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Gentleness and Power

Gentleness and Power


Last year on Father’s Day, I shared some dadisms, which are statements often attributed to dads. A few of them were, “A little dirt never hurt anybody,” “I’m not talking just to hear my own voice,” “The early bird gets the worm, so rise and shine,” “Shake it off, it’s only pain,” and “You’re gonna like it whether you like it or not.”


And a couple I heard from my dad. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” “Learn all you can and can all you learn.” 


I recently found some more. “The best way to double your money is to fold it and put it in your pocket.” “As long as your feet are under my supper table, you will follow my rules.” “If you drive up to our house, park in the driveway, and honk the horn, you better be delivering a pizza because you won't be taking out my daughter.” “Fair? You want fair? Fair is where you take the cows and hogs and get blue ribbons.” “I am not yelling at you, I’m helping you hear.” “Your mother is right, even when she is wrong.”


Here is a positive one. “Good night. I love you, and I'll see you in the morning.”


This year I also looked online to find some statements or questions children had for their fathers.I found two to share. “Dear dad, you are as sweet as a pile of dirt. [I guess that is a good thing to that son.] I love the way you love me, even when you get mad at me.” “Dear dad, can I do karate? I promise I won’t hurt you, I could fight off robbers, and it’s great exercise.”


Happy Father’s Day, a greeting that goes to all who are dads or granddads or great-granddads, or father figures. What a privilege it is to teach and guide others as they grow in all aspects of life, including, for us, the spiritual aspect of life, which brings us to today’s theme of seeing Jesus well. A theme that begins with this story.


Raleigh is a large, muscular dog with thick fur, and he weighs over 100 pounds, all of which makes him look mighty and ferocious. However, Raleigh connects well with people. So much so that his owner takes him to nursing homes and hospitals. Each time Raleigh visits, people smile.


One day, though, a four-year-old girl in a hospital saw Raleigh across a room. She seemed to want to pet the dog, but was afraid to get close. Raleigh’s size and appearance frightened the girl.


Eventually, however, with the encouragement of the adults around her, the girl allowed her curiosity to overcome her fear. She went to Raleigh and spent several minutes talking to him and petting him. The girl discovered Raleigh is not only powerful, but gentle as well. 


I bet you know where I am going with this. So, too, was and is Jesus both gentle and powerful. Two attributes about the Lord we can see and know. Two attributes we can teach others. Since this is Father’s Day, two attributes those who are fathers are to teach their children about Jesus.


For this message, let’s think about examples of both the Lord’s gentleness and His power. The passages to be highlighted are familiar ones, but let’s think what each one tells us about either His gentleness or His power.


We will begin with His gentleness, displayed in Matthew 19:13-15. In this case, gentleness was shown to some children and their parents.


The setting was late in Jesus’ ministry. For three years He had had a busy ministry of teaching and healing and doing other miracles. At the time, He knew the suffering He would endure before and including His crucifixion was soon to begin. That added emotional pressure to Him. In short, Jesus was physically and mentally tired at the time of Matthew 19:13-15.


The disciples knew of Jesus’ fatigue, so when some parents brought their children to Him so He could pray for them, the disciples tried to shoo the parents and the children away. The wording is that the disciples “rebuked” the parents. That signifies a kind of scolding them.


Remember what happened? Jesus, noticing what was going on, rebuked the disciples. “Do not send them away,” Jesus said. “Let the children come. Do not hinder them.”


The result was that the disciples stepped aside. The parents took their children to Jesus. He laid His hands on each one and prayed for them.


Think of it. Jesus must have been known for being gentle. Otherwise the parents would have been afraid to take their children to Him. And He must have been gentle since apparently the children liked being in His presence. At least there is no record any of the children cried or ran away.


The gentleness of Jesus was also seen in John 8:2-11. In that passage, a woman in trouble saw that attribute of Jesus.


This also happened later in Jesus’ ministry. One day, as Jesus was teaching in the Temple in Jerusalem, right in the middle of a lesson there was a commotion as a group of religious leaders dragged a woman into the Temple and dropped her right in front of Jesus. The leaders announced the woman had been caught in the act of adultery. They reminded Jesus and those who had been listening to His lesson that religious law commanded she should be stoned to death. They asked Jesus, “What do You say about her?”


Remember what happened? At first, Jesus said not a word. Instead, He bent down and wrote with His finger on the floor. After He raised up again, Jesus said, both to the accusers and the others who were at that spot, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to thrown a stone at her.” He then bent down a second time and again wrote on the floor with His finger.


No one knows what Jesus wrote, but remember the reaction? One by one, beginning with the oldest, they all quietly went away. That continued until no one but Jesus and the woman remained. At that point, Jesus forgave the woman, telling her He did not condemn her.


