I saw this tweet a while ago:
Apparently, the devil makes men soft and the gospel makes them hard. However, it didn’t define what is meant by those two words. Perhaps hard is further qualified by “strong, lean, loving, and ferocious.” This doesn’t help me much; are the opposites “weak, fat, hateful, and mild?”
Here are some passages from the life of Jesus in Matthew, in which Jesus could be perceived as displaying weakness and mildness:
Jesus describes himself: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mt 11.28
Description of Jesus: He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. Mt 12.19-20
Jesus describes the ideal follower: At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 18.1-3
Jesus identifies with the weak, marginalized, and oppressed: Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Mt 25.34-36
Jesus shares his negative emotions: And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” Mt 26.37-38
Lastly, consider the narrative in Mt 1-2: Jesus’ mother faces shame as a result of her pregnancy, Jesus’ father contemplates divorce, the young family flees (at night!) to avoid a murderous king, and finally returns but to a different region out of fear of the new ruler.
So is Jesus being soft? Is that a bad thing?