Jesus did nothing until halfway through the feast. Then he went up to the temple courtyard and began to teach.  The Jews there were amazed. They asked, “How did this man learn so much without being taught?”…  The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering things like this about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him…  Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees. They asked the guards, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”  “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.
John 7:14-15,32,45-46 NIrV
When an individual can “hold the attention of someone by being extremely interesting, exciting, charming, or attractive,” then that person is captivating. This brings us to a question. How captivating was Jesus?
Three of the greatest orators in modern history are Winston S. Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Some would insist our current President Barack Obama belongs on this list. Besides these, others would insist Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan are the greatest leadership communicators to ever live. Regardless of who you admire on this list, no one can compare to the ability of Jesus to captivate the heart of man. No one!
John 7:32 says the Pharisees “sent temple guards to arrest” Jesus, but when these guards heard him speak they failed to arrest him, and were instead themselves arrested. The guards returned to the Pharisees and explained the absence of an imprisoned Jesus with these words, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” I cannot remember any moment in history where the aforementioned great men faced certain arrest, and then sent the arrestors home themselves imprisoned with their message. This is exactly what happened with Jesus, because he was more than a great speaker. Jesus was truly captivating as evidenced by the American Standard translation of John 7:46 which reads, “The officers answered, Never man so spake.”
These four words “Never man so spake” explain the uniqueness of Jesus. “Never” indicating his distinctive style. “Man” meaning he didn’t just talk but lived his message. “So” revealing there was a stylistic component to his delivery. Finally, the core word in this description is “spake,” which tells us the content and depth of his message was so transformative, that even though there may be other great speakers no one had a better message. This remains true today, and begs us to ask a question: since we have the same message, are we captivating? Do we make the message of Jesus irresistible? What part of this sentence do we need to work on, the “never,” the “man,” the “so,” or the “spake,” for us to become more like Jesus?
Read John 7.
Reread John 7:16-18 and explain why purity of motive determines our ability to captivate?
Read John 12:44-50 and explain and examine the danger of speaking on our own authority.
Read I Corinthians 2:1-5 and identify how Paul captivates and inspires like Jesus.
Perhaps you think this idea of you becoming captivating is a joke. Let me assure you it is not. One of my favorite moments in Scripture is in Acts 11:19-21, where ordinary, unnamed, and unknown Christians captivate the city of Antioch. There were no “great men” just regular Christians who ignited the fire of faith in that city, which teaches me we greatly underestimate the potential of our individual influence on people. Maybe this is because we don’t believe we should or can be like Jesus? Might the greatest challenge before every Christian and church be the commitment to become captivating…to make the gospel irresistible?
*Definitions in “The 12 Days of Jesus” studies are based on the Cambridge Dictionary
- Feature: The 12 Days of Jesus
- Day 1: Conqueror of Darkness
- Day 2: Courage in the Temple
- Day 3: Compassion for the Disabled
- Day 4: Confidence Turns the Tide
- Day 5: Captivating the Crowds
- Day 6: Cagey and Colorful in Conflict
- Day 7: Controversial to the Conventional
- Day 8: Convincing the Confused
- Day 9: Comforting the Cautious
- Day 10: Clarity for the Complicated
- Day 11: Calm for the Chronically Contentious
- Day 12: Concerned about the Cynical
Written by Russ Ewell
who serves as Director of BACC Next,
where he is tasked with thinking about the future.