Einstein was right when he said, “No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word.” Jesus has a certain kind of magnetism, an appeal that goes beyond human charisma, and whenever I interact with the Gospels I’m reminded of this.
Open up Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, and it doesn’t take long to recognize that life is better for lots of people when Jesus is in the picture (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39). When he’s around, things change—significantly (Luke 7:22). “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” No matter where he goes, he’s a transformational presence. With the exception of Nazareth, there was no shortage of miracles when Jesus came to town (Mark 6:5-6).
But the presence of the divine was not just evident in the things Jesus did; it was also evident in the things Jesus said. His words were authoritative in a way that was completely unfamiliar to those to whom he spoke (Matthew 7:29). It was not uncommon for Jesus to say something that aroused astonishment in his listeners (Luke 4:32), for as Luke reminds us, “…his message had authority.”When we read the Gospels in the days ahead, let’s pay close attention to Jesus. Let’s listen to what he said—the red letters are particularly instructive. Let’s watch what he did, keeping this promise in mind: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). And let’s respond in faith to what we’ve heard and seen. As we do, God shapes our lives to look more and more like the life of his Son.