MEASURING UP TO JESUS
We do, quite often, insist that we are not like Jesus; namely, divine and human. Jesus distinctly lived and acted in every way as a human being (Hebrews 4:15). Until His departure time He referred to Himself as the Son of Man and not as the Son of God. He did not want to be publicized as the Son of the living God (Matthews 16:20). On His last day, He still left it up to His accusers to tell Him who He was and why He was guilty (Greek text, Matthew 26:64). They regarded Jesus as a friend of publicans and sinners, but could not uncover a single disgression. Jesus proved that man was not born a sinner; rather, he became one by choice. For instance, I did not sin in my mother’s womb. I did, when I became aware of what is right and what is wrong. Unlike Jesus, I was not as keen on doing what was right. When I did try to do the right thing, it troubled those that did not. Jesus proved that a man could do what is right, even if it costs him his life. Most of the time He went beyond the call of duty. To make it in this world, we too must go the extra mile.
The first three decades of Jesus’ life is scanty. He was born of a virgin and legitimized by a man; otherwise, He would not have been born or allowed to live. That was an ancient law (Genesis 38:24). He was a very brilliant youngster. He was smart enough to confound the teachers. We would call Him a genius and that leaves me out. He was obedient to His parents and was liked by the people (Luke 2:41-52). I was liked, but did not at all get along with my father until I left home then we became friends. Jesus was a carpenter’s son (Mark 6:3). When we escaped from the Soviets; I, too, worked for my father as a carpenter. Only, Jesus built furniture, spinning wheels and weaving stools and shuttles while I built handcarts or small wagons for gardening. Jesus became a teacher and preacher and so did I. This is where our similarity ends because He became my preacher and teacher. He became the way, the truth and the life for me. He became more than that. He became my friend or one I could look too for help. I had other examples, but none compared to Jesus. What was there so special?
First of all, it was the way Jesus had to live. He was driven from His home and never allowed to return or find another one (Luke 4:28-30). We too were driven from two homes, but we ended up in better ones. He had nowhere to lay His head; we found shelter in sheds and straw to rest on (Luke 9:58). When I began preaching and teaching, congregations supplied us with shelter and a livelihood. Jesus relied on the mercy of good women (Matthew 27:55). He was constantly hunted and bombarded with leading questions to trap Him and put Him away. We, too, were overtaken by the Soviets and we had to lie our way out. We were afraid to tell them who we were. Jesus, too, did not want to be identified prematurely (Matthew 16:20). He could not pray in His or any other Synagogue, but in lonely places (Mark 1:45). People beg us to come to their Churches and pray.
Second, Jesus spoke the truth, while we muzzle the truth. We must function within the truth here on earth, if it is to be of any use anywhere else. The truth was not an idea for Jesus; it was a way of life. For that reason, truth, and life went hand in hand. Unfortunately for Jesus, the truth did not set Him free, because people that do wrong prefer to suppress the truth. Jesus told the truth as to who He was and they did not believe Him. His own folks regarded Jesus as being beside himself (Mark 3:21). The Nazis were suspicious of my name, but not of my birth certificate. Jesus did not tell His accusers and judges who He was and they decided it for Him (John 7:52; 18:38). They tried to entrap Jesus and failed to entangle Him. Fortunately, I do not have to do what Jesus did; however, I am not exempt from being truthful. If I do not deal with the tiniest discrepancies, then down the road, I will become entangled and face dire consequences (Luke 12:54-59). It cost Jesus His life. He expects no less of His followers.
Third, Jesus was all about life and not about heaven. We have the idea that a perfect life cannot be had on earth. Actually, the Greek suggest that a complete life can be had on much less than we have. Whether it is rich or poor, the only real life we shall ever have is here on earth. It is in this life that we have needs and not in heaven. Jesus could have had the world at His feet, but He chose the life of a humble and simple man (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Parables depict His life and give us an example of what is possible for us. In all these things, Jesus was not a superman, but actually a lowly (meek) human. He was equal to our homeless and neglected. He lived where the majority of the world’s population lives. It is this aspect of Jesus’ life that attracts so many. It was perhaps the lowest; yet, worthy to save it by dying for it (Luke 17:33). Before we can become part of the divine, we too must learn how to be human, regardless of how lowly we might have to be. It is amazing what we can do and get by on when we have to! Jesus did get along on what was less than necessary. To be like Jesus the Man, would cause non-Christians to take notice that we bear some resemblance to Jesus, our Lord (Acts 4:13). Do they see Christ in us or do we have to tell them?