I believe the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth would like us to stay with this theme of the Lord’s kindness, so we will be looking at some more examples of this wonderful characteristic of our Saviour, because it wasn’t just Peter who was treated with kindness by the Lord, after His passion, but many others too. He was even kind in His hour of pain and agony, to those around. I know that when in pain, or even in minor discomfort like feeling too cold or needing some food or drink, I can become very irritable. That then makes it hard to think about the needs of others, or even stop the feeling of impatience with them and their needs, but Jesus’ level of kindness was amazing.
First of all there was His mother Mary. She had been warned soon after His birth that there would be pain ahead for her as Jesus’ mother, Luke 2:35, and she had seen the gathering storm as He had pressed on with His ministry, regardless of the opposition coming against Him. I know, as a Mum, that when your children are in any sort of pain or trouble and you can’t fix it for them, it is agony. So there is Mary at the foot of the cross watching her beloved Son dying in the most cruel way imaginable. So much must have flooded through her mind, and surely there must have been the hope that suddenly at the last minute He would be delivered by an army of angels.
Whether Jesus read that in her eyes or not we will never know, but He gently lets her know there will be no deliverance, not at this moment anyway. We are told that ‘when Jesus saw His mother there and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son”, and to the disciple “Here is your mother”, John 19:26. Even in this much pain and this close to death He takes care of her, kindly entrusting her wellbeing to His beloved friend John.
Then there is the very tender encounter with Mary Magdalene at the tomb, when she mistakes Him for the gardener. He says “Woman why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” He lets her tell Him the cause of her grief before He says her name, as only Jesus could say it. There must have been so much love and warmth in that single word ‘Mary’, because she knew immediately it was Him. It is just so beautiful that He chose to honour her by showing Himself to her first of all, the lady who had been so scorned by society and out of whom He had cast seven demons, Luke 8:2.
Sometimes it is what Jesus didn’t say that shows us His kindness, for example when He appears to the disciples locked in their room, still unbelieving and afraid of the Jews even though the women had told them that they had seen Jesus alive again, Luke 23:11. Jesus comes and His first words are “Peace be with you”, and the disciples, John tells us, were ‘overjoyed’, John 20:20. There was no rebuke for unbelief, there was no questioning of their behavior when they all ran away when He was arrested in Gethsemane, He just lets the moment fill them with joy and delight.
The same thing with Thomas, ‘the doubter’. Jesus comes again to the gathered disciples and this time addresses Thomas and gives Thomas what he said he would need in order to believe. Jesus shows Thomas His wounds and lets him touch them, John 20:26,27. There is no rebuke, only a gracious willingness to let Thomas see and feel what he needs to see and feel, in order to believe. Jesus doesn’t set an impossible standard for Him, but in His kindness meets Him where he is at.
The same thing happened with the two on the road to Emmaus. We are told they were still downcast, even though they had heard from the women who had been told by angels that Jesus was alive. There was a rebuke this time from Jesus, but a very mild and kind one, “How foolish you are and slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken”, then He gives them a great Bible Study and finally reveals Himself to them as He breaks bread with them, Luke 24:15-32.
I believe the Lord wants us to see His kindness, as it is revealed in these interactions with His very failing disciples. I believe He wants us to know that we will always be met with kindness when we turn to Him. This might be when we have been cowardly, disobedient, forgetful, negligent or just fearful. The Lord will always meet us where we are, and know what we need to hear. He will always seek to lift us up and build our faith. Unlike the devil He will never put us down, and so we need to be able to recognise His voice, if we are to learn and grow from our mistakes.
If we can understand this it will change how we behave when we are aware of failure, and it will also give us an expectation that even our failures will be turned into great opportunities to grow. Today let us give thanks that we can always go to Him with our mistakes and He will deal kindly with us, with never a put down or a harsh rebuke, but gentle correction and guidance into a better way. Who knows but had Judas understood this about Jesus, and gone to Him in repentance, he might have been met with kindness and forgiveness too and his story may have had a very different end.