesus of Nazareth for a deceiver and a malefactor. Among the Pharisees He was listed as a blasphemer; He was called a Samaritan; He was accused of casting out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. There was no name too vile to give to Christ. There was no motive too base to ascribe to Him. This was the atmosphere in which these officers lived. These were the positive opinions they heard expressed of Jesus Christ day after day. The position of leadership the priests occupied, and the reputation for holiness and truth they possessed, made it practically impossible that these uninstructed officers should think any other thing of Him.

The prejudiced minds of these commissioned servants of the temple caused them to feel they were going to arrest one who was guilty of scattering blasphemies among the people.

A sudden and complete change in their attitude

Why were these temple officers so powerless to take our Lord? What so completely changed their attitude that they dared to return to those who sent them without the Man they were sent to arrest? How could they brave the scorn of the chief priests and Pharisees? What excuse did they have to give? It was the words of the Lord Jesus that had wrought the change; their only excuse was “Never man spake like this man.”

All the words those officers heard numbered thirty-one. Just thirty-one words and each of them a word so simple that a child could understand it. “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

These were the words the officers heard fall from His lips as He stood and cried on the crowded street of Jerusalem during the feast of Tabernacles. Why did they say, “Never man spake like this man”?

There are three reasons at least why these words of Christ are different from the words of any other man. They are, (1) Because of the words themselves: (2) Because of the way He said them: and (3) Because of the effect of these words upon those that heard them.

His words about Himself

“If any man thirst.” Souls of men have been thirsty ever since Adam turned his back on God. Thirsty for rest; thirsty for peace; thirsty for eternal life; thirsty for God. The greatest and the least; the wisest and the most simple; the outcast and the Pharisee, they all know this thirst. Here was a man who dared to cry, “If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink.” If He were only a man, these words were among the most blasphemous ever spoken. Had any other man but Christ said these words, he would be either pitied as a madman, or scorned as a most notorious blasphemer. No one feels that way about Him. These words from His lips carry with them the simple conviction of truth, so that without the least effort we bow our hearts to their blessed proclamation. But what wonderful words they are! Think of Him being able to quench the thirst of any man any where! This stranger from Galilee! this “carpenter” from Nazareth declaring He could meet the deep desires of the souls of men! How utterly stupendous the declaration! How absolutely God-like the promises! Surely, never man spake like this man.

The Glory of the Writers

The glory of the gospellers of the New Testament is that they do not speak of themselves. Matthew only mentions his own name when he absolutely has to. “Matthew, the publican” (Matt. 10:3). Mark never mentions himself at all. Mark wrote the life of Christ as an eye witness, evidently; Mark served the church of God for at least thirty years; and was a co-laborer of the foremost of the apostles; and yet not a word of John Mark is found anywhere in the New Testament.

The same is true of Luke, “the beloved physician,” who wrote both the gospel that bears his name and the Book of Acts. Except for the prologue, where he addressed his friend, “The most excellent Theophilus,” Luke makes no reference to himself whatever. But for the change of the pronouns “they” and “we,” one could not tell when Luke the historian was a member of the little band. These writers obliterated their own personality from their writings.

John also who wrote the fourth gospel, speaks most stintingly of himself; and then as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “that other disciple.” The absolute hiding of the writers in the writing of these imperishable stories of Christ, is without a parallel in human literature. The glory of the four evangelists is their absolute silence about themselves.

His glory

But the glory of the Lord Jesus is in the wonderful things He says about Himself, and about His words. It has been said that, “self-consciousness is the disease of the soul.” This is true of any ordinary man; but it was not true of Christ. Another has written, “To say such things of oneself as come from His lips is a sign of a weak, foolish nature. It is fatal to all influence, to all beauty of character.” “He declares Himself possessed of virtues which, if a man said he had them, it would be the best proof that he did not possess them and did not know himself.” “I am the way and the truth, and the life”; “I am the light of the world”; a “greater than Jonas,” a “greater than Solomon,” a “greater than the temple,” and then withal “I am meek and lowly of heart.” And the world believes Him, and says, “Yes! it is true.”

How true the words of the officers of the temple, “Never man spake like this man.”

Our Lord’s words about The Father

It took Jacob all his life to learn the meaning of the name “God Almighty.” God was to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob the All Sufficient One. To Moses the Lord revealed the meaning of the exalted name, Jehovah. David and Solomon spoke many inspired words of the God they knew and trusted. They were all servants, but Jesus was God’s Son and in the most familiar way repeatedly said, “My Father.” When He was risen from the dead, He said to Mary Magdalene, “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17).

