Jesus—The Perfect Model to Follow
DO YOU want to be a better, happier person? The apostle Peter explains how we can do so. He writes: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Indeed, having lived an extraordinary life, Jesus Christ had much to offer. By learning about Jesus and modeling our life after his, we can surely become better and happier people. Let us take a closer look at some of the qualities that characterized this great man and see how we can benefit from his example.
Jesus was balanced. Though Jesus said he had “nowhere to lay down his head,” he did not practice or advocate an austere lifestyle. (Matthew 8:20) He attended banquets. (Luke 5:29) His first recorded miracle—changing water into fine wine at a wedding feast—shows that he was not antisocial or an ascetic. (John 2:1-11) Yet, Jesus made clear what was most important to him. He said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.”—John 4:34.
□ Have you analyzed your life to see how you can balance your material and spiritual pursuits?
Jesus was approachable. The Bible portrays Jesus as a man who was warm and affable. He was not annoyed when people approached him with problems or perplexing questions. On one occasion when a crowd surrounded him, a woman who had been suffering from an affliction for 12 years touched his garment, hoping to get relief. He did not rebuff her for her seemingly presumptuous act but kindly said: “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” (Mark 5:25-34) Children too were comfortable in his company, without fear of being ignored. (Mark 10:13-16) His dealings with his disciples were marked by open, friendly conversations. They did not hesitate to draw close to him.—Mark 6:30-32.
□ How freely do others approach you?
He was empathetic and compassionate. One of Jesus’ greatest virtues was his ability to put himself in the place of others, to share their feelings, and to respond with helpful action. The apostle John relates that when Jesus saw Mary weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus, Jesus “groaned in the spirit and became troubled” and “gave way to tears.” Onlookers could easily perceive the great affection Jesus felt for that family, an affection that he was not ashamed to manifest openly. And what compassion he showed when he then brought his friend back to life!—John 11:33-44.
On another occasion, a man suffering from leprosy—a dreadful disease that made him live in isolation—begged Jesus: “Lord, if you just want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus’ response was truly heartwarming: “Stretching out his hand, he touched him, saying: ‘I want to. Be made clean.’” (Matthew 8:2, 3) Jesus did not cure people simply to fulfill prophecy. He wanted to wipe away their tears. Everything he did was governed by one of his most often remembered sayings: “Just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them.”—Luke 6:31.
□ Can your compassion for others be seen in your deeds?
Jesus was understanding and discerning. Although he was a man who committed no error, Jesus never expected perfection of others or assumed an air of superiority; nor did he act with a lack of understanding. Once, a woman “known in the city to be a sinner” showed her faith and appreciation by washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. Jesus allowed her to do so, to the surprise of his host, who judged her harshly. Understanding her sincerity, Jesus did not condemn the woman for her sins. Rather, he said: “Your faith has saved you; go your way in peace.” As a result of Jesus’ warm response, that woman was very likely moved to abandon her former way of life.—Luke 7:37-50.
□ Are you known for being quick to commend and slow to condemn?
He was impartial and respectful. Perhaps because of a certain affinity of personalities and a possible family connection, Jesus had special affection for his disciple John.a Nevertheless, he did not show any partiality toward him, or favor him over the other disciples. (John 13:23) In fact, when John and his sibling James asked for privileged positions in God’s Kingdom, Jesus answered: “This sitting down at my right or at my left is not mine to give.”—Mark 10:35-40.
Jesus was always respectful to others. He did not share in the prejudices of the people in his day. For example, women were commonly treated as inferior to men. Yet, Jesus accorded women due dignity. The first time that he openly declared himself to be the Messiah, it was to a woman who was not a Jew but a Samaritan, whom the Jews in general would disdain, much less greet. (John 4:7-26) And it was to women that Jesus granted the privilege of being the first witnesses of his resurrection.—Matthew 28:9, 10.
□ Are you fair-minded in your dealings with people of a different race, gender, language, or nationality?
He was a dutiful son and brother. Apparently, Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, died when Jesus was still a youth. Most likely, Jesus supported his mother and his younger brothers and sisters by working as a carpenter. (Mark 6:3) During his last moments of life, he entrusted his mother to the care of his disciple John.—John 19:26, 27.
□ Can you imitate Jesus by your assuming family responsibilities as he did?
Jesus was a true friend. As a friend, Jesus was outstanding. How so? He did not reject his friends just because they made mistakes, even the same mistakes repeatedly. His disciples did not always act as he would have liked. But he proved himself their friend by concentrating on their good qualities rather than imputing bad motives to them. (Mark 9:33-35; Luke 22:24-27) While not imposing his viewpoints on them, he invited them to express themselves freely.—Matthew 16:13-15.
Above all, Jesus loved his friends. (John 13:1) To what extent? He said: “No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.” (John 15:13) Could anyone offer his friends something more valuable than his own life?
□ Do you remain a friend even when others irritate or offend you?
He was courageous and manly. Jesus was far different from the weak, passive person portrayed by some artists. The Gospels present him as a strong, vigorous man. Twice, Jesus drove merchants, with their goods, from the temple. (Mark 11:15-17; John 2:14-17) When a mob came to arrest “Jesus the Nazarene,” he courageously stepped forward to identify himself and to protect his disciples, declaring firmly: “I am he. If, therefore, it is I you are looking for, let these go.” (John 18:4-9) It is no wonder that when Pontius Pilate saw Jesus’ courage under arrest and mistreatment, he declared: “Look! The man!”—John 19:4, 5.
□ Do you act decisively and courageously when you see what you must do?
These and other outstanding qualities make Jesus the perfect model for us. If we allow ourselves to be influenced by his conduct, we will be better and happier people. It is for this reason that the apostle Peter urged Christians to follow Jesus’ steps closely. Do you try to follow Jesus’ steps as closely as possible?
More Than a Model to Follow
Jesus, however, was much more than just a model to follow. He said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Besides making known the truth about God, thus opening up the way to draw close to Him, Jesus provided the means for faithful ones to gain life.—John 3:16.
Regarding this aspect of his reason for coming to earth, Jesus said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) By offering up his life as a sacrifice, Jesus laid the foundation for humans to enjoy eternal life. What must we do individually to benefit from that provision? Jesus explained: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
Yes, taking in knowledge of Jesus, imitating his way of life, and exercising faith in his sacrificial death are requirements for gaining everlasting life. We invite you to take the time to study the source of such knowledge, the Bible, and to strive to practice what it says, as Jesus did.b
Jesus’ exemplary life teaches us what kind of person we should be. His sacrificial death can free us from sin and its wages, death. (Romans 6:23) How sad our situation would be without the powerful influence of Jesus Christ! Never allow the preoccupations and anxieties of life to rob you of the opportunity to consider and follow closely the example of the greatest man who ever lived—Jesus Christ.
b For a detailed account of Jesus’ life on earth, see the book The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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◼ Jesus was impartial and respectful toward all
◼ He was a true friend even to the end
◼ He was courageous
Do you try to follow Jesus’ steps as closely as possible?
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Jesus was balanced . . .
approachable . . .