Christmas Reminder from Dr. Gardner Taylor

This is the glory and pain of my work as preacher, never more so than today.  There is much that I see and know about Jesus Christ, but I cannot say it.  One feels sometimes, with Robertson Nicoll, that “the desire to explain [the atonement] Christ may go too far.  The reality of Jesus Christ is much more readily understood than many explanations.  Its onlyness is the main thing.”  Every preacher must feel sometimes like the woman who said, “I understand who Jesus Christ is and what he does for me.  I understand it well until some one ask me to explain it.”  Well, the preacher’s job is to explain and proclaim Jesus Christ, and it is too big a subject for any human lips to speak.  So!  This sermon will be a failure, but may it be a godly failure and give honor to the Lord who calls it forth…

…Now I would want to fasten this morning upon those two titles joined together: Jesus Christ.  Here is what all of our preaching is about: Jesus Christ.  Here is what all of our believing is all about: Jesus Christ.  Here is what all of our community work is about: Jesus Christ.  What we do in the projects and enterprises we have undertaken here, unmatched in scope and versatility by any voluntary group of black people in the history of this city, is all done not as something aside from, separate from, but as a result of Jesus Christ and our relationship to him.  I want to talk about him this morning and see how in him we are blessed.  “Thou shalt call his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:21).  That was the signal at the birth of our Lord that we have in him a reality.  A man, a person.

Now, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of Jesus as man, person, one of us, “a man for others,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer called him.  The Heidelberg New Testament Professor, Gunther Bornkamm, stresses that in the Gospels we have an emphasis upon the person of Jesus.  The writers stress the authority of his words, what he said, and the authority of his deeds, what he did.  Ours is not a misty, thin, airy faith, no pious fantasy without living reality.  I wish that people would some day understand that.  Ours is an earthy faith, not something way out somewhere from the reality we know.  If people understood that they might see Christian people in a different light rather than the muddle-headed, thick-witted notion passing for shrewdness which assumes that when you see a Christian you see a dunce, that to be tender-hearted one must be soft-headed.  Stupid!

Our Lord lived here.

A small portion of Dr. Taylor’s message, “Jesus Christ,” preached March 20, 1977.

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