The Real Jesus

It often occurs to me that our common assumptions about Jesus really don’t square with the Gospel record. As we work our way through the Gospels, we see it even more clearly.

The Jesus of our Bible does not fit the stereotype of a quiet, “don’t rock the boat” personality.

Maybe that is the problem, our word “personality.” What was Jesus’ personality? Was He a morning or night person, dog or cat person? Did he prefer spicy foods or bland, sunrises or sunsets? Was He more at home with individuals or crowds? We really don’t know, and the Scriptures don’t say.

But what comes through loud and clear is Jesus’ character. Character is that set of qualities which truly defines us: our quest for truth, our love of God, our esteem for Creation, especially those made in the image of the Creator. These we see repeatedly revealed in Jesus.

He reminds the hometown (Nazareth) crowd that Gentiles are included in God blessing, even though He knows it will anger them. He rebukes demons even though they are powerful. He presses on in His itinerant ministry even though it disappoints those left behind. He spurns the attention of the crowds in order to withdraw to pray. He openly forgives sins and heals, even when opposed by religious hypocrisy.

The common thread is His uncompromising character. He is who He is regardless of circumstances, people, or place. Of course He tempers His words and modulates His voice depending upon His hearers, and He is never cruel. But His mission and message remain unchanged.

What a stirring reminder for us. On the one hand, we are being conformed to His image, but we also are in danger of being swayed by the world and our circumstances. We learn from Jesus that It is possible to be right without being arrogant, confident without being proud, and assertive without being rude. It is possible to be misunderstood and opposed, even while doing God’s will. It is possible to follow Jesus: we have only to worship the One He worships and seek what He seeks.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Romans 8:29

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