Light of the World
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' " (John 14:6).
If Christ had failed, in even one point, to exemplify true virtue, we would have lost our Guide on the road to heaven. But He did not fail. Therefore, He is "the way" for us to goin everything. We may safely imitate His example in our thoughts and actions. Charles Clayton Morrison once said:
"If a man does not see in Jesus the 'highest, holiest manhood,' there is no argument that can convince him. Though one may be convinced that Jesus fulfilled the prophets, and wrought supernatural miracles, and rose from the dead, the belief of all this would not be faith unless one discerns the intrinsic beauty and strength of the moral character of Jesus and responds to it in terms of conduct. In the character of Christ we are privileged to see what kind of being God is" (Treasury of Christian Faith), page 89.
The perfect life of Christ revealed the perfect love and goodness of God the Father. This beautiful revelation of God's character was one of the most important accomplishments of Christ's mission. During His earthly life, Jesus won every battle that He fought with Satan. He said, "The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me" (John 14:30). He could say to His enemies, as no man could say before Him or since:
"Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" (John 8:46).
In this booklet, we will see how gloriously Christ carried out His purpose to reveal the perfect character of God to the human family and how He proved that man's enemy, the devil, the instigator and perpetrator of sin, was a liar and a murderer from the beginning (see John 8:44). You will especially enjoy this booklet, because in it you will see the many sides of the personal life and character of the Master Man.
IS THE CHIEF ATTRIBUTE OF GOD?
"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:8-10).
When a sinner approaches God for pardon, he may hope for mercy. The love of God revealed through Jesus Christ grips him, and he surrenders himself to a loving Savior. God's love has been expressed by his best Gift:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:16, 17).
By his subtle misrepresentations, Satan had led humans to believe that God was a tyrant whose anger and wrath could be appeased only by sacrifice and toil. Jesus came from the Father's bosom to correct this false idea and to show by His life and ministry that the opposite was truethat the Father was just like Jesus, "holy, blameless, pure" (Hebrews 7:26).
It was love that led the Father to give His Son, and it was love that led Christ to give Himself. All heaven was emptied in that one gift. Could divine love for the human race have been expressed more convincingly?
How true are Paul's words:
"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us allhow will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32; see also Romans 5:6-10).
IS LOVE DEFINED
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Since Christ is the living expression of God's love, we may rightly paraphrase these verses as follows:
"Christ is patient, Christ is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He is not rude, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. Christ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Christ never fails."
Christ is all that love is. His earthly life was heaven's own definition of the nature and character of the great God of love.
REVEALED IN CHRIST'S TEACHING
Where could such love and tenderness be found except in the heavenly Father's heart and in the teaching of His divine Son? One well-known writer has said:
"Multitudes who were not interested in the harangues of the rabbis were attracted by His [Jesus'] teaching. They could understand His words, and their hearts were warmed and comforted. He spoke of God, not as an avenging judge, but as a tender father, and He revealed the image of God as mirrored in Himself. His words were like balm to the wounded spirit. Both by His words and by His works of mercy He was breaking the oppressive power of the old traditions and man-made commandments, and presenting the love of God in its exhaustless fullness" (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 205).
COMPASSION FOR THE SICK
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).
One of the many instances in which the mercy and kindness of Christ are revealed is the following:
"A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.' Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured" (Mark 1:40-42).
All who were the victims of diseaseeven the leperswere the objects of Jesus' loving interest and care.
He [Jesus] was interested in every phase of suffering that came under His notice, and to every sufferer He brought relief, his kind words having a soothing balm. . . . Virtuethe healing power of lovewent out from Him to the sick and distressed. Thus in an unobtrusive way He worked for the people. . . . And this was why . . . so many heard Him gladly" (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 92).
And Christ is still the same today (see Hebrews 13:8).
SYMPATHY FOR THE BEREAVED
"When Jesus saw her [Lazarus' sister] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . . Jesus wept" (John 11:33, 35).
Here we see the sorrow that Jesus felt at the loss of a friend. He had great sympathy for Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha.
When Jesus came to the place where they had laid Lazarus, he was greatly troubled. Later, he raised him from the grave in which he had been for four days (see John 11:38-44). Jesus had the capacity to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice. He was
". . . the fountain of healing mercy for the world, . . . His life flowed out in currents of sympathy and tenderness. The aged, the sorrowing, and the sin burdened, the children at play in their innocent joy, the little creatures of the groves, the patient beasts of burdenall were happier for His presence. He whose word of power upheld the world would stoop to relieve a wounded bird. There was nothing beneath His notice, nothing to which He disdained to minister" (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 74).
