The character of Jesus
Used with the kind
permission of Churches
Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild was a song I learned in childhood. It was only when I grew up that I realised how unhelpful this song is in understanding the true character of Jesus!
It's easy to imagine Jesus as a permanent victim—someone relentlessly picked on, who never stood up for himself. After all, if he was God, why didn't he save himself from his own death? I think some people do perceive him as quite insipid, even dull. I'm pleased to say this is not the character of Jesus I recognise from the Bible!
Jesus knew full well he was the Son of God. He frequently said so, to the confusion and consternation of his family, friends and the religious community alike, as recorded in the gospels. That lent him solid self-confidence and authority, although for the most part these were expressed calmly and quietly.
He can get angry, though! Annoyed by people setting up stalls in the temple for money-changing and exploiting worshipers, he furiously overturned their tables. (Look it up.)
He could lose patience with his disciples and those who followed him. When they failed to heal a young boy, because of their own lack of faith, you can imagine Jesus rolling his eyes and tutting as he said, “Oh, unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Look it up.)
He is moved by human circumstance. When he went to the tomb of his friend Lazarus who had died, and saw the grief of the mourners, Jesus wept. (Look it up.)
He is humble. He knew he was God—but he wasn’t above getting on his knees and washing his disciples’ feet. He was making the point that he wasn’t on earth to lord it up, but to serve mankind. (Look it up.)
He is challenging. A rich young man asked how, since he already lived a good life, he could be sure of getting into heaven. Jesus told him he should give all he had to the poor. He knew this young man’s particular weakness—and called him on it. The young man went away, unable to do it. (Look it up.)
He is compassionate, and was deeply moved by the plight of many suffering people, including a leper whom he healed. (Look it up.) His heart aches for mankind, and wants everyone to hear the good news of his salvation. (Look it up.)
He is prepared to be confrontational. He knows that belief in him will divide humanity. (Look it up.)
He was law-abiding, saying that taxes should be paid to the occupying Roman authorities. (Look it up.)
He was brave. He stood before the combined weight of the Jewish and Roman courts, and didn’t try to worm his way out of it. (Look it up.)
He is committed. He had a job to do and he did it, even if mixing with life’s undesirables (such as a tax collector) brought him great criticism. (Look it up.)
He was sure of himself; even at the age of about 12, he was confident and smart enough to be teaching the priests in the temple. (Look it up.)
Jesus' character is rich and complex, just like the trillions of people he created. However, you don't get to know people by reading about them, you get to know them as you get to know them! This is the important challenge with Jesus; don't just take my word for it, get to know him for yourself.
Pray: Jesus, I'm sorry if I've never understood you, simply because I've never got to know you. Let's put that right. Amen.
Read articles on different facets of his character
Watch a video clip of Jesus as the way to God
Study his character
Smile: Discover Jesus in unexpected places
Watch someone painting Jesus' face
Watch the music video Mercy Me (I Can Only Imagine Meeting Jesus)
Read the book Jesus – Safe, Tender, Extreme by Adrian Plass
Read the book The Jesus I never knew by Philip Yancey
Read the book Mealtime Habits of the Messiah: 40 Encounters with Jesus by Conrad Gempf
Read the book Jesus, the Son of Man by Kahlil Gibran
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