By Daniel Pentimone

Daniel Pentimone is a dedicated Christian and a fellow blogger, committed to impacting the world through Jesus Christ. His guest post this week captures the life of Christ from an angle you may not have considered before. If you enjoy his post, be sure to check out his blogFrom Daniel’s Desk, and coming podcast, Timothy Talks

I once imagined that Jesus’ life was chaotic and disorganized. Rushing from village to village, He went wherever people called Him, and He had to stay up late into the night to squeeze in prayer. As I studied Scripture, I realized that the opposite is true. Jesus lived a disciplined life. His life is a model for us of disciplined living in a fast-moving age.

Jesus Lived the Discipline of Scripture

The Savior is a Man characterized by the Word. He read, studied, learned, memorized, meditated on, and researched the Scripture, and He commended this practice to others. “Search the Scriptures” He said – and His life demonstrated that philosophy.

Christ’s deep insight into the meaning of God’s Word meant that he could easily sidestep the pedantic questions of the Pharisees to reveal the essence of sacred Truth. His careful meditation on Scripture left Him prepared to easily answer theoretical questions about marriage and taxes – and to move on to what really mattered. The greatest commandment, he declared, is that “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.” For Jesus, Scripture wasn’t an exercise in scholarship; it was the way to foster a relationship with God.

Because it is hardly mentioned, it’s easy to forget that Bible study was an essential part of Christ’s life. Yet it undoubtedly was. He knew God’s Words so well that after forty days of exhausting spiritual combat, He could still brandish Truth with ease against the thrusts of the Tempter. Jesus is a man who modeled the discipline of Scripture.

Jesus Lived the Discipline of Prayer

Our Lord placed supreme value on His relationship with His heavenly Father. Men find the time to do what they want, and Jesus certainly found the time to pray, even if it was inconvenient. Time and again the Gospel writers record that Jesus slipped away, early in the morning or late at night, to commune – for hours at a time – with God.

Christ’s prayer time was intentional, not haphazard. He rose early before the cares of the day. Other times He stayed up late, after hours of exhausting ministry, to pour out His heart to His Father. We are even told that Jesus would send the crowds away so that He could find time to pray (Mark 6:46). When was the last time that you sent guests away so that you could pray?

The 17th century Scottish theologian Henry Scougal observed this – “We may say His whole life was a kind of prayer, a constant course of communion with God.” This is true even though “He had no sins to confess and but few secular interests to pray for, which, alas!” Scougal laments, “are almost the only things that are wont to drive us to our devotions.” Truly, Jesus is a man who modeled the discipline of prayer.

Jesus Lived the Discipline of Compassion

You may be surprised that I describe compassion as a ‘discipline,’ but it certainly was for Jesus. He exercised it intentionally, devotedly, and even in the face of difficulty and discomfort.

For Jesus, people are a priority. Even when He was busy preaching and teaching, He never made those activities the ultimate goal. They were simply a way to minister to people and exercise compassion. When He headed out for a desert retreat with His disciples, after the stunning news of John the Baptist’s execution,  Jesus decided to change His plans so that He could minister to the people who followed Him.

How could Jesus pour Himself out so consistently for others? He was moved with compassion because He recognized that people are “as sheep not having a Shepherd” (Mark 6:34). He also knew that, as the good Shepherd, He was called to lay down his life “for the sheep.” While He had power to lay down or take up His life, He intentionally chose to lay it down of Himself. Jesus is a man who modeled the discipline of compassion.

Jesus Lived the Discipline of Mission

Far from rushing about without purpose, Jesus prioritized His mission. He was purposeful and intentional with the use of His time. When He experienced remarkable success in the town of Capernaum, Jesus refused to stay there since His mission called Him away. “Let us go into the next towns,” He told His disciples, “that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.”

Jesus had thought through the priorities of His life, and He knew what He was pursuing. He counselled His followers to do the same, recognizing that the most important mission is God’s kingdom and righteousness: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”

While describing it in multiple ways, our Savior often referred to His mission in life. “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” The Gospel accounts prove this: Christ is never doing anything that doesn’t further the mission. His time and priorities are intentional and forward-thinking. Jesus is a man who modeled the discipline of mission.

Conclusion

Jesus is our great exemplar, the model after whom we order our lives. My challenge to you is to incorporate these four disciplines into your life. Prioritize Scripture, prayer, compassion, and mission. As you know by now, these things don’t come naturally. We live in a chaotic and undisciplined world; the undertow of life is powerful and haphazard. The good news is that the more we look at our Savior, the more we become like Him. I hope that you see Jesus in a new light – as a model and example of discipline in a world that pulls us toward chaos.

Question: What practical strategies can assist you to add these disciplines to your own life?

Daniel Pentimone is a homeschooled writer, ER nurse, and Christian. He loves to study Scripture and see how its teaching applies to modern life in light of history and Biblical worldview. You can check out his other writings at FromDanielsDesk.com, where you can also learn about his new podcast, Timothy Talks.

Categories: Character

5 Comments

Gina · August 14, 2018 at 10:59 am

Great insights into the character and discipline of our Lord who made himself of no reputation and took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man. You show the how this man demonstrated a beautiful model of discipline and direction that we can emulate. I appreciated your wisdom into Christ’s intentionality of compassion over our goals….. Even ministry goals. It is a good reminder. We must not be so busy doing “jobs” for God that we forget to do the jobs God wants done, loving and caring for the needs of people.

    Daniel Pentimone · August 14, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Yes, Gina, thanks for sharing. You’re absolutely right, it’s so easy to be distracted by the wrong jobs, even as we think that we are honoring God in the jobs that we choose. I think that everyone with ministry goals feels that tension of wanting to invest in the ‘ministry’ while also needing to keep people as the real focus. Jesus is a great example of One who did this perfectly!

Ann · August 14, 2018 at 11:56 am

Scripture study and prayer times are a scheduled part of my day, that way they remain the priorities they must be. Compassion is something I’ve found to be a continual work in progress, trying to act with compassion then reflecting and learning for the next time. making sure I take the time to reflect, either alone or with my husband, helps both of us learn – from our own successes and failures and each others.

Mission I don’t have a strategy for beyond trying to live my life as a good Christian (and often failing!) and now working to raise 4 children in a Christian manner.

Today’s post was as challenging as it was insightful.

    Daniel Pentimone · August 14, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Ann, thanks for your thoughts, and it’s encouraging to hear how you are seeking to cultivate these disciplines. Like you mentioned, scheduling time for prayer and study is probably the best way to keep these things as priorities. And as far as mission, as you know, the ultimate mission that we all have is to glorify God. So just doing what you are doing, living out the Christian life and cultivating the relationships that He has given to you, may be the very best way that you are called to live out your mission on earth!

Joshua Bontrager · August 14, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Thanks for the inspiration, Daniel!

Discipline is sorely lacking in our American culture, yet discipline is the essence of following Christ. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, yet Him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

Denying the flesh to follow Christ in surrender is not easy, but it is always worthwhile.

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