THE CHARACTER OF JESUS
(PART I)

 

PURPOSE

 

In today’s lesson, we will study the amazing character of Jesus.  His teachings of course are extremely important, however, His lifestyle is just as important.  As Christians, we should strive to be like Jesus in all aspects of our lives (1 Jn. 2:6).

 

When I examine the Bible, I see that Jesus had many wonderful characteristics. 

 

Let's look at a few.

 

OPENER

 

Whose character (family, friend, or co-worker) do you most admire? 

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LESSON

 

1.      JESUS IS KINDHEARTED.

 

In (Mark 10:13-16), we see the kindness of Jesus being bestowed upon the little children.  Explain the significance of the Lord’s kindness towards the children. 

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n        In (Mk. 10), people were bringing some little children to Jesus hoping that He would touch them, but the disciples rebuked the people.  When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.

 

n        In this passage, several parents were bringing their children to Jesus hoping that He would bless them.  Now, we must remember that in their culture, the Jewish people believed that children should be seen not heard.  They were not the center of attention like they are today.    The disciples thought that Jesus had no time for the children, so they scolded the parents, shooing them away and telling them to leave.   Boy, were the disciples wrong.  Jesus became displeased with His disciples' statement and in firm and patient voice, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.”

 

n        You can imagine the little children rushed to the ground where Jesus sat.  Jesus was probably smiling as He hugged the ones nearest Him.  After several minutes of conversation, Jesus probably took the children one by one into His tender arms and pronounced His blessings on them.

 

n        From this story we can see the charter of kindness that radiated from Jesus.

 

As disciples of Christ, we to are to be kind to others (Ephesians 4:32).  What does it mean to be kind? 

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n        To be kind means “to be friendly, and warmhearted in nature.”

 

n        Robert Burns once said, “The heart benevolent and kind is the heart that most resembles God.”

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Dan Clark, an actor, songwriter, recording artist, and video producer once wrote an article that can inspire us to be kind.

 

Once when I was a teenager, my father and I were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus.  Finally, there was only one family between us and the ticket counter.  This family made a big impression on me.  There were eight children, all probably under the age of 12.  You could tell they didn’t have a lot of money.  Their clothes were not expensive, but they were clean.  The children were will-behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands.  They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, elephants and other acts they would see that night.  One could sense they had never been to the circus before.  It promised to be a highlight of their young lives.

 

The father and mother were at the head of the pack standing proud as could be.   The mother was holding her husband’s hand, looking up at him as if to say, “You’re my knight in shining armor.”  He was smiling and basking in pride

 

The ticket lady asked the father how many tickets he wanted.  He proudly responded, “Please let me buy eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets so I can take my family to the circus.” 

 

The ticket lady quoted the price.  The man’s wife let go of his hand, her head dropped, the man’s lip began to quiver.  The father leaned a little closer and asked, “How much did you say?”  The ticket lady again quoted the price.  The man didn’t have enough money.

 

How was he supposed to turn and tell his eight kids that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus?  Seeing what was going on, my dad put his hand into his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill and dropped it on the ground.  (We were not wealthy in any sense of the word).  My father reached down, picked up the bill, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, sir, this fell out of your pocket.”

 

The man knew what was going on.  He wasn’t begging for a handout but certainly appreciated the help in a desperate, heartbreaking, embarrassing situation.  He looked straight into my dad’s eyes, took my dad’s hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the $20 bill, and with his lip quivering and a tear streaming down his cheek, he replied, “Thank you, thank you, sir.  This really means a lot to me and my family.”

 

My father and I went back to our car and drove home.  We didn’t go to the circus that night, but we didn’t go without.

 

1.      This story exemplifies the kindness that we are to have as Christians.  The kind of kindness that reaches out to others with the love of Jesus.

 

2.      When we are kind to others, people can see Christ living in us.

 

3.      William Wordsworth once wrote: The best portion of a good man’s life, is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

 

2.      JESUS IS EMPATHETIC.

 

How would you respond if you just found out that your friend had passed away? 