PERSON AND MANNER OF CHRIST
1. He was surrounded by an atmosphere of peace. There was a magnetic, spiritual power that attracted people to His presence. Only Christ could say:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
2. He had a commanding, yet pleasing, voice. He spoke "as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law" (Matthew 7:28). The religious leaders read the law to the people in a dreary monotone, but Jesus' voice was differentclear, unhurried, persuasive, and refreshing as the lilting sound of a flowing brook. His language was correct, yet it was not heavy and labored. His teaching was powerful and expressive, filled with pictures and action. Christ charmed His listeners and thrilled the very soul of all who paused to hear His words.
3. He had a message for all classes. The deepest thinkers of Israel matched wits with Christ, and found themselves humbled by His wisdom. Yet the uneducated could understand the theological discussions in which He engaged. Christ knew how to appeal to the heart of Pharisees such as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Simon of Bethany. The illiterate also understood him, and the heathen, like the Syrophoenician woman and the Roman centurion of Capernaum, were won by his compassion (see Mark 7:24-30; Matthew 8:5-13). He knew how to reach the hearts of all. Christ's life was so filled with the unselfish love of God that His divine nature was readily apparent.
THE MASTER MAN
1. Justice. Three times in the book of Acts, Christ is described as "just." He is called "the Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14) and "the Righteous One" (Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14). The implication is that Christ was equitable and fair. He was not biased nor prejudiced. He was merciful to Greeks, barbarians, Romans, and Jews alike. From Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 8:5-13, we see that Christ freely offered His saving power to everyone (see also Acts 10 and 11:1-18).
Since "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10), how happy and secure we should feel, knowing that He who will judge us is just and fair.
"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, . . . . And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man" (John 5:22, 27).
Because Jesus is "the Son of Man," He can sympathize with us. Since He was once a man on this earth and understands every event and incident in our lives, He is the One who has been appointed as our judge.
2. Simplicity. There was no self assertion or false pride in Jesus' life. Neither was there any outward display. If individuals had been attracted to Him because He possessed wealth or prestige, there might have been some ground for doubting their sincerity. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, it had been prophesied of Him:
"He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope" (Isaiah 42:2-4).
Christ was not a noisy preacher. There was no ostentation or show in His ministry. Jesus attracted individuals by the beauty of His character and the power of His message. Malachi described Him as "the sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2). The sun does not burst upon the world suddenly to blind us, but gradually and gently. The prophet Hosea had written of Christ, "As surely as the sun rises, he will appear" (Hosea 6:3). As the sun rises quietly and spreads it light and warmth over all the earth, so Christ came to our world with healing in His wings (see Malachi 4:2).
3. Faith and Courage. If we should put ourselves in Christ's place, we would know something of the struggles and conflicts of His life. Judging from the response of the masses, His work here on earth was a failure. Even His own disciples left Him and fled just when He needed them most. Yet Jesus was always of good courage and full of faith. He Himself declared through the prophet Isaiah:
"I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God. . . . for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength" (Isaiah 49:4, 5).
Jesus committed His ways to God. All His victories over sin, even His miracles of healing and His raising of the dead, were the fruits of faith in God. Never did He exercise His divine powers without the consent and direction of His heavenly Father. He lived in continual fellowship with God. And so, friend, may you and I.
The great preacher Chrysostom was a man of faith and courage, and when the Roman emperor threatened him with banishment, he replied, "Thou canst not, for the world is my Father's house. Thou canst not banish me." To this the emperor replied that he would kill him. "Thou canst not," said Chrysostom, "for my life is hid with Christ in God." The emperor then declared that he would take away his treasure. The mighty preacher said, "My treasure is in heaven, and my heart is there." The monarch then threatened to rob him of all his friends, to which he replied, "Thou canst not, for I have a Friend in heaven from whom thou canst not separate me. I defy thee. There is nothing thou canst do to hurt me."
Such courage is but a reflection of the nature and character of Christ, and by faith it may be an activating force in the life of every believer in Christ.
WAS THE SUPREME TEST OF JESUS' CHARACTER?
"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Character is developed in the midst of trials and heartaches (see Hebrews 12:5-13). Face your problems, friend. Solve them and don't shun them. The power of Christ's righteous life of victory over sin is available to you (see Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 12:2-4). By faith, you may claim His victory and overcome the world (see 1 John 5:4; Galatians 2:20).
One day a man in Scotland bought a small bottle of attar of roses and placed it inside a vase that he had just purchased. When he got home, he discovered that the bottle had broken and all the precious perfume had soaked into the clay of the vase. He set the vase in the living room, thinking that the scent of the perfume would soon disappear. But he was mistaken. For years, the odor of the roses lingered in the vase. One day that great Christian minister, G. Campbell Morgan, came to visit him. Seated in the living room, he smelled the most delightful fragrance of roses, yet could see no flowers. When he asked the meaning of it, his host explained, saying, "That vase has been giving out attar of roses to this household for more than twenty five years."
And so it is with ChristHis body was broken, His blood was spilled for us, and the fragrance of His lovely character has filled the earth with the savor of the knowledge of God. He was, indeed, the Master Man!
manuscript author: Beatrice S. Neall