What marvelous words these are! “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

“For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth:… For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quick-eneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. That all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:20-23).

“He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

“All things that the Father hath are mine” (John 16:15).

“Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold the glory that Thou hast given Me; for Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

“I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).

We who have listened to these precious words from His lips concerning the Father, can surely say, “Never man spake like this man.”

His own testimony to His words

“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

“Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

“He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “If a man love Me he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:23).

“If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

Infidels and Unitarians confess the words of Christ to be true, and yet deny His deity. You would wonder if they ever read what He said. Theodore Parker did not believe in the deity of Christ, and did his best to destroy the faith of others. He wrote of the Lord Jesus, “Christ unites in Himself the sublimest precepts, and the divinest practices—rises free from all the prejudices of his age — pours out a doctrine beautiful as the light, sublime as heaven and as true as God.” All we would say to Mr. Parker is this, If the doctrine of Christ be beautiful as the light, He is the Light; if the doctrine of Christ be as true as God, He is God. Could Christ be true and His words false? Christ Himself is The Truth; and His words are like Himself.

His words not written by Himself

As far as we can gather, there was no writing of the words of the Lord Jesus during His lifetime, save in the hearts of His hearers. “Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). “And they remembered His words” (Luke 24:8). The only writing of our Lord was with His finger, and in the loose sand of the earth. (John 8:6).

Other men who spoke words acclaimed by their fellows, wrote in books to preserve to themselves a perpetual memorial of literary glory. Not so the Son of God. When He expired, forsaken upon the cross, His words only remained sown broadcast upon the hearts of men. There the Holy Spirit, like the sun and the rain, made them bear fruit after His resurrection.

When the Lord Jesus died, His works were doubted; His disciples were hopeless, and His words seemed lost, like the seed of the harvest, in the cold ground in the frozen winter. Peter had said, “Thou hast the words of eternal life,” but those words were not written, and now Peter has denied Him in the presence of His enemies. The officers testified, “Never man spake like this man,” but now they have seen Him answering not a word, “like a lamb dumb before her shearers, so He opened not His mouth.” All His friends were disappointed, and despaired when He was crucified. Who now would care about His words? The tree is cut down, how can it now bear any fruit? No other person’s words have been so cherished as the words of the Lord Jesus; no other person’s words would be remembered at all, were they not written when he was living.

Imperishable Words!

Here then is one of the wonders of the words of Christ. His words are indestructible. He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). Millions of people lived when He lived. Countless millions had lived and died before Him. How very few of them spoke words that have survived the centuries! Thousands enjoyed the advantages of learning and culture; but of Him they said, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15).

But for Christ, the words of Pilate and of Caiaphas, would have passed away; drowned in the oblivion of a forgotten generation. Greece was then a nation of scholars, but how few of her favored sons were able, by their riches and their genius, to preserve and to pass on their wisdom and their words to coming generations. They had the advantage of embalming words in books and libraries of a cultured people; and yet the words of the chosen few of the wise of earth of our Lord’s day have perished. They lie entombed on dusty shelves in unread books of ancient languages; but the words of Him whom they called “the carpenter,” live still. His words have not passed away.

No haste with God

There was no feverish haste to write His words, or to have them written, when the tide was turning against Him, and He knew His hour had come. As the husbandman sows his seed, by the wayside, on stony ground, on thorny as well as on good ground; so had He sowed His words and well He knew what the result would be. “The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life.”

How unlikely it seemed!

Judea was a small and obscure country. The Jews were not a noble or honored people. Nazareth had a dishonorable reputation even in its own district. It was Nathaniel, a Galilean, who asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Joseph and Mary were so poor that they had to take advantage of the provision of the law in the case of extreme poverty, “two turtle-doves or two young pigeons” (Lev. 12:8).

Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter; His disciples were poor fishermen; He sought and found no patronage from priests or kings; He could not number among His chosen disciples one rich or influential person; His name was unknown in the schools and colleges of the land; He was despised and rejected of men; and yet He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

Could the whole world have heard, the whole world would have laughed in ridicule and scorn at the impossibility of such a thing. But those words were true. Unlike the words of mortal men that turn to ashes like themselves, the words of Christ are enduring and eternal. His words did not have to be preserved by the art of publication, and being shelved among the monuments of the past, they lived. His words are living words; they grow like the seed in the hearts of His people, and shall bloom and bear fruit through time and eternity. They have not passed away, and they shall not pass away.

His words were distasteful to men

“This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60). “Many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66).