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How did Jesus respond when his friend Lazarus died? (John 11) 

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n        In (John 11), we see the empathy of Jesus.  In (John 11), we read that Lazarus, one of Jesus’ closes friends, died.  Now when Jesus finally made it into town to see His deceased friend, He was met by Mary, Lazarus’ sister.  And in (verse 33), it reads:

 

&        When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.  ‘‘Where have you laid him?” He asked. ‘‘Come and see, Lord,” they replied.   "Jesus wept."

 

n        Why was Jesus crying?  He was hurt and sad because His friend passed away. 

 

What does it mean to be “empathetic”? 

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n        To be empathetic means “to experience another person’s feelings from that person’s point of view.  It’s considering the feelings of others.  It’s putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

 

n        We are to rejoice with those who rejoice; and mourn with those who mourn.

 

n        Brothers and sisters, we need to genuinely care for people and when we do, we can make a huge difference in their lives.  At times, we may not know that our empathy is making a difference, however, it is.  

 

Describe a time when your empathy helped someone overcome a difficult time and help that person draw closer to God. 

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3.      JESUS SHOWS GRACE.

 

In (John 8:1-11), the Pharisees and the teachers of the law brought an adulterous woman to Jesus.  How did Jesus treat the woman?   

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n        In this story, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were trying to trick Jesus into making the final judgment call on the state of an adulterous woman.

 

a.       If Jesus told the religious leaders that the woman should not be stoned, they would accuse Him of violating Moses’ law (which in Lev. 20:10; Dt. 22:22 required death for adultery).

 

b.       On the other hand, if Jesus urged them to execute her, they would report Him to the Romans, who did not permit the Jews to carry out their own executions (Jn. 18:31).

 

c.       On the surface, it seems that Jesus was in a pickle.  But of course, Jesus knew the right answer.  He told the people, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And then as we know, each person, one by one, went away.

 

n        Although everyone had left, Jesus was still faced with the problem of confronting the adulterous woman.

 

n        If you were the one who had to talk with the woman, what would you say?  Lady, you are living in sin.  How dare you cheat on your husband, you are a low life, scum of the earth.  Your going to Hell and you deserve it.  Would you have scolded and lectured her?

 

n        Let’s look at how Jesus handled it.  (Read v. 10-11).

 

&        Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” 

n        Although this woman stood for the opposite of everything Jesus taught, even though she was living in a terrible and degrading sin, Jesus openly expressed tenderness & compassion and forgiveness to her.  The Son of God didn’t scold her, instead, he lovingly told her to leave her life of sin.  He gave her a second chance.  He showed her grace.

 

Do you find it easy or difficult to show grace to someone when he or she commits sin?    

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n        In this story, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were trying to trick Jesus into making the final judgment call on the state of an adulterous woman.

 

How should we respond when someone sins against us (Matthew 18)? 

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n        When someone sins against us, the Bible teaches in (Matt. 18), that we are to go to that person and talk to them about it.  But when we do, we need to be loving and gentle.

 

&        (Gal. 6:1)  “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”

 

&        (2 Tim. 2:24-25)  “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct...”

 

n        Of course, our natural tendency is to judge people and look down upon people who commit sin and make mistakes.  However, we are to be like Jesus who shows grace toward the sinners.

 

ILLUSTRATION:

 

Leonardo da Vinci painted the fresco "The Last Supper" in a church in Milan. A very interesting story is associated with this painting.

 

At the time that Leonardo da Vinci painted "The Last Supper," he had an enemy who was a fellow painter. Da Vinci had had a bitter argument with this man and despised him. When Da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot at the table with Jesus, he used the face of his enemy so that it would be present for ages as the man who betrayed Jesus. He took delight while painting this picture in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas.

 

As he worked on the faces of the other disciples, he often tried to paint the face of Jesus, but couldn't make any progress. Da Vinci felt frustrated and confused. In time he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. Only after making peace with his fellow painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece.

 

n        No matter what people have done to us, we should be willing to forgive them and show them grace, so that we can continue to create our masterpiece of life.

 

CONCLUSION:

 

1.      Jesus is kindhearted, empathetic, and full of grace.

 

2.      Let us pray that God will grant us the kind of character that Jesus has.

 

 

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