JESUS, OUR EXAMPLE
A. Introduction: We have begun a series on developing Christ-likeness or Christ-like character. Character
refers to a person’s distinctive moral and ethical values which are expressed through his or her attitudes and
actions. Morals and ethics have to do with the rightness and wrongness of attitudes and actions.
1. Your number one responsibility as a Christian is to grow in Christ-likeness or to become increasingly
Christ-like (more and more like Jesus) in your attitudes and actions.
a. I John 2:6—Whoever says he abides in Him (Jesus) ought—as a personal debt—to walk and
conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself (Amp); Those who
claim to belong to him must live just as Jesus did (NIrV).
1. Almighty God desires sons and daughters who are like Jesus and resemble Him in character—
attitudes and actions). Jesus is the standard or pattern for God’s family. Eph 1:4-5; Rom 8:29
2. Jesus came into this world to die as a sacrifice for sin and open the way for us to be restored to
what God always intended—His holy, righteous sons and daughters. Jesus, in His humanity,
shows us what sons and daughters of God are like—their attitudes and actions (their character).
b. Throughout His ministry, Jesus called people to follow Him. Matt 9:9; 16:24; Matt 19:21; etc.
1. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word that is translated follow
means to be in the same way as. These ideas are found in this word: to accompany, to
conform, to follow with the intention of practicing.
2. The word was used to mean become a learner or pupil (or a disciple of someone) by imitating or
copying their example.
c. Paul the apostle was an eyewitness and devoted follower of Jesus. In his epistles, he used a Greek
word for follow that means to imitate—imitate Christ. I Cor 4:16-17; Phil 3:17; etc.
1. I Cor 11:1—Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself (J.B. Phillips); Pattern after me,
follow my example, as I imitate and follow Christ the Messiah (Amp).
2. I Thess 1:5-6—And you observed the sort of life we lived when we were with you which was
for your instruction, and you were led to be imitators of us, and of the Lord (Jerusalem Bible).
2. Sincere Christians are sometimes surprised by the idea that we are supposed to become increasingly
Christ-like in our character (our attitudes and our actions), because this seems like too high a standard,
a. People tend to fall into ditches on either side of the road (go to one extreme or the other).
1. There are those who say it’s impossible for us to be like Jesus, so why try. After all we’re
forgiven, we’re under grace, and God loves us no matter what. All that’s true, but none of it
frees us from the clear statement of Scripture, that we are to live and walk as Jesus did.
2. Others react to the idea of walking like Jesus with guilt and condemnation since they know they
don’t measure up, and they fear what might happen to them because of their shortcomings.
b. We need to address all of these issues and find out from God’s Word (the Bible) what Christ-like
character looks like, as well as how to walk in it. We have more to say in tonight’s lesson.
B. God created human beings in or as His image and likeness (Gen 1:26). He created us to image Him or show
Him (His glory) to the world around us. We are His representatives in the earth.
1. Jesus showed the Father to the world around Him, just as we are to do. Jesus said: I do what I see
Him do—I speak His words and do His works by His power. John 5:19; John 8:28-29; John 14:9-10
a. While on earth, Jesus told His followers to act like the Father—just as He Himself did. Jesus said:
Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48, KJV).
b. What does it mean to be perfect? Is it even possible? Perfect comes from a word (telos) that
means to set out for a definite goal. Perfect means that which has reached its end or limit and is
hence complete. (It is used of persons in a moral sense of persons.)
1. The goal or end of what Jesus came to do is to make it possible for sinful men and women to
become holy, righteous sons and daughters of God who are like Him in character. To be
perfect means to reach that goal, that end—to be conformed to the image of Christ. Rom 8:29
2. Jesus expressed or imitated His Father to the world around Him. We can’t see God the Father
because He is invisible. Jesus is God Incarnate (God become man without ceasing to be God).
We can see Him. When we imitate Him, we express the Father. John 1:1; John 1:14; Col 1:15
c. Becoming like Jesus (being made like Him in character) is not automatic. It is a process that takes
place after we bow our knee to Him as Savior and Lord, and we must cooperate with the process
(more on this in upcoming lessons).
1. The point for now is that we need to realize that this is the goal or end to which we are to aim—
becoming Christ-like in our character (attitudes and actions) .
