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Bible Insights

7 Last Sayings of Jesus on the Cross

Discover What We Can Learn from the Final Words of Jesus

We’ve talked about the Bible’s first recorded words of Jesus and his last words before he ascends into heaven. But what people focus on most is what he says as he hangs on the cross, dying in our place for the wrongs we have done. Let’s explore the 7 last sayings of Jesus.

Three of these come from Luke and three from John. The seventh one appears in both Matthew and Mark’s biographies of Jesus. Here’s what he says, the 7 last sayings of Jesus on the cross.

1. Jesus Forgives

Jesus addresses the people who are killing him and those who brought about his execution. He says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

In doing so he models the forgiveness that he taught his followers to do. He said to them that if they don’t forgive others, then God won’t forgive them (Matthew 6:15).

Stephen, the Bible’s first martyr, follows this as he is being stoned to death. He asks God to not hold his attackers accountable for what they did, to forgive them (Acts 7:60).

2. Jesus Promises Salvation

To the thief crucified next to him on the cross, Jesus promises that they’ll spend eternity together. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, NIV).

Though this directly applies to the criminal being executed for his crimes, we too can receive the promise of salvation when we follow Jesus.

3. Jesus Cares for His Mother

As Jesus dies an agonizing death, he carries concern for his mother. He wants to make sure she’s cared for when he’s gone. He asks John to make it happen. He says to Mary “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27, NIV).

Jesus’s concern for his mother warms my heart. Yet it also perplexes me because Jesus has four brothers and some unnamed sisters (Mark 6:3). Couldn’t one of them—shouldn’t one of them—have cared for their mother?

Regardless, in Jesus’s deepest despair, he still thinks of others. We should do the same.

4. Jesus Talks to God

Jesus faces his darkest moment at the time when the weight of humanity’s sins throughout all time rests squarely on him. He must complete this journey on his own. He calls out to God “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, NIV).

This fulfills David’s prophetic words in Psalm 22:1.

Though it’s necessary for Jesus to complete this on his own, we never need do anything by ourselves. God is always with us and will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

5. Jesus Shares a Physical Need

Being thirsty while undergoing one of history’s most brutal forms of execution is minor in comparison to all else that Jesus is physically enduring. Yet no one can help him deal with any of those sufferings. But someone can give him a drink.

This may be why he says, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28, NIV). We see this foreshadowed again by David (Psalm 22:15). Earlier Jesus taught his followers to give water to those in need (Matthew 10:42).

Jesus dies so that we may live. Click To Tweet

6. Jesus Completes His Mission

As Jesus is about to die, he has fulfilled what he came to earth to do. He confirms this when he tells everyone who is keeping vigil, “It is finished” (John 19:30, NIV).

7. Jesus Gives Himself to His Father

Death will complete Jesus’s earthly mission. Rather than suffer any longer, he wills himself to die and gives his spirit over to Papa: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46, NIV). This also fulfills David’s prophetic words (Psalm 31:5).

The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

These are the 7 last sayings of Jesus

The result is that Jesus dies so that we may live.

Thank you, Jesus.

Read the 7 last sayings of Jesus during his crucifixion and the events that precede it in Matthew 26:14-27:66, Mark 14:12-15:47, Luke 22-23, and John 18-19.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Let’s Reclaim Easter Before It Loses All Meaning

According to those who track public thought and opinion, the majority of people don’t realize that Easter is a religious holiday—or at least a holiday with a religious origin. Given this, we must reclaim Easter for what it means.

The commercialization of Easter is strange. To start, we have Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, with the implication that the rabbits produced the eggs. How illogical is that?

Then there are colored eggs (both the real and plastic varieties), Easter baskets with a requisite bed of faux grass, pastel colored candies, and my favorite, the marshmallow peeps.

We send our children on Easter egg hunts and pile them with sugary candy. We do all this with nary a mention of Jesus.

Jesus is our savior who died in our place for all our sins (the mistakes we make throughout our lives). Then he proved his mastery over death by rising from the grave.

Celebrate Easter

If there is any connection between all this and Jesus’s history-changing victory over death, it certainly escapes me.

