Reasons for Our Study

Something is missing. That something is Jesus. Pastor Charles Edward Jefferson explains why the time for studying Jesus’s character is now.

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“I invite you to contemplate with me the character of Jesus. . . . The time is ripe for a restudy of his character and career. We have fallen upon distracted and distracting days. The world is crying out for something, it scarce knows what. Wealth has come, but the heart is hungry; knowledge has come, but life for many has slipped into a riddle and delusion. The world is filled with the inventions of human skill and genius, but there is a vast emptiness which neither science nor art is able to fill.”

Selves Falling Short

“Some of us are discontented with ourselves. We are restless, unsatisfied, bewildered. We carry with us a consciousness of failure. We feel we are falling short of what we ought to be. Life in spite of our efforts is meager and disappointing. Loaded with many possessions we cry, ‘What lack I yet?'”

“It may be wise, therefore, to turn aside from the path we have been traveling and listen for a season to Jesus of Nazareth. It may be that he has the secret for which we have been searching. . . . On approaching him we hear him saying: ‘Follow me! Learn of me! Eat me! Abide in me!’ It would seem that he offers us all good things on condition that we become like him. But what is he like? What is his disposition, temper, attitude, nature? Surely all who are discontented with themselves will want to study the character of Jesus.”

Time Out of Joint

“There are others of us who are discontented, not so much with ourselves as with the world. The time is out of joint, and we are sick at heart because no one seems to be wise or strong enough to set it right. Government is corrupt, the church seems dead or dying, the home is a failure or scandal, society is superficial and tainted, the social order is ready for the burning, the economic system is a burden and curse, the whole framework of the world needs to be reconstructed, and, alas, who is sufficient for so herculean a task?”

“When we open our New Testament, we find a man looking at us who although not a professional revolutionist has been the cause of many revolutions, and who although not a disturber of the peace has repeatedly turned the world upside down. He is not numbered among the radicals because in his radicalism he outstrips them all. . . . He has much to say about authority and power, and it is his claim that he can make all things new. . . . Surely all of those who are sick of the world as it is and who long for the coming of a world which shall be better, must, if they are wise, come to Jesus of Nazareth for his secret of pulling down the strongholds of iniquity and establishing righteousness and peace.”

Heart of a Man

“When we study his method, we discover that his supreme concern is for the rightness of heart of the individual man. This molder of empires gives himself to the task of molding individual men. This arch-revolutionist starts his conflagrations in the individual soul. He draws one man to him, infuses into him a new spirit, sends him after one brother man, who in time goes after a third man, and this third man after a fourth, and thus does he weld a chain by means of which Caesar shall be dragged from his throne.”

“Strange as it may seem, he has nothing to say about heredity, and stranger still nothing to say about environment. He keeps his eyes upon the soul, and by changing this he alters the environment and also the currents of the blood down through many generations. . . . This Reformer of Nazareth acts and speaks as though environment is not a matter of brick and plaster but rather of human minds and hearts. Men are made what they are, not by pavements and houses, but by the men among whom they live.”

“Would you change the environment, then begin by a transformation of men; and would you transform men, then begin by a transformation of some particular man. It is by changing the character of a man that we change the character of other men, and by changing the character of many men we change the character of institutions and ultimately of empires and civilizations. When Jesus says, ‘Behold I make all things new,’ he lays his hand on the heart of a man.”

Christ Character

“Here then is Jesus’ own secret for making an old world over. He will introduce golden ages by giving individuals a character like his own. His character is a form of power mightier than the legions of Caesar or the wisdom of the greatest of the schools.”

“There are many fussy and noisy workers, many a blatant and spectacular leader, reformers are often plausible and dashing, and revolutionists impress us by their schemes of creating a world which is new, but after all there is no more effective worker for the world’s redemption than the man or woman who in high or obscure places, strives, in season and out of season, to persuade men to conform their lives to the pattern presented to us in the character of Jesus; and no one is advancing so swiftly toward the golden age as the man or woman who by prayer and daily effort endeavors to build up in mind and spirit the virtues and graces of the Man of Galilee.”

Excerpts from The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1908)

Merely “Religious” or Good Samaritan?

Love God with all you’ve got, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said, “Do this and you will live.” Then He gave us an example.

The example of the Good Samaritan

Imagine you are in desperate need of help. Life has beaten you down. You’ve fallen, and you can’t get up without a hand. A few of your “religious” friends tell you on Facebook that they are praying for you or send you emails offering advice. But they never offer to meet with you, and they certainly don’t meet your need. Finally, someone you barely know, having heard of your plight, comes to your aid. He takes real interest in you as a person, spends time with you, and gives you exactly what you need to get back on your feet again.

Which of these neighbors loved you as himself? Which of them showed you Jesus? Friends, Jesus makes clear that loving your neighbor as yourself doesn’t mean minding your own business. It means being literally moved with compassion at another’s plight. It means going to him, bandaging his wounds, getting him to a safe place, and helping him get well. It means using your wealth to help him just as you would help yourself, or want to be helped by others. This is the example of the Good Samaritan, and it’s an example Jesus commands us to follow. He commands His knights, all who follow Him, to “go and do likewise.”

Sir Sheep or Impostor Goat?

Jesus said that as King, He will separate the sheep from the goats. Only His sheep will have eternal life. So we cannot be sheepish about being sheep.

Which are you?

Imagine you stand before Jesus in all His glory. He is seated on His throne as King of everything and everyone. You know that no one ever shielded the weak, served the sick, or befriended the neglected and forlorn like this King did. You know that He was a knight, and that He commissioned you to be a knight too. You remember He said that, in the end, He would know whether you truly loved and followed Him by looking at how you loved and served, shielded and befriended, the least of your brothers and sisters.

Friends, he will know: Did you feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, or hoard God’s gifts for yourself? Did you take in the stranger, or stick to your clique? Did you clothe the naked, or undress people with your eyes? Did you care for the sick, or let brothers and sisters suffer alone? Did you visit the prisoners, or keep God’s grace to yourself? Jesus says that those chivalrous “sheep” who served the least of the world served Him. Those impostor “goats” who did not serve the least of the world did not serve Him, even if they called Him Lord. “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to Me.”

Salt and Light Means You’re a Knight

Jesus told us, “You are the salt of the earth.” He said, “You are the light of the world.” Brothers and sisters, we’ve been commissioned as knights.

“I dub you Sir Christian”

Imagine you’ve been following Jesus of Nazareth from place to place to hear Him teach, and you want to know, what does He expect of you? What thrilling words of commission will this thrilling man of peace give you to treasure in your heart? One day, on a hill near the Sea of Galilee, you and many other Jesus followers gather to learn from Him at length. At one point in this “sermon on the mount,” Jesus looks directly at you, fixes His gaze with yours, and says, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. Let your light shine.”

Friends, when you and I follow Jesus, He calls us to His quest. He calls us to go about doing good, just as “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Man or woman, young or old, He calls us to be His knights. He expects us to be the salt of the earth, seasoning life and preserving it from decay. He expects us to be the light of the world, shining with reflected light to be sure, but still shining into the darkness. He warned us never to lose our savor and charged us to radiate His love, so that people might see chivalrous deeds and praise God.