The popular version of manhood has more to do with dominance than restraint, but Jesus, the most powerful man to ever walk the plant, was distinguished by His restraint. When we examine Christ,we see real strength, fortitude, character, determination, zeal, conviction, endurance, and courage. But like all things about Jesus, it is not what we expect. It is counter-intuitive.
Jesus showed us time and time again that real power is doing what you should, instead of what you'd rather. What we'd rather do is usually easier. Strength is RESTRAINT, and it’s another one of the character qualities this Lenten season should find us emulating. Let’s just look at 4 instances or situations along His 33 years here on the earth that show His amazing restraint.
First, when He was a boy, He was able to debate with the teachers of the law, and astounded everyone with His knowledge. Think of the temptation it would have been to lord it over your parents as a young teen (as many of us seem to think we are smarter than our parents then anyway!). But He restrained Himself, and put Himself in a learning posture. Luke 2:51 tells us He went home and submitted Himself to His human parents willingly.
Next, just before Jesus began His ministry, He was tempted in the wilderness by Satan. Satan is inferior to Jesus, and was even as Jesus was here. Satan came to Jesus in His weakest human state and tempted Him to take the shortcuts Satan proposed to Him. Satan said he could satisfy His incredible hunger. Satan could prove that God would protect Him. And he could give Jesus the world if He would bow down and worship him. What temptations! Yet Jesus saw the big picture and restrained Himself.
Third, think of what He COULD have done here during His ministry. The amount of miracles Jesus did is not nearly as amazing as the fact that He didn’t do more. He could have improved His popularity, made people understand Him more, been irrefutable had He healed every sick person, raised every dead person, and did every supernatural thing of which He was capable. You know that His heart of compassion wept for the ones He was not healing. Yet again, Jesus kept the big picture of why He was here ever in front of Him.He restrained Himself from lesser things so He could focus on the Father’s plan.
Last, think of His behavior under extreme duress during Holy Week. He was betrayed, slandered, beaten, put on a mock trial - by mere human beings He could have destroyed in a moment He was treated disrespectfully by those who were not even worthy to untie His sandals. He didn’t strike back. He didn’t talk back. He was restrained enough to care for His mother and to extend salvation to a dying thief, even in the midst of His on agony on many levels. He didn’t accuse His Father or His people. His spirit and language were all pure and humble, the same way as He lived his like. What restraint. As the song says, “He could have called 10,000 angels.” But He didn’t.
Jesus was more powerful than we can ever imagine. He was powerful enough to restrain Himself from using the power that was rightfully and fully His - for our sake. What a Savior. What a man.
Lord, help me develop this quality in my life.