“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Know-est thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:11-12).

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).

“There was a division therefore among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad: why hear ye Him?” (John 10:19-20).

The words of the Lord Jesus make nothing of man or his works. Ahab said of Michaiah, “I hate him: for he doth not prophesy good concerning me but evil” (1 Kings 22:8). For this reason, our Lord was hated also.

He called the Pharisees hypocrites, and continually raised their ire, when they discovered that His parables were spoken against them. (Mark 12:12). The leaders of the nation of Israel hated His words more than His works: when the common people heard Him gladly, they said, “He deceiveth the people” (John 7:12). When the blind man in his simplicity said, “He is a prophet” (John 9:17); the Jews said to Christ, “Thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil” (John 8:48). “And there was a division among them” (John 9:16).

Yet His words lived

Here then is a wonder of the words of Christ; they were imperishable words. The men of letters and of power condemned His words, and rejected His sayings, and yet those words lived. Those who alone seemed able to collect and to record the words of Jesus Christ and to give them honorable sanction by their approbation, were all implacable enemies to His sayings, refusing them with bitterest scorn and derision; and yet those words lived.

No college gathered His words to deposit them with its treasures of literature. No Gamaliel or Josephus sent abroad the words of the prophet of Nazareth, with the advantage of his testimony. The wise and the devout, both repudiated with all the sarcasm or violence of their natures, the words of truth, meekness, and righteousness which were spoken at the temple in Jerusalem, or in the villages of Galilee.

The blind hatred of the heart

The hearts of men still hate the words of Christ. “Are we blind also?” asked the self-satisfied, but empty religionist. The words of the Lord Jesus had cut them deeply. “We be Abraham’s seed and were never in bondage to any man” (John 8:33). He answered, “He that committeth sin is the servant of sin.” Said they, “We be not born of fornication, we have one father even God.” He answered, “Ye are of your father the devil.” Before the interview ended they took up stones to stone Him because of His words. See John 8: 59.

But all His enemies could not crush His words. The seed was sown and would grow in spite of anger and opposition. Priests and Pharisees hated and banned the words of Christ, but those words lived on. Heaven with its glory, and earth with its riches might pass away; but His words would not pass away.

The world is unchanged

The attitude of men of lifeless religion and men of letters toward the words of the Lord Jesus has never changed. The “church” which should have fed the world with the “bread of God,” has hidden the corrupting leaven in the “three measures of meal” till it all was leavened. Little by little, slowly but surely, that growing system that called itself the church of Christ took away the words of the Lord from the people. Ultimately Babylon obtained universal and absolute authority in the nations of the earth. That power, with the infliction of death in its most painful forms was used against the perpetuation and knowledge of the words of Christ. The deep and sinister purpose of that system that named His name, was to effectually destroy His life-giving words forever from amongst men.

Ploughmen, mechanics, tradesmen, as well as bishops and preachers were persecuted, imprisoned, and burned for reading and repeating the precious life-giving words of the Lord Jesus. Blind and superstitious clergy of an intolerant, world-domineering system were determined to destroy utterly by fire and by sword all knowledge of the words of Christ, and those who cherished them.

Fifteen centuries had passed since the battle was commenced by the scribes and Pharisees; it had raged continuously through the years of ignorance and spiritual darkness that intervened; and now it seemed that the powers of Hell would crush with very violence the light from amongst men. But no, every Pharaoh lifted up his hand in vain. Every Annas and Caiaphas looked dismayed upon the crushing of their hopes. The word of the Lord grew and multiplied. All the powers of fire and Hell could not suppress His sayings who uttered these words, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my word shall not pass away.”

Bibles are more plentiful than ever

The words of the Lord Jesus are better known and loved by a greater multitude today than ever before in the history of the world. The gospels have been handed down by the noblest of earth, through rivers of blood, at the cost of liberty and life, in the history of every nation in Christendom. Christians have fought by weakness, enemies as diverse as Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the people of Israel, and have always been victorious. The enemy, the devil, in one age, has prepared his weapons in the monasteries of superstition, in another he has conducted his warfare from the colleges of infidelity; but whether Greek or Jew, Roman or Darwinian, every weapon has failed.

Passed away! What has passed away? The queen of heaven and the kings of earth have passed away. The clamor of friars and the scoffings of Voltaire have passed away. What ever opposition may arise to God and His word shall surely pass away: for the Son of Man who was Son of God, said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away.”

Let the ages answer. Let history come with the officers to the seat of power and learning, with one voice all will say, “Never man spake like this man.”

