What was the historical, literal Jesus Christ of the Bible really like? Was He the pale, weak, long-haired, effeminate-looking man pictured by artists centuries after His death?
It may come as a surprise, but this is not the Christ described in the Bible! The real Jesus was a rugged, dynamic individual who radiated true manliness — someone who would command our respect if we met Him today.
He spoke with an unmistakable ring of authority in His voice. He had great wisdom and knowledge, yet remained humble, warm, easy to get along with, nice to know!
In previous studies, we learned that Jesus Christ was the Word (Spokesman) who existed with God from eternity as the second member of the all-powerful God Family (John 1:1-3). Together they planned and created the entire universe.
But the Word divested Himself of His former glory and came down to this earth as a human being to give His life in payment for the sins of mankind (Philippians 2:5-8, John 1:14, 3:16, Romans 5:8-9). He was miraculously begotten in the virgin Mary and born as the human Jesus, the Son of God (Matthew 1:18-21).
In our last study we learned of the historical proof that Jesus Christ was a real person who lived and taught more than 1,900 years ago. In this month's study we'll learn the plain truth about what the most important person in all human history was really like!
But before beginning this eye-opening study, be sure to get your Bible, some paper and a pen or pencil.
1. What was Jesus like as a young person? Luke 2:40, 52. Was He obedient to His parents? Verse 51. Was He exceptionally intelligent? Verses 42, 46-47. As an adult, were people amazed at His God-given wisdom, knowledge and understanding? John 7:14-17, Matthew 13:54.
2. Did the prophet Isaiah, writing hundreds of years before Christ came to earth, say that He would be especially handsome? Isaiah 53:2. Did Judas have to use a special sign to point out Jesus to His enemies? Matthew 26:48-50.
Jesus Christ was of quite ordinary appearance. He looked like any other average man in His community. He did not stand out in a crowd.
3. How can we know that Jesus did not have long hair? I Corinthians 11:14.
The apostle Paul knew what Christ looked like because he had seen Him (I Corinthians 9:1, 15:8). Paul would not have said that it is a shame or dishonor for a man to have long hair if Christ's hair had been long!
4. Did Jesus have an occupation that demanded much physical exertion and strength? Mark 6:3.
Jesus was a carpenter by trade. He worked with heavy stones and timbers for much of His life before beginning His 3 1/2-year ministry at age 30. His hands must have been calloused and His muscles strong. As there were no electric tools back then, sawing and drilling were done by hand. This was hard work!
5. What other clues are there that Christ was a physically strong and healthy man? Mark 15:15, Matthew 4:1-11.
A physically weak person could not have survived the Roman scourge — a horribly severe beating during which pieces of flesh were ripped from the body — and then experience the excruciating pain of crucifixion. Nor could a weak person have fasted for 40 days before going on to win the most decisive spiritual battle of all time!
6. Was Jesus a leader of strong and rugged men? Luke 5:8-11. What did He nickname two of His disciples, giving us a clue to their personality? Mark 3:17.
Jesus was a real man — a rugged outdoorsman who could lead other equally rugged and masculine men like Peter, a strong, hardworking commercial fisherman.
7. Did Jesus have a powerful voice that could be heard by multitudes of people? Matthew 15:10.
8. Was Christ capable of expressing a wide range of emotions, including anger? John 2:13-17, Mark 11:15-17. Did He boldly thunder out in anger and righteous indignation when denouncing the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees? Read and summarize Matthew 23:13-33.
Jesus twice chased the money changers out of the Temple! He was angry at those who were polluting God's Temple, making it a house of merchandise and a den of thieves!
On other occasions, Christ boldly stood before the religious leaders of His day and publicly branded them as the hypocrites that they were!
9. But was Jesus equally capable of expressing feelings of sorrow and agony? Isaiah 53:3, Luke 22:44. Was He full of love, mercy and compassion? Mark 6:34, John 15:9-13. And did He cry? John 11:35.
Christ was loving, kind and helpful to His fellow human beings. On many occasions He healed the blind, lame, leprous, deaf and dumb, cast out demons and fed the hungry crowds who listened to Him teach about the good news of the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:11).
Yet Jesus always gave God the credit for these miracles (John 5:30, 14:10), realizing that the power to perform these spiritual works came from His Father in heaven through the Holy Spirit.
10. Was Jesus willing to spend time with people from all walks of life, including children? Matthew 9:11, Luke 7:36, Mark 10:13-16. Did He love to serve people? Acts 10:38.
Jesus knew how to conduct Himself in any social situation. On many occasions He enjoyed good food and drink (Luke 7:33-34), yet He always exercised perfect self-control.
11. Did Jesus have clear understanding of human relationships and knowledge in many different fields? Luke 21:1-4, 12:13-21, Matthew 20:1-16, 23:23, Luke 19:12-26. (You may want to summarize in your own words the verses given in answer to these questions.)
Jesus' parables revealed His knowledge of financial matters, relations between employer and employee, and people's attitudes toward money, among other things. He used this knowledge to make spiritual points. He also knew at least three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) and understood the Scriptures like no one else!
12. Did Christ teach obedience to the laws of the ruling government? Matthew 23:2-3, 17:24-27, 22:17-21.
Jesus taught His disciples to obey the laws of the land. He also set the example of paying tribute, or taxes, to the Roman government.
13. Did Jesus keep God's commandments? John 15:10. Did He instruct others to do likewise? Matthew 19:17. Because He was human, was He tempted to sin as we are? Hebrews 4:15.
Like any ordinary person, Jesus was tempted in all points. But He always rejected these temptations to sin because He called on the full power of God's spiritual strength (John 3:34) for the help needed to obey God perfectly.
14. Does Christ teach His true followers to strive to develop the character of God? Matthew 5:48. Should they be striving to live as Jesus lived, following His example? I Peter 2:21, I John 2:6.
Jesus is our perfect example of how to live and enjoy life. And He lived it abundantly! His entire life, glimpses of which we have just seen, was one of obedience to God and service to humanity.
The Jesus of your Bible is a true hero anyone would admire and look up to someone we would want to imitate — an example to follow in all areas of life!
Why not read the gospels of your own Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and come to know more fully the real personality and spiritual character of Jesus Christ?
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