Most of us have a picture of Jesus in our minds. We have a certain idea of what he looked like and what kind of personality he probably had. It might be surprising how many of our assumptions about Jesus look nothing like Jesus in the bible.
Jesus had charisma, was excitable, impulsive, “deeply moved”, overjoyed, angry, grieving and sorrowful. Philip Yancey describes Jesus as having “nearly inexhaustible patience with individuals, but no patience at all with institutions and injustice.”
If we are going to follow Jesus, we must discard our wrong impressions of him and take an honest look at his live and be people who actually look like him. Jesus set the standard for living, but unfortunately 2000 years later, it’s still missed by most of us. There’s a bumper sticker that reads, “Real men love Jesus.” I’d rather see men (and women) living like Jesus. So, let’s start there…what did his standard look like?
- Jesus cried in front of his disciples – Oh come on! Really? Really. On three different occasions. It seemed like the first lesson of “manhood” when I was growing up was: Never let them see you cry. This may have been a lesson we learned, but we did not learn it from Jesus.
- Jesus did not hide his fears or hesitate to ask for help – weren’t we all taught that independence is the way to manhood – I don’t need nobody. All of us have difficulty admitting that we could use some help – whether it’s directions or instructions. This is not a lesson in leadership we are given.
- Jesus loved to praise other people. This is one of those things that comes difficult for a lot of us, men and women. He also deflected credit, and who really does that? Following his lead would make us better praisers of others and more humble.
- Jesus quickly established intimacy with the people he met. For many of us, it takes years before we are able to trust someone enough to disclose our true selves. Not true for Jesus – a woman at a well, a religious leader in a garden or fishermen at a lake. Relationships carried more weight than tasks for him.
- Jesus held women and children in high regard.
- Jesus didn’t hold to a rigorous list of “to-dos” each day, and probably would not have appreciated our emphasis on punctuality. Some of you like to hear that. The two times he raised people from the dead, he had to do so because he was too late to heal them when they were sick.
- Jesus was “the man for others” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer). He accepted almost every invitation to dinner with someone and thus had one of the most diverse lists of friends of any public figure – rich people, Roman guards, tax collectors, hookers, robbers, and people with leprosy. People liked being with Jesus – joy followed him around.
It’s important to remember that we can take on characteristics without actually knowing who Jesus really is. Knowing him is more important than doing anything that looks like him. There will be people who feed the hungry and give drink to the poor that he will not know. He is always more concerned with our heart than with our hands. But the best is when our hands and our hearts match up.
Adapted from Chapter 5, “Profile: What Would I have Noticed?” in The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey.