Jesus' Character Traits, Part II (CC-12)
This is the second post in the brief expose on the character traits of Jesus the Man. The purpose of this discussion is to help readers understand the extraordinary complexities of this man, and why his personality has been such a rich source of inspiration for people over twenty centuries. For this reason, the Diamond Soul character is modeled after Jesus' own.
The Character of Jesus
In his classic lectures "The Character of Jesus" over a century ago, Preacher Charles E. Jefferson identifies a total of twenty-two attributes of Jesus' character. It is perhaps one of the most exhaustive studies into the nature of Christ, revealing a complex man with apparently contradictory features. One of the remarkable findings is that under the cloak of humility, kindness, and holiness, inside Jesus the Humble Man lives a mighty warrior. Driven by a holy mission, the mighty warrior possesses the virtues of strength, firmness, courage, and patience, which are well-known attributes of great military leaders. How is it then possible that a wandering teacher in Galilea's farmlands could be a great leader at the same time? How is it possible for Jesus to battle his enemies without having armed men around him? This is another mystery of the persona of Jesus as a leader, and we will learn a lot by trying to unravel it.
Let's first look at the humility of Jesus, as Pastor Charles E. Jefferson presents it to us.
According to Matthew 11:29, Jesus told them,
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls."
This sentence is unique in the Gospel because Jesus, for the first time, calls attention to one of his characteristics: humility. He is not calling himself strong and courageous; he calls himself humble and meek. Why is that? Because in Jesus' mind, humility is the foremost Christian virtue. Not only that, he wanted to teach humility to his followers. In a sense, Jesus is saying to them, "come to me. I want to teach you humility."
In the popular culture of today, humility is not the right word. Indeed, humility has long been associated with being inferior to others, with a sense of imperfection and a willingness to submit to others. Today's dictionaries define humility as having a low self-regard, a sense of unworthiness, a low view of one's importance. However, in the context of the New Testament, none of these definitions apply, simply because Jesus doesn't meet them. Yet, he calls himself meek and humble. Of all the virtues, Jesus places humility above all others. He says,
"Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven"
Jesus gave his disciples three great lessons in humbleness: the example of the child (Matthew 18:4), the teachings on service (Matthew 25-28), and the model of washing feet (John 13). In choosing a child as the embodiment of humility, Jesus reminds us that a child is eager for learning, is docile, and is always curious. And free from vanity, ambitions, and social aspirations. In other words, Jesus would like us to be like children in the matter of faith, with open and sincere hearts.
In Matthew 25-28, when his disciples were filled with ambition and argued among themselves as to who should be master in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus tells them,
"whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant."
Jesus here links humility with the willingness to serve. A humble man is he who is ready to make himself useful, irrespective of his social position or station in life. It stands to reason, therefore, that leaders themselves should be servants of the people they lead. This is a revolutionary concept introduced by Jesus, never attempted in other cultures or religions.
The third lesson in humility is given to his disciples on the very night of his betrayal after the Last Supper. The Gospel of John, chapter 13, describes how Jesus arises from the table, and taking a basin and girding Himself with a towel, proceeds to wash the dust from the disciples' feet. Then he says,
"Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done to you."
Here, again, we see what humility really is: It is laying down one's dignity, it is a willingness to come down, and it is a delight in rendering service. And why was it that Jesus was able to do this? Because he knew his divine origin and destiny, and he knew he was the Son of God.
Therefore, this is the secret of Christian humility and obedience: A man cannot be humble except by coming close to God. It is by thinking of the eternal that a mortal man becomes willing to do lowly things. Only he who is sure of God possesses the strength to be humble at heart. For the humility that Jesus exemplifies in his life is a form of strength, not of weakness. Only a strong man can be really humble. Only a strong man is capable of laying aside his rights, only a strong man can refuse to use his own power, and only a strong man is ready to come down to serve others. St. Paul regards humility as the most divine grace he can find in Jesus. In his epistles to the church in Philippi, he says,
"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:8)
Therefore, we can say that Christian humility acknowledges our total dependence on God, seeks God's graces in all we do, and is grateful for all God's blessings.
CHRISTIAN HUMILITY CAN ONLY COME FROM GOD
To be continued in the next post.
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