Although He had “no beauty of majesty to attract us to him...” (Isaiah 53:2), it was Jesus’ personality that drew men to Him. He was a man of great character. The more we understand what Jesus was like, the more we can seek to emulate His character.
What was Jesus like? Jesus had a compassionate nature. He had compassion on the crowds “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Because of His compassion for them, He healed their diseases (Matthew 14:14; 20:34), and because of their hunger, He compassionately created enough food to feed large crowds on at least two occasions (Matthew 14:13–21; 15:29–39).
Jesus was serious and focused. He had a mission in life and never got sidetracked from it, knowing the weightiness of it and the shortness of time. His attitude was that of a servant. He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). Kindness and selflessness characterized His personality.
Jesus was submissive to His Father’s will when He came to earth and subsequently went to the cross. He knew that dying on the cross was the only payment His Father could accept for our salvation. He prayed the night of His betrayal by Judas, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). He was a submissive Son to Mary and Joseph, as well. He grew up in a normal (sinful) household, yet, Jesus “was obedient” to His parents (Luke 2:51). He was obedient to the Father’s will. “He learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
What was Jesus like? Jesus had a heart of mercy and forgiveness. On the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus was loving in His relationships. For example, John 11:5 says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:5). John referred to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).
Jesus had a reputation for being good and caring. He healed often so that the people might know who He was. Truly He proved to be the Son of the living God by all the miracles He did, all the while showing concern for the afflictions of those around Him.
Jesus was honest and truthful. He never violated His own word. He spoke truth wherever He went. He lived a life we could follow explicitly. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6). At the same time, He was peaceable. He did not argue His case, nor try to bully His way into people’s hearts.
What was Jesus like? Jesus was intimate with His followers. He spent quality and quantity time with them. He desired their fellowship, taught them, and helped them focus on what was eternal. He was also intimate with His heavenly Father. He prayed to Him regularly, listened, obeyed, and cared about God’s reputation. When Jesus saw the moneychangers who were taking advantage of worshipers, He drove them out. He said, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers’” (Luke 19:46). Jesus was a strong but meek leader. Everywhere He went (until the inevitable decline), the people followed Him, eager to listen to His teaching. The people were amazed at the authority with which Jesus spoke (Mark 1:27–28; Matthew 7:28–29).
Jesus was patient, knowing and understanding our frailties. Several times in the Gospels, Jesus verbalized His patience in the face of our faithless provocations (Matthew 8:26; Mark 9:19; John 14:9; cf. 2 Peter 3:9).
All believers should desire to emulate Jesus’ character traits through the power of the Holy Spirit. The things that drew people to Jesus should be the very things that draw people to us. We need to read God’s Word (the Bible) to know and understand who God is and His will for us. We should do everything for the glory of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:31), living as salt and light in the world and pointing others to the amazing truth of Jesus and salvation in Him (Matthew 5:13–16; 28:18–20).
Philippians 2:1–11 is a helpful summary of what Jesus was like and how we should imitate Him:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”