The Real Jesus


Toward a more accurate assessment

In his small volume Your God is Too Small J. B. Phillips dispels misconceptions about God and His Son.

Referring to such portrayals as in the children’s rhyme, “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, / Look upon a little child,” Phillips observes, “We can hardly be surprised if children feel fairly soon that they have outgrown the ‘tender Shepherd’ and find their heroes elsewhere.”

Phillips asserts that though Jesus certainly has His tender side, “when one characteristic is caricatured at the expense of all the others we get a grotesque distortion which can only appeal to the morbidly sentimental” (pp. 26, 28).

What then can provide a healthy counter-weight to the tenderness Jesus showed toward children, the bereaved, the penitent, and the afflicted?

Bold in word and deed

Jesus could be extremely direct when the occasion called for it. His most vigorous denunciations were directed against the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23).

He could “tell it like it is” when addressing those who rejected Him: “You are of your father, the devil . . . . you are not of God” (John 8:44, 47).

Not only did He at times speak bluntly, but He was quite capable of strong measures: “And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business’” (John 2:15-16).

In His miracles He powerfully demonstrated His absolute authority over nature, disease, demons, and death.

How to assess Him—and how not to

No one can rightly read the New Testament and believe in a weak, pale, ineffectual Jesus.

He was—and is—a Power not to be contended with, but to be joyfully subservient to.

The second psalm strikes a healthy balance in predicting the coming Messiah: “Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:12).


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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