2. You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect [that is, grow into complete
maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and
integrity] (Matt 5:48, Amp).
2. Col 1:28—Paul, in one of his letters, stated his purpose in proclaiming Jesus to everyone was to present
every man perfect in Christ. This is another way of saying to help them grow in Christ-likeness.
Perfect is the same Greek word used when Jesus said be perfect as your Father in Heaven (Matt 5:48).
a. Col 1:28—So naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone
we can, all that we know about him, so that we may bring every man up to his full maturity (perfect)
in Christ (J. B. Phillips).
b. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote that the purpose of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors,
and teachers is the perfecting of the saints (Christians). Perfecting is from a word that means to
make fully ready; the act of making perfect. It’s a synonym for the word in Matt 5:48 and Col 1:28.
1. Eph 4:13—That we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature
of Christ (NLT); that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood—the completeness which is
nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection (Amp).
2. To be perfect, to be mature doesn’t mean no more mistakes. (Ultimately that will be the case,
but not yet.) The idea is: Christians understand the goal and what we are working toward—
expressing the character of Jesus in thought, word, and action (or becoming Christ-like).
C. What does Christ-like character look like in a follower of Jesus? We get an idea about what it looks like
from something that Jesus said when He called people to come to Him.
1. In Matt 11:28-30 Jesus said: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find
rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (KJV).
a. Come unto me is another way of saying follow Me. Take my yoke on you means submit to me, and
learn from me. You’ll find rest because my yoke is well fitting. My load won’t weigh you down.
b. Note, the first thing Jesus said about Himself in this context: I am meek and lowly of heart. Meek
means humble, and lowly in heart means of humble condition. Both are expressions of character.
2. We tend to think of meek as being fearful. And we think of humility as not bragging about ourselves or
feeling humiliated because of our sins, faults, and failures. These ideas are inaccurate. Jesus had no
sin, did not brag, and was not weak or fearful. Yet He was meek and humble.
a. The Greek word that is translated meek has a different idea than being timid or fearful. In the
Greek of that day, the word meek had the idea of standing between two extremes—getting angry
without reason and not getting angry at all.
1. Meekness is the result of a strong man’s choice to control his reactions in submission to God.
2. Meekness a balance that comes from strength of character that stems from confident trust in
God—not weakness or fear. Meekness is power under control.
b. Humility means much more than not boasting or groveling. Humility recognizes its true relation to
God and to others. The one who is humble realizes that he or she a servant of God and a servant of
man. True humility and meekness is acting like Jesus.
3. Paul made a clear statement about humility, as demonstrated by Jesus, in his letter to the Philippians. In
the context of how to treat other people Paul wrote: Don’t be selfish. Don’t live to make a good
impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about
your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing (Phil 2:344, NLT).
a. Then, to further make his point, Paul exhorted them to have the same attitude toward others that
Jesus did: Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ
Jesus. —Let Him be your example in humility (Phil 2:5, Amp).
1. Phil 2:6-7—Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be
grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very form of a servant, being made in human
2. Phil 2:8—And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient
to death—even death on a cross (NIV).
b. When Jesus incarnated (took on flesh in the womb of the virgin, Mary), He humbled Himself and
became fully man. On this earth, He took the role of a servant of men. And He further humbled
Himself by dying a humiliating death on the Cross. Jesus lived on earth as a servant of God and a
servant of men. Note these statements Jesus made;
1. I can do nothing of myself (John 5:19); I came not to do my own will, but the will of the Father
(John 5:30); I seek not my own glory (John 8:42); My doctrine is not mine (John 7:16); I don’t
seek honor from men (John 5:50); the words I speak are not mine (John 14:10).
2. I am among you as a servant (Luke 22:27); I came not to be served but to serve others and to
give my life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45); I have given you an example to follow. Do
as I have done to you (John 13:15, NLT).
4. Because Jesus was a servant of God, He counted Himself a servant of men whom God made and loves,
and that attitude influenced how He treated people. Like His Father, Jesus loved people and was kind to
the unthankful and the evil.
a. Matt 5:43-48—Let’s go back to Jesus’ statement about being perfect even as our Father in Heaven is
perfect and get the context.
1. Jesus had just instructed His listeners to love their enemies, and pray for those who treat them
badly and persecute them, because this is how your Father in Heaven treats people.
