THE GENTLENESS of JESUS
By: Paul Anderson
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28,29). He was speaking to people who had experienced the oppressive leadership of the religious leaders. They were weighed down with guilt, shame, and unreal expectations. People who came were treated gently by the Good Shepherd.
He demonstrated gentleness with the woman taken in adultery. The leaders wanted to condemn her, but Christ’s words set her free. He showed gentleness with the Samaritan woman who was on her sixth man.
He was gentle with the woman who crashed the party and anointed the feet of Jesus. The dinner host was ready to rebuke her, but Jesus publicly affirmed her. He was gentle with Mary, criticized by the disciples for wasting precious perfume, and he memorialized her extravagant deed.
We have ways of applying pressure to people, of imposing guilt with questions or comments that can sound innocent but end up demeaning them. Jesus was full of grace and truth, but what rubbed off onto people was grace. “Of his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” One might have expected them to feel condemnation in his holy presence, but they loved hanging around this gentle man.
He was gentle with Zacchaeus when others didn’t want anything to do with the thief. Jesus treated him like he belonged—and it evoked a remarkable transformation of heart. Jesus looked past his faults to his future—and drew him into his destiny. He saw brokenness where others felt irritation. He knew how to respond, when others only knew how to react.
Gentleness feels like a hug when you’ve blown it, like a word of forgiveness when you stepped over the line, like an affirmation when you deserve a put-down.
Jesus was gentle to a blind man, taking him away from the crowd before praying with him. He welcomed blind Bartimaeus, ridiculed by the crowd for calling out to Jesus. He was gentle with the leper who said, “If you will, you can make me clean.” He could—and he did. He was gentle with a Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her demonized daughter, although it didn’t look like gentleness at first. Jesus saw her humble heart and drew it out for the disciples to also see before delivering the girl.
Jesus determined never to break a bruised reed or put out a smoldering wick (Matt. 12:20). He gave John the Baptist a word of praise at the point of his deepest uncertainty. He accommodated himself to doubting Thomas rather than giving him a well-earned correction. Even more remarkable is his gentle treatment of Judas, about to betray him.
Imagine the people who have needed forgiveness and were given a rebuke instead. Others needed an encouraging word to keep on and were given silence instead, and they decided to hang it up. Some needed a hug and got a backhand. They are misrepresenting a gentle God who was scandalized in the harshness.
Jesus was gentle with the professional killers who put him on the cross. His first order of business was to forgive them for not know what they were doing. He was gentle with the man next to him who had reviled him. When his outlook changed from mocking to asking for help, Jesus gently offered him paradise—just before he went there.
He showed gentleness to Peter after he denied Jesus three times. Peter probably wondered if it would ever be the same. It wasn’t. He loved Jesus even more because of the mercy shown him following the failure.
Paul made an appeal to hardened hearts at Corinth “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1). Seeing the way he treated people makes me want to be like him. The more we look at him the more we are changed. We become what we behold!