It must be added that Jesus gave the woman a challenge. He said, “Go, and do not sin again.” But think of the gentleness of Jesus. He did not rant and rave and scream at the woman’s accusers, which He could have done since they brought only the woman, and not the man, too. Both should have been subject to stoning. He could have ranted and raved and screamed at the accusers since He knew the whole incident was an attempt, not at justice, but to trick Him. And He did not berate the woman, which was probably because she was already aware of her sin. Her accusers had certainly made that clear.


We do not know if the woman accepted and met the challenge to go and not sin again, but I can’t help but think it was more likely she did because of the Lord’s gentleness.


And how about what is recorded in Mark 6:34?  


This happened more toward the middle part of Jesus’ ministry. Things had been very busy for Jesus and His disciples. The wording a bit before verse 34 is that there had been such a swarm of people around, Jesus and His disciples were having trouble finding time even to eat.


Jesus suggested to His disciples they go away by themselves to a lonely place. That was not to ignore people in need, but to have at least a bit of time to catch their breath and rest. Taking the suggestion, Jesus and His disciples went away in a boat to a different spot along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.


As it turned out, the people noticed where the boat was headed. It was not too far away, so they went to where it appeared Jesus would dock. It is recorded they ran to the spot, actually arriving before Jesus did. 


Verse 34. As Jesus went ashore, He saw the great throng of people. Seeing them, He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. When He got to them, He began to teach them many things.


That is another display of Jesus’ gentleness. Gentleness seen in His willingness to help and teach. I mean, He could have legitimately claimed to be too tired to teach. But, like He did with the parents bringing their children to Him, He cared enough for people to be with people. And He had to have known many of the people who surrounded Him were interested just in His miracles and that they would soon grow weary of that and turn against Him. Yet He still took time to help and teach.


To people in need, to a woman caught in adultery, to parents and their children, Jesus displayed gentleness, which is a very important attribute or characteristic of Him. 


Fathers - and not just fathers, but grand- and great-grandfathers, father figures and all of us who are adults - may we tell our children that Jesus was gentle. That He is, through the Holy Spirit, still gentle now. Gentle enough to care and protect and teach and guide and help. May we make that quality of Jesus very clear in what we teach our young people.


But we know, of course, Jesus was not only gentle. He was also powerful. Even more so than the dog Raleigh had both those qualities, Jesus had and has both gentleness and power. 


Concerning Jesus, power was shown over and over again.


For instance, let’s continue in Mark 6. After teaching the great throng of people - a throng made up of 5000 men, plus women and children - it was late in the day. It was time for dinner, but, the disciples reported to Jesus, there was a problem. Everyone was hungry, but there was no food. “Send the people away,” they suggested to Jesus. “Send the people away so they can go get some food on their way home.”


Remember what Jesus said? “You give them something to eat.” 


“Us?” they responded. “Right.” They asked Jesus where they were supposed to buy enough food for all the people. Even if they could find enough food in one spot, how were they supposed to pay for it?


Remember? Jesus asked them how much food there was in the crowd. When they searched, they discovered just five little loaves of bread and two little fish. That was it.

 

That should have discouraged Jesus. Instead, He instructed His disciples to organize the people in groups and have them sit. He then, in front of everyone, took the small amount of bread and the two fish, looked up to Heaven, blessed the food, broke the bread, and gave it and the fish to the disciples to hand out to the people - the thousands of people.


We would think - the disciples must have thought - what are we supposed to do after the first two or three are served? What about the rest of the hungry people?


To the amazement of all except Jesus, the bread and fish did not run out. Not after the first few people were served. Not after the first hundred people were  served. Not after the first one thousand and two thousand and five thousand and six, seven, and eight thousand were served. It went on and on, everyone eating until each one was satisfied, which means they were full.


And still there was more. Enough was left over for each disciple to fill a basket with bread and fish. They, too, were able to eat and be satisfied that evening.


That miracle was another display of Jesus’ gentleness. He cared enough to help hungry people. But it was also a display of His power. The power to multiple a little bread and a few fish into enough food to feed thousands of people.


Fathers - all of us - are we teaching our children the gentleness, but also the power of Jesus? The power of His blessings. Power that is available even now through the Holy Spirit.


Another display of Jesus’ power is recorded two chapters earlier. Mark 4, beginning with verse 35. 


Jesus and His disciples were on a boat, crossing the Sea of Galilee. While on the Sea, a great storm suddenly arose. A storm with strong winds. Winds strong enough to cause waves so high they beat against the boat, threatening to capsize the vessel.


