If you are a follower of Jesus, then you want to be like Him! The Holy Spirit inside of you calls you and draws you and drives you to be like Jesus. As a believer, you cannot get away from it. It is a glorious compelling inside you that is wonderfully relentless.
- This is why God’s Word says things like 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (NLT).
- You hear this in Romans 8:29, “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his son…” (NLT).
- John said in 1 John 2:6, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (NLT).
- Peter put it this way in 1 Peter 2:21, “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps” (NLT).
- Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “You should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (NLT).
As a follower of Jesus, you represent Jesus. As a representative of Jesus you will encounter people who don’t like the Jesus they see in you. They don’t like the change. They don’t like that fact that you speak truth, you are honest, you treat everyone equally, and you promote God’s truth on the subjects of life. There will be some who will love you for this, but there will also be some who will hate you for this.
This is what we see in Mark 12 when Jesus encounters two groups of people who hated Him. Let’s take a look and see what God has to say to us.
Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 14 “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. You teach the way of God truthfully. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay them, or shouldn’t we?” Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, “Why are you trying to trap me? Show me a Roman coin, and I’ll tell you.” 16 When they handed it to him, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. 17 “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply completely amazed them. (Mark 12:13-17, NLT)
Today we are going to take a look at four characteristics of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, you should be known by these four things. Some will love you for them and some will hate you for them.
You will not be liked by everyone
Number one; if you follow Jesus, you will not be liked by everyone. It is a natural and good thing to want to be accepted, liked, and valued. Even though Jesus was the most loving, patient, forgiving, kind, and honest person who ever lived He still was attacked, rejected, misunderstood, disliked, and even hated by some. Verse 1 says, Later the leaders sent some Pharisees and supporters of Herod to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. What’s going on here?
Jesus had just told the parable of the evil farmers (Mark 12:1-12). The religious leaders Jesus was talking to realized the evil farmers was referring to them. They got mad at Jesus again, but were afraid to take action right there. So they left Jesus and went away. These religious leaders gathered together to discuss how they could get rid of Jesus. These religious leaders refers to the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders (see Mark 11:27). These three groups decided to bring in the Pharisees and supporters of Herod, known as the Herodians.
Who are these people? Who are the Pharisees and Herodians?
- The Pharisees were committed to Israel. The Herodians were committed to Rome.
- The Pharisees were extreme right-wingers. The Herodians were extreme left-wingers.
- The Pharisees represented resistance to Rome. The Herodians accommodated Rome.
- The Pharisees hated Jesus because He was disrupting their religious agenda. The Herodians hated Jesus because He threatened their political arrangement.
- The Pharisees were mostly concerned about the law of God. The Herodians were mostly concerned about the law of Rome.
- The Pharisees were intensely religious. The Herodians were intensely political.
These two groups hated each other. They had different worldviews and beliefs that opposed each other. Their hatred for each other ran deep. However, these two groups were cemented together by their mutual hatred for Jesus. They both wanted Jesus dead and out of the way.
The religious leaders decided to use the Pharisees and the Herodians in setting a trap for Jesus. This word trap refers to a hunter setting a trap to capture an animal or a fisherman setting a trap to catch a fish. It’s the idea of using some type of bait to lure Jesus in to say something that could be held against Him in order to legally arrest Jesus and execute Him. The bait the Pharisees and Herodians would use would be flattery followed up by a question that would entrap Jesus.
Before we move on: Jesus had many followers. He had many people who loved Him and thanked God for Him. He had healed thousands of people. He had raised the dead. He had walked on water, calmed the storm, and cast out demons. He had taught people God’s truth and they were seeing the light. Man people were being blessed, loved, and shown mercy by Jesus. Many people loved Him and liked Him.
It doesn’t matter how wonderful you are, how many people God has used you to bless others, and it doesn’t matter how much wisdom you have given people to help them to make decisions that honor God and others there will always be people who will not like you, don’t want you around, wish you would do something different, and not upset their world apart from God. They like their sin, they have become accustomed and comfortable with the darkness they are in and they don’t want you to shed light on any of it no matter how nice, peaceful, and loving you are. If you follow Jesus, you will not be liked by everyone. Every follower of Jesus will eventually encounter their own version of the Pharisees and Herodians in their life.
God tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (NLT). Part of following Jesus is suffering like Him.
You will be honest
Number two; if you follow Jesus, you will be honest. The Pharisees and the Herodians are using flattery to bait Jesus into saying something about Himself or the government that could be seen as treason and worthy of being arrested and executed for. So they approached Jesus and say, Teacher…, we know how honest you are. The issue is not whether they really believed Jesus was honest or not, the reality is Jesus was honest. Even though they didn’t believe what they were saying, they are correct in saying what they said.
Jesus told the truth. You asked Him a question, He gave you an honest answer. Jesus was comfortable being honest. There were times, where His honesty made the people around Him uncomfortable but that is what honesty and truth does sometimes. It makes us uncomfortable so we can change.
If you follow Jesus, you will be honest. You will begin to discover that telling the truth is more important than hiding the truth, ignoring the truth, or withholding the truth. This is where telling the truth becomes more important than what people think about you after you tell the truth. Some translations say, “we know that You are truthful and do not care what anyone thinks” (NASB).
You will treat others equally
Number three; if you follow Jesus, you will treat others equally. As a follower of Jesus, you will treat others equally. You will not be partial when it comes to sharing the gospel, telling God’s truth to others, or ministering to others. You see everyone as valuable. Every life is a significant life to you.
Again, the Pharisees and Herodians are using flattery to lure Jesus into a statement that would condemn Him so they say to Jesus, You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Jesus was so committed to the truth that He did not change His message based on who His audience was. God’s truth would always be God’s truth regardless of who He was talking to. It would be the same for the righteous and the unrighteous, the rich and the poor, the influential and the non-influential. Jesus didn’t compromise God’s Word or the Gospel to make people happy, to make friends, or to politically position Himself. To Jesus, it didn’t matter who you were, He was going to tell you the truth and He was going to be honest with you.
James 3:17 says, “The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere” (NLT). As a follower of Jesus, treat everyone as someone who needs God, who needs encouragement, and who needs the truth. This brings us to number four.
You will share God’s Word
Number four; if you follow Jesus, you will share God’s Word. Jesus shared God’s truth, you are going to share God’s truth. As a follower of Jesus, you have something important to share. God wants you to be a messenger of His truth and His way.
The Pharisees and Herodians keep piling on the compliments saying in verse 14, You teach the way of God truthfully. Even though they don’t mean a word of it, they are correct. Jesus does teach the way of God truthfully. Everything Jesus taught was the way of God. The way of God is the will of God. No matter what subject He spoke about, it revealed God’s way and God’s will on that matter.
- When Jesus taught that God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16); Jesus was teaching the way of God for salvation.
- When Jesus taught that If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34); Jesus was teaching the way of God regarding discipleship and spiritual growth.
- When Jesus taught the parable of the farmer who scattered seed, the parable of the lamp, the parable of the growing seed, the parable of the mustard seed, or every time He explained a miracle, answered a question, or brought up a subject the people needed to consider He was teaching the way of God regarding His Kingdom.
Jesus taught the way of God truthfully.
Ephesians 4:15 says we are to speak the truth in love (NLT). Regardless of who you are sharing God’s truth with or being truthful with you should do it in love. Care about the person, be compassionate and understanding toward the person. Speak the truth in love. Be like Jesus.
As a follower of Jesus, you want to represent Jesus. Representing Jesus involves being honest, treating people equally, and sharing God’s truth. Even if you do this well you still be misunderstood, mistreated, and rejected by some. That’s ok, you are being like Jesus.
- Describe your desire to be like Jesus? What areas in your life do you believe you represent Jesus well and what areas do you need to improve?
- When do Christians experience dislike from others for following Jesus? Have you experienced this? If so, describe it.
- What’s the difference between being disliked or rejected because you follow Jesus versus being disliked because you are obnoxious as a Christian?
- Why is honesty important in a Christian’s life? How does honesty influence your influence in others lives?
- Why is being impartial important in the Christian’s life? What does a Christian look like that shows favoritism?
- How can you share God’s Word and be loving at the same time? What does sharing God’s Word without love look like?
- What is God saying to you personally from this lesson?