Where is the empty cross, the open tomb, and the risen savior? (Though it would seem a bit sacrilegious to chomp into a chocolate Jesus.)

In light of this disconnect between the origin and present reality of this day, my goal is that with each dip into commercialized Easter, I will have a conscious reconnection to historical Easter.

As I nibble on my peeps, I will meditate on Jesus and all that he did for us through his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.

Let’s all strive to reclaim Easter.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

See How Jesus Fulfills the Law and the Prophets

Jesus does three things to complete what the Old Testament started

Jesus draws people to him. The words he speaks and the hope he communicates attract them. Some people assume he had come to replace the Old Testament Law and the work of the prophets. Instead, Jesus fulfills it.

Jesus doesn’t come to do away with what the Old Testament teaches. Instead his mission is to bring the Old Testament into fruition, according to God’s plan from the beginning.

Jesus makes this clear. He says, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). How does Jesus do this?

Jesus Becomes the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Old Testament is packed with instructions for making sacrificial offerings, commands that showed the people’s relationship with God. These sacrifices had various meanings, but one key sacrifice occurred to redress sin.

An animal had to die because the people had sinned. Because the people continued to sin, animal sacrifices continued to be required. These sin sacrifices happened over and over, year after year, century after century.

Jesus, in his sacrificial death on the cross, becomes the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sin sacrifices. In his once-and-for-all sacrifice, he dies to make us right with God, to reconcile us into right relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus Turns Law into Love

Despite Jesus’s fresh way of looking at the understandings of his people, most of his followers struggle to fully comprehend what he means. They wrestle to reconcile his teachings with their traditions.

One such person asks Jesus to identify the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus’s answer is love. He says to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.”

This stands as the greatest commandment, but then he adds one more. He says to “love others as much as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40). These two simple principles summarize all the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love.

Jesus Changes Our Perspectives

Jesus likes to review what the Hebrew Bible says, and then he expands on it. He often makes this transition by saying “but I tell you…” Then he gives his enlightened explanation about what God meant.

We’ll do well to carefully study what Jesus says immediately after his words “but I tell you…” Read about what he says in this post.

Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets. Click To Tweet

What’s important to understand when we consider that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament law and the writings of the prophets is that we must put the Old Testament in proper perspective.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the Old Testament because Jesus fulfills it, but it does mean we need to consider the Old Testament in the context to which it was given. In addition to teaching people how to live back then, the Law and the prophets also points them to the coming Savior, Jesus.

As we read the Old Testament we see allusions to Jesus and the freedom he represents. And if we read the Old Testament with care, we will also see that this future revelation about Jesus applies to all people, not just God’s chosen nation of Israel.

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament Law and Prophets

Yes, Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets. And we are the benefactor of that.

Thank you Jesus.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

There’s No Shortcut to Heaven: Buying Full Indulgences Won’t Help

Martin Luther worried that buying full indulgences served to hinder salvation

What most raised the ire of the Church against Martin Luther and his ninety-five theses, however, was not his claim of salvation through Jesus alone or the pope having no power over purgatory, but his bold statement that full indulgences served to hinder salvation.

False Security

Martin realized indulgences instilled a false sense of spiritual security in those who bought them. It was as if they had purchased a pass to enter heaven; they were good to go. Then they could live their life as they wanted, without regard for what God wanted.

Instead, the people’s complete trust in papal indulgences to secure their salvation removed the requirement of repentance and damned them for eternity.

With their certificate of indulgence in hand, a full indulgence, the people no longer felt a need to repent, Mark 1:15, or to work out their salvation by doing good and helping the poor, Philippians 2:12.

Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century

Help the Poor

Jesus, however, commends those who clothe the naked and care for the sick, Matthew 25:34-40. Yet all the attention given to buying indulgences removed the focus from those in need.

Jesus didn’t say, “Sell your cloak and buy an indulgence.” (He said to “sell your cloak and buy a sword,” Luke 22:36.)

Martin noted that when people paid for their indulgences, they in effect diverted money from the poor and even the needs of their own family. Instead, they redirected it to the Church. Full indulgences had the direct impact of producing less charity for those who needed it most.