His words were promises

The words of the Lord Jesus were often promises as well as declarations. They were promises that could be tested; promises that have been tested, thousands and thousands of times. Whoever found fault with Matthew 11:28? Was there ever a man or woman who protested these words should be declared a libel, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”?

Princess Elizabeth was found dead in her prison, with her head resting on these precious words in her open Bible. Queen Victoria of British love and fame, has the whole depicted in a monument of stone, where the gra-ciotfe maiden died. Under the stone the words of Jesus of Nazareth are inscribed, “Come unto me… I will give you rest.”

Has any British atheist ever suggested the monument should be destroyed because of the libel it advertises? Not that I ever heard. Noble Queen Victoria must have believed the words that fell from the Savior’s lips to be true.


Augustine said, “I have read many wonderful and beautiful words in Plato and Cicero but I never read there, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest.”

The words of the Lord Jesus were like the heavens that declare the glory of God, and like the firmament that showeth His handiwork. They are like the stars that shine for ever and ever. We get so used to the stars being there that we seldom look at them, and completely forget their glory.

When some of Napoleon’s generals were contending there was no God, the Emperor led them outside the tent and pointed to the stars, “If there be no God,” said Napoleon, “who made all these?”

In the same spirit we would point to the words of Jesus Christ, and say to those who doubt the truth of the gospel story, “Who spake all these?” The miracles of Christ are not more wonderful than His words.

Surely, “Never man spake like this man.”

The words of men

There is a fly in the ointment of the words of the best of men. Moses spoke unadvisedly with his lips (Ps. 106: 33); Peter was guilty of dissimulation, and Paul had to rebuke him (Gal. 2:13). Paul himself had to retract what he said in the courtroom (Acts 23: 5). Job, the patient one, opened his mouth and cursed his day( Job 3:1). Elijah uttered words of discouragement and had to be reproved (1 Kings 19:9-10). But Jesus of Nazareth never uttered a word that revealed any of the frailties and faults of the whole human race. Like the Passover lamb, His words were “without blemish”; and like the Bride’s description of Him, “altogether lovely.”

What little follies in the writings and in the words of the holiest of men! But every word of our Lord Jesus Christ was like the most fine gold; or like the frankincense that even when “beaten small,” emitted its lovely fragrance from every particle.

How could this be if He were but a mere man? Surely “Never man spake like this man.”

Calm in the face of greatest difficulty

Our Lord never hesitated in the face of infinite difficulty. He did not fear to say to the raging elements, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39).

Canute, the Danish king of England, moved his throne near the waves of the incoming tide. His admirers told him the waves would obey his word. Canute’s submission to their desires caused them all shame; for had he not moved himself and his throne back again, all would have been overthrown by the sea.

Proud words from men carry the refutation of their own emptiness and worthlessness.

Our Lord did not hesitate to cry aloud, so all could hear, “Lazarus, come forth!”; nor to say in the house of Gentiles weeping, “Maid, arise!” There was calm and yet majestic power in His words when the greatest issues were at stake. His words healed the leper, and His words liberated the enslaved demoniac. His utterances never failed.

Even creation

Unfettered creation bowed as a slave at His feet. The winds and the sea obeyed Him. Hate as strong as the devil himself, tore its victims but obeyed His commands. (Mark 1:26). There was not a sphere where His word did not prevail with irresistible power. The disciples were astonished when the storm ceased, and said, “What manner of man is this?” It was His word of power that baffled them; they said, “Even the wind and the sea obey Him” (Mark 4:41).

An age of words

Today there is such a deluge of words written to be read, that if the citizens of any American community had to read all that the papers printed they would have time for nothing else. All the minutes of all the hours would not suffice to devour a tenth of this refuse that is being dumped in the language of the American people. Words pour out daily like waters when a dam gives way. This is the generation of words. Words over the air the people cannot listen to; words in the newspapers that the people cannot read. These words are like the insects of the summer time; or the passing bloom on the herb of the field; they die as soon as they live. Hero lovers use all the arts of their training to embalm the words of their admired heroes; but a year or two suffices to leave these words buried in the oblivion of a forgotten past.

A scorning infidel recently wrote of the words of Christ: “The words of Jesus are less than the words of the Lindbergh-Morrow wedding in one issue of one newspaper!” Is that scorn, or is it glory? Who should laugh, the Christian or the infidel? Who cares today what was written in the newspapers concerning the Lindbergh wedding? Those words, like the words of the infidel, have lost their interest long ago. But not the words of Christ. His words are still “More to be desired than gold; yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

“A man of subtile reasoning asked a ploughman if he knew Where was the internal evidence that proved the Bible true: The rules of disputative art had never reached his ear, He laid his hand upon his heart and quickly answered, Here!”

