How close is your life with that of Christ? Can others see Christ in you? Let us examine the life of Christ and compare our Savior’s characteristics with ours.
Jesus Partook of Word
Necessarily involved in the acquiescence of Jesus to his Father was His dependency on the word of God. When Jesus taught and engaged in controversy, as He often did, He did not refer to His subjective feelings or to objective sources such as the teachings of the rabbis as His authority. He quoted Scripture (Matt. 19:4-6, 8)! When the devil amassed every particle of power and persuasiveness at his disposal to defeat the Lord at the very outset of Jesus’ ministry, the Lord relied on Scripture. After each of the devil’s appeals through the lust of the flesh, pride of life, and the lust of the eyes, Jesus cogently responded: “It is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus believed in the total indispensability of the word. Hear Him: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Not once did Jesus ever rely upon the doctrines and commandments of men nor even of His own opinion. No! He spoke what God commanded and nothing more (Jn 12:49-50). As He told plainly, “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (Jn 7:16-17). Do you speak the very words of God as Jesus did and as we are commanded to do (1 Pet 4:11)?
Jesus Desired Unity
In the shadow of the cross, Jesus’ primary concerns were not exclusively for Himself. Consider His prayer, “That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:21).
Concerned one, Jesus did not believe in nor practice our modern ecumenical unity. Jesus did not place “unity” over truth. In fact, Jesus, because He insisted on truth regardless, often caused division among His brethren (Jn. 10:19). Our Lord, I am convinced, would not be very successful as a modern “Church of Christ Preacher”! Jesus desires unity based on a conformity to the word of God (Jn. 17:8, 14, 17, 19-20). Do you find yourself desiring unity at the cost of truth? Are you willing to stand up for the truth and be on the Lord’s side, or are you on the side of unified error?
Jesus Loved The Truth
One cannot help but be impressed with the profound love Jesus possessed for the truth. While the religious world, and more and more within the body of Christ, are clamoring for the suppression of truth, or at least parts of truth, Jesus unshackled the truth found in the Hebrew Scriptures and enunciated new, revolutionary truths (Matt. 5:21-48; Jn. 14:6). When in the presence of error, Jesus could not remain silent, even though such outspokenness would later cost him His life (Jn. 8:31-59). Jesus did not “just love to argue.” Jesus loved the truth! Beloved, truth was not any more popular in Jesus’ day than it is in our day. It was Jesus who told His brethren, “But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth,” And, “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” (Jn. 8:40, 45). Are you set for the defense of the gospel (Philip 1:15-18)? Are you prepared to contend for the faith (Jude 3)?
Jesus Returned Good For Evil
Christians are commanded to love fellow Christians. We are to love and lay down our life for fellow brethren even as He laid down His life for us (Jn 13:34 f; 1 Jn 3:16)? However, Jesus also taught: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). As we have seen, Jesus practiced what He preached. Jesus restored Malchus’ severed ear (one in the ungodly mob which had come to ruthlessly apprehend and later murder Jesus) (Lk. 22:51). While suspended between heaven and earth on the cruel cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).
Jesus taught and exhibited returning good for evil, but He did not advocate nor practice passivity. Allow me to explain. Jesus taught that when one has been personally sinned against, he is to rebuke the trespassing brother (Lk. 17:3-4). However, such action is not retaliatory, but for the reclamation of the erring brother (Lk. 17:3-4). Can you forgive your enemies and do good unto them? Are you willing to rebuke an errand brother in love and faith?
Jesus Was A Law Abiding Citizen
Jesus’ conduct relative to civil law was exemplary. It would seem that because Jesus had developed a reputation of being a “rebel”, the tax collectors in Capernaum did not expect Jesus to pay tribute (Matt. 17:24-27). However, Jesus did pay his taxes.
Jesus was under the close scrutiny of all. They all with one accord were desperately seeking to find some fault in him (Matt. 12:10, 14; 16:1). Jesus had exposed their sins and errors and they desired His destruction (Matt. 21:45-46). Jesus’ hypocritical brethren could not fault Him and could not answer His arguments (Matt. 22:46). Hence, envy was evoked on their part (Matt. 27:18). It was this envy coupled with their severe hatred which caused them to crucify the Lord. What is my point? My point is this: if they could have established one infraction either from God’s law as such or from civil law, they would have! Do you obey the laws of the land by paying your taxes and living a good and moral life before God and man? Do you respect and honor all leaders, whether they be policemen, mayors, congressmen, senators, presidents or judges? (1 Pet 2:17 f; Rom 13:1-7)
Jesus Was Prayerful
Yes, even the incarnate Son of God depended on prayer. From an examination of Jesus’ life, you find Jesus regularly engaging in prayer to his Father (Jn. 17 f; Matt. 11:25-27). Jesus customarily prayed before He made important decisions (Lk. 6:12ff).
Jesus did not pray as many of His brethren did. His prayers were not pretentious and formalistic (Matt. 6:5-15). Jesus prayed earnestly, sincerely, and fervently (Lk. 22:44). Do you pray to be heard or are you even concerned that your prayers may not be heard? God hears the prayer of the righteous but not the prayers of sinners (1 Pet 3:12 f; Jn 9:31).
Jesus Was Persecuted
Jesus suffered greatly, but in doing so He offered us an example of how to deal with our own difficulties (1 Pet. 2:21). “The servant is not greater than his master” (John 15:15-25). If we are following the Son of God we will suffer! We are told by Peter that Jesus is our example, our pattern. Peter also tells us to “walk in His steps.” The original word for steps means “foot-prints.” We are to follow his lead!
Although Jesus unjustly suffered, He did not sin. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). We all have the natural desire of self-preservation, and when we are persecuted, there is the inclination to retaliate. Jesus was not some masochist that received some unnatural joy from pain, but He denied himself to do the will of His Father.
The Scripture says that when He was reviled, He reviled not again” (1 Pet. 2:23). Could He have? Did He have the capability to do so? What is the force of the statement if He had no choice? How did Jesus have the strength to not revile again? He committed himself to His Father; this is something He did constantly.
All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12) If we are living for Christ, standing for the truth and opposing error, we will encounter difficult times (1 Pet. 3:8-17 cf; 4:1-4, 12-16). Jesus had enemies, not because of any failure on His part, but because He told the truth. Paul remarked, “Do I make you my enemy because I tell you the truth?”
Jesus Was Obedient
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). The very essence of Jesus’ life was to obey his Father. He expressed this desire in this manner, “… my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus could truthfully say, “for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus was obedient – even to the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8). Do you seek in all things to please Jesus? Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) Jesus commanded all to believe and be baptized in order to be saved (Mk 16:16). For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:27).
Conclusion: Are you walking in the steps of the Savior? If so, then your life is the mirror image of Him who died for you. Do you love and obey the truth? If you are truly living for Christ, then you are living the life of Christ. As Christ followed the doctrine of God (Jn 7:16-17), as the apostles followed the doctrine of Christ (1 Cor 11:1), even so we are to follow the doctrine of the apostles (Acts 2:42). In doing so, we are truly Christ like and faithful children of God. “He that says he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 Jn 2:16). “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philip 2): Therefore, love the Word, love unity, but love the truth even more. Return not evil for good and be good citizens. Be prayerful, endure persecution, and above all things, be obedient to the gospel of your salvation that Christ be found in you!