I have always been interested in the influence that certain people seem to have on others. As a high school student, I remember a young pastor just out of Bible School who came to our little church in Minot, ND. It was summer and I was working on a farm north of town. I would come home Saturday evening in order to go to church the next morning. Then on Sunday afternoon this pastor would, from time to time, ask me if I’d like him to drive me back out to the farm. The very fact that he would do this impressed me. I can still remember different things he said along the way. He was a good role model for a young man. Whether or not either of us knew the word “mentor” I haven’t the faintest idea.
Some time ago I spent two years in Guatemala helping set up a Christian radio station (TGNA). Then a couple of years ago a distinguished man contacted me and said, “When I was a 12 year old boy I admired you because you had not only a motorcycle but a convertible as well.” What? He was the son of a fellow missionary and usually off to school in another town. In the 64 years leading up to 2014 we had no contact with each other, but now we are “good friends.” You never know, do you!
The point I’d like to make is that in those three years when Jesus was teaching throughout Galilee, the disciples not only heard what he was saying but undoubtedly were impressed by how he lived – what he did in various situations. In contemporary jargon, he “mentored” them. So, for the past year I have been my way through Jesus, in His Own Words taking note of everything recorded that he did, and reflecting on what they mean for the believer who wants to live a life that reflects the beauty of Jesus. Here and there along the way I have talked about what he “taught” by his reactions in various situations.
How would I summarize what Jesus was teaching by the way he lived? How would I state the lessons learned by his reactions? It is true, he was the “gentle Jesus” so often portrayed in pictures. He stopped when someone touched his cloak (Mark 5:30). He looked on the crowd with compassion (Matt 9:36). That is true but at the same time, according to John 2:14-17, this same Jesus cleansed the temple, turning over the merchants tables and opening the cages so the doves could go free. He referred more than once to the religious leaders as a “brood of vipers” (Matt. 23:33). While Jesus did describe himself as “gentle and humble of heart” (Matt 11:29), it is helpful to remember that in that setting he was reaching out to those who were “weary and burdened,” inviting them to come to him for rest.
Jesus is mentor to all who have taken his name, to those who are walking with him through life. What he did is as important as what he said. To watch him with care during those three years is a transforming experience. And the remarkable thing is that he is not simply a figure in the past but a real and present companion for every day of the believer’s life.