Depending on who you may ask, what is a meaningful life, you would most likely receive many different answers. If you were to further ask people would they consider a meaningful life to include being hated, persecuted and eventually put to death, no doubt you would hear that many people would not consider a life under those conditions very meaningful. Yet, the best example we have of a truly meaningful life, was the life of Jesus.
But, did Jesus really have a meaningful life? He evidently was brought up in humble surroundings, and throughout his life he had few of this world’s goods. He actually had “nowhere to lay down his head.” (Luke 9:57, 58) In addition, he was hated, slandered, and finally put to death by his enemies.
You may reason, ‘Such a life is not what I think of as meaningful!’ But there is more to Jesus’ life that we do well to consider. Let us examine four aspects of his life.
1. JESUS HAD A PURPOSE IN LIFE—TO DO GOD’S WILL.
My food (nourishment) is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work.—John 4:34.
By his words and actions, Jesus sought to fulfill the will of his heavenly Father, God. Jesus found great joy in doing God’s will. He actually compared doing so to food, as is shown in the scripture just quoted. Consider the circumstances under which he made that comparison.
Jesus spoke those words at about noontime. (John 4:6) He had trekked through the hilly country of Samaria all morning, so he surely was hungry. In fact, his disciples had urged him: “Rabbi, eat.” (John 4:31) By his answer, Jesus indicated that he really felt nourished and strengthened by doing God’s work. Does that not sound like the kind of man whose life had meaning?
2. JESUS HAD INTENSE LOVE FOR HIS FATHER.
I love the Father.—John 14:31.
Jesus had an extremely close relationship with his Father in heaven. Jesus’ deep love for God impelled him to make known his Father—His name, purposes, and qualities. Through his words, actions, and attitudes, Jesus perfectly reflected his Father—to the point that we see in Jesus a living portrait of his Father. Thus, when Philip asked Jesus:
Lord, show us the Father [cause us to see the Father—that is all we ask]; then we shall be satisfied. Jesus replied, Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know Me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, Show us the Father? —John 14:8, 9.
3. JESUS LOVED PEOPLE.
No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.—John 15:13.
Our future life prospects as imperfect humans are admittedly grim. The Bible explains:
Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned. (Romans 5:12)
We cannot on our own escape the consequence of sin, namely death.—Romans 6:23.
Thankfully, God lovingly provided a solution to mankind’s situation. He allowed his perfect and sinless Son, who became known as Jesus, to suffer and die in order to provide the ransom needed to deliver mankind from slavery to sin and death. Jesus, moved by love for his Father and for humans, willingly complied and gave his perfect human life in our behalf. (Romans 5:6-8) Such unselfish love gave meaning to his life.
4. JESUS KNEW THAT HE HAD HIS FATHER’S LOVE AND APPROVAL.
And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!—Matthew 3:17.
God spoke those words from heaven at the time of Jesus’ baptism. God thus openly expressed affection for and approval of his Son, Jesus. No wonder Jesus could emphatically say:
For this [reason] the Father loves Me, because I lay down My [own] life—to take it back again. (John 10:17)
Knowing that he had his Father’s love and approval, Jesus faced opposition and criticism with confidence. He even maintained balance and emotional stability in the face of death. (John 10:18) Jesus’ sense of his own Father’s love and approval undoubtedly gave even greater meaning to his life.
Jesus certainly had a meaningful life. Clearly, we can learn much from him about how we can lead a life that has real meaning.