Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Week Ten - Powerful Restraint

As I began reading a book entitled Jesus and Ourselves by Leslie D. Weatherhead, I was captured reflecting on the depth of the power of Christ. All power is given unto Him, and the author explored four ways Jesus restrains His power to respect our personage. These four are well within Jesus’ right and power. He could use them to cause us to respond to Him, but because He has all power, He uses restraint.

Physical Power – the author states, “Yet, the striking thing is that, out of respect for men’s personality, Jesus will not try to win even a righteous cause by force.” (p 28) Even though Jesus was innocent, He did not use His immense power to win the day. He could have called ten thousand angels to rescue Him from the cross, but He chose to submit His power and His will to the will of His Father. In the time of His temptation, one word from Him would have totally annihilated Satan, but He refused to let His physical power override His personal, spiritual restraint in the face of temptation.

What a beautiful example of submission and meekness, which is strength under control. Such is our Saviour, meek and lowly of heart, but not without immense power – power under control, restrained to make way for us.

Psychic Force – Jesus calls us to follow, then, “Lest the tremendous impact of His personality should throw us off balance. He wants our decision to be our own. There happens with Jesus what always happens where you have a powerful personality. There were few neutrals. Men were for or against. And they were swayed, not by examining the issue in all its bearings and making a personal choice which recognized all the implications but were swept into one or other camp by those almost electrical currents of psychic energy which streamed from Him. Crowds surged around Him and would have died for Him.  Others withdrew to weave their corporate suspicion, hate, and fear into a net strong enough to drag Him to death. Jesus knew this would happen. As He said, He came not to bring the peace of smug, self-satisfied complacency, but the sword of division that severs sometimes the closest-knit intimacies of life.” (p 30-31)

I don’t know about you, but I love Him more because He does not force me to love Him. He calls me to follow, and I make that choice. We love him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). There is no coercion, no forcing of the will, no demand. Only a loving invitation.

Mental Superiority - “Jesus never crushed men’s minds by the sheer weight of argument, which they had no trained faculty to disentangle or co-ordinate with the rest of their mental background. He led them gently step by step so that the mind could always look back and see the steps it had taken. It is the difference between being whirled into a new experience by an escalator and walking quietly upstairs.  Jesus could not override perplexity or accept a loyal heart at the expense of a disabled mind.” (p 31) 

I’m reminded of the many verses telling us all knowledge and all wisdom is in Him. We think we are so smart, so advanced, so tech-savvy, but our minuscule brains are nothing compared to our Creator. Yet, He never uses His mental superiority to crush us or leave us confused.  He shines the light of understanding into our hearts and brings us to understanding according to our capabilities.

Emotional Appeal – “Jesus never pressed for decision while emotion was at its height, nor coerced a submission by an appeal to admiration, or pity, or fear.” (p 33)

As you read Jesus encounters with the emotional moments of his life and ministry, the woman caught in adultery, Mary washing His feet with her hair, or even when His parents came frantically looking for Him, in every instance, Jesus acknowledged the emotion, but left the scene calmed and with a direct result that never forced the person to a greater emotional reaction. He always led them to a peaceful decision that recognized their humanity.

Jesus could have used any or all of these four powers in dealing with man, but, “If He lifted so much as a little finger, our paltry defenses would go down in ruins, but because of this tremendous respect for our personality, which reveals the eternal restraint of God, this great Lover of the soul will never be its burglar, but will wait on the threshold until we ourselves rise and let Him in. ‘Behold,’ He says, ‘I stand at the door and knock.’ What a respect for personality! What a divine restraint! What a majestic love! I listen down the corridor of the years for any sound of the dread trumpet of an angel summoning men to repentance. I only hear the voice of a Baby crying in a manger, and a whisper from lips tortured by pain, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ (p 35)

AMEN. How beautiful. If we lift Him up, He will draw men to see His love, sacrifice, and beauty. How can the eye turn away? How can the heart not be moved? How can the intellect fail to comprehend? All power is given unto Him, and He directs that power in love toward us.

Dear reader, if you do not know Christ, I urge you to consider Him once again. He is the Saviour, the all-powerful God, and His provision for your restoration cost Him everything. He willingly laid aside His powerful rights to pay the price of your sin and offers forgiveness. Your part is to humbly admit your need and recognize His sacrifice.

Christian, stand in awe at the meekness, wisdom, patience, and powerful restraint that affords your salvation and works through to your sanctification.

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