From time to time, we see and hear things that astonish or impress us, and at such times we often say something like “I’ve never seen anything like this.” Or, “This is unprecedented!” Such things were frequently said about our Lord and King. He was, indeed, unprecedented.
As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”
– Matthew 9:32-33, ESV
“Never before,” they say. “We have never seen anything like this.”
Never before had deity entered human flesh,1 yet there he stood. We know that there was nothing about Jesus’ physical appearance that made him stand out.2 He was fully human,3 as average as you and me, yet he repeatedly astonished the people. He said and did things that befuddled those who saw and heard him.
…he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
– Mark 2:10b-12, ESV
“This is unprecedented!”
Yeah. Well, that’s Jesus. He is the trendsetter, unleashing a new paradigm on humanity. It is no wonder the “greatest teacher in Israel” at that time was forced to acknowledge the uniqueness of Jesus and his teaching.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
– John 3:1-2, ESV
And it wasn’t just the healings, though such accomplishments would tend to amaze anyone who witnessed them. It was also the way Jesus spoke.
Consider when the soldiers came to arrest him. Arresting him was their duty. It was their charge. They had orders. They were the hardened soldiers. Jesus was the gentle rabbi, meek and humble in heart.4 Yet they did not carry out their duty. Why?
The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”
– John 7:45-46, ESV
This is how it is (or should be) when God enters a man or a woman, when the Spirit of God indwells us. Our words and our behaviors are from God and wrought in God. This must be evident to those around us. People know they have encountered a man of God or a woman of God just by being in our presence.
“I’ve never met anyone like that before!”
At the end of his life, when Jesus came into Jerusalem, he did it in a way that was unprecedented – riding on the colt of a donkey, a donkey that had never been ridden.5 When Jesus died and was placed in his tomb, it was unprecedented – a new sepulcher in which no man had yet laid.6
And putting the final stamp of distinctiveness, uniqueness on Jesus unprecedented life, following his resurrection from the dead, never to die again (unprecedented), we are told this:
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
– Acts 4:12, ESV
Never before . . . no other. It is no wonder that, as his disciples, we are “the called out.” We are the other, the different, the distinct.
Walk in that calling, brothers and sisters.
1. John 1:14
2. Isaiah 53:2-3
3. Philippians 2:8
4. Matthew 11:29
5. Matthew 21:7; Mark 11:2
6. John 19:41-42