Daily Devotion

May 30, 2012

The Jesus of Thomas Jefferson

“No man ever spoke like this Man!” Jn 7:46 NKJV
Historical research authenticates the personal faith of many of the founders of the United States. In his foreword to the second edition of Thomas Jefferson’s The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, later known as The Jefferson Bible, Douglas E. Lurton tells how the President in his first White House term so revered and cherished the words of Jesus, he dreamed of writing them down in a separate volume. From the four Gospels Jefferson extracted Christ’s words, which he described “as easily distinguished (from other words) as diamonds in a dung-hill.” In 1816, he told his friend Charles Thompson, “I, too, have made a…little book…by cutting the texts out of the book and arranging them on the pages of a blank book in…order of time or subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel…I have never seen.” Jefferson also wrote his book in Greek, Latin and French. Although he acknowledged initially writing down Christ’s words “for my own use,” never intending to publish them, he subsequently claimed they “will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent…which has ever been offered to man.” Jesus’ words so moved Jefferson that he wrote from his home in Monticello to Thompson describing his book as “a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” They were much more than sublime and benevolent words to Jefferson, they were words that changed his life and made him a follower of Christ. In Douglas Lurton’s words about the Bible, let’s “Study it out. Pray it in. Put it down. Pass it on!”