Do You Have “the Mind of Christ”?
“May the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have . . . the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”—ROMANS 15:5.
1. In what way is Jesus depicted in many of Christendom’s paintings, and why is this not a fair portrayal of Jesus?
“HE HAS never once been seen to laugh.” That is how Jesus is described in a document falsely claiming to be written by an ancient Roman official. This document, which has been known in its present form since about the 11th century, is said to have influenced many artists.* In a number of paintings, Jesus appears as a solemn-looking person who rarely, if ever, smiled. But that is hardly a fair depiction of Jesus, whom the Gospels portray as a warm, kindhearted man of deep feelings.
2. How may we cultivate “the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had,” and what will this equip us to do?
2 Clearly, to know the real Jesus, we must fill our minds and hearts with an accurate understanding of the kind of person Jesus truly was while here on earth. Let us therefore examine some Gospel accounts that give us insight into “the mind of Christ”—that is, his feelings, his perceptions, his thoughts, and his reasonings. (1 Corinthians 2:16) As we do, let us consider how we might cultivate “the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.” (Romans 15:5) Thus, we may be better equipped in our lives and in our dealings with others to follow the pattern he set for us.—John 13:15.
Easy to Approach
3, 4. (a) What was the setting of the account recorded at Mark 10:13-16? (b) How did Jesus react when his disciples tried to stop the young children from coming to him?
3 People felt drawn to Jesus. On various occasions, individuals of differing ages and backgrounds freely approached him. Consider the incident recorded at Mark 10:13-16. It took place near the end of his ministry as he was heading toward Jerusalem for the last time, to face an agonizing death.—Mark 10:32-34.
4 Picture the scene. People begin bringing children, including infants, for Jesus to bless these.* The disciples, however, try to stop the children from coming to Jesus. Perhaps the disciples feel that Jesus surely does not want to be bothered with children during these crucial weeks. But they are wrong. When Jesus realizes what the disciples are doing, he is not pleased. Jesus calls the children to him, saying: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them.” (Mark 10:14) Then he does something that reveals a truly tender and loving manner. The account says: “He took the children into his arms and began blessing them.” (Mark 10:16) The children obviously are at ease as Jesus takes them into his caring arms.
5. What does the account at Mark 10:13-16 tell us about the kind of person Jesus was?
5 That brief account tells us much about the kind of person Jesus was. Notice that he was approachable. Although he had occupied a lofty position in the heavens, he was neither intimidating nor demeaning to imperfect humans. (John 17:5) Is it not significant, too, that even children felt at ease with him? Surely they would not have felt drawn to a cold, joyless person who never smiled or laughed! People of all ages approached Jesus because they sensed that he was a warm, caring person, and they were confident that he would not turn them away.
6. How can elders make themselves more approachable?
6 Reflecting on this account, we can ask ourselves, ‘Do I have the mind of Christ? Am I approachable?’ In these critical times, God’s sheep need approachable shepherds, men who are like “a hiding place from the wind.” (Isaiah 32:1, 2; 2 Timothy 3:1) Elders, if you cultivate a sincere, heartfelt interest in your brothers and are willing to give of yourself in their behalf, they will sense your concern. They will see it in your facial expression, hear it in your tone of voice, and observe it in your kind manner. Such genuine warmth and concern can create a trusting atmosphere in which it is easier for others, including children, to approach you. One Christian woman explains why she was able to open up to a certain elder: “He spoke with me in a tender and compassionate manner. Otherwise, I would probably not have said a word. He made me feel safe.”
Considerate of Others
7. (a) How did Jesus demonstrate that he was considerate of others? (b) Why may Jesus have restored the sight of a certain blind man gradually?
7 Jesus was considerate. He was sensitive to the feelings of others. The mere sight of the afflicted touched him so deeply that he was moved to relieve their suffering. (Matthew 14:14) He was also considerate of the limitations and needs of others. (John 16:12) Once, people brought him a blind man and begged Jesus to heal him. Jesus restored the man’s sight, but he did so gradually. At first, the man saw individuals only indistinctly—“what seem to be trees, but they are walking about.” Then, Jesus restored his vision completely. Why did he heal the man gradually? This may well have been in order to enable one so used to being in darkness to adjust to the shock of suddenly seeing a sunlit and complex world.—Mark 8:22-26.
8, 9. (a) What happened soon after Jesus and his disciples entered the region of the Decapolis? (b) Describe Jesus’ healing of the deaf man.
8 Consider also an incident that took place after the Passover of 32 C.E. Jesus and his disciples had entered the region of the Decapolis, east of the Sea of Galilee. There, great crowds soon found them and brought to Jesus many who were sick and disabled, and he cured them all. (Matthew 15:29, 30) Interestingly, Jesus singled out one man for special consideration. The Gospel writer Mark, the only one to record this incident, reports what happened.—Mark 7:31-35.
9 The man was deaf and hardly able to talk. Jesus may have sensed this man’s particular nervousness or embarrassment. Jesus then did something a bit unusual. He took the man aside, away from the crowd, to a private place. Then Jesus used some signs to convey to the man what he was about to do. He “put his fingers into the man’s ears and, after spitting, he touched his tongue.” (Mark 7:33) Next, Jesus looked up to heaven and uttered a prayerful sigh. These demonstrative actions would say to the man, ‘What I am about to do for you is due to power from God.’ Finally, Jesus said: “Be opened.” (Mark 7:34) At that, the man’s hearing was restored, and he was able to speak normally.
10, 11. How may we show consideration for the feelings of others in the congregation? in the family?
10 What consideration Jesus showed for others! He was sensitive to their feelings, and this sympathetic regard, in turn, moved him to act in ways that spared their feelings. As Christians, we do well to cultivate and demonstrate the mind of Christ in this regard. The Bible admonishes us: “All of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate, humble in mind.” (1 Peter 3:8) This certainly calls for us to speak and act in ways that take the feelings of others into consideration.
11 In the congregation, we can show consideration for the feelings of others by according them dignity, treating them as we would like to be treated. (Matthew 7:12) That would include being careful about what we say as well as how we say it. (Colossians 4:6) Remember that ‘thoughtless words can stab like a sword.’ (Proverbs 12:18) What about in the family? A husband and wife who truly love each other are sensitive to each other’s feelings. (Ephesians 5:33) They avoid harsh words, unrelenting criticism, and biting sarcasm—all of which can cause hurt feelings that are not easily healed. