This frank response came from the agents sent by the Pharisees to entrap the Divine Savior and turn Him over to the Jewish authorities after His preaching and scathing criticism of them. The incident took place during the Feast of the Tabernacles as St. John describes: “And some of them would have apprehended him: but no man put hand upon him.” [ch.7, vs. 44]
The befuddled henchmen were later confronted by their treacherous bosses for not carrying forth their plan and impatiently asked: “Why have you not brought him?” Empty handed and obviously perplexed themselves for their failure they responded, “Never did man speak like this man.” The incensed Pharisees countered: “Are you also seduced?”
This episode demonstrates, although more subtly than the miracles performed, Christ’s Divinity. No personality or figure of history has ever shown such a command in speech or in debate than the Divine Savior. Christ was never “bested” or refuted in any exchange and, more often than not, left His adversaries either stymied or speechless. The flawless rebukes of the Pharisees were often made not to simple inquiries, but were given to premeditated questions deliberately designed to elicit a contradictory response. Yet, every act of chicanery was effortlessly thwarted and turned to His advantage.
Likewise, in His discourses with the Disciples, or when preaching to the crowd, there was never any hint of confusion or ambiguity. The fact that the crowd tried to make Him a King certainly attests to His inspirational power and persuasiveness.
One of the last century’s leading Catholic historians, H. Daniel-Rops (1901-1965) knighted by Pope Pius XII, described this neglected aspect of the Divine Savior’s personality in his unsurpassed biography, Jesus and His Times. Unfortunately, Daniel-Rops succumbed to certain aspects of Modernism which surfaced in the later volumes of his magnificent Church history series, however, Jesus and His Times contains no such failings and remains a masterpiece.
Few authors have capsulized the essence of Christ’s personality and temperament as Daniel-Rops:
Anyone who is willing to examine without prejudice
the figure of Christ in the Gospels will find not a
disassociated or chaotic personality but one which
is extremely solid and coherent, built up on
unshakeable foundations. [p. 293]
Unlike the current Newpope who deliberately portrays himself as “Mr. Humble,” there is not a hint of such hypocrisy in Christ’s character:
There is no self-dramatization in his personality;
never once does he play to the gallery. . . .
Nothing could be further from the personality
of Jesusthan the suspicion of imposture. . . . [Ibid.]
The woman caught in adultery, the rendering unto Caesar, the lecturing of the temple priests as a teenager, to cite just a few examples, all point to a supernatural quality never before witnessed, as Daniel-Rops explains:
The personality of Jesus is not only manifestly sincere,
it is unshakeable you cannot doubt that here is a master
of the event. He is never deflected from what he wishes
to do either by the applause of crowds or by checks and
opposition. If he adapts himself to circumstances and
submits to affronts without protest, it is biding his own
good time. He never capitulates and never hesitates
or weakens before the machinations of His enemies. [p. 294]
Unlike the milk toast figure that Newchurch seeks to portray of the meek and all-forgiving Christ, Daniel-Rops, as all good historians do, provides a balanced picture of his subject one who displays a holy vengeance especially when it pertains to the worship of His Father:
He could be angry, too, a holy and righteous
anger which burst forth when the zeal for God
which devoured him was baulked by the follies
and the willful incomprehension of men. . . .
When Jesus attacks the money changers in the
Temple, when he turns His savage eloquence
against the scribes and Pharisees, when he taunts
Herod’s spies, “Go and tell that fox, ‘ this is a
man with blood in his veins not the conventional
shadow of a pallid seminarian. [p. 295]
After Daniel-Rops’ superb description of Christ’s personality, one shutters to think what the Divine reaction will be for those who have replaced His doctrine and Sacraments with those of the Novus Ordo. While pacifists love to quote the beatitude “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” they conveniently forgot the Savior’s direct words as recorded by St. Matthew: “Do not think that I am come to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.”
With the holy season of Lent at hand, many of the Scriptural passages where these remarkable exchanges took place are once again at the forefront as the titanic struggle between the Incarnate Word and the forces aligned against Him come to their climax. And, these exchanges were argued against the most formidable adversaries, masters at their craft who were able to convince a Roman governor, against his better judgment, to allow the crucifixion of Innocence itself.
The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes attempted to verbally undermine the Divine Savior often times through sophistry, yet each time the Master confounds them which only further deepens their hatred of Him. Instead of believing the words spoken to them in the most authoritarian and unassailable manner, they dastardly plot His execution.
While the many miracles performed and His glorious Resurrection are undeniable signs of His Divinity, Christ’s words, and the manner and context in which He delivered them are also indisputable signs of the Divine. Daniel-Rops is one of the few scholars that has pointed to this often overlooked aspect.
Jesus and His Times is replete with such analysis all of which makes the work an excellent read especially during the Lenten season.