Was Jesus Really a Good Person? Examining His Actions to See

Running up to Jesus, calling out, “Good teacher,” to which Jesus retorted, “Why do you call no one is good but God alone.”

Leaving aside the God part of the comment, it raises a good question.

Was Jesus a good person?

Looking at Jesus’ actions, we can determine that he was a good person. He was kind, generous and thoughtful about others.

But that is a very broad statement.

We should first consider what a good person is.

Then, look over Jesus’ life to see how he was a good person and how he fell short at times.

What is a Good Person?

To honestly answer if Jesus was a good person, we must define what a good person is.

Now, there are entire books written on this topic, but we will use two definitions to hopefully give us a base to answer if Jesus was a good person.

Broadly speaking, Cheryl Strayed has a good statement about good people in The Times.

“Goodness is expressed through lovingkindness, generosity of spirit and deed, and the thoughtful consideration of others. It can be as simple as offering to let someone ahead of you in line and as complicated as making years-long sacrifices of your freedom because someone you love needs your help.”

Cheryl Strayed

A good start in framing our thoughts around good people.

I like loving-kindness, generosity, consideration, and simply putting others before yourself.

But it is very broad, and it will be harder to find specific examples of Jesus being a good person or not.

So, for example, we will go with Kyle Robbins list from Mental Floss. We will adapt his list of 15 to analyze if Jesus was a good person.

Examples of Jesus Being a Good Person or Not

Thinking over 30-plus years of life, this will be hard. Good thing for us. Our sources about Jesus’ life focus mainly on the last year or so. Limiting the stories we will need to sift through.

Was he honest in relationships?

In John 3, we see an encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Jewish ruling council. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, seeking to understand the spiritual truths that Jesus was teaching. Jesus speaks bluntly with Nicodemus about his lack of understanding when he is a religious leader of Israel.

But despite this blunt and honest conversation, Nicodemus was still loyal to Jesus that he helped with his burial. His friendship strength through honest conversation.

Another time, Jesus spoke with a man asking how to inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18). Despite loving the man, he honestly told him of his shortcomings. What he was lacking in character and actions.

Another time, even with his close friend Peter. He rebuked him strongly. That the things that Peter wanted were not the things of God. Or what Jesus’ mission was (Matt.16:22,23)

Or at the last supper, when Peter was proclaiming his undying loyalty, but Jesus knew that he would deny him. Jesus honestly shared this with Peter, that he would deny him three times.

Did he compliment others?

A couple of times come to mind of Jesus complementing others.

When he meets Nathanael.

The first thing says is a compliment. Praising his integrity (Jn 1:47).

Another time, a Roman Centurion comes begging Jesus to act. And he commends the man’s faith in front of the entire crowd (Matt.8).

Being greatly affected by the ministry of John the Baptist, he often spoke highly of him. Saying that there was no one greater born from women (Matt.11).

Lastly, Jesus sees a poor widow with only a small offering at the temple, compliments her generosity.

Yes, Jesus often complimented others.

Did Jesus Call His Parents Regularly and Prioritize Them?

Kyle Robbins separates these into two aspects of a good person, but we will combine them. Because they are so closely connected to his relationship with his family.

Here, Jesus doesn’t score as well.

Probably a low point was in his ministry when his mother sought him out, and Jesus dismissed her and left no time for her (Matt.12:46-50, Mk 3:31-35, Lk 8:19-21).

On the flip side on the cross, John records of how he called out to one of his disciples to take care of her. I guess, in death, he didn’t want her to be forgotten.

Was Jesus Polite and Well-Mannered?

If being polite is trying not to offend.

In Matthew 17, Jesus tells Peter to pay the temple tax despite believing he didn’t need to pay the tax. Instructed Peter to pay the tax so as not to offend (Matt.17).

On the other hand, Jesus, at times, was brash. Calling people a brood of vipers, serpents, fox and even calling Peter Satan. Lacking a little in politeness.

Not to mention that time when he was talking to the Samaritan woman whom he had just met and broad up her numerous broken relationships (Jn.4).

