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Christ As Our Role Model

This is the season of basketball play-offs. Fall is the season of baseball's world series. How do we judge which team to cheer for if they are not our home-town team? One of the greatest influences of our choice of teams is the character displayed by players, managers, and owners of the team. What does it take to have such a reputation? It takes players and coaches with good Christian ethics; players and coaches who make good role models to millions of fans who follow them. Who needs role models? Many people. Young people, in particular, often have role models. They may be sports figures, teachers, parents, military leaders...whoever the person can look up to as being successful and worthy of admiration.

1 Pet 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, [a role model] that you should follow in his steps.
(Heb 13:7 NASB) Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Today, I would like to provide you with 10 traits of Christ that you can and should adopt to follow in his steps, not just in suffering, which is what Peter is exemplifying here, but in the overall way that He lived.

1. Christ put God the Father first in his life and expects us to do the same.

John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.
Mat 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

This is further exemplified in Mat 10:

Mat 10:37-38 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; {38} and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

It needs to be pointed out, that up to this point, Christ had made no mention of his fate, especially by this non-Jewish mode of capital punishment.

What do we put before Christ and His lifestyle? A job, a reputation, our independence, our vanity, our pride, pleasures? Do we allow our family or job or associates to influence us to disobey God's commandments? Are any of us ashamed to let others know we are a Christian? Real role models put ethics above self, every time.

2. Christ did not put on a front. He was completely genuine.

Luke 20:45-47 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, {46} "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. {47} They devour widows' houses (to gain possession of their property through wills, etc.) and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

Does this scripture remind you of any religious leaders you've seen? Does it remind you of any ball players you know? How about judges and political figures?

John 7:22-24 Yet , because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not originate with Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. {23} Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? {24} Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."

Verse 24 can be better understood by its Old Testament source:

Isa 11:2-4 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- {3} and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; {4} but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth......

Do we jump to conclusions, especially negative conclusions, about others? That's the easiest thing in the world to do.

Do we put on a front? And if we do, what is our motivation? To hide our true selves while we struggle to overcome...or to hide from others just to make a good impression? How many of us are whitened sepulchers ... or do we just want to look important? That's called vanity.

Mat 23:27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like [whitewashed] tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."

Kind of sounds like He's referring to a politician's speech, doesn't it, especially in days of the election campaigns? Make it sound good to make a good impression, while all the time knowing they're intentionally deceiving or fooling the public.

3. Christ had humility in spite of who he was.

Mat 19:16-17 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Good Master, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" {17} "Why do you call me good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

Although he was perfect, Christ passed the praise on to our Father. How do we accept praise ... by bragging further - like you hear from athletic events and locker rooms?

(Isa 66:2 NASB) "For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

We are told to follow Christ's example. Christ had humility...How humble are we?

4. Christ was bold, courageous and uncompromising.

Mark 1:21-22 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. {22} The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.

Teachers of the law were like lawyers today. They preach confusion to win their cases. Too few base their arguments on ethical or moral standards, especially if it might risk losing their case.

Mark 3:1-5 Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. {2} Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. {3} Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, "Stand up in front of everyone." {4} Then Jesus asked them, "Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they remained silent. (Do you remember the Arabs in the Madrid Peace Conference with Israel? They wouldn't answer questions, either.) {5} He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.

As Matthew describes it in Mat 12:11 & 12, it was OK to save a sheep on the Sabbath but not heal a man...And he rubbed their noses in it by having the handicapped man stand up in front of them so they couldn't miss the healing.

John 8:37-59 I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. {38} I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father. " {39} "Abraham is our father," they answered. "If you were Abraham's children," said Jesus, "then you would do the things Abraham did. {40} As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. {41} You are doing the things your own father does." "We are not illegitimate children," they protested. "The only Father we have is God himself." {42} Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. {43} Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. {44} You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. {45} Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! {46} Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? {47} He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." {48} The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?" {49} "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. {50} I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. {51} I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." {52} At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. {53} Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" {54} Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. {55} Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. {56} Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." {57} "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" {58} "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" {59} At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

The words of our Savior were blasphemy to them.

John 11:53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

We will be observing Passover in about three weeks. We also seem to be entering the seventh millennium...How courageous and uncompromising are you about God's truth?