Peter’s confession

When many disciples left the Lord and went away because, as they said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60); then our Lord turned to the twelve and said, “Will ye also go away?”; impetuous Peter, always ready to speak, immediately expressed the devotion of his, and of their hearts, in the words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Words of Eternal Life!

Did any philosopher or sage ever speak words of Eternal Life? Did you ever stop to consider the wonder of the words in John 3:16? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” These words have been translated into most of the spoken languages of men.

What no sage of Africa ever knew; what no heart in Asia ever conceived; Christ has spoken. But for these words of eternal life, the Queen of Sheba might still sit in darkness on her throne, and the land of Ethiopia stretch out her hands to God in vain.

All the writings of oriental philosophy are wanderings in the darkness; they contain no words of “eternal life.” Socrates and Confucius could not look beyond the stars. It was not philosophy that revealed these precious words to us. They come from the very heart of God and are made known through the lips of His Son. None of the gods of the heathen is represented as loving men. Such knowledge was too wonderful for blinded fools that crawled upon the earth. There has been but one on this earth who could say, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life.”

Heaven’s words come from heaven

You could get the fragrance of roses from a dungeon, if first the lovely flowers were carried there. This fragrant knowledge of a God of love could never have been told but by the lips of Him who came from His Father in Heaven. He alone could speak words of eternal life.

In almost every chapter of John’s inspiring gospel, these words of eternal life are found. A learned rabbi hears them at night from an object lesson of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). An ignorant and licentious, though religious Samaritan woman hears them from “a prophet” who sits on Sychar’s well (John 4:14). A hopeless paralytic, waiting thirty-eight years at Bethesda’s pool, hears them also, and so did those that day who accused the Mighty Healer of making a man whole on the Sabbath day. “Verily! Verily! I say unto you: He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life; and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

Words of eternal life when He fed the hungry multitudes with five loaves and two small fishes, “I am the Bread of life, he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

Words about eternal life when He opened the eyes of the blind in chapter 9. Words about the living water when the unsatisfied crowd at Jerusalem kept the feast of Tabernacles: “If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37). Words about Himself as the resurrection and the life, when He wept with others at the grave of Lazarus.

These words of eternal life took deep root in the hearts of His disciples, and when the cross blasted their superficial expectations, His resurrection begat them again unto a living hope, for they remembered His words.

His words full of wisdom

All the utterances of the Lord Jesus were full of wisdom and grace. How beautifully perfect were His first recorded words as He sat among the doctors at Jerusalem! “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). What a gentle rebuke to His mother, who had said, “Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing”! The absolute commonplace of His life at Nazareth had evidently clouded in Mary’s memory the truth of His sonship of God. It is written there, “His mother kept all these sayings in her heart” (Luke 2:51).

When the Pharisees would entangle Him

When the Pharisees thought they had Him in a trap, whichever way He answered their question, “Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?” (Matt. 22:17); how utterly they were silenced by the perfection of His answer! “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

The question of the chief Priests

The perfect wisdom of the Lord shines out again when He answered the question of the priests of the temple by asking them another. The question of the priests and elders of the people was, “By what authority doest thou these things and who gave Thee this authority?” (Matt. 21:23). He answered, “I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell Me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” (Matt. 21:24-25). Had it fitted their case they would have said either. They dared not to say, “Of men,” for they feared the people who all took John for a prophet; they would not say, “Of God;” for that would have authenticated both Him and His mission. So they said, “We cannot tell.” He justly answered, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” The reference to the baptism of John answered their question as to His authority, had they the honesty to face it.

His last question to them

The bitterest opposition of the Pharisees was to the fact of our Lord being the Son of God. “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? They say unto Him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David call him Lord, how is he his son?” (Matt. 22:41-45). The record ends with these words, “And no man was able to answer Him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions” (Matt. 22:46).

This question of the Lord Jesus involved either denying the inspiration of David’s writing in the Psalms; or else the acknowledgment that Messiah was the Son of God.

How clear His understanding!

The wisdom and understanding of our Lord was clearer than the noonday. His answers were “clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners.” It was the perfection of His wise and searching words that caused Peter to say, “Lord, thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17).

