Character Profile: Jesus
Here are a few things that amaze me about Jesus.
Jesus would eat with anyone.
One night, we’re told, he stayed at the home of Simon, a fisherman from Galilee whose accent was so strong that people in the city would instantly know where he was from. (Jesus gave Simon the nickname Peter, the name we remember him by today.)
Another night Jesus ate dinner with a different Simon, a religious leader who was both haughty and skeptical of Jesus’ message. Another time Jesus ate in the home of yet another Simon, who was a leper—probably disfigured by a progressive skin disease and an outcast from society.
Fishermen, teachers, lepers. Insiders, outsiders. The rich, the poor. Strangers, foes, and friends—including friends, like Simon Peter, who would eventually deny him. Jesus ate with them all. (He even ate with people whose names weren’t Simon.)
Jesus didn’t care about status.
A powerful man named Jairus came begging Jesus to come and heal his twelve-year-old daughter, who was at the point of death. Jesus agreed to go. But along the way, an unknown woman who had been sick for twelve years managed to brush Jesus’ cloak, believing it would heal her. Jesus stopped the whole procession to find her, meet her, hear her story, and finally to tell her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”
It took so long for Jesus to find this woman in the crowd that, while they were talking, Jairus’ daughter died. But then Jesus went to Jairus’ home anyway and raised her up from the bed where she lay cold and still—after making sure that no one except the girl’s parents and Jesus’ closest disciples would ever know about the miracle.
You could be the daughter of the most powerful man in town, or an unknown “daughter” who had been ill for over a decade—Jesus cared for you either way.
Jesus’ disciples were slow to understand how little he cared about status. Two of his disciples, the brothers James and John, came to him privately to ask if they could sit in the best seats at the banquet when he became—as they assumed he would—king of Israel. “That isn’t mine to grant—it is for those for whom it has been prepared,” he said dismissively. Which both implied that there was indeed a royal feast coming, and that someone else was in charge of it.
Jesus hardly ever answered a question.
Most often, when someone asked Jesus a question, he would answer with another one. “Good Teacher,” one man asked him, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus shot a question right back. “Why do you call me good?” he said. “No one is good except God alone.”
That’s not the response you’d expect from someone whose followers believed he was the Son of God.
Then again, he went on to tell that same man to sell everything he had, give all the proceeds to the poor, and follow him—and then he’d have an inheritance in heaven. Which is exactly the advice you’d expect from someone who was the Son of God.
Spend any amount of time around Jesus, and confusing things like this happened over and over. He fulfilled no one’s expectations, even though he claimed that all the prophets’ most extravagant promises had come true in him. He was his own man—although he wouldn’t have put it that way, since he said that the only things he did were what his Father asked him to do.
If you turn to the original texts based on the testimony of his followers and friends, I think you’ll find someone who is more unpredictable, and more compelling, than anyone else in history.
He just wouldn’t stay put.
Even when they put him in a tomb.