“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1: 15, 19-20)
So, having reviewed some key character types in the Bible, let’s see how Jesus, the complete human, both the Son of Man and Son of God, exhibits characteristics of each.
WOUNDED HERO: Jesus follows the Hero’ Journey. He emerges out of obscurity (Nazareth), is called to action (baptism), has an Advisor (Abba God), companions (the disciples), faces conflicts (with Satan, the religious authorities, demons, even with his friends and family), is wounded even to death (crucifixion), and arises with the great treasure of salvation for humankind. He continually calls us to follow this path of life-death-resurrection, taking on the cross of service and misunderstanding in order to emerge in a greater life beyond that promised by worldly values.
ADVISOR: Jesus is our guide, our model for becoming fully human. He instructs us in the way of humility, service, and self-sacrifice, avoiding the pitfalls of pride, possessions, and power. He not only tells us how to live, he demonstrates it and then leaves his Spirit to empower us.
COMPANION: “What a friend we have in Jesus” the old hymn assures us. Or as the benediction goes, he walks beside us to comfort, behind us to encourage, above us to inspire, within us to sustain. His presence can convict of us our shortcomings or cheer us in our achievements…just like a friend does. “I now longer call you servants…Instead, I have called you friends.” (John 15: 15.)
PROPHET: When Jesus speaks, it is not always sweetness and light. “Pit of vipers” or “Better a millstone around their necks” or “as you did to the least of these.” He’s not afraid to offer threats of hell, but also offers us the promise of heaven. Jesus the Prophet announces a clear choice between the ways of God and the ways of the world.
KING: “And he shall reign forever and ever” we sing in The Messiah when we describe King Jesus, our Lord. He comes announcing the emergence of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, which represents the community of faith in Him as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6.) But though Jesus commands, he doesn’t coerce. Unlike most earthly kings, he invites but doesn’t send the police if we refuse to follow. This king wants our freely given love and so lets us choose even if we choose badly.
SHAPESHIFTER: “In him was the life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1: 4-5.) So here is one archetype that Jesus does not represent since the essence of the Shapeshifter is deceit and the shapeshifter operates in the shadows not the light. Jesus is the opposite of the deceiver. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8: 31-2.)
So, as we strive to become more like Christ in our lives, one way to measure our progress is to look at these dimensions of character. We are on a quest and will suffer wounds; we need to seek advice and consider carefully the advice we give; we need friends and to be a friend; we need, like Jesus, to speak the truth even if it isn’t popular; we need to assume leadership roles when appropriate but be servant leaders like Jesus demonstrated. We won’t measure up every time, we can’t do it in our own strength, but if we put on the Mind of Christ as Paul advises, we will be content that we have done our part in following Jesus.
Prayer: Dear All in All, thank you for the gift of your son who not died for us, but taught us how to die to ourselves that we might live for your Kingdom.