His words are living and fresh today

Job desired that his words might be written with an iron pen, and with lead in the rock forever (See Job 19: 23-24). But monuments of stone will wear away and their inscriptions perish. The words of Christ spoken in Judea and in Galilee, and written in the Scriptures, are not only remembered on earth, they are forever settled in heaven. There the beauty of those precious words will never wear away.

They had a way of preserving fruit a hundred years ago that I understand is now lost. I have seen a dish of oranges and apples that looked as lovely as though freshly plucked from the trees. That fruit was seventy-five years old. It looked nice but it was as hard as rock. It was only good to look at; it could not be eaten. This is like the preserved words of ancient men; the volumes look nice on library shelves, but not one in a hundred would take the trouble to read them, or to listen to them being read. Their power and life are gone.

The ancient writings are mostly heavy, dead, and uninteresting; but the souls of men still feed upon the words of Christ today as they did a thousand years ago. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). In this His words are different, they are fresh and satisfying, like fruit from our orchards in the summer time. Truly “Never man spake like this man.”

His Words Reach the Heart

When the son of Count de las Cases read the sermon on the mount to Napoleon and other notables in St. Helena, the emperor expressed himself “struck with the highest admiration of the purity, the sublimity, the beauty of the morality which it contained.” The Count confessed, “We all experienced the same feeling.”

In a Roman Catholic country a colporteur called at a house to offer Bibles for sale. The ignorant people only knew what their spiritual advisors had told them of the Book. “Bible!” said a young woman, “why that is a bad book and the devil wrote it.” “Let us see,” replied the undaunted colporteur, “we will read a portion and you shall judge who wrote it.” He turned to John’s gospel, and read part of the fourteenth chapter ending with “Peace I leave with you, My peace give I unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you; let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”: He waited. There were tears in the maiden’s eyes. “Who wrote it?” said he. With the utmost assurance the answer came “That book has come from heaven; those words are the words of God.”

Why does mighty unbelief and darkest superstition bow in homage before the words of Jesus of Nazareth, acknowledging the power and grace of these searching, yet comforting messages? Why does atheism hush its scornings and opposition, drop its sword when Jesus speaks? It is because His words are the words of God. Peter long ago breathed the sentiment of all true Christians when he said of Christ, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure, that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” What an impossible position—to place the crown of glory and honor upon His words, and the crown of thorns upon His person!


No one perhaps ever wrote so blasphemous a book and called it “The Life of Jesus” as Renan. Philip Schaff calls Renan a great Orientalist and remarks, “We can hardly trust our eyes when we see Renan digging from the grave of disgrace and contempt the exploded hypothesis of vulgar imposture.” But even Renan confesses in his book, “The hero of Nazareth is without an equal” and “his glory remains perfect and will be renewed forever.” So God allows the bitterest enemies of His Christ to prophesy their own undoing and eternal shame in writing words of triumphant and eternal glory, concerning the words of the Son of God. The greatest enemies of the gospel in every age have born testimony to the truth of the officers’ words, “Never man spake like this man.”

How much more honest and honorable to bow like Peter at His feet, drinking His words of eternal life into our hearts and confessing with our mouth, “We believe and are sure that Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.”

Buddhist Priest

Rummaging amid the refuse in a temple in inaccessible Tibet, a Buddhist priest picked up a torn piece of paper. That paper contained words of the Lord Jesus Christ. This man knew not who was the writer of these words, or who had spoken them. His heart asked no question of the truth or authority of the message, but put on sackcloth, and was broken in repentance immediately, for he felt that God had spoken. All the Buddhist priest read was, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” This poor devotee of a hopeless religion cried, “I am not pure in heart, I shall not see God.” This one arrow slew all his spiritual pride. One sentence from the lips of Jesus our Lord turned a bigoted Buddhist into a conscience stricken sinner. The wound that the words made was later healed by the balm of the gospel. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Buddhist priest heard, the Buddhist priest came, and the Buddhist priest was saved.

Whether in Tibet or America, in Africa or Labrador, among sages or among savages, the words of the Lord Jesus have had the same effect, and wrought the same results. A multitude which no man can number shall one day bow at His feet who redeemed them by His blood and who comforted them with His words, saying, “Thou art worthy for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by Thy blood” (Rev. 5:9).

“I Am”

While Abraham, the chief of the patriarchs, said, “I am but dust and ashes”; and Isaiah, the chief of prophets, said “Woe is me for I am undone”; Job, the upright, said “Behold I am vile”; and Paul, the chief of apostles, confessed, “I am the chief of sinners”; our blessed Lord stood at the grave of Lazarus, and said, “I am the Resurrection and the life, he that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth on Me, shall never die.”

