What Was Jesus Like as a Person?
Jesus Christ was perfect, and by studying what type of person He was, we can shape our own lives to be more like His.
One quality we see throughout the limited accounts we have is that Jesus was very focused on the needs of others. He noticed needs even when those in need didn’t openly ask for help and was always prepared to help, regardless of how tired he was or how busy.
Let’s look at a few examples from His life to see what sort of person he was.
Perhaps the most important quality Jesus demonstrated was obedience to His Father in Heaven. This obedience was borne out of love, both for God and for us. He demonstrated that obedience every day of His mission, including the day He was baptized.
When Jesus approached his cousin, John the Baptist, about being baptized, John was hesitant. He knew baptism was, in part, for the remission of sins, and Jesus had lived a sinless life. However, Jesus explained to him that baptism was a commandment and He needed to obey it. Even though it might not have been necessary for Him, He chose not to make an exception of Himself, and kept every commandment, even those designed for those of us who were less perfect.
The extent of His obedience was tested just after His baptism, when Satan tried to tempt Him into sinning, effectively ending His mission before it began. Without success, Satan taunted Jesus to turn rocks into stone because He was hungry. He then tried to convince Jesus to jump off the top of the temple and command angels to save Him, in order to prove He was who He said He was. This was to use pride as a temptation. Finally, he offered Jesus power and glory if he’d worship Satan instead of God. Jesus easily refused all three, ordering Satan to leave. There were no rewards or worldly honors that could sway Him from His purpose.
Love of Children
The New Testament tells the story of a group of parents who brought their children to see Jesus. They arrived late, however, and Jesus had already put in a very long day. His apostles told the parents to leave, because Jesus was tired. Jesus overheard them and asked the children to come to Him, despite His tiredness. It is likely he thought ahead to how hard it was going to be to live as a Christian in the difficult years ahead, and knew they would find it easier if they’d spent time with Him in person. He took some extra time to help them grow up Christian.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus talked about children and warned people to treat them well and to care for them, physically and spiritually.
The Savior had every reason to be proud of the enormous task He had undertaken and the tremendous sacrifices that would occur. He never demonstrated that in His life or in His teachings. From the premortal moment when He offered himself to God’s service, to the end of His life, He continued to give the praise to God, understating His own role in our eternal salvation. He often asked people to give the honor to His Father, and explained that He did nothing of Himself, but simply did what God asked Him to do.
Compassion and Love
When John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, was beheaded, Jesus grieved. He took a ship away from the people to a deserted place to be alone, but His followers learned where He was and went after Him. Putting aside His grief, He took compassion on them and began healing their sick. Finally, after a long day, the disciples wanted to send everyone away because there was no food there, but Jesus performed a miracle and fed them before they left. Only then, after everyone was cared for and healed did He finally go off alone to pray.
Jesus set an example of compassion and sacrifice. He never turned people away who really needed Him, even in His greatest hours of sadness.
The greatest example of the Savior’s character came in the final days of His ministry, when He did what He came to do. He went into the Garden of Gethsemane, and for the first time in His life, experienced all the pain and agony of sin, magnified over anything we could feel, because He took on Himself the sin of every person who ever lived or would live on the earth. This was so painful He had to be sustained by angels at times, and he sweated blood.
M. Russell Ballard, a Mormon apostle, said, “The picture we often see of the Savior kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane can’t begin to help us understand what the Savior endured that day for us, the day He took on our sins and began the process of becoming our redeemer. He endured a pain greater than any of us can imagine, and He did it alone. His friends were asleep. His earthly family wasn’t there. His Father in Heaven withdrew and did not-could not for our sakes-intercede. This was something the Savior had to do alone, just for us, without help, and He did. He could have stopped it. He could have turned away from the pain and suffering, and gone back out into the world, but He didn’t. He stayed and gave us the redemption from our sins. President Hinckley said, “He lives, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, whose Atonement came as an act of grace for the entire world. … He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has brought meaning to our mortal existence. He has given us the gift of eternal life. … God be thanked for the gift of His Son, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the Prince of Life and Peace, the Holy One” (“A Testimony of the Son of God,” Liahona and Ensign, Dec. 2002, 4-5).
What was the Savior like as a person? He was everything Heavenly Father is, and everything Heavenly Father wanted Him to be. He was kind, hard-working, compassionate, obedient to His Father, thoughtful of His earthly family, and completely focused on doing good every moment of His day. He lived a life that all of us can emulate as we strive to become more God-like and Christ-like in our own lives.