What Was Jesus Like?
Who Is Jesus?
Jesus is God, on earth.
He is man, showing us how to live as a human in a fallen world.
He came as a child, to a poor family. His method of coming left a stigma on him and his family as his legitimacy was questioned. He did not come as the long-awaited child of a righteous high priest and his wife, in a manner similar to many of the patriarchs (barren wife who miraculously gives birth) like John the Baptist did, though he could have. Instead, he arrived in a manger to an unknown couple with no status but good hearts that also wanted to follow God faithfully.
His childhood is largely unknown, but we do know that at 12 years old he stayed behind at the Temple, discussing scripture with the elite scholars of the time. His parents came to look for him and he tells them that he is doing the work of his father. His parents do not understand, and he bows to their earthly authority and leaves with them even though he has just made it clear that his true father is God. While he is God on earth, he respects the rules and authority He/ God put in place in scripture even though technically, as God, they do not apply to him as He has authority over man. As a child, he obeys his parents, even when he is right, and those in authority (his parents) do not understand.
His first miracle mirrors this fact. His mother comes to him about a problem at a wedding that will embarrass the couple; there is not enough wine. He tells her that it is not his time, indicating that although he can help, it would not be appropriate to do so now. His mother ignores this and trusts that he will remedy the situation, and he does. He obeys his mother, giving her the desire of her heart even though it is not the perfect time to do so, and the only problem it solves is merely one of embarrassment to a young couple. This incident shows Jesus as an adult, not yet completely out from under his mother’s authority. It also shows us that God cares about the “little” things in our lives, that often seem very “big” to us in the moment.
He does not however obey his mother later when he is active in ministry. His mother arrives with his brothers and wants him to come home, where it is safe, as people are becoming upset with his teachings. Things have changed. He is an adult, no longer living at home, and he is involved in active ministry. He does not disrespect her but is no longer under the obligation to obey. God, as Jesus, shows us what it means to grow into an adult and leave your parent’s household.
Jesus’ ministry shows us not to fear doing the right thing even if it is counter cultural. He does not study under another rabbi. (He is God, so this is likely not a lesson for mere humans.) He calls his disciples instead of having disciples come to him. This is also different from the way things are typically done, and shows us how God relates to us, always calling, not waiting for us, but actively seeking a relationship. Still, we must choose to follow.
Jesus addresses the issues of the time, clarifying what in society is right and what is wrong. He is not afraid to behave in a manner that goes against the norm when the norm is too restrictive and adds extra burdens to following God’s laws, such as not picking grain on the sabbath when you are hungry.
Jesus also rests. He has mercy on people and does many great things, but he also takes time to be with God. He takes care of His needs and his relationship with His Father.
Jesus teaches by asking questions and leading people to the right conclusions. Jesus is not overly authoritative. Instead, he allows his disciples to think and gives them the information they need to come to the proper conclusions.
Jesus also does not set up a hierarchy in his group. He refuses to say who is the top disciple, and the place of honor, sitting at his feet, is left open. Ironically the one time someone does sit there, it is Mary, and Jesus defends her choice. He also includes women in his ministry in a way that was not done in this culture. Women follow him, listen to his teachings, along with the children, and support his ministry financially. It is a woman who will be the first to tell people that he had risen.
Jesus feels pain and sadness. He does not wish to suffer yet does so for our sakes to the point of suffering both physical pain and humiliation on the cross. Then He rises from the dead, proving that he was not at the mercy of humans when he suffered but did so for us.
Jesus forgives both Peter’ and Thomas’ moments of denial/ disbelief. He understands our weaknesses and is greatly invested in the continuing relationship. He does not focus on the past issue but instead on the current state of the relationship.
There are many more points to consider about the character of Jesus, but these are a few to think about today.