2. If you’re kind only to those who are kind to you, you’re no different from anyone else. Even
pagans and tax collectors do that. The Father’s children should act differently.
b. Note that Jesus, as a man, expressed and demonstrated these aspects of His Father’s character.
1. When Jesus was hanging on the Cross He prayed for those who put Him there: Father, forgive
them. They know not what they do. Luke 23:34).
2. Peter (an eyewitness of these events) wrote: He (Jesus) did not retaliate when he was insulted.
When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who
always judges fairly (I Pet 2:22-23, NLT).
A. Peter prefaced his statement with these words: Christ, who suffered for you, is your
example. Follow in his steps (I Pet 2:21, NLT). Why? Because Jesus shows us how
sons and daughters of God act.
B. Jesus, the visible expression of God the Father, shows us what this looks like. Therefore,
we imitate or follow Him.
5. Jesus died to open the way for us to be restored to our created purpose as sons and daughters of God who
are fully glorifying to Him in every thought, motive, word, and action. He died to turn us from living
for self to living for God’s glory and the good of others.
a. II Cor 5:15—He (Jesus) died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live
to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them
b. Matt 22:37-40—Jesus summed up what God desires from His sons and daughters: Love God with
all your heart, soul, and mind (all your being), and love your neighbor (your fellow man) as yourself.
1. This love is not an emotion or a feeling. It is an action. To love God means to obey His moral
Law (His standard of right and wrong as revealed in the Bible. To love people means to treat
others the way you wanted to be treated.
2. Because Jesus, in His humanity, loved the Father and recognized His true relation to Him (that
of a servant) Jesus saw Himself as a servant of those whom the Father loves. He saw Himself
as He truly was in relation to God and to others. He is our example of true humility.
D. Conclusion: We have much more to say next week, but consider these thoughts as we close. Developing
Christ-like character is not automatic. It takes effort (more on this in upcoming lessons).
1. However, developing Christ-like character (Christ-likeness) doesn’t come from human effort only.
When we believe on Jesus, we receive Him (His life, His Spirit) to empower us to walk as He walked.
a. This life (ability) does not force us, nor does it automatically change and empower us. But as we
choose to imitate Jesus in our daily lives, He helps us to fulfill those choice (more in future lessons).
b. Jesus said that He is the Vine and we are the branches—He is the source of life and power for us. If
we abide in Him we will bear much fruit. John 15:5
1. To abide in Him means to live with the assurance and awareness that He works in us, moment to
moment, what we are to be. He is our strength to follow through as we choose His way.
2. To abide means to believe (trust) that you are a branch and believe (trust) that the Vine will do
what He said: supply you from His infinite fullness. We praise and thank Him for His
presence and power in us.
2. My main objective in this lesson is to stimulate your thinking and to encourage you about the value and
importance of making the effort to grow in Christ-likeness.
a. Do you think in terms of being a servant of God and a servant of men—even when it is difficult?
1. How do you see yourself in relation to God and to other people? It’s not necessarily about
actions. It’s about motive. I’d take a bullet for you (brings my glory). I’ll perform a menial
task for you (no glory).
2. Lots of people do kind things for their glory rather than God’s glory and the good of others.
They like the recognition that they get for their actions. Is that true for you
b. Becoming like Jesus is your destiny. Paul urged the people he taught to imitate him as he imitated
Christ, and he commended Christians in the city of Thessalonica for doing so: And you observed
the sort of life we lived when we were with you which was for your instruction, and you were led to
be imitators of us, and of the Lord (I Thess 1:5-6, Jerusalem Bible).
1. Later in this letter we find that he urged them to live lives worthy of the Lord. Worthy means
appropriately, lives that glorify God. Note that Paul doesn’t beat them over the head, condemn
them, or scare them. He reminded them that this is your purpose. You were created—to
glorify God by expressing Him to the world around you, just as Jesus, the Perfect Son, did.
2. I Thess 2:11-12—For you know how, like a father [dealing with] his children, we used to exhort
each of you personally, stimulating and encouraging and charging you to live lives worthy of
God (Amp) who is calling you to share the splendor of his own kingdom (J. B. Phillips).
3. My prayer is that through these lessons each of us will be inspired to walk at Jesus walked!!!