Jesus was fully God when he came to earth. He was also fully human. He can empathize with our weaknesses and our limitations.
By the same token, he is also acutely aware of our potential as humans because he maximized his. He knows not just who we are and what we’re like but also what we can become.
Jesus’ teachings, scattered throughout the Gospels, offer an ideal blueprint for experiencing the absolute best God has to offer in this world Jesus’ actions offer even more. He demonstrated the truth of his words in the way he lived. He gave us a model to follow.
Here are four things Jesus did that can and should serve as an inspiration to his followers.
1. Jesus learned heavenly on God and his Word.
Jesus maintained open communication with his heavenly Father. His prayer times were essential to him. New Testament passages such as Mark 1:35 describe how he would get up before sunrise and steal away to a secluded location in order to spend quality time with God.
Just before his arrest, Jesus retreated to the garden of Gethsemane to pray for the strength to endure the agony and suffering that lay ahead. As he hung on the cross, suspended between life and death, he asked God to forgive his tormentors. Prayer was never far from the Lord’s lips.
Jesus also made God’s Word central to his life. As a young boy, he astounded the teachers of the law in the Jerusalem temple with his knowledge of Scripture. But he didn’t just memorize God’s Word; he used it. When Satan tempted him in the wilderness, Jesus quoted Old Testament passages to rebuff him and drive him away.
2. Jesus surrounded himself with people who shared his priorities.
He certainly didn’t choose his disciples based on their experience, their standing in the community, or their likable personalities. He chose them based on their desire to see God’s kingdom advanced in the world.
Granted, the men he chose may not have recognized that quality in themselves when Jesus called them, but Jesus could see it. He could sense their zeal, their faithfulness, their willingness to sacrifice their personal interests for the sake of Jesus’ ministry. The camaraderie and friendships that blossomed among Jesus and his disciples over time sprang from their shared priorities.
3. Jesus focused on potential, not reputation
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were appalled by the company he kept. He spent time with lepers, prostitutes, adulterers, the demon-possessed, Samaritans, tax collectors, and countless other people who were ignored or actively shunned by the “decent” religious folks of the day.
Jesus cared less about people’s past mistakes or current status than about what they could become. His aim was not to punish people for their old life but to show them new life.
4. Jesus understood the power of sacrifice.
Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price of sin for the entire world and makes salvation and eternal life possible. Yet before he gave his life to save others. Jesus demonstrated sacrificial love in countless ways.
He sacrificed his time and energy to make other people’s lives better. Almost everywhere he went, Jesus was swarmed by people who wanted something from him, whether it was healing, forgiveness, spiritual truth, or just a moment of personal attention. Day after day Jesus attended to the needs of the masses.
His disciples saw firsthand the toll that the constant demands took on Jesus. Occasionally they tried to turn people away from him in order to let him rest. But Jesus insisted on being accessible to those who needed him.
Jesus sacrificed his standing in the community to embrace outcasts. He gave up his place in elite society-the “popular” crowd-by focusing his attention on the poor, the needy, the despised, and the overlooked.
John 15:13 says, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus understood better than anyone that nothing speaks love more loudly to people than sacrifice.