How incredible is it that we, as a Christian, can make the boast that our God came down to us. How many other religions can make the claim that their God is that involved, that willing to intervene?
Our precious Jesus lived as we lived. Yeshua lived the way God originally intended a human to live. He lived how God wanted Adam to live, perfect in obedience, submission and righteousness. Jesus set the perfect example of what it means to be a human.
What is so fascinating about this example is that it’s multi-faceted.
Jesus sets us an example in love, humility, compassion, kindness. He treated the marginalised with dignity and sheer grace. He modelled a revolutionary servant leadership. He reclined with tax collectors and prostitutes.
This is all well versed in the believer’s mind. But the example of Jesus doesn’t stop there. The manifold example of Jesus extends to every arena of life.
Confronting Religious Zeal
The same Jesus that said that loving God and loving others are the most important commands is the same Jesus who called religious leaders ‘hypocrites’, a ‘brood of vipers’, ‘whitewashed tombs’. In Matthew 23 Jesus said to them:
“You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (verse 13).
“You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (verse 24).
Jesus was bold enough to call out Pharisees and Sadducees. Bold enough to expose their pride. Jesus was stern enough to confront religious leaders that used their spirituality as a show.
Jesus is more than an ancient healer and social worker. He is a vocal advocate of true religion. He is the Chief Shepherd, using his rod to cast away wolves. He is a protector of the true gospel.
I’m thankful for the preachers that are voices in the wilderness. There are so many incredible men and women of God that are speaking out and confronting false gospels and religious zeal. As they do this, they follow the example of Jesus.
There are going to be times when each of us has to protect truth and stand up to the legalistic. I’m not condoning everyone to go to church the following week to flip tables. It takes great maturity to confront people with grace, the point is that we have to protect people from becoming deceived. The point is, there comes a tipping point where people need direct words.
Jesus’ example, Jesus’ call to be a different human, involves not only cheerful seasons but also miserable ones.
“For this is a gracious thing, when mindful of God, one endures sorrow while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it to you, if when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called because Christ also suffered for you leaving an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (2 Peter chapter 1, verse 19 to 20)
Whether one is being persecuted unjustly, whether suffering from sickness, the call to be Christ-like is still in effect.
So then, how did Jesus respond when he suffered unjustly?
“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (2 Peter chapter 1, verse 22 to 23)
Following Jesus example in suffering means being holy. It means not retaliating. It is the natural human response when the world treats you bitterly, to reflect that bitterness outward. But Jesus calls us to a different standard.
Furthermore, while Jesus was on the cross he lamented. He cried:
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew chapter 27, verse 46)
This is lament language from Psalm 22. So even in the deepest suffering, Jesus has set before us an example to follow. Not to internalise deep pain but to express it through the language of lament.
Jesus’ example is so multifaceted he even gives us an example to follow concerning emotional honesty. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane undergoing extreme stress, he said:
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew chapter 26, verse 38).
He said this to his disciples. I think this is so profound because if anyone has reason to present themselves as having it all together, it’s the saviour of the world. But no, Jesus was emotionally honest. He asked them for their company and their help as well.
Jesus modelled a vulnerability that takes real courage.
Although it may be a bit confronting when we see the stern example of Jesus, I think it also deepens his portrait. Jesus’ ministry was not monochromatic, it was dynamic and rich.
I chose these aspects to delve into because they may not be discussed as much. But at the end of the day, we should never forget how extravagant the love of Jesus was. He showed us to be a friend of sinners, to be gentle and humble. He showed us how to have faith in storms, how to teach with open questions and parables, how to serve. He showed us submission to the Father’s will. He showed us supernatural healing.
The example of Jesus extends to every arena and season of life. The example of Jesus is so beautiful because it is manifold in nature.
Roden Meares enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden’s previous articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/roden-meares.html