The people who follow Jesus cling to the belief that he was perfect. The Bible affirms that truth in Hebrews 4:15 where Jesus is described as just like us, yet without sin. He was like us and yet remained perfect.
I believe that means he did everything correctly. I mean everything. His relationship with God was perfect. He prayed the right amount, read his Bible the right amount, served the right amount and gave the right amount. It also means he handled other people perfectly. He said the right words. He handled every situation without rage or unrighteous anger. He loved his neighbor and his enemy. He did not judge in an ungodly way. In every situation involving other people, he demonstrated what God would like us to do at that moment. In fact, many believers have asked themselves, “What did Jesus do that I can learn from?” It is one of the cornerstones of all preaching and teaching on the life of Jesus.
This is where it all takes a turn for me. If Jesus did everything God desired in his life, then people should have loved him and treated him with dignity and respect. Unfortunately, that is clearly not the case. Yes, some people loved him, but the majority hated him. They spent large amounts of time trying to catch him in a mistake. When that did not work, they made a plan to kill him. Before they executed him based on lies they made sure he felt the maximum amount of pain. He was beaten, flogged, spat upon, mocked, humiliated and tortured because the people he offended wanted him to suffer. Jesus life of love ends with an ugly death on a cross.
I tell you this because I am so often driven by the desire to have people like me. Somehow I came to the belief that if I did the thing God desired in every situation, then people will never be offended by my actions. Everyone will love me and respect me and treat me with kindness if I just act like Jesus. Then I have to remind myself, oh yeah, that is not how it worked for Jesus. Doing the right thing, saying the right thing and being in line with what God wants us to do is usually a recipe for more pain and humiliation. Frequently it creates more enemies than friends.
I find what I call a “backhanded” comfort in the life of Jesus. The obvious application is found in what he taught and how he lived. I can learn directly from those passages of the Bible. Also, I learn indirectly from the way people responded to Jesus. Many times it was not what I would expect or want. And yet, that is exactly the model of life Jesus left for us to follow. Maybe the best indicator of if we are truly following Jesus is not how many people love us, but rather how many hate us.
Today I take comfort in the fact that people hated Jesus and why would we expect any less?