How would you define strength? Would you define it as integrity? Would you define it as simply physical strength—how much weight a person can lift or how a person’s strength compares to another’s? Believe it or not, one of the greatest strengths a person can have is how well he/she can restrain from doing a certain thing. Strength can also mean having the courage to stand against the majority. I would consider a form of strength as having the ability to continue to fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12), knowing the hardships that will come. Some Christians would agree that one of the greatest strengths they displayed was leaving the world and surrendering their lives to Christ. When a person becomes a Christian is when he/she realizes how unsatisfying and unfulfilling the instant gratification of sin is. This is because a Christian is called out of the world, letting go of all worldly desires. This strength is the renewing of your mind. Paul reminds Christians: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Jesus’ Spiritual Strength and Courage
Jesus was tempted by Satan. Many people know the story of Jesus being driven to the wilderness to be tempted (Matt. 4). Not only did Jesus know Scripture to defeat Satan, but Jesus the Christ had integrity. When challenged by Satan, He did not get belligerent because He didn't have a defense for what He believed in, neither did Jesus shy away from the challenges of Satan. There was no one else around, yet Christ still responded to Satan with the same confidence most people have only when they are surrounded by spectators.
Jesus had a strong prayer life. Not only did He pray in a time of weakness and distress, but He also prayed for His apostles (John 17:9), and He also prayed for those who would become Christians through the teaching of the apostles (John 17:20ff). Jesus wanted us to have access to the Father and this is why He taught His disciples how to pray to the Father (Luke 11:2).
Christ knew of His impending death and He still continued to fulfill the will of the Father. In His time of despair, Jesus prayed: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39-44). Sometimes when things get tough, insomuch as we cannot attain our needs, we desperately seek ways to find what we need by our own means. Yet the One who can bring us relief is not used as our daily bread, but more like our “In Case of Emergency.” This is not the attitude that Christ displayed.
Jesus’ Mental Strength and Courage
Fasting is common today. Some people fast for health purposes and others for religious reasons. As Christians, sometimes there is sin in our lives that interferes with our relationship with God, or maybe people just feel the desire to draw nearer to God. Not having food to eat for a certain amount of time causes one to become weak both physically and mentally. If a Christian is fasting, he/she is wholly dependent upon God to supply him/her with strength. This is done by calling on God in prayer. Jesus did not sin, but perhaps His fasting was done to show us that it is possible to remain firm in the faith, not turning to sin in our time of desperation. God was His mental and physical strength. Satan told Jesus to forsake God for bread because he knew that Jesus desired it. Though Jesus was without food for forty days, He did not succumb to His natural desires and allow Satan to overcome Him in a time of weakness.
Can you imagine sitting around with your friends and telling them of your forthcoming death? This is what Jesus did. How stable must His mind have been to be able to tell every detail of how He was going to die and still stay focused on the will of His Father. Even knowing His death was imminent, He also focused on the well-being of His friends (Matt. 16:21ff). I don’t think I would be far off to say that Jesus knew that His suffering was not worthy to be compared with the glory that was waiting for Him after His ascension (Rom. 18:8). Jesus knew to Whom He belonged (John 14:10) and where He was going (John 10:28.)
Jesus stood before Caiaphas and the council. Perhaps these men thought that having Jesus stand before a council would intimidate Him into denying His proclamation of being the Son of God, or maybe these men wanted Jesus to confess again that He was the Christ just to have a reason to punish Him. Either way, Jesus admitted He was the Son of God, and when He did, the men of the council spat and struck Him in the face (Matt. 26:57-68). To stand there and endure that unjust punishment without flinching took an enormous amount of mental strength and courage. Today, some people would be considered a “punk” or a coward or “soft” for doing what Jesus did. Their response would probably be: “I know you’re not going to stand there and let them punk you like that.” Others would buckle under pressure or take revenge on their enemies. Yet, as stated in the introduction, one of the greatest strengths a person can display is restraining from doing something, no matter how tempting it may be. Jesus the Christ showed a great amount of composure and restraint when He faced the council, the angry mob, and that cruel cross of Calvary.
Jesus’ Intellectual Strength and Courage
Public speaking is fearful for many people; however, we should not use this as an excuse to hide the Gospel from others. Jesus taught in synagogues and great crowds. We do not have to preach or teach in large crowds to spread the good news. The point is: Jesus taught people. You do not have to be a graduate from a preaching school or have a master’s degree from a university to teach someone the Gospel, but you do have to know what the Gospel is. We can reach the world one person at a time with the little we know. It definitely takes courage to speak to someone about the Gospel because it is not popular today. Jesus did it when it was not popular, so His example should be our motivation.
The Pharisees, scribes, and elders were against Jesus. They, too, tested Him. Christ knew the difference between man’s traditions and what the word of God taught. This is similar to a Christian having a discussion with someone from a denomination. We should be apt to teach (2 Tim. 2:24). And doing so requires a knowledge that comes from studying God’s Word daily to present ourselves to God as one approved, rightly handling the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). When we do this we are less likely to believe every spirit. (1 John 4:1)
We have looked at some examples of Jesus’ strength. This was the mind of Christ. He loved God first, which is why He loved us. He loved God with all His heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Speaking of the mind of Christ, we ought to let this mind be in us (Phil. 2:5ff). This means we ought to love God with all our strength to be like Christ. Therefore, we should be servants to one another, we should be obedient unto death as Christ was, and we need to be humble that God may lift us up (James 4:10), and that we may show ourselves worthy to be called God’s peculiar people (1 Pet. 2:9).