I have heard that some people don’t like the idea of a gentle Jesus. They think it makes our Lord and savior sound weak. But people who think gentle Jesus was weak don’t understand gentleness, and they don’t understand Jesus. Gentleness is not the same as weakness. A weak person wouldn’t need to be gentle, they don’t have the strength to hurt anyone. “Be gentle” is a reminder to a strong person that the one they’re approaching is delicate, easily hurt.
Jesus was gentle, not weak. The Bible says all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Jesus: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18 NIV That means that Jesus, far from being weak, is the most powerful being in existence.
In Gethsemane, Jesus healed the high priest’s servant when Peter cut his ear off. Jesus never intended his disciples to use the swords he brought for defense. Jesus, peaceful to the point of death, obedient to the requirement of sacrifice for atonement, did not require self-defense. He had swords to justify his own arrest, and to fulfill messianic prophecy. Jesus said of the swords, “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Luke 22:37 NIV One of the false claims made against Jesus was that he was raising a rebellion to overthrow the Romans, and the possession of the swords gave credence to this false claim. “And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” Luke 23:2 NIV
Jesus was never defeated. He was a willing sacrifice. Jesus had the power to destroy the people beating him and nailing him to the cross. He had the power to vaporize the Pharisees and Sadducees who were falsely accusing him. He didn’t do those things, not because he couldn’t, not because he was weak, but because in his gentleness, he cared even for the ones who were having him put to death. Jesus even prayed for his executioners “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” […] Luke 23:34 NIV
Gentleness requires restraint and care. Showing your strength does not require discipline. Anyone can yell and scream and make themselves look big. True strength lies with those who have power to hurt, but instead use that power to help, to heal, and to protect. God is merciful to us. Mercy requires gentleness and restraint. When you receive mercy, it means you deserved punishment, but were instead granted a reprieve. So often we want to see justice, but justice and mercy can’t coexist. They are mutually exclusive. Justice means you get the punishment you deserve, mercy means you don’t get the punishment you deserve. Innocent people don’t require mercy. We are not innocent. Choose to be like Jesus. Choose gentleness. Choose mercy.