Selling Full Indulgences Fund the Church

Instead it provided more money to those in power who already had too much. The Church wanted the people’s money. They had already downplayed helping the poor so they could receive more. The sale of indulgences advanced their unethical quest to get more of their followers’ cash.

Full indulgences were also dangerous because they encouraged complacency.

God’s work in the lives of his creation unfolds in a strange way. Only when a person feels completely lost can the light of God provide the needed illumination.

Yet the crutch of indulgences kept people from ever feeling utterly lost and in need of God. True peace comes from faith in Jesus, not by receiving absolution through the purchase of an indulgence.

Faith in Jesus

As a response to placing faith in Jesus comes the need to carry our cross to follow him as his disciple, Luke 14:27. We die to self to live for God. We deny our wishes and become crucified with Jesus, just like Paul, Galatians 2:20.

The cross of Jesus, not an indulgence from a pope, provides the way to cover our wrongs.

In response to placing faith in Jesus, we need to carry our cross to follow him as his disciple. Click To Tweet

The German people had long lived under the financial tyranny of the Church. They sought relief. Martin’s theses demanded financial liberation and resonated with them. They understood it. It became their manifesto against the Church’s corrupt money grab.

Luther’s 95 Theses

What most of the German people didn’t grasp, however, was Martin’s call to be crucified with Jesus. The people rallied around a vision of financial release from the Church’s practices, thanks to some of Martin’s theses.

As a result, the other theses accompanied them. This pushed the group of ninety-five theses forward, even if the people didn’t understand them all.

Though Martin understood his 95 theses, he had no idea of the problems they would cause.

Read more about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation in Peter DeHaan’s book Martin Luther’s 95 Theses: Celebrating the Protestant Reformation in the 21st Century. Buy it today to discover more about Martin Luther and his history-changing 95 theses.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

How Much Did Jesus Suffer When He Died for Us?

Jesus Died as the Ultimate Sacrifice So That We May Live

The Old Testament of the Bible overflows with instructions about offering sacrifices to God and how his people but them into practice. One of those sacrifices served as an annual sacrifice for the sins of the people.

The people had to repeat it each year because the sacrifice offered only partial coverage.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Jesus came as the ultimate sin sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He accomplished for all time what the Old Testament sacrifices could only cover annually.

When followers of Jesus look at his sacrifice, some celebrate him as the suffering Savior who died for our sins and others laud as the risen Savior who overcame death. Which is it? Both. Jesus died and defeated death so that we may live.

In his death as the ultimate sacrifice for all the mistakes we’ve made, Jesus suffered greatly. Each of the Bible’s four biographies about Jesus include the account of his sacrificial death: Matthew 27:32-61, Mark 15:21-47, Luke 23:26-56, and John 19:28-42.

Physical Pain

The first-century people who read these passages knew too well about the physical pain and suffering that crucified people endured. They witnessed it firsthand many times. Therefore, the writers of these accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion didn’t need to give details of the agony he endured.

The people understood it. They comprehended what Jesus underwent.

For us in the twenty-first century, we lack this firsthand understanding of the physical pain brought about by death through crucifixion. Yet a medical description of what Jesus underwent is truly horrific. But there’s more.

Emotional Pain

Beyond the physical trauma of receiving a beating beyond recognition, being nailed to a cross to suffer, and then dying, Jesus also endured emotional pain. All around him people mocked him, taunted him, and belittled him and his mission.

He worried about the future of his mother, Mary. He carried concern about his disciples wondering if they could manage without him. And when Jesus needed it most, his Father had to look away.

Spiritual Pain

Yet even more than the emotional agony and the physical trauma of his execution, Jesus endured a spiritual pain. It was most horrific.

Recall our embarrassment over the most shameful thing we’ve ever done. If you’re like me, you’d rather not. Now multiply that over a lifetime of mistakes. It’s a huge weight to shoulder. When King David considered this, he said that his guilt overwhelmed him. It was a burden he couldn’t bear (Psalm 38:4).

Now multiply one lifetime of shame times several billion people. That’s what Jesus bore when he died as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. At that one moment, the sins of everyone who ever lived and ever will live all fell on Jesus.