Interestingly, Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat. What peace He had in a very troubling situation. But the disciples were not at peace. They were afraid. Of course they were afraid. Their lives were in danger.


In their panic, the disciples went to Jesus. They shook Him awake. They asked, “Do You not care if we die?”


Remember what Jesus did? He got up. He faced the wind and the sea. He then rebuked - He scolded - the wind. He said to the Sea, “Peace. Be still.”


Immediately the wind stopped. With that, the Sea calmed. The wording is a “great calm.” Apparently there was not even a ripple left on the surface of the water.


Jesus asked the disciples why they were afraid. I do not understand that question since their lives were in danger. I would think they would have been afraid. I doubt I would have stayed cool, calm, and collected. But He asked them about their fear. He added, “Have you no faith?”


The disciples did not answer Jesus. They did, however, talk among themselves, saying to one another, “Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?”


What power Jesus had and still does have. The power to multiply food. The power to control wind and water. The power to ease fear. We know that is true in a physical sense. A natural sense. These past two passages are proof of that. 


Beyond that, I think it is permissible to apply what happened to whatever problems we face in life, including emotional, financial, relationship problems. Jesus is able to multiply His blessings in all times of our lives. He is able to calm whatever kinds of storms we experience. He is able to ease the fears we have in life. He has the power to do all that.


Fathers - all of us, but since this is Father’s Day, fathers, grand- and great-grandfathers and father figures - are you - are we all - teaching our children both the gentleness and the power of Jesus? Both of which are available even now through the Holy Spirit.


Both need to be taught. I read this about that. If we focus only on Jesus’ power, it becomes easy to treat Him as some kind of comic book superhero, but if we emphasize only His gentleness, we risk treating Him too casually. 


Jesus is both gentle and powerful, making Him deserving of our obedience and our friendship. Let’s recognize - let’s see - both those attributes. Fathers and all of us, let’s teach both those qualities to all, including our children.


*       *       *       *       *


At the beginning of this message, some dadisms were shared, along with a couple comments children have made about their fathers. 


A few Sundays ago, I asked some of the Sunday School teachers of the classes on the lower level to have their students share their thoughts about of their fathers or, in some cases, their grandfathers or maybe a father figure in their lives. 


Since not all the fathers in this congregation are represented in what was shared, I will not give names, but listen to the comments. May they inspire us to remember our children are respectful. Because of that, they are listening. What a joy to share with them - and others - both the gentleness and the power of Jesus.


Here are the comments shared by some of our younger ones about their fathers. “My dad is loving and helpful.” “My dad is hard-working and wants to make sure people understand what they are reading.” “He is slow to anger and teaches the work ethic.” “He takes us fishing, gets deer meat for us, is loving and kind, plays games with us, and takes us to fun places like the pool.” “He helps me up, helps me pick up toys, and teaches me how to pick up.” “He teaches me how to shoot and cooks hamburgers and anything on the grill.” “My dad is silly, fun, and kind.” “My grandpa is always kind and never selfish.” “Dad, thank you for being the best.”


To all our fathers - and grandfathers and father figures - Happy Father’s Day. Please know you are respected by your children. Each day be encouraged to continue to tell your children about Jesus. Their respect for you means they are listening. May all of us tell about Jesus.


Today’s closing song is the same one we used to close the Mother’s Day service. It is a reminder to tell others about Jesus. It is the hymn Tell What He’s Done For You.


Have you found rest and peace within,

Rolled far away your load of sin,

Stepped from the old life to the new?

Tell what the Lord has done for you.

O tell what He’s done for you,

Of His love so strong and true;

O tell what He’s done, what He’s done for you;

Others may need Him, too.


Have you been saved His love to show,

Who by your side each day shall go?

Looking to Him to help you through,

Tell what the Lord has done for you.

O tell what He’s done for you,

Of His love so strong and true;

O tell what He’s done, what He’s done for you;

Others may need Him, too.


Have you a joy that ne’er shall fail

E’en when you walk through death’s dark vale,

Someone whose power great things can do?

Tell what the Lord has done for you.

O tell what He’s done for you,

Of His love so strong and true;

O tell what He’s done, what He’s done for you;

Others may need Him, too.


Today’s benediction is based on verse 2 of the hymn.


Have you a Friend who is both gentle and powerful?

One who joyfully leads and shares His power for our good?

You do if you have accepted Jesus. That makes Him your friend.

He is the one who will, to the end, still prove true. 

Because of that, tell what the Lord has done for you


O tell what He has done for you.
Tell of His gentleness and His power 

That are so strong and true. 

O tell what He has done - 

Tell even your children - 

What He has done for you

Why? Because others do need Jesus, too. 

Amen.