What shall I say of His speech? Perhaps something about His person lent power to His words and swayed those who heard Him. For He was comely, and the sheen of the day was upon His countenance.
Men and women gazed at Him more than they listened to His argument. But at times He spoke with the power of a spirit, and that spirit had authority over those who heard Him.
In my youth I had heard the orators of Rome and Athens and Alexandria. The young Nazarene was unlike them all.
They assembled their words with an art to enthral the ear, but when you heard Him your heart would leave you and go wandering into regions not yet visited.
He would tell a story or relate a parable, and the like of His stories and parables had never been heard in Syria. He seemed to spin them out of the seasons, even as time spins the years and the generations.
He would begin a story thus: “The ploughman went forth to the field to sow his seeds.”
Or, “Once there was a rich man who had many vineyards.”
Or, “A shepherd counted his sheep at eventide and found that one sheep was missing.”
And such words would carry His listeners into their simpler selves, and into the ancient of their days.
At heart we are all ploughmen, and we all love the vineyard. And in the pastures of our memory there is a shepherd and a flock and the lost sheep.
And there is the plough-share and the winepress and the threshing-floor.
He knew the source of our older self, and the persistent thread of which we are woven.
The Greek and the Roman orators spoke to their listeners of life as it seemed to the mind. The Nazarene spoke of a longing that lodged in the heart.
They saw life with eyes only a little clearer than yours and mine. He saw life in the light of God.
I often think that He spoke to the crowd as a mountain would speak to the plain.
And in His speech there was a power that was not commanded by the orators of Athens or of Rome.