What an overwhelming, incomprehensible weight to bear. Yet Jesus took all of our sins, for all people, for all time and sacrificially bore them so that we wouldn’t have to.

Jesus suffered, died, and overcame death so that we may live with him forever. Thank you, Jesus.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Nine Guys Named Simon in the Bible

Simon Peter and More…

In the last post, we talked about the disciple Simon, who Jesus named Peter. I only know of one person called Peter in the Bible, but there are several guys named Simon in the Bible.

  1. Simon Peter (the disciple)
  2. Simon the Zealot (another disciple, which may be why Jesus called the other Simon, Peter)
  3. Simon the brother of Jesus (his other brothers were James, Joseph, and Judas)
  4. Simon the leper (the owner of the home where Jesus’ head was anointed with oil)
  5. Simon from Cyrene (who carried Jesus’ cross)
  6. Simon the Pharisee (the owner of the home where Jesus feet were washed with perfume)
  7. Simon Iscariot (father of Judas Iscariot)
  8. Simon the sorcerer (who asked to buy Holy Spirit power)
  9. Simon the tanner (who Peter stayed with in Joppa when Cornelius sent for him)

I would have never guessed there were this many guys named Simon in the Bible (in addition to three guys named Simeon).

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Are You Like the Criminal on the Cross Next to Jesus?

When Jesus is executed, two criminals are executed with him, one on either side. While we don’t know what these two men did to deserve the death penalty, we can assume it must have been something really bad, such as murder or insurrection.

Luke’s report of this event gives us a bit more detail than in Jesus’ other biographies. Luke notes that while one of the criminals insults Jesus, the other one sees things differently.

He says the punishment for him and the other lawbreaker is just, getting what their actions warrant, whereas Jesus is innocent. Then, in an amazing display of faith—since they will all soon be dead—he asks Jesus to remember him in his future kingdom. Jesus says it’s a done deal.

While this criminal on the cross did something bad to get the death penalty, anything wrong we do, whether major or minor, likewise earns us the punishment of death. Just as Jesus opens his arms to accept a hardened criminal, he can likewise accept us.

This criminal on the cross merely affirms Jesus and asks to spend eternity in heaven with him. We can do the same thing, too.

Discover more about the criminal on the cross in Luke 23:32-33, 39-43.

Read about more biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

We Must Pick Up Our Cross Daily

Becoming a Christian Isn’t So Much Making a Onetime Decision but a Lifetime of Daily Decisions to Follow Jesus

A friend in high school followed Jesus, and her life exemplified that decision. But after a while she fell into an extreme interpretation of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Then her life took a turn.

She reasoned that she had “prayed the prayer” and was good to go. This, she felt, freed her to live and act however she wanted. Going forward she would rely on God’s grace and mercy to open the door for her to heaven when she died. After all, he loved her and wouldn’t let her down.

After that her life didn’t so much point people to Jesus. And before long there was no evidence that she even followed him. I still grieve for her.

Yes, we can—and should—have assurance for our salvation. Yet this doesn’t give us the license to act however we wish and do whatever we want. We have a responsibility to do our part in keeping with our decision to make a U-turn with our lives and follow Jesus. Theologians call this repentance.

Pick Up Our Cross Daily

Jesus says that anyone who wants to be his disciple must deny themselves, pick up their cross each day, and follow him. I’m still contemplating what it fully means to pick up our cross, but I do get the part about doing it daily.

Following Jesus is a decision we make each day. It’s not a one-time event when we said a prayer, signed a commitment card, or went through some religious rite. It’s a daily choice.

If you’re like me, some days we do better than others. There are times when following Jesus unfolds with ease. Other days become a struggle, but we persist.

Occasionally a few seasons evolve without giving Jesus much thought at all. And, I suppose, we may live other days in opposition to him and his ways.

Thankfully there’s always tomorrow (for most of us) where we can do it all over again. Each day we have a fresh opportunity to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus.

