Last month, I wrote briefly about the intense levels of stress that Jesus endured on earth. Our focus is to recognize and apply the coping strategies that Jesus utilized. Thus, we are observing His lifestyle and hoping to imitate His actions. I believe that what Jesus has modeled for us provides more potent and effective stress reducing methods than modern psychology describes. The first two strategies discussed in the last blog included solitude and developing intimate friendship.
A third primary way that Jesus dealt with distress was a deep knowledge of Scripture. Jesus was a student of the Scriptures, not just a casual reader. He saturated Himself with the Old Testament writings, including the prophets and wisdom literature. Jesus was nourished by the Word of God. He became what He read. His high view of Scripture enabled Him to systematically study the sacred writings, extracting an incredible breadth of knowledge of God and wisdom for life. Jesus meditated upon the word of God and memorized significant portions. He loved it. He lived it. The Gospels record that Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament. In fact, He used that approach in dealing with temptation from the enemy. “It is written” was His standard response to Satan as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. The religious leaders were astounded and silenced at His knowledge and application of Scriptures (Luke 2:46-47; Matthew 22: 22, 46). The crowds were amazed by His teaching with profound authority (Luke 4:32).
How about you? Do you make it a priority to study Scripture or are you satisfied with a cursory reading of some devotional material? Are you a student of Scripture, seeking to learn more about God and yourself? Do you seek Scriptural teachings to be your guide in making decisions?
Jesus demonstrated a fourth way of coping with distress. In humility, He depended upon God. His purposes in life were not self enhancement, but rather dependency upon God and doing His will. He did not do ministry by relying on His own strength. In Jesus’s own words,
“I tell you the truth, the Son of man can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing.” John 5: 19 and 30
“…I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” John 8:28
“For I have come down from Heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” John 6:38
Our American culture emphasizes independence. “I did it my way” is the popular theme of greatness in western civilization. I think Jesus would say, “I did it God’s way – or perhaps more astutely, “God did it through me”.
Dependency upon God requires spending time with God to learn and ascertain His greatness and purposes. Becoming dependent upon God involves solitude and prayer, as an expression of humility. Jesus understood well that it is God who mysteriously works within us to transform and overcome evil. Christ depended upon God daily. Do you?
Jesus reminded His disciples, “I am the Vine. You are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, He will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Do you believe that?