Christ as a Conversationalist
John 14:30
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me.


1. In the four Gospels there are but five discourses properly so called — that in the synagogue at Nazareth, that upon the Mount, that on the Bread of Life in the synagogue at Capernaum, that on the seashore, when He practically traced the future of His kingdom, and that at Jerusalem respecting His second coming. All the rest is conversation, sometimes drifting into monologue. It is significant that the two greatest teachers — Christ and Socrates — taught chiefly in this way.

2. Here is an open door for you all! You cannot write books or preach; but there is no better way into a human heart than by conversation. I write my article and send it to the newspaper. I know not who looks upon it. I stand here and talk, and look into your faces. Some of them answer me back. This is better work than that of the pen. But the best of all is conversation when you open your soul to me, and I open mine to you. In this lies the largest part of our influence. What might we not do with it!

II. Notice, as a characteristic of every good conversationalist, and preeminently of Christ, His QUICK AND CATHOLIC SYMPATHIES.

1. We open this Gospel and find Him talking on the same plane with a Jewish rabbi. We turn the page and behold Him condescending to the level of the depraved Samaritan. Further on we see Him in conversation with His enemies; and, lastly, here with His disciples — in every case alike in sympathy, in touch — what we call tact. What is tact? The touch of one soul with another. I can talk music a little with the musician, for I am fond of music; less of art with the artist, for I know less; about theology with the theologian if he is not too far removed from me theologically; but if I cannot talk with the car conductor, the day labourer, it is because my sympathies are narrow.

2. Christ's sympathies were as quick as they were catholic. His soul was receptive as well as distributive. The musician plays on the keys of the organ. They are inert, and answer to his touch. But when the speaker plays on a human soul, he must be keys as well as fingers — he must respond as well as move. There is no flash of thought, question of perplexity, or sorrow anywhere that Christ does not instantly meet.

III. Because He had this quick and catholic sympathy HE DREW MEN OUT. He made them express themselves; oftentimes against their will — evoked their doubts, sins, difficulties. Witness His treatment of Philip, Thomas, and Jude in this conversation. This is rare power: worth more than eloquence or poetry. He knew what was in man; and more than once He saw them doubting among themselves, and phrased His answer to their doubting.

IV. HE HAD THE GIFT OF TURNING EVERYTHING TO ACCOUNT. He asks for a drink of water, and this suggests the water of life; He fed a multitude with bread, and then talked naturally about the bread of life. A friend of mine, on entering a train, asked the brakeman, "When shall we get to Albany?" "I do not know," surlily replied the man, "there is nothing certain on a train." "Nothing but death," said my friend. "Well, that is so." "Yes, and therefore we ought to be ready for it." "That is a fact," said the brakeman. If my friend had gone out of his way to preach he would not have got an answer.

V. CONVERSATION WITH CHRIST WAS ALWAYS THE INSTRUMENT OF DIVINE MINISTRY. Christ never declined an invitation; but wherever He went, He carried His message of love and goodness, and turned the least incidents into moral lessons, He was always master of the conversation. He was not carried by its drift, wherever it might go, but, like a skilful pilot with his hand on the helm, guided it in what direction He would have it go.

(Lyman Abbott, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

WEB: I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me.

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