Friday, April 22, 2011

The character of Jesus


Last night we attended a play at a local church. The play was about the life of Jesus, covering his 3 year time of ministry in Judea, culminating in the final time of His arrest, torture, crucifixion and resurrection. It was a typical church play, with cast members unable to "deliver" lines, with a few exceptions that knew how to act. But what struck me this morning, in retrospect, was the man they cast as Jesus. He was very wooden: his lines were spoken with no inflection or enthusiasm, no change in tone or speed, no excitement or joy. He was a dull and boring Jesus. But it made me start to think about the character of Jesus.

I was raised with stained glass windows and pictures in the Bible showing a dour and morose Jesus, devoid of passion and life. And the famous Franco Zefferelli "Jesus of Nazareth" released in the late 70's only forwarded that image, casting a somber, somewhat feminine person as Jesus. Then, many years ago, some artist created the image "the Laughing Jesus", and for the first time I truly SAW Jesus.

We look at the Gospels, and are given wonderful Words of Jesus, but very little action. The authors of the Gospels were not script writers, or novel writers, who could easily convey through actual words Jesus' attitude at the time. We have His anger in the Temple. We have the few times recorded that He wept. And we CAN hear in His "voice" his indignation at the Pharisees. But that's it. But what WAS the character of Jesus like? I can think of 3 things from my readings of the Gospels: Joy; compassion; approachability.

Jesus was a Man of Joy - He WAS and IS Joy. How can so many thousands of folk follow Him as they did (other than to see miracles) if He wasn't Joyful? I'm sure you have friends, or coworkers, that you just like being around because they are always funny, or always laughing, or always in a good mood. They are like light - you are attracted to them. And I'm sure that Jesus was Joyful, spreading Joy all around, like light in a dark room. I am sure too that we don't have ALL the Words of Jesus written down - he spoke very little in 3 years if that was the case. There must of been times of laughter and clapping, and fishermen's jokes, and carpenter jokes, possibly even the good "dig" every once in a while. There WAS Joy!

Jesus was a Man of Compassion - a Man of Love. He loved not just His chosen few, but all who approached Him. He was loving to the adulterous woman, the woman at the well, the blind, the family who lost their child, and to His friend, Lazarus, who He called to come forth from the grave. I am sure that He touched folk a lot, gentle touches on the shoulder and back, loving embraces, kisses, cupping the chins of the children, and possibly even giving children piggy-back rides (Jesus wasn't Kosher). How could He not have a following if He were NOT like that?

Finally, Jesus was a man who could be approached - "suffer the little children to come to me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven". This Joy, His compassion, was a magnet that drew people, and He allowed that AND encouraged that. How else could children gravitate towards Him? How else could so many follow Him. They could approach Him, freely and easily. He was never "I'll get to you in a minute" or "Not NOW!!!!" He was always and STILL is "Come to me".

Jesus was a Man of dynamic character, loving, laughing, affectionate, angry, sad, crying, but in all, a Man of full emotion, and full of Character. Oh, if we could only be like Him in that respect.....