When I was working I was fortunate to meet some Welsh sporting legends. Ryan Giggs was great. I’d taken a group of children to watch Wales train and he happily signed autographs and stood to have his photo taken. I met Garin Rees, rugby international who came to school to work with children, and he was a genuinely decent man. Les Keen, rugby international, I worked with him and have total respect for him, one of the nicest people you could ever meet, incredibly humble. I’ve also met some who were not so nice, and who were completely different to their TV persona. Two rugby legends and one football legend, were all unpleasant. Two are still much loved, they’ve gone beyond legend to icon, but I found they were both off hand and dismissive. Maybe it was just with me, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.
That’s a problem with people isn’t it? You might have heard the acronym WYSIWYG, which means ‘what you see is what you get’, but that’s not true of many people. As a human race we have become expert at hiding our real selves and presenting an alternative persona. Some people are genuine, of course, but not all, not by a long stretch. There are people who are so appealing, they seem so nice, but that’s not the real them. How many famous TV personalities have we seen, much loved until we discovered their dark past? Sadly, people’s ability to hide the reality has led to some disastrous marriages, where only after marriage has taken place does a person realise that their spouse is not who they thought. Other people have fallen foul of salesmen who seemed so genuine but they weren’t, and money has been lost through trusting a fake.
Jesus is not fake. There is nothing false about him. He is genuine. What you see is what you get. What do you get? Someone whose heart was full of love. Someone who had a compassion for the poor and the sick. Someone who always spoke truth. Someone who prioritised others over himself. Let’s just look at one example of how he did that.
John the Baptist was an earthly cousin of Jesus. John had been the one preparing Israel for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. He baptised Jesus and also said of him, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (1) John had been arrested and imprisoned by Herod, and sadly he lost his life by decapitation, he was beheaded. Jesus found out about this and we read, “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” (2) That’s fair isn’t it? You would want to do the same,, find somewhere quiet where you can be left alone to grieve. But then we read this, “Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (3)
Jesus wasn’t given time to grieve, but he didn’t complain. He saw sick people and his care was for them. He just didn’t heal the sick either, he taught them until a time when it became late and the disciples asked him to send the crowd away. Jesus instead said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” (4) They didn’t, but Jesus did with five loaves and two fish. With that small amount of food he fed thousands of people so that their hunger was satisfied, and there was still plenty of food left over.
Isn’t it amazing that he put the needs of those people before his own need to grieve? That’s the genuineness of Jesus. He once said when talking about himself, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (5) He remained true to his word throughout his life. His was a life of service, service to God his Father, and service to mankind. At the end of his life he died as a ransom for many. We were being held captive by sin and Satan, and Jesus came to set us free by paying the ransom. He was willing to do that no matter what the cost, even though the cost was his life. He had to die before sin could be defeated and we could be freed from its clutches.
- John 1:29
- Matthew 13:14
- Matthew 13:13,14
- Matthew 13:16
- Matthew 20:28