“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
Jesus’ Gentle Way
What a gentle tender gesture Jesus makes to his disciples in this passage. Here he is, right on the precipice of of the darkest most excruciating time of his existence, just before his close friend Judas will betray him, right before the people will mock him, just before the leaders will beat him and torture him. Just before they’ll falsely accuse him. Just before they’ll murder him on the cross.
Just before he’ll bear the weight of the sins of the entire world.
Right before all of this Jesus is gentle.
He’s thinking about how his disciples are grieving over the news he just shared that he has to leave them. Or, perhaps he recognizes there are some things he has to say to them but they’re not ready to hear them because they’re just not mature enough yet.
Either way, Jesus is gentle with them, and he decides to hold his peace.
My nature can be so opposite of Jesus’ nature in this area of gentleness. Jesus, just before he takes on the sins of the whole world, is gentle. After I get off the phone with my insurance company about a claim they don’t want to pay, stay out of my way. I’m anything but gentle.
God’s Instruction To You And Me
I see God instructing us to be gentle all through the Bible.
“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people,” God instructs us in Titus 3:2.
“. . . make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” God directs us in 1 Peter 3:15.
“But wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere,” God informs us in James 3:17. (see also 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Galatians 5:22-23, Galatians 6:1, Ephesians 4:2, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, 2 Corinthians 10:1, Colossians 3:12, 1 Timothy 6:11, etc., etc.)
Everywhere in scripture I see us instructed to be gentle yet this attribute of the Christ follower’s character seems to be largely ignored in Christian culture today.
“I’m just feisty,” I hear my Christian friend say.
“I’m just a fighter, that’s how God made me,” I hear another Christian friend say.
It reminds me of patience. I often hear people who identify as Christians say with a chuckle and a smile: “I’m just not a very patient person.” They laugh it off in a way that makes them feel better about themselves, but also in a way that dismisses all the instruction in the Bible for us to be patient. But there’s a difference. Most of the people I know who are impatient acknowledge God’s instruction for us to be patient. It seems God’s instruction for us to be gentle is simply ignored. People live as though it’s not even there. For sure, professing believers often post on social media as though it’s not even there.
Yet, as we’ve seen, God’s instruction for us to be gentle is everywhere.
God Help Me
As I look back on my life I have to conclude: Jesus has been so gentle with me. I feel his love for me almost every day. Even during the most trying and difficult times in my life, like his disciples in our text, I feel the gentle way he walks through the darkness with me. When I fail he provides correction in a way that helps me to recognize he loves me and he corrects me because he wants what’s best for me.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” God tells us in Proverbs 15:1. I’ve come to the conclusion: I’m way too harsh. Far too often I’m not like Jesus in the way I communicate. Maybe you feel the same. If that’s true for you as it is for me, join me in this prayer:
“Father, You tell us the fruit of Your Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Please, bless me with Your Holy Spirit, and all the fruits of Your Holy Spirit,
Image of man gently holding bird via peakpx.com – Public Domain