These words of eternal life draw me to Him. They obliterate every other person from my soul’s vision. They make hope gird on the pilgrim’s attire. They bind us to His person, while we say, “Lord, to whom shall we go, Thou hast the words of eternal life?” The dishonesty of infidels is the dishonesty of Pilate. The Roman governor repeatedly confessed, “I find no fault in Him”; yet he scourged Him. He washed his hands in water, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person, see ye to it”; and yet he delivered Him to be crucified. Thus do unbelievers act still. They say the most flattering things of His words, and prophesy their continual triumph; and yet impeach Him in denying His Godhead, as one of the worst of men. Like the despisers of old, they wonder and perish; “Never man spake like this man” say they; but they spit in His face, and nail Him to the cross. The Christian joins hands with Peter and worships His person and, like Mary, finds infinite delight in sitting at His feet to hear His word.

Dr. Strauss is said to be the most learned of the infidel biographers of Jesus. In the last chapter of his book, he writes, in a most strange fashion, adoration of Christ and blasphemy against Him; pride and folly; avowal of atheism, and prophecy of its destruction; a calm survey of Christianity’s annihilation, yet a positive prophecy of its continuation and success. Here are his words: “The results of our enquiry have apparently annihilated the greatest and most important part of that which the Christian has been wont to believe, concerning his Jesus; have uprooted all the encouragements which he has derived from his faith; and deprived him of all his consolations. The boundless stores of truth and life, which for eighteen hundred years have been the aliment of humanity, seem irretrievably devastated; the most sublime levelled with the dust, God divested of His grace, man of his dignity, and the tie between heaven and earth broken. Piety turns away with horror from so fearful an act of desecration; and, strong in the impregnable self-evidence of its faith, boldly pronounces that, let an audacious criticism attempt what it will, all that the Scriptures declare, and the Church believes of Christ, will still subsist as eternal truth; nor need one iota of it be renounced.”

Surely this confession from Strauss, of his heartless destruction of the hope of Christians, as far as he was able, merits the judgment of the Lord; “Out of thine own mouth, will I judge thee, thou wicked servant.” He seems proud of what he has done, like a merciless Nero, gloating over a burning Rome; but in the very next sentence his own pen calls the Scriptures he opposes, “boundless stores of truth and life,” and he confesses in this very chapter, where he glories in his crop of tares, “Let an audacious criticism attempt what it will, all that the Scriptures declare will still subsist as eternal truth.” Thus do atheists and infidels declare their utter inability to get rid of the words of Jesus Christ. Like Judas, they call Him innocent, but betray Him to His enemies. His words they confess are true, and yet they sow their tares and thistles, hoping the spreading weeds will cover the field and choke the wheat from the hearts and lives of men. But Peters and Johns, Marthas and Marys, still sit at His feet, cherishing His words for His sake; and loving Him for His word’s sake; confessing like the Bride, “His mouth is most sweet, yea, He is altogether lovely.”

Gracious Words

“They wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth.” A German writer has remarked: “One period has fought for Christ’s sepulchre; another for His body and blood; the present period contends for His words.” This controversy is not confined to the present period. The people of God have had to contend for the words of our Lord in every generation of this church era.

Though these gracious words of our Lord caused wonder and astonishment to His hearers in the synagogue at Nazareth, that wonder soon changed to indignation, as the grace of His words ran counter to their national prejudices. They were gracious words still, from His lips, when all they in the synagogue were filled with wrath. He had not changed to words of judgment. He was speaking gracious words still. The bringing up to their memories of the healing of the Gentile Naaman, and the blessing of the Gentile widow, in the days of Elijah, were intimations of the grace of God, bursting all barriers, and flowing out to lepers and widows everywhere. This grace was just as distasteful to the bigoted Israelites and the Pharisees, as were His words of denunciation and condemnation upon them, for their hypocrisy and covetousness. The proud hearts of men have no appreciation for the gracious words of the Lord Jesus. But how those words have been treasured by the Naamans he has cleansed, and by the desolate ones to whom He has brought life and hope, as Elijah did to the Sidonian woman, who was gathering two sticks to make a little fire, and bake a little cake, before she and her son lay down to die.

The gospels contain gracious words such as were never spoken by any other man; words that could not possibly come from any but God manifest in the flesh. What man could say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” as Jesus did to the palsied man let down through the tiling of the house? (Luke 5:20). Who but He could say, “Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace,” and “her sins which were many are forgiven,” as He did to the woman who was so notorious, that Simon judged Him as unconscious of her character, when she kissed, and anointed those blessed feet, that followed until they found her? (Luke 7:36-50). The Jews said, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” Those who were blessed by His words carried them in their bosoms as their most treasured recollection, and would say with the officers, “Never man spake like this man.”

