Let your gentleness be evident to all (ii)

More from the Bible on the topic of gentleness which I started looking at earlier, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23.

Prov 25:15 Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

Derek Kidner (Tyndale commentary) mentions that calm words serve as a mark of a cool spirit. He claims the are not only peaceable because they give time for a fair hearing, but as this proverb demonstrates, it allows the words to have their full effect. “The point is that so unassuming a weapon may win surprising victories” (p158). Gentleness here is certainly not portrayed as wimpy.

Zech 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

This is the classic verse of prophecy which looks forward to God’s anointed king (the Christ) coming to lead his people. There was a direct fulfilment of this when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, a week before going to the cross (Matt 21:1-11). Gentleness was going to be part of the character of Christ. He wasn’t going to be a military or political ruler as some had thought, but in comparison he would be gentle. This doesn’t mean that he would be a wimp. Immediately after fulfilling this prophecy he walked into the Temple and drove out all the money changers from the temple court who were stopping the Gentiles (non-Jews) from worshipping God. He was (rightly) angry at the situation that had occurred. That certainly doesn’t make him a wimp. Gentleness then cannot mean ‘the lack of anger’, or ‘never reacting to anything’. But surely it has something to do with how we react to things that make us angry.

Matthew 11:28-30
28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.“

Jesus saying it in his own words. A yoke is what you would put around an ox so it could work for you. But in those days, a yoke was also a set of teachings that disciples of a particular rabbi would aim to follow. So, for examples, the Pharisees had a yoke and it was quite difficult to follow. By contrast, Jesus’ yoke would be easy and light, because be is gentle and humble. Jesus was gentle enough so all people could follow him, not just those with the self-will enough to be ‘righteous’. So gentle here means that He won’t turn people away from God by laying them up with many difficulties and obstacles in order to follow him.

So If Jesus’ yoke is gentle, followers of Jesus, as disciples of him, should aim to be like him. To be gentle and to draw them towards God. To be approachable like Jesus, perhaps? To draw towards God? To calm situations and point to their underlying root?

More later.


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