2. He embraced the outcasts
Jesus demonstrated the love of God by accepting the castaways of society. This provoked great disdain from the religious establishment. But Jesus was much less squeamish than most about embracing the sinful and sickly, the unseemly and unimportant.
Luke 5 offers a good example. Shortly after accepting Jesus' invitation to follow him, Levi (later known as Matthew) "held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them" (v. 29). On the social-ethical scale of the day, tax collectors landed somewhere between a pimp and something that crawls out from under a rock. An upstanding individual would not associate with them at all. But Jesus not only talked to Levi, he asked the man to become his disciple.
3. He restored broken lives
By the power of God's Spirit, Jesus provided for people's physical and financial needs (Matt. 14:14-21-21, 17:27). He cast out demons (Luke 4:36), healed broken bodies (Luke 5:17), raised the dead (John 11:1-44), and forgave the sins of the guilty (Matt. 9:6). Jesus proved that God's power is sufficient to meet every need. And the Scriptures promise us that the same power works in and through our lives today (Phil. 2:13).
I am by no means a miracle worker. But I do know miraculous things still happen. I remember the day we laid hands on Judy and asked God to free her from the cancer that seemed unshakable. Nine years later, his positive answer to that prayer stands firm. And I'll never forget the time my phone rang with an unsolicited job offer just before I'd planned to file for unemployment benefits. Then there were the doctors who said that Cheryl couldn't have another baby. We prayed, and God's power proved them wrong.
Jesus operated on the assumption that we have a wonder-working God who delights in restoring lives that seem irrevocably shattered. Jesus saw the people around him as miracles waiting to happen.
4. He confronted hypocrisy
Jesus demonstrated the heart of God by standing against lifeless religion. He openly confronted religious hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13-39), inciting great opposition that ultimately led to his execution. Jesus repeatedly rebuked religious people who buried the true heart of God in their manmade traditions (Matt. 19:3-8, Luke 13:10-17). He cleansed the temple because people were using God's house for their own gain (Luke 19:45-46).
I have to be very careful with this principle in my life. Sometimes, when I'm looking for an excuse to be "righteously indignant," it comes in a little too handy. When I want to blow off some steam at another's expense. I fancy myself following in Jesus' steps. In reality, however, my outbursts have usually been more about my anger than God's righteousness.
What would Jesus do? He would go on record against people who act in the name of God to hurt others. He'd stand up against crusaders parading with signs that venomously attack and label others. And he'd speak out against those who profit from the oppressed but who claim their God is full of compassion.
5. He taught God's Word
Whether addressing curious crowds or the committed core, Jesus took advantage of every teachable moment. He was always helping people discover his Father. He lived and spoke the truth, a perfect expression of God's character (John 1:14).
But even though he was the incarnate Word, Jesus often directed people back to the written Word. When a religious expert asked Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus replied, "What is written in the Law?" (Luke 10:25-26). The rich young ruler asked the same question, and Jesus answered him from the Scriptures as well (Matt. 19:16-21).