Following Jesus is a lifetime of decisions, of intentional day-by-day living for him. Click To Tweet

Following Jesus is a lifetime of decisions, of intentional day-by-day living for him. Our conversion experience isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

I’ve not heard from my friend for decades, and I don’t know what her life looks like today. But please pray for her, others like her, and us that we will pick up our cross daily to follow Jesus.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 7-9, and today’s post is on Luke 9:23.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Deuteronomy Hints at the Horror of Jesus’s Sacrifice

We Discover Parallels Between Deuteronomy and Jesus’s Death

The book of Deuteronomy, which most people skip and the rest of us skim, does contain interesting passages for us to consider. In one short section, God addresses capital punishment. Though the idea of executing people for their offenses may offend our sensibilities, don’t dismiss this passage.

Learn from its words. It gives insight into Jesus’s gift of the ultimate sacrifice.

This passage in Deuteronomy talks about executing criminals on a pole. It commands people not to leave the body hang overnight but to bury it the same day. Further it goes on to state that anyone hung on a pole is under God’s curse.

Let’s relate this to Jesus:

Jesus Died on a Pole

We don’t know the exact configuration of the cross Jesus died on, but we can understand that in simple terms, it was a pole. Jesus died on a pole, and his body hung exposed on a pole, exactly aligned with this passage in Deuteronomy. There he suffered and served as our sacrifice.

Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse. Click To Tweet

Jesus Was Buried the Same Day

When Joseph of Arimathea requested Jesus’s body for burial, he likely had this Deuteronomy passage in mind: that God instructed his people not to leave an executed body hang on a pole overnight. Joseph, a righteous man, made sure that Jesus’s body didn’t suffer this final indignity.

Jesus Was Under God’s Curse

It’s hard for us to think of Jesus being under God’s curse, yet as he died on the cross, suffering the consequences for what we’ve done wrong, he was under God’s curse. He suffered God’s punishment for our wrongdoing. Paul confirms this in his letter to the Galatian church.

He tells them, and reminds us, that when Jesus became our curse, he freed us from the curse that we deserve (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 19-21, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 21:22-23.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Is Jesus Our Model For Masculinity?

Should we emulate the man who drove merchants from the temple and denounced hypocrisy?

When I blogged about the need for a male role model, I wondered if the life of Jesus might stand as an example for men to follow. Is he the perfect blend of godly power and God-intended masculinity?

Indeed the character and actions of Jesus is compelling, more gripping than any other. Here are the lessons we can learn from Jesus:

A Man of Action

Incensed over sacrilegious commerce being conducted in the temple, degrading worship and exploiting people, Jesus makes a whip and drives the merchants away. He scatters their money and overturns their tables; animals flee. He makes a real mess.

Jesus takes bold action to confront wrong behavior (Matthew 21:12-13, John 2:15-17).

A Man of Strength

Jesus is physically strong, able to endure the barbaric tortures of crucifixion. Being flogged (Mark 15:15) was enough to kill some people; Jesus survives. He withstands the soldiers as they beat him (Luke 22:63-64) and carries his own cross (John 19:17).

In this Jesus stands as our modern view of manly power.

A Man of Faith

Jesus prays (Luke 11:1) and fasts (Matthew 4:1-2). He places priority on his relationship with God.

A Man of Boldness

Not afraid to condemn misguided spiritual practices, Jesus speaks against hypocrisy (Matthew 12:34). His concern is righting spiritual wrongs, and he has no worries over offending religious leaders in error.

A Man of Spiritual Power

With supernatural insight Jesus knows what others are thinking (Luke 5:22), has command over nature (Mark 4:39), heals people (Matthew 4:23), and raises the dead (Luke 8:54-55).

Jesus is the ultimate paragon, our model of excellence and perfection, a peerless example. Click To Tweet

A Man of Love and Compassion

Jesus blesses children (Matthew 19:13-14). He longs to love and protect them (Luke 13:34). He cares about the masses, offering compassion (Matthew 9:36) and loving them (Mark 10:21).

This is an impressive list, one truly worthy of emulation, yet Jesus is not our model for masculinity. Instead Jesus stands as a model for humanity, both men and women. Jesus is the ultimate paragon, our model of excellence and perfection, a peerless example.

Jesus is an Example For All to Follow, Not Just the Guys

Which of Jesus’s characteristics do you most identify with? Which ones seem aligned with one gender more than the other?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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