[W]e are compelled to wonder and awe at the fact that out of this strict and monotheistic religion, there was born such an all-but-idolotrous worship of a prophet. The scholars can speculate about the origins of theological ideas, imagining, for example, where this or that 'christology' first evolved. Simple common sense, and decent reverence in the presence of such faith, is bound to ask, 'What can it have been about this man that inspired such thoughts? ... What was it about Jesus at the time of his earthly life which so impressed his followers that they could group together in his name and be convinced that even after his death he was the focus of Israel's hopes? ...
Any Jews, however poor and humble...could in the teaching of Jesus
embody in their own person the divine nature of pity and purity and
love. When the Judgment comes, Jesus taught that we shall not be asked
to rail at God for having created a world in which there are hungry,
poor, unhappy people. He, by contrast, will have expected us to
have incarnated his virtues; he will expect us to have been 'God'
towards our unfortunate neighbours; for he will have been hidden within
was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave
me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after
me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:35-36)
There is something immediate and accessible about this, the 'religion of
Jesus,' and which formed the basis of the enormous authority of Jesus
as a moral teacher. Combined with his gifts as a healer, we must believe
that he was one of those rare and charismatic 'saints', rather like
Francis of Assisi in the Middle Ages or Mother Teresa in our own day,
who captured people's imaginations, filled them with the love of God.
The historian comes to this conclusion not for reasons of sentimentality
but because it is inconceivable that a movement could have grown up in
Jesus's name had Jesus himself not been a person of remarkable virtue,
eloquence and personal magnetism.
excerpts quoted from pages 114-116 of Paul: The Mind of the Apostle by A.N. Wilson