There are two types of people you cannot fool: kids and drunks.
So says Bill Murray. And Charlie Chaplin. AND Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong NYC.
And these people—who can sniff out a “faker” from a mile away and run the other direction—loved being around Jesus.
Evidence? Matthew 12:14. Matthew 8:1. Mark 5:21. Luke 9:11. Luke 14:25. And many more.
The big mystery—why?
The problem with my past perspective.
I’ll be real—when I used to read Jesus’ words in the Bible, my interpretation of them was tainted by the fact that I didn’t fully understand the person—or personality—behind them. The voice in my head was coming from the Jesus dressed in white robes, with a calm voice that had minimal inflection. He wasn’t always relatable to me, like a friend.
I understood who Jesus was in a religious sense—that He was the Son of God, lived a perfect life, and loved me enough to die on the cross for my sins. I could apply His words to my day-to-day.
But then it felt like I hit a wall. Religion? Got it. Relationship? …working on it.
If that Jesus in my mind would have suddenly materialzed and asked me to hang out on a Friday night, I would probably have said, “Um, okay.” It would have been more obligation than celebration.
It may just be me, but I’d venture to say a lot of Christians have been there.
The small thing that changes EVERYTHING
But why did kids and drunks and businessmen and families and hosts of other people love to spend time with Jesus?
I’d like to propose that it’s because there’s a little detail that will change your entire worldview…
Jesus has a personality.
WOAH. That’s what I felt like when someone said that to me. I realized that, until that point, reading my Bible had been like reading a text message without knowing the person who wrote it. Was that a snarky, “Be right there?” Was their, “You would” comment a joke or exasperation? How do I respond? THE STRESS.
So, Jesus has a personality…what does that mean?
My interpretation? Jesus laughed—often and out loud. That He was fun. That He would joke around with His disciples.
Look at John 21. The disciples, following Christ’s crucifixion, are feeling a bit aimless. What do they do? They go back to what they know—they go fishing.
Let’s pick up the story: “So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’”
Jesus had just conquered death and risen again and could have come back with trumpets blasting and horns blaring, surrounded by battalions of angels.
Instead, He casually stands on the shore, hands in His pockets and calls out to them. He knows they haven’t caught anything. He’s probably smiling a bit as He asks, knowing that they don’t even recognize what’s in front of them.
Once they do, He says, “Come and have breakfast.” And, He’s already got a campfire with breakfast cooking set up on the beach.
This Jesus spends bro time. This Jesus is extremely likeable.
In a recent study, researchers at UCLA asked subjects to rate over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. Contrary to popular belief, the highest ranked adjectives were not “gregarious”, “intelligent”, or “attractive”—they were “sincerity”, “transparency”, and “capacity for understanding another person”.
Based on UCLA’s findings, Forbes suggested innate behaviors that the most likeable people seemed to have:
- They ask questions
- They are genuine
- They aren’t judgmental
- They are consistent
- They smile
- They balance passion and fun
Jesus was sincere, transparent, understandable, inquisitive, genuine, smiling, passionate, and fun.
…am I allowed to think about Jesus with a personality? Is that sacrilegious?
OF COURSE YOU ARE. And NOT AT ALL.
The Bible says we were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The short version: we have a personality. Logic then says that God has a personality. God tells us to be cheerful. God is cheerful. And so on.
My original view of Jesus was like a car without an ignition. I could sit with it all I wanted to, but it wasn’t going anywhere.
Having the right view of Jesus makes relationship possible. He laughs with me, cries with me, passionately loves me. He’s not just the Jesus of my Sunday mornings, but of my Friday and Saturday nights. He’s not just the one I owe my life to, but the one I want to do my whole life with.
That’s my Jesus. Who’s yours?