PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

The Character and Personality of Jesus

12/6/09 – the character & personality of Jesus

Last week we looked at who Jesus claimed to be, who his apostles testified that he was, and who the Old Testament prophets predicted he would be. We saw that Jesus claimed to be the eternal all glorious pre-existent self existent one, sent from the Father, equal to and one with his Father yet distinct from the Father and worthy of the same honor as the Father; this dearly loved eternal companion of the Father was sent to be born, sent to live a perfect life in our place, sent to be beaten and bruised and abused, sent to die in our place so that we could be given the infinitely valuable gift of eternal life – life that consists in knowing this all glorious God, knowing this Jesus!

Today we will look at Jesus the man. If it is true as it says in…

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, …

If it is true, as it says in…

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God… 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

If it is true that the good news is all about…

2Corinthians 4:4, 6 …seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. …6…to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Then the best way to get to know God better is to look closely at Jesus. This is what John gives us as the purpose of the incarnation:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. …18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

So one of the main purposes of Jesus’ coming was to make God known. And Jesus himself tells us that eternal life consists in knowing God and knowing Jesus:

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

In our pursuit of knowing God better, we will look this morning at the character and personality of Jesus in the New Testament writings, as well as some pointers in the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. We want to see Jesus for who he is and give him the worship that is his due. Jesus said…

John 5:22-23 The Father… has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

So we don’t want simply to learn more stuff about Jesus today. We want to honor the Father and the Son by seeing what Jesus is like and standing in awe of him; to have our hearts respond with joy and worship of him.

Before we dig into the gospels, lets go back to Moses’ request to see the glory of God.

Exodus 33:18 Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” 21 And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

It is interesting that Moses asks to be shown the glory of God, and God’s response is to display his goodness and proclaim his name. In the next chapter, we see the answer to Moses’ request:

Exodus 34: 5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

The answer does not come in a visual manifestation, but in words. The glory of the Lord is not sound and lights and special effects. The glory of the Lord is the reputation of his name and the glory of his character – merciful, gracious, slow to anger, overflowing in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving, yet absolutely just. The display of the glory of God is what Jesus came to do.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And John sums up the glory of God that he saw in the face of Jesus Christ this way: ‘full of grace and truth’. We don’t get a description of what Jesus in his humanity looked like, and all the pictures that have been painted are wrong – because they can’t portray the fullness of grace and truth which is what we most need to see. In fact those that had seen him said in a passage dealing with:

2 Corinthians 5:12 …those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart… 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.

The Beauty of Jesus: The beauty of Jesus is not in outward appearance. Did you ever wonder how Jesus was able to disappear in a crowd and escape arrest so many times?

Luke 4:29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

It certainly may have been supernatural, but is it possible that he looked so ordinary that he easily blended in with the crowds of Jewish men? Did you ever consider that Jesus might have been short? Remember, he was the promised Messiah, destined to sit on David’s throne – David, who was the youngest and shortest of his brothers – the runt of the litter (1 Samuel 16). Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus because he was short – but do you know how difficult it is for a short guy to find another short guy in a crowd? Even John the Baptist claims that the Spirit had to point Jesus out to him:

John 1:33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

And did you ever wonder why Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss?

Matthew 26:48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.”

Wouldn’t it have been easier for Judas to say “He’s the tall one with the flowing blonde hair and piercing blue eyes – you know, the one with the glowing halo hovering over his head.” But it is the prophet Isaiah that removes all doubt about the unimpressive physical appearance of Jesus:

Isaiah 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

The Humanness of Jesus

Part of what made it so difficult for the religious leaders to take Jesus’ claims seriously was that Jesus was unmistakably human. The conception of Jesus was miraculous, but his birth was marked not by the supernatural, but by poverty and disgrace. Yes, there was an angelic announcement, but it was made to the least respected, the least trustworthy members of society at that time – shepherds. He was born to an unwed mother away from home – in a stable. The Jews were aware of his questionable background

John 8:41 You are doing what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.”

John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Mark 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Mark 2:6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

John 10:33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

There was no question about the genuineness of the humanity of Jesus to those who knew him. He became hungry and thirsty and weary and he ate and drank and slept. He experienced grief and anger and pain and frustration and joy. He stumbled and wept and sweat and bled and died. It is interesting that the first heresies did not deny the fact that Jesus was God; they denied the fact that Jesus was really human. That’s why John focused on the tangible nature of his eye witness account in his first letter:

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life– 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us– 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

John had leaned against Jesus’ breast and felt his heart beating. He had watched him being tortured and he watched him die. So he writes:

1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

It was essential that Jesus be authentically human. If Jesus were not truly human, he could not substitute himself and stand in our place and die for our sins. In order to mediate between God and man, he must be the man Christ Jesus. [1 Timothy 2:5]

So what was it about Jesus that displayed the glory of God?

The Royalty of Jesus

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,

Matthew 2:2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Jesus is indeed Messiah, king of the Jews, but his is an upside-down kingdom.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Jesus displays that God is indeed King of kings and Lord of lord, but he rules as a servant king who needs nothing and rules by serving sacrificially for the good of his subjects.

The Wisdom of Jesus

Luke 2:46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

Mark 6:2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands?

John 7:15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” …46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”

The wisdom of Jesus astonished all who heard, but his wisdom was upside-down wisdom. It was not the wisdom of the academy and he was not seeking the approval of the religious establishment, in fact it was a wisdom that was hidden tot he wise:

Mark 4:10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

Luke 10:21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

Jesus said some very hard things, offensive things that seem to be designed to turn people away, things like:

John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. …60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Paul in 1 Corinthians declares that the glory of God is seen in the upside-down nature of God’s wisdom

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The glory of God is seen in The Authority of Jesus

Mark 4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

Luke 4:36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

Luke 7:49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

John 19:10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…

John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

And look how Jesus used his authority – he laid down his life for his sheep. [Jn10:15]. In his authority, he invites:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Mark 1:40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

He uses his authority to forgive sins with the woman caught in the act of adultery – he convicts her accusers of their sin and sends her away forgiven [John 8:3-11]. Isaiah puts it this way

Isaiah 42:3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.

And yet this is how he speaks to the proud self-righteous Pharisees:

John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Matthew 23:15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. …27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. … 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

The Passion of Jesus

John 2:14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Jesus was passionate about truth and righteousness, and yet his passion found expression this way:

Luke 19:41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

As the soldiers crucified him, he extended forgiveness to them.

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Jesus accurately and fully put the glory of God on display

Exodus 34:6 …“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Through Jesus we come to know God better

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. … 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Thank you Jesus, for faithfully putting God on display. Thank you that you are full of grace and truth, and out of your fullness we receive. Thank you for pouring out grace upon grace upon grace – undeserved kindness. Thank you for extending kindness and forgiveness even to your enemies. And thank you that you are truth – absolute righteousness and unswerving holiness. Thank you that you did not sweep my sin under the carpet of eternity, but that you decisively dealt with in in your own human body on the tree.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

December 6, 2009 - Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , ,

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