What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 10: MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL DISCIPLINE
Whatever our Lord’s physical strength may have been, the power and discipline of his mind was even more overwhelming, perhaps to a level that our own minds cannot really comprehend but can only glimpse. Think for a moment of some of the examples we know.
The unwavering, straight-ahead rejection of Satan’s strongest suggestions: Try to imagine the discipline needed to turn from bread after forty days of fasting.
The lifetime avoidance of the misuse of any power: Try to imagine the discipline required to go from the Last Supper to Calvary with no sleep and no food, under constant petty abuse as well as physical torment, yet to never tap the power that could have instantly stopped the abuse. (“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not…” 1 Peter 2:23) In essence, all of Christ’s recorded temptations were attempts to cause him to misuse his power. Thus the marvel of his character lies not only in what he did, but in what he refrained from doing. (Try to imagine having a billion dollars and never spending one cent on yourself.)
The emotional power by which he rejected discouragement despite incredible odds: Try to imagine a small province (half the size of New Hampshire), ruled by a wild-eyed half-Israelite who is supervised by the world’s most powerful empire. Emerging out of a carpenter’s shop in the province’s most despised corner comes one proclaiming himself as the Redeemer of humanity and the founder of an everlasting kingdom.
Try to imagine the inner strength necessary under those circumstances to stay always positive, always optimistic despite ever-growing persecution. The Lord suffered rejection by his own town, by his friends. He endured inadequate and shallow understanding even on the part of those closest to him. He knew that his own life and the lives of many of his followers would end violently (Mark 8:31; Matthew 10:17-22). We would expect from a person in those circumstances gloom, discouragement, or at least occasional moodiness or cynicism. Try to imagine such a one who showed none of these, ever.
The mental discipline by which he prepared in advance for every opportunity and every crisis: If tit is true that one hallmark of greatness is inner preparation and planning prior to outward acts, try to imagine the supreme example of the Lord in the thirty-year preparation preceding his three-year ministry, in the quiet mountainside moments or seaside serenity that preceded some of his greatest miracles and greatest speeches, in the Gethsemane that preceded his Calvary.
The inner strength that allowed him to live the most misunderstood and lonely of lives: If it is true that “to be great is to be misunderstood” and if “the altitude of a mountain is the measure of its solitude,” then try to imagine the loneliness of the Lord and the discipline required to “descend beneath them all” (Ephesians 4:9-10).
The incredible patience he showed toward those with him: Try to imagine doing what he did in spite of the inadequacy of the human instruments he worked with—men who wanted vengeance (Luke 9:54), who were steeped in Jewish tradition (Mark 7:13), who bickered over their relative status in the kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21; Mark 10:35-41), who misunderstood even at the Last Supper (Luke 22:24).
In essence, our Lord’s mind was simply stronger than all that surrounded him. He always acted; he never reacted. No doubt he usually had the guidance and help of the other two members of the Godhead, yet we know there were times when he was left with only his own inner strength to conquer the world.
This he did, and because he did, we are!