Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. Mark 4.39
The God of all strength
We are stressing the importance of improving our vision of Jesus, as He is revealed to us in the Scriptures. We all have some image of Jesus in our minds. None of these is complete; all can be improved. We look to the Scriptures as our guide as we consider Jesus, but we also want to learn from those who – whether as theologians, artists, poets, composers, pastors, or friends – have made evident progress in this effort. We must ever strive, as Paul and Peter urged, to increase in the knowledge of the Lord. This will necessarily require us to receive the vision of Jesus which God is pleased to reveal in His Word.
The Puritan John Owen (1616-1683) warned us against becoming complacent in this matter: “…it argues the woeful enmity of the carnal mind against God and all the effects of His wisdom, that, whereas He hath granted us such a glorious image and representation of Himself, we like it not, we delight not in the contemplation of it, but either despise it or neglect it, and please ourselves in that which is incomparably beneath it.” He added, “I shall only say, that those who are inconversant with these objects of faith—whose minds are not delighted in the admiration of, and acquiescence in, things incomprehensible, such as is this constitution of the person of Christ—who would reduce all things to the measure of their own understandings, or else willfully live in the neglect of what they cannot comprehend—do not much prepare themselves for that vision of these things in glory, wherein our blessedness doth consist”(Christologia).
Enmity against God? Carnal minds? Satisfied with less? Let this never be true of us. Rather, let us press on, encourage one another, talk and pray and sing and rejoice, that the eyes of our hearts may open wide to receive the light of Jesus, as we come to the Father praying, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
The strength of the Lord
We are considering Jesus as we see Him during the years of His incarnation. We’ve seen that Jesus to be a welcoming God. He looks upon us continually, with His flaming eyes and radiant face, showing us mercy and grace to help in all our times of need. He calls us to come to Him, to come and see where He dwells in glory, to join Him in His work, to be taught by Him, and to enter His rest. He looks upon us with favor, beckoning us into His Presence, that He might flood our souls with the light of His glory, and transform us into His own likeness more and more.
That same look with which Jesus our Good Shepherd gazes upon us to test, transform, and treat us with His love, also imparts to us strength for everyday living. Jesus is the strength of God (Ps. 20.6). He is the strength for all our life, so that we need not live in fear (Ps. 27.1; 28.7). As we gaze into the face of the Lord Jesus, we may expect to know His strength for all our times of need (Ps. 105.4). He gives us His strength so that we may tread above all adversity and walk the high hills of righteousness for His Name and His glory (Hab. 3.19).
Jesus is our strong God and Savior and King. We can see that strength on display in many situations during His earthly sojourn. As Jesus welcomes us into His Presence, He is ready to grant us His strength for whatever He calls and sends us to do.
Let’s have a closer look.
Spiritual strength for spiritual living
The strength which Jesus displayed during His earthly sojourn is unlike anything we see anywhere else. Jesus had the strength to tell the wind to quiet down. By His great strength He raised a dead girl and two dead men; healed many of seemingly incurable ills; cast demons out of miserable people; drove greedy merchants from the temple; stood up to the greatest powers of His day without flinching or backing down; and bore the sins of the world in His suffering on the cross. By His great strength He overcame death and the grave and took back the life He had freely laid down so that we might know Him in His glory.
Jesus’ strength was above all spiritual strength, strength that comes from being totally committed to the will of God, completely immersed in His Word and plan, and filled with His Spirit without measure.
In the face of the greatest temptations anyone could ever face, Jesus showed the kind of spiritual strength that is available to us every day. As the devil appealed to His physical needs, His reputation, and His promised reward as King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus calmly rejected every temptation by appealing to the Word of God (Matt. 4.1-11). By so doing, exercising the strength of God in submission to His Word, Jesus bound the devil, kicked down the walls of his citadel, and began plundering all his holdings (Matt. 12.22-29).
With the eyes of your heart, how do you see Jesus in each of these situations? How does His face show the glory of the God of all strength (Ps. 29.1)? What is the tenor of His voice – that voice like the clear and unwavering sound of a trumpet (Rev. 1.10)? How do His eyes appear? Weeping with distraught parents or siblings? Glaring with anger at temple polluters? Calm but firm as He commands the winds to be still, the demons to depart, and the wretched to be healed? Look to His face! See the strength of the Lord there in those flame-like eyes, and observe the glory of that strength as Jesus wields it to reconcile the fallen world to God.
Then realize that the strength of Jesus is His Word – the grace-gleaming Sword of the Spirit that is able to expose all corruption and sin and fit us for every good work (Heb. 4.12; 2 Tim. 3.15-17). The Word of Jesus is His strength; and that same Word is given to us, that we might be strengthened with might in the inner person and filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 1.19; 3.20), as we go forth to fill our world with the Presence and glory of Jesus (Eph. 4.8-10).
Consider Jesus, flexing spiritual muscles of grace and truth as He speaks the Word of God during the course of His earthly ministry. As we receive that Word and live in obedience to it, the same strength that Jesus exercised becomes available to us, bringing grace and mercy sufficient for all our times of need (Heb. 4.16).
The more clearly and consistently we see Jesus wielding the spiritual strength of the Word of God, the more we will be emboldened to join Him in His yoke and seek His Kingdom in every area of life.
1. In your heart’s eye, how does Jesus appear to you as our strong God?
2. What is your favorite manifestation of strength by Jesus in the gospels? Why?
3. What does it mean for you to exercise the spiritual strength of Jesus? How can you prepare for this daily?
Next steps – Transformation: In prayer, think about something in the day ahead, where you will need the strength of Jesus. Seek the Lord’s strength now for when you will need it then.
T. M. Moore
A Thanksgiving Challenge
A generous friend of The Fellowship is offering a $5000 challenge gift for new donations and donations over and above regular giving. Will you join us to give thanks to God for this, and to ask Him whether you should participate in this opportunity? If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
At the website
You can also now listen, each Lord’s Day, to a weekly summary of our daily Scriptorium study, which is presently working through the book of Jeremiah. Click here for last week’s summary of Jeremiah 18-21.
Two new resources are available at our website to help you grow in the Lord and His work. Our new Personal Mission Field Workshop offers weekly training to help you shepherd the people to whom God sends you. And The Ailbe Podcast will introduce you to The Fellowship and how its resources and Brothers can be of help to you in your walk with and work for the Lord.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.