Written by Evi Idoghor
When most people hear about Christianity, they tend to put up a defense mechanism. This is because some people generally view Christians as judgmental, spiteful, and hateful as a result of some Christians exhibiting these character flaws. However, it is not supposed to be so. Through this post, I want people to begin to view Christianity through the lens of Jesus Christ. Just so when those who profess to be Christians fall short or hurt you in an unimaginable way, you don't lose your faith in God.
A Little Back Story
In Luke 1:26 (from the Bible) God sent an angel, Gabriel, to deliver a message in Nazareth a city in Galilee. The angel was sent to pass this message on to a virgin whose name was Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. The angel appeared to her in verse 28 saying, "Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women."
He went on to tell her she was going to get pregnant and give birth to a son, who she was to name Jesus. He would become the savior of the world and reconcile humanity back to God, their creator. I can only imagine how excited and fearful she felt at the same time. Excited because an angel of God appeared to her with some good news and perhaps, fearful since this conception was going to happen without her having sexual relations with any man, (not even her then fiance, Joseph).
So, how was she going to tell everyone that she was pregnant out of wedlock? Better still, how was she going to explain to her fiance that she was pregnant? I wonder how this would have played out in 2021. Anyway, not to go off course, Jesus was born afterward. According to Luke 2:40, the Bible says He grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him. Throughout the New Testament where the story of Jesus is documented, He showcases some fantastic characteristics that I will like to share with you today.
1) Wisdom: During Jesus' years on earth, He exhibited unimaginable wisdom. John 8:1-11 narrates the story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Now in those days, the law allowed for such people to be stoned to death. So when this woman was found out, a group of people brought her to Jesus telling Him what she did and stating what the law required (like He didn't know).
Jesus ignores them at first, and they keep on pestering Him for Him to give them a go-ahead. During the time of Jesus, people would often ask His opinions on subject matters, not because they really cared for it, but just so they could trap Him if He slipped up according to their Jewish laws. If He were a people pleaser, He would have thought— Let me just allow these people do what they want to do, after all it is justifiable by their law. Rather, He took a different approach as He knew the purpose for which He came. So He answered them: “He who is without sin among you, let Him throw the first stone at her."
One by one as the Bible recounts, from the oldest to the youngest; they all drop their stones and by the time Jesus looks up, no one else but the woman is standing next to Him. Then He tells her to go on with her life and sin no more. Jesus displays such an enormous act of wisdom in this story with the way He answers the woman’s accusers. He does so by not negating what was written in the law, but by showing people that every sin is deserving of death. Which causes them to self-eliminate shamefully, and in turn, preserves her life.
Lesson: Sometimes we are inclined to think other people’s sins are worse than ours (I inclusive)—they deserve the death penalty, they should be punished for the gruesome crimes they‘ve committed (you can tell I watch a lot of crime shows). But before we go ahead condemning people, we should evaluate our own lives and see if we are genuinely living right, and even if we are, we should be quick to show mercy over judgment, as it is not our place to judge.
2) Gentleness: Right before Jesus was led to be crucified, He poured out His heart to God in the garden of Gethsemane. I can tell from what the Bible shares that He was going through so much pain at that moment. Sometimes we tend to overlook the fact that Jesus shared in our humanity— there were days He was tired, there were days He was hungry and there were days He slept, just like us. As such, the mission Jesus was about to accomplish for all of us was a daunting one.
He asked His friends (the disciples) to pray for Him, while He went a little distance away from them to also pray. After the prayer session was over, with Judas (one of his disciples) leading the pack of the Pharisees, they came to arrest Him. Jesus then asked who they sought after, and they said it was Him. Before He could leave with them, one of His friends (Simon Peter) drew out his sword and cut off the ears of one of the men on the opposing side.
In John 18:11 Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword, because He was going ahead with the plan of redemption God had for humanity (paraphrased). If that doesn’t speak of gentleness, I don't know what else does. Peter acted out of emotion, but Jesus even up until His death did not resist the people that harassed Him. It all makes sense now, after all in Matthew 5:39 Jesus says “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Lesson: Be slow to anger or retaliation. God has said vengeance is mine; I will repay (Romans 12:19) There is something about gentleness that grows and matures you. Things don't easily faze you. Rather than lash out, which Jesus had every right to do in this story; He chose to be peaceful because He had the bigger picture in mind. Be like Jesus!
3) Compassion: Jesus always had compassion everywhere He went. If the people He came across were hungry for food or the word of God, or if they were sick, He was always moved with compassion to do something. He never turned a blind eye to anyone's sufferings.
This brings me to the story of a man who was sick for 38 years. So here is what happened, in those days God usually sent an angel to the earth at a specific time to stir up the pool which was called Bethesda in Hebrew. By the pool lay a lot of sick people with different kinds of ailment, and whenever the angel stirred the water, whoever got in first, got healed of whatever sickness they had.
So this man in particular had a disability that restricted him from walking. You can imagine what he faced all those years; he was right smack in the middle of what could have become his miracle, but with no one to carry him into the pool because everyone apparently is trying to look out for themselves or their loved one, this man lay there for 38 years; year after year hoping that something will happen one day. Thankfully, his day came.
Jesus happened to be in that city for a feast when he came across the man lying there. He asked him, do you want to be made well? The man replied, "there is no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred, while I'm on my way, someone steps down before me." Jesus then says to him, “rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately he was made well. (See John5:5-10)
Lesson: We should be quick to render help to those in need. We might not be able to feed the 5000 like Jesus did or heal the sick, but no matter how small, our help can go a long way and transform somebody’s life.
4) Driven: Jesus didn’t waste His time with things that were unnecessary. He was and still is about His Father’s business. At the age of 12 after th