5. Christ was concerned about all kinds of people.

Mat 5:43-47 {43}You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

What is an enemy? What characteristics does an enemy have? Will an enemy try to destroy you by simply injuring or killing you? Or does an enemy try to hurt or damage you in any way he or she can? Can you tolerate character assassination; threats to your family; slander; threats to your livelihood, property or treasure?

{44} But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, {45} that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. {46} If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? {47} And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?

How many of you are aware of the fact that the Arab leaders in the Madrid Peace Conference refused to even shake hands with the Jews....just like they have been refusing to do for decades in the United Nations? The Arabs only started shaking hands when Israel gave away its land while overlooking the terrorist past of the Palestinians. How big of them! Now they have discovered it is good to shake hands with Israelis because it causes division among Israelis to do so.

How many of us have the same problem with someone else, possibly one of another race or social position or someone who has done you wrong in the past?

Mat 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. {11} When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" {12} On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. {13} But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Are you a sinner or are you righteous? We have all known people whose actions and even words proved they thought themselves to be of the righteous group.

Luke 15:1-7 Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. {2} But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." {3} Then Jesus told them this parable: {4} "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? {5} And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders {6} and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' {7} I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Do we go out of our way to befriend worldly people?

6. Christ perceived human nature.

John 6:64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

We too should perceive who is out to get us. We must not be willingly blind to those who would harm us. But still we must be decent to them. In saying this, I think of and we must pray for those Christians in Africa and Asia Minor, particularly in Sudan and Nigeria, who are at risk of having their children stolen by Muslims.

(Luke 21:12 NASB) "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake.
(John 15:20-27 NASB) "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. {21} "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. {22} "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. {23} "He who hates Me hates My Father also. {24} "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. {25} "But they have done this in order that the word may be fulfilled that is written in their Law, 'THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.' {26} "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, it will bear witness of Me, {27} and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
(Heb 11:35-38 NASB) Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; {36} and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. {37} They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated {38} (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Have we considered our living standards after a complete devaluation of the dollar?

7. Christ strove to please His employer, His and our Father.

(John 8:29) The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him." (John 5:30 NASB) "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (John 6:37-38 NASB) "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. {38} "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Do we strive to please our Father?

(John 4:34) "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

Many people in the world around us want to please themselves first. Then, if they get around to it, they may do good to others. My friend Eddie Qualls' last sermon showed he cared enough to try and help out at flood relief centers. That is doing the will of Him who sent Christ.

8. Christ was concerned about productivity.

John 15:8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (Psa 92:12-15 NASB) The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. {13} Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. {14} They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, {15} To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Are we spiritually fruitful? If not, are we Christ's disciples?

Mark 6:30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.

How is our productivity?...on the job, around the house, in Bible study, praying for others, being an example to others? Are you known as a producer or are you known as dead wood? Remember:

John 15:2 "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he [prunes] so that it will be even more fruitful."

We must be spiritually productive.

9. Christ maintained his composure.

(Mark 4:37-40 NKJV) And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. {38} But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" {39} Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. {40} But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"

Christ was not worried about perishing. We must have faith that He will protect us.

Luke 9:49-50 "Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." {50} "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

Christ did not get upset because he feared a competitor or unknown follower. What is our attitude about other Churches of God? Acts 7:59-60 is not about Christ but it describes an event which is the epitome of composure.

Acts 7:59-60 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." {60} Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Do we fly into a rage when things do not go our way or we feel threatened? Do we fly into a rage over the misdeeds of our government leaders which threaten our social or economic or physical security?

10. Christ served others.

(Mat 10:24 NASB) "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.
(Mat 24:42-46 NASB) "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. {43} "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. {44} "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. {45} "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? {46} "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
Luke 22:24-27 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. [Sounds like certain professional athletes we've seen.] {25} Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. {26} But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. {27} For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

I covered this scripture in a previous sermon while discussing the proper role of the ministry. Christ was the greatest servant of all time. Mark 10:42-45 is a parallel account.

Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. {43} Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, {44} and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. {45} For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

We should all be especially appreciative for the service of those who teach us. Paul states in 1 Tim 5:17:

1 Tim 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

We should not elevate any minister to some superior status, but we should show our appreciation for what he does for us and respect him for his leadership.

What is the conclusion? Follow in Christ's steps. He is the greatest role model in history!

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
10 March 2012
Copyright 2012, Wayne Bedwell

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