What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard and Linda Eyre
Month 3: His Strength
“He…fasted forty days and nights”
WEEK 9: PHYSICAL ENDURANCE AND POWER
When we think of strength, what comes to mind? Physical strength and stamina? Mental strength to pursue a goal at great odds? Spiritual strength—an ultimate, inner power to fall back on?
By any aspect, the true measure of strength is the life of Jesus Christ. His strength was total, complete, profound, and all-encompassing.
Consider first the Master’s physical strength. Much of our traditional Christian art portrays Jesus as frail, small and delicate—an effort, perhaps, to depict his sensitivity and tenderness. But the Savior was, physically, strong enough to fast for forty days to begin his earthly ministry. While such an event most certainly required spiritual strength, it also demanded physical stamina.
One poem, though it contains only the impressions of the poet and partakes of poetic license, perhaps catches the dimension of physical vigor in the Savior’s life. (Fere is an archaic word meaning companion or comrade):
Ha’ we lost the goodliest fere o’all,
For the priests and the gallows three;
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.
I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swing free
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.
Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind
And wake the dead, says he.
Ye shall see one thing to master all:
How a brace man dies on the tree.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills of Galilee.
They whined as he walked out calm between
Wi’ his eyes like the grey o’ the sea.
A master of men was the goodly fere,
A mate of the wind and sea.
If they think they ha’ slain our goodly fere
They are fools eternally.
(Ezra Pound, “Ballad of the Goodly Fere,” portions only)
The Savior’s physical strength certainly was impressive. Imagine the stamina required to be always in the Spirit, always sensitive and empathetic to the needs of others, always ready to teach and to lead.
Knowing, as we do, the strength needed to overcome even a single sin, imagine the strength required to take on the agony of all men’s sins.