By Don Martin
A study of different biographies can be most rewarding. The word “biography” is a compound word from the Greek consisting of bio, meaning life and graphe, meaning to write or a writing. Hence “biography” means a writing of someone’s life. I immensely enjoy reading the biography of George Washington Carver. Mr. Carver was born in abject poverty, the son of a slave woman. In his late twenties he struggled to obtain a high school diploma and, when he was thirty four, obtained a degree in agricultural science. In 1894 he received his master of science degree. Thomas Alva Edison is also an inspiring example of overcoming severe handicaps. Edison received less than a year of formal schooling; notwithstanding, he has immeasurably affected and changed the lives of all of us.
Beloved, while there are many excellent biographies to consider I suggest there is one biography which transcends all biographies as far as the quality of the one considered and the contributions which he made to mankind, the man Christ Jesus. “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power,” Peter states, “who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
Jesus Was Obedient
To motivate the Hebrews to a higher and more constant level of obedience, the writer often employed the example of Jesus. Please consider such an instance: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8,9). The very essence of Jesus’ life was to obey his Father. He expressed this desire in this manner, “. . my meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Jesus could truthfully say, “for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus was obedient – even to the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8).
Partook of Word
Necessarily involved in the acquiescence of Jesus to his Father was his dependency on the word of God. When Jesus taught and engaged in controversy, as he often did, he did not refer to his subjective feelings or to objective sources such as the teachings of the rabbis as his authority. He quoted Scripture (Matt. 19:4-6,8)! When the devil amassed every particle of power and persuasiveness at his disposal to defeat the Lord at the very outset of Jesus’ ministry, the Lord relied on Scripture. After each of the devil’s appeals through the lust of the flesh, pride of life, and the lust of the eyes, Jesus cogently responded: “It is written” (Matt. 4:4,7,10). Jesus believed in the total indispensability of the word. Hear him: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
Jesus Desired Unity
In the shadow of the cross, Jesus’ primary concerns were not exclusively for himself. Consider his prayer, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn. 17:21).
Concerned one, Jesus did not believe in nor practice our modern ecumenical unity. Jesus did not place “unity” over truth. In fact, Jesus – because he insisted on truth regardless – often caused division among his brethren (Jn. 10:19). Our Lord, I am convinced, would not be very successful as a modern “Church of Christ Preacher”! Jesus desires unity based on a conformity to the word of God (Jn. 17:8,14,17,19,20).
Jesus Loved Truth
One cannot help but be impressed with the profound love Jesus possessed for the truth. While the religious world, and more and more within the body of Christ, are clamoring for the suppression of truth, or at least parts of truth, Jesus unshackled the truth found in the Hebrew Scriptures and enunciated new, revolutionary truths (Matt. 5:21-48; Jn. 14:6). When in the presence of error, Jesus could not remain silent, even though such outspokenness would later cost him his life (Jn. 8:31-59). Jesus did not “just love to argue.” Jesus loved the truth! Beloved, truth was not any more popular in Jesus’ day than it is in our day. It was Jesus who told his brethren, “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” And, “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth” (Jn. 8:45,40).
Returned Good For Evil
Jesus taught: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). As we have seen, Jesus practiced what he preached. Jesus restored Malchus’ severed ear – one in the ungodly mob which had come to ruthlessly apprehend and later murder Jesus (Lk. 22:51). While suspended between heaven and earth on the cruel cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).
Intelligent reader, please be informed that while Jesus taught and exhibited returning good for evil, he did not advocate nor practice passivity. Allow me to explain. Jesus taught that when one has been personally sinned against, he is to rebuke the trespassing brother (Lk. 17:3,4). However, such action is not retaliatory, but for the reclamation of the erring brother (Lk. 17:3,4).
Jesus’ conduct relative to civil law was exemplary. It would seem that because Jesus had developed a reputation of being a “rebel” the tax collectors in Capernaum did not expect Jesus to pay tribute (Matt. 17:24-27). However, Jesus did pay his taxes.
Jesus was under the close scrutiny of all. They all with one accord were desperately seeking to find some fault in him (Matt. 12:10,14; 16:1). Jesus had exposed their sins and errors and they desired his destruction (Matt. 21:45,46). Jesus’ hypocritical brethren could not fault him and could not answer his arguments (Matt. 22:46). Hence, envy was evoked on their part (Matt. 27:18). It was this envy coupled with their severe hatred which caused them to crucify the Lord. What is my point? My point is this: if they could have established one infraction either from God’s law as such or from civil law, they would have!
Jesus Was Prayerful
Yes, even the incarnate Son of God depended on prayer. From an examination of Jesus’ life, you find Jesus regularly engaging in prayer to his Father (Jn. 17; Matt. 11:25-27). Jesus customarily prayed before he made important decisions (Lk. 6:12ff).
Jesus did not pray as many of his brethren did. His prayers were not pretentious and formalistic (cf. Matt. 6:5-15). Jesus prayed earnestly, sincerely, and fervently (Lk. 22:44).
Kind reader, when we consider biographies such as Carver’s and Edison’s, we are moved to believe that we similarly can overcome hindrances. We admire these men’s determination and refusal to accept defeat. Moreover, when we consider Jesus’ biography, if you please, we are moved to partake of godliness. Jesus, you see, is our exemplar (1 Pet. 2:21,22). We need to consider him more and marvel at his wonderfulness (Heb. 12:3). Truly, “Never a man spake like him” who “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (Jn. 7:46; 1 Pet. 2:22).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 5, pp. 131-132
March 3, 1988