Who is Jesus? What is Jesus like? Great questions—and you’ll get varying answers depending on who you ask.
Some would say Jesus of Nazareth was simply a wandering Jewish rabbi, craftsman, and preacher who was brutally killed by the occupying Roman government around two thousand years ago.
Others might only know Jesus from Hollywood movies or Sunday school stories. You know, the blonde, long-haired, lamb-holding Jesus. He can come off as distant, unrelatable, and often, a person who doesn’t resemble the real Jesus at all.
But the Jesus of the Gospels is so much more than just a figure in history or a storybook character. Instead, He’s fully God and fully man—God who became a relatable human being and lived among us.
But what is He like?
Jesus Is Forgiving
The Bible teaches us many things about Jesus. We know that He was born in a small country town called Bethlehem.
We know He taught us to love God and love others.
We even know what He ate.
But remember, Jesus is God in human form. Scripture consistently shows us who God is and what He’s like. And one of God’s most consistent qualities is forgiveness.
When I made the decision to follow Jesus, I did it out of fear. I didn’t really know what it meant to “say yes to Jesus.” And I’m not the only one. A friend told me when he was younger, he didn’t know what “getting saved” or following Jesus meant—he just wanted to make sure he didn’t end up in the frightening place called “hell” that his pastor kept shouting about on Sundays.
But following Jesus is more than not going to hell. It’s a life of freedom that’s available right now. Whatever you’ve done wrong, whatever has been wrongly done to you, there’s hope for you.
Jesus doesn’t hold on to our sins. In fact, He doesn’t even remember them. What does that tell you about His character? Jesus would rather die for you than have you face another day of shame and condemnation.
So, what is Jesus like? He is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8 NIV).
But when it comes to Jesus, there’s always more.
Jesus Loves Justice
Not only does He want you to live a life of freedom from your sins, He wants you to live a life of freedom from injustice. When Jesus first started His ministry, He went into a local synagogue (where Jews gathered to worship in the first century) and read from the Book of Isaiah.
Now just hang with me.
Jesus met up with people of faith, was picked to give that week’s message, quoted words from the Bible, and then said He was the reason they were written. Read it here for yourself:
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him.
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21 ESV
When Jesus tells the crowd this passage is fulfilled, He’s declaring that He Himself is the gateway to freedom for those who face injustice, persecution, and marginalization. Jesus longs to bring freedom, hope, support, and care to those who would otherwise be scorned by society.
But Jesus’ listeners weren’t happy with His declaration and decided to throw Him off a cliff. How’s that for a response? Thankfully, not every story in the Gospels is like this.
There are many passages in Scripture about Jesus uplifting and redeeming people—from forgiving a woman who made some bad life choices and was stuck in a cycle of sexual sin to restoring the reputation of a money-hungry loan shark who, after meeting Jesus, decided to give back everything he stole.
No matter what your story is, Jesus sees your need and wants to offer you a life of freedom now. And He offers that in the best way possible: friendship with Him.
Jesus Is a Good Friend
Now, you’ve probably read this far and thought, that’s great that Jesus cares about me, sees my needs, and wants me to be free from the weight of what oppresses me. But a friend? Seriously?
Yes, Jesus was (and is) the perfect Friend.
He spent His adult life with close to 70 people who traveled with Him during His ministry. Among those followers, He chose 12 to spend most of his time with—and out of those guys, three would be considered His best friends.
Jesus tells us that the best type of friend isn’t one who’s looking out for their own interests, but someone who actually considers the needs of the other person before their own. As He said:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV
Jesus is the greatest Friend of all because He laid down His life for us by choosing to die on a cross—even though He had committed no crimes—and restore us to a right relationship with our Father in heaven.
Maybe at this point you’re thinking, “I already know Jesus. How does any of this apply to me?”
I’m glad you asked. If you’re like me, you didn’t start out knowing who Jesus really was or even that He likes you and wants to be your closest friend. So here’s where the practical stuff comes in.
How to Get to Know Jesus Better
Relationships are built over time and through exercising trust. If we truly want to get to know Jesus better, we need to spend time with Him.
Here are 3 ways I spend time with Jesus that might be helpful to you:
- Read the stories of Jesus in the Bible. Jesus’ biography is in four books of the Bible—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one has a different perspective and tells you more about who Jesus is. If you want to read a holistic adaptation of the Gospels, check out The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Talk daily with Him. Friendships are a two-way street. Reading about Jesus is good, but He’s a real person we can talk to about anything we’re going through, good or bad. Remember, we’re building a friendship, so we’re not talking at Jesus—we’re talking with Him. This means listening to Him, hearing His heart, and sharing ours. A great way to start building this habit is through Daily Prayer in the Bible App.
- Tell others about Him. Finally, when we have a good friend, they often come up in conversation. When we know our friends well, we’re able to share the great things about them and celebrate them with others. The same holds true for a friend of Jesus. We get to share who He is and let others know they can build a friendship with Him, too.
So, what is Jesus like? I’ve shared how I know Him, but what would you say about Him? How can you help others know Him? The first step is building that friendship with Him. While getting to know Him may take a lifetime, the journey is worth it.