Blind Bartimeus; Zaccheus of the Sycamore tree; Mary Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils; Peter, who said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord”; the woman of Samaria, whose life was laid bare at Sychar’s well; and a host of others who heard and felt the humiliating, yet sanctifying and satisfying words of grace that fell from His lips, knew beyond possibility of doubt that His words were the words of God. As the hart drinks of the water brooks; as the friends of the bridegroom, when men had well drunk, looked at six water pots of the best wine; so much of the best, when they needed so little; as the individuals of the five thousand ate to satisfaction of the ever-increasing loaves and fishes till they were filled; so did sinners of every type drink the water of life, from His words; and felt there was wine and blessing from Him beyond their ability to appropriate; and like the five thousand upon the grass, were filled; and sat as worshipers at His feet like Mary, or at His table, with Him like Lazarus, raised to life from the grave. Enemies and friends alike, knew Christ spoke gracious words. The rulers of the temple supposed His grace was in direct rebellion to the words of Moses, when they tested His orthodoxy in the temple, “Moses in the law commanded that such should be stoned but what sayest Thou”? They went out one by one, silent in their own guilt but enemies to His grace still (John 8:9).

It was when the Pharisees would advertise the attitude of the Lord to publicans and sinners, and place upon His character the full vent of their opprobrium and displeasure: “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them,” that He spake those gracious parabolic words of Luke 15; words that have cheered and charmed the people of God, and caused joy in heaven over sinners repenting, for almost nineteen centuries. As the sharp knife releases the myrrh, from the tree of the wilderness, so did the contradiction of sinners, continually press from our Lord the sweet savour of the grace and kindness of God.

To quote His gracious words would necessitate copying the whole of the gospel story in the record of the four evangelists. These gracious words are unlike what ever has, or ever could come, from the lips of a mere man. David showed grace to Mephibosheth, but it was the kindness of God. David could not say, “Come unto Me all ye that labor, and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”; or “He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; for the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” or, “I am the door, by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved.”

The unprejudiced heart of any honest man knows that the words of Christ were never imagined by any of the fallen sons of Adam. They never could have been written but by inspiration of the Spirit of God; they never could have been spoken but by One who was God, as well as a man. Apart from all the difficulties that Christians and infidels have found, or invented, to confuse or deny inspiration of the Scriptures, the fact remains that we have in the gospels the words of Christ; words that must have been spoken by Him; words that convince the honest hearer as completely, if not as awfully, as did the words at Sinai, amid the lightnings and thunderings, that made even Moses to exceedingly fear and quake.

The manna

The “manna” looked small and white and round; but when eaten, it tasted like “wafers made with honey.” The words of Christ, the “true bread” from heaven, are sweeter than the honey and the honey-comb.

Thousands of the noblest lives that ever graced this fallen world, have been sacrificed upon the altars of unbelief, because they loved and cherished the words of Christ. The fires of Smithfield burned some of the noblest men of God who ever lived in England. It was their love of the words of the Lord Jesus that placed their bodies in the midst of those burning faggots, where, as Hugh Latimer said at the stake, “They lighted a candle that should never be put out.”

Listen to His voice

Sit at the feet of the Lord like Mary and hear His words as He speaks to you; and like David you will say, “His words are sweeter than honey and the honey-comb” (Psalm 19:10); or like the writer of Psalm 119, “The law of His mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.” (Verse 72).

Men speak great swelling words of vanity, but pride and a haughty spirit ride but a few paces before a fall; then these loud utterances disappear like foam upon the water. The words of the Lord Jesus are heard more in secret, than the voice of him who ruleth among fools. He used words no other man ever did or ever could use. No other man has ever presumed to speak the language of Christ. His words are His glory. The wonderful words of Christ were easily understood. They were living, healthful words. There was no swelling in them. Those who heard His words and who had any regard for God were either moved to wonder and worship or else to violent indignation and hate. His words breathed His deity. In the calmest and most peaceful spirit, He ever spoke the language of equality with God. With perfect freedom and unruffled self-possession, He poured out the truth of His exalted deity and of His gracious humanity. His words, like His person, united in one the glory of the Godhead and the gentleness of His unspotted humanity.

We add our simple testimony to the outspoken excuse of the Sanhedrin officers “Never man spake like this man.”