"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who is This Man? (5th of 12) JESUS: HIS CHARACTER

                           JESUS: HIS CHARACTER

            Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd,
               "I can't find this man guilty of any crime."
                           Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea

      We have looked at some of the things Jesus said and did. How did his contemporaries evaluate his character based on his words and works?

1. Jesus was brought before the Judean governor and the King of Judea, accused of what crime? Luke 23:1-14 esp. verses 2, 5, and 14. Punishable by what sentence? Luke 23:22
      What did each of these contemporaries of Jesus say of his character? 
     a. Judas Iscariot (Jesus' disciple who turned him over to be killed), Matthew 27:4a
     b. Governor Pilate's wife, Matthew 27:19
     c. and d. Governor Pontius Pilate and King Herod, Luke 23:13-15
     e. Thief crucified next to Jesus, Luke 23:39-41

     These opinions all refer to Jesus' innocence of criminal acts for which he could be prosecuted. Now let's go further. What about his moral character?

2. What did the religious leaders say about Jesus' character?  (A sinner is one who breaks God's laws, as given in Scripture.) What was the response of those who had witnessed or experienced his miracles? 
    John 9:16 
    John 9:24-33, esp. verses 30-33

3. What did Jesus say was his relationship to the laws of God? Matthew 5:17

4. What did Jesus challenge the religious to do? John 8:46a  "Sin,"or hamartia in Greek, the language in which the original manuscripts of the New Testament were written, literally means "missing the mark." We have all acknowledged this basic truth when we say, "Nobody's perfect.")

     In response what two things did the religious leaders accuse him of being? John 8:48 Note that neither of these things qualifies as "sin." (We'll  look at their other accusations in a later lesson.)

5. What do the writers of the books of the Bible reveal about the moral character of Jesus? Look for references to him such as unrighteous/righteous,  sin/no sin, sinner/sinless or without sin, holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners.
     a. Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21
     b. Apostle John in I John 3:5
     c. (Simon) Peter in I Peter 1:18-19, I Peter 2:21-22 and I Peter 3:18
     d. Anonymous author of Hebrews in Hebrews 4:14-15 and Hebrews 7:26.

6 By contrast, what does the Bible say about our righteousness? Are we sinners?      Isaiah 64:6 (New Living Translation says, "We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.")
     Romans 3:10-12
     Romans 3:23
    According to this verse, have you sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?

7 What standard of righteousness does Jesus say God requires for us to enter His kingdom? 
      Matthew 5:20
      Matthew 5:48   

8 Can we become perfect by keeping the Law (Ten Commandments)? Romans 3:20

(New Living Translation says: "For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.")

9. What is the penalty for breaking God's laws? Ezekiel 18:4 and Ezekiel 18:20

We have a dilemma here. Our own consciences confirm that we are not perfect, yet we have to be perfect--more righteous than the religious leaders, perfect as God is perfect--if we are to enter the  kingdom of heaven. Let's put our dilemma on hold until Lesson 10, JESUS: SAVIOR. For now, just focus on the contrast we see here between Jesus' moral character and ours.

According to all these verses, in what one way is Jesus unlike all other human beings?
Based on this lesson, WHO (or what)  IS THIS MAN?

(BONUS QUESTION: In light of what we now know about Jesus' character, why do you think He replied as He did in Mark 10:17-18?)

(To be continued February 6)

Today I am thankful for daffodils in the front yard and a new baby hummingbird in the back yard.

No comments:

Post a Comment