Scout, it's kind of like the conundrum of "Jehovah." Old Testament Jehovah was a real bastard, yet New Testament Jehovah is all "love." So which is it? Or is the description linked to the culture, the political climate of the time, and the specific writer, than it is on presentation of "fact?"
I mean, if Paul had written the Gospels, do you think the stories about Jesus and the prostitutes, or Jesus and the Samaritan woman would have gotten any mention at all? I'm guessing that's a "no." It would have been vital to Paul that these stories NOT appear in the Gospels, since they would have undermined his "seen and not heard" policy for women in the congregation.
Of course, the above scenario is made further unlikely because the Gospels were not really "gospel" until they were chosen by the church as such, over 300 years later.
So, in examining the story of the bible, my personal opinion is that it is vital to examine the agenda of the writer(s). Taken as such, Jesus, as described in the Gospels, is someone I would be pleased to meet.