THE PATIENCE OF JESUS
Jesus spent many hours with His disciples, on the road, around the fire at night, in the villages and in the country, in formal and informal teaching sessions, explaining the meaning of parables, teaching them about the kingdom of God, demonstrating how the kingdom worked by doing miracles and showing mercy to all people, especially those whom society in general and the religious people in particular, despised and marginalised.
They watched in amazement at what He did, and at times were dismayed by the things He said, especially to His opponents whom they knew were gunning for Him and looking for an opportunity to get rid of Him. On one occasion they tackled Him after He had been particularly explicit about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees:
Then the disciples came to Him and asked, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?’ (Matt. 15: 12)
Jesus was not perturbed.
‘Leave them; they are blind guides.’ (Matt. 15: 14a), He responded.
Time after time He had to go over the same thing with the disciples. They just did not get it that the kingdom He was introducing was not the revived kingdom of David, free from the Romans and under their own rule. They were continually at it, squabbling about positions in this new kingdom. Every time He overheard them, He patiently taught them about the difference between worldly authority and the true authority which came from submission to God’s authority.
Did they finally get it? No. Not until after Pentecost when the promised Holy Spirit fell on them in such power that they were completely renewed in their understanding, and began to live out their new authority, conferred on them by Jesus before He left them.
Every rabbi chose disciples in whom he had confidence that they would become replicas of him, both living and teaching his yoke. It was no different with Jesus. When we look at the men He chose, we wonder whether He really knew what He was doing. But Luke assured us that He chose His disciples after a night of prayer.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them whom He also designated apostles. (Luke 6: 12-13)
Either both He and God the Father were wrong, or they could see the potential in these men which no one else could see, and chose them for what they would become.
After an extended period of teaching and training, He sent them out to do what He was doing.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, He gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9: 1-2)
Later on, they returned with great excitement to report that even the demons were subject to them. Jesus was as excited as they were. They had finally got it. His confidence in them had not been misplaced.
He always spoke to them as though He trusted them. He spoke of the future and told them what they would do. The only one who would fail Him completely was Judas, although He gave him opportunity to change his mind. Even Peter would come back after his denial and become a leader among the disciples.
He coaxed and urged them to trust Him even when they showed their mistrust time and again. He knew that, in the end they would come to the party because the Holy Spirit was coming.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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