No person has ever affected human affairs at their most radical level more than Jesus, the “Word become flesh” (John 1:14). But upon what did His power of influence depend? Extraordinary earthly prerogative? Wealth? Education? Social standing? No; in fact in these areas He was largely unremarkable. Nevertheless, He changed the world.
1. Looks With the emphasis on beauty and looks so prevalent today, some may suppose that we could have greater influence, and greater respect, among others if we were all comely. Surely if we had “drop-dead” looks like supermodels we could command impressive audiences, right? Well, consider that stunning good looks were not possessed by the Son of God. Speaking of Jesus, Isaiah said, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (53:2). Not only do we not have a description of what Deity on earth looked like, but we have the clear statement that His looks did not constitute His great appeal. Evidently in appearance, Jesus was rather ordinary.
2. Wealth We know that Joseph was a carpenter (Matt. 13:53-55), and the sacrifices offered by Joseph and Mary at the birth of Jesus reveal the poor financial state of His family (Luke 2:21-24; cf. Lev. 12:2,6,8). Therefore, all that Jesus accomplished in bringing people to God was done without a large personal fortune or an in exhaustible church budget. It is easy for us to say that if we could afford to promote and conduct this event or that program we could have great success in bringing the Gospel to the lost, but this places the emphasis on the wrong item—money. Certainly it is good for us to be able to pursue different projects, made possible by the generosity of the saints, but money is only one tool used by the willing servant.
3. Education Surely if we all had many college degrees and expansive vocabularies we would meet with greater success in teaching others of Jesus’ saving grace and the need to obey His words. Others would be so amazed at our erudition that they would fall at our feet and beg to be instructed in the ways of righteousness, right? Before we admit an educational handicap we would be advised to remember that our Savior did not possess an impressive formal education, but indeed the masses clamored to hear His words. “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:14-15). No, it was something more substantial than His formal education that attracted so many.
4. Social Standing Never did Jesus receive endorsement from the Jewish leaders of any of the sects. Even those chief Jews who believed on Him refused to admit such because they had their reputation to worry about
(John 12:42-43). Everything He did was in spite of, not because of, His reception by the leaders of the people. We might be tempted to think that if we could join forces, or gain the endorsement of some larger “Christian” associations or institutions, we could reach more people. The church of our Lord must realize, however, that if the leaders of the religious world did not accept Him, likely we will not be accepted if we preach and teach His word. We may never be featured as the keynote speaker at a “Christian” event, nor welcomed by the prominent religious leaders of our day (unless we sacrifice truth), but we can still be effective in our ordinary circumstances as was Jesus.
In these four areas our Lord was very “ordinary,” as we and most others are. Nonetheless, Jesus was unmatched in bringing the good news to peoples of all walks. He was extraordinary in the ways that matter: dedication to serving God’s will (Mark 14:36); speaking God’s pure truth in love (John 6:63; 8:31,32; 12:48-50); true compassion for the needs of mankind (Mark 6:31-34; Luke 19:10; John 15:13); seeing the pressing need to work for salvation (John 9:4). Because He was exemplary in these most crucial of aspects, He could claim the constant companionship of the Father, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him,” (John 8:29). Brethren, we may be ordinary in the ways of the world, but if we will be extraordinary in the ways of God there is no end to the good we may accomplish in Christ Jesus!