Jesus - the gift and the role model

Erkki Koskenniemi
Elina Salminen

Many people are talking about Jesus, but they do not want to be Christians, rather just seekers. They do strongly agree that Jesus’s teachings are wise and just and that it would be good if everyone taught and lived like Him. These people might even have feelings of inferiority in front of others. But where do they get it wrong?
 They haven’t really seen the point that above all, Jesus means two things to us Christians; the gift and the role model. Without that discovery, a seeker’s search remains unfulfilled.

Jesus is the gift

When we say that Jesus is a gift given to us, we mean this: He has taken all of my sins away and made me God’s child. Even without deserving it, I can be sinless and clean because Jesus has taken my wicked deeds away on the Cross of Golgotha. In addition, He will walk side by side me every day in my life and never gets tired of taking care of, forgiving, and lifting me up.
 That is the gift I adore when enjoying the sacraments of baptism, the Holy Communion, or confession, and every time when opening my Bible. In those moments there are no demands, only God giving generously.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
(Romans 8:15, ESV)

Jesus is the role model

When saying that Jesus is a role model to us, we mean this: when Jesus came down from God’s brightness to this unclean Earth to give His life for the sake of us, He was an example to all of his followers. Jesus weighed His own life worth nothing when saving me, which means that my job as well is to abandon all self-important behavior and to love my neighbor.
 That love is not just a concept. That love has Christ on the Cross as its continuing role model, who sacrificed everything for the sake of sinful men, and even prayed on the cross for those who tortured Him. I have been forgiven so much that I have no right to keep anger with anyone or look down on anyone.

We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:19 ESV)

The gift, the role model, and their right order

So Jesus is both the gift and the role model. Many people do consider Him as the latter. That has no use whatsoever, if they haven’t understood that first and foremost, Jesus is a gift to us. Countless people have undoubtedly been amazed in front of a great role model. These include for example Hindus and Buddhists, who praise their idols but haven’t yet found the real Christ. Jesus as a person remains a mystery until He is clarified to us as a gift. After that He automatically becomes our role model, too.

All in all, Jesus is primarily a gift to us and secondarily a role model.

If we consider Him to be only a role model, we haven’t understood the real Christ at all and actually remain outside Christianity.

I am a Christian named after Christ, because Jesus made me God’s own child. The rest of my life is one big, fascinating challenge to learn from my great role model.