Jesus could be polite, but at times he lacked tack. Sometimes for emphasis others, well only he knows.

Was Jesus generous with his belongings?

During his ministry, Jesus didn’t have much for himself or to share with others.

But even with the little he had, when he saw the need, he shared it.

Like when he fed the 5000 and the 4000. Both times, he only had a small meal but shared it with the multitude in need.

More than stuff, Jesus was generous with his time. Often spending hours teaching and healing those around him.

But even in his generosity, he would withdraw to recharge his soul.

Thinking about Others

The feeding of the 5,000 is a good example of this.

When the disciples wanted to send them away because it would be too expensive to feed them. Jesus was concerned about them collapsing from hunger and figured out how to feed them before sending them away.

Did Jesus go the extra mile?

This one is ironic because we get this saying from Jesus’ teaching (Matt.5:41).

My daughter reminded me of a good example of this.

When the paralyzed man came to be healed, Jesus did more and forgave him for his sins.

Did Jesus Smile?

There is no story of Jesus smiling, but it is hard to imagine blessing the little children without a smile on his face.

Or after relieving one of his powerful one-liners. And not a little smile creeping across his face.

But if we stick to the sources, we just don’t know.

Did he make the best out of every situation?

Jesus sitting at the well tired while the disciples are in town trying to buy food. Jesus strikes up a conversation with a lonely woman drawing water at the well (Jn.4).

Another time, Jesus was sleeping in the boat while it crossed the lake. A storm comes out, scaring the disciples.

He awakes and uses the situation to teach his disciples about faith and trusting God in all situations.

Yeah, Jesus often made the best out of situations.

Did Jesus make friends easily?

Yes, but often with the wrong people.

There are many stories of him going to people’s houses, eating and having a great time with the outcasts and “sinners” of the community.

Like with Matthew and his friends (Matt.9)

Again, the same with Zacchaeus (Lk.19). Jesus meets him up in a tree and soon after is at his house enjoying the evening together.

On the flip side.

Jesus, with his teaching and actions, often pushed people away.

From demanding too much from them in discipleship or speaking too harshly for their liking.

Similar to being polite. Jesus could, but at times, it seems he chooses not to be friendly.

Did he take things for granted?

Prayer is probably the time when Jesus is the most grateful.

In John 11, he starts his prayer by thanking God for listening to him.

Often, when Jesus shares a meal, he starts by saying a prayer of thanks for the food.

Was Jesus Consistent?

Often, it was Jesus’ consistency that his enemies would try to use against him.

Knowing that he would always try to help those in need around him, they would plant people needing to be healed around him, trying to trap him in his actions.

Or the backhanded compliment by the Herodians.

“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.”

Matt.22:16

Apparently, they knew that he was consistent in what he taught. Regardless of who he was talking to.

Conclusion on Jesus Being a Good Person

There are probably many more. Of either Jesus being a good person. Or where he fell short.

A big problem with using modern definition of a “good person” is Jesus did live now.

In his culture, his actions may have been viewed much differently.

But without seeing him in person, I am going to go with the man questioning Jesus. He must have heard about Jesus. From what he heard, he must have thought that calling Jesus “good” was accurate.

He might have been referring to Jesus’ skill as a teacher, but I think it was much more than that. He thought Jesus was a good person. A man of character.

Despite the slander of some of his enemies and some inconsistency in his actions, Jesus appears to be a good person.

Even in modern times, many people say some wild things about Jesus. But few call into question his characters.

Ryan Nickel

Two loves of my life beyond my wife and 4 children are history and the person of Jesus. From childhood, I was captivated by history and still love reading and learning about the past. One life in particular that intrigues me in history is the person of Jesus. It's fascinating to think about how the course of human history was changed by a carpenter turned preacher. Both in our times and also in his. I attempt to process all I am learning about him through conversations, writing and shooting videos about the life and teachings of Jesus. With each word drawing me closer into his life. Ryan Nickel has been part of range of churches, including Baptist, Evangelical Free and Church of Christ. In 1999 I graduated from Peace River Bible Institute with a Bachelor of Religious Studies.

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