I have favorite characters that I admire in the bible. What makes me admire them is the qualities of their personalities. Writing Christian and historical fiction gives me access to real people, some with admirable qualities and some with twisted and sinister qualities, but the characters that I develop from small clues offer a chance to use each person as an example of the qualities that I want represented in my stories.
Jesus possessed certain qualities that are both well-known and common to almost all characterizations: compassion, forgiveness and self-sacrifice. What I want to do in my stories is focus on qualities that aren’t usually mentioned.
I focus on two qualities that I believe Jesus must have had in order to perform the miracles that he did: intelligence and insight.
As a human being, Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a small village of craftsmen in Galilee. He was not highly educated in a contemporary sense, but he was a rabbi, a teacher, so he was educated in Judaism – the Torah and the Law of Moses. On the other hand we tend to take it for granted that the “God” dimension of him created the universe. We can’t be sure how much the “human” dimension consciously knew or when he knew it, but in the nature of what he accomplished we see that he must have been extraordinarily intelligent.
We see his insightfulness by how he perceives and interacts with other people in the scriptures. Often with just a word, and sometimes with just a look into their eyes, he captures the essence of individuals with whom he comes in contact, reading their hearts, capturing their pain, defining their turmoil, liberating their unique holiness.
In his encounters with my main characters, Jesus talks to them empathetically about whatever disturbs, limits or incapacitates them. He blesses them not only with physical healing but also with a change of heart – a change of viewpoint and a change in how they live their lives.
These qualities have grown and expanded to fill many people in the world, and it’s interesting to me how many of us can spot them by the words they speak, by the examples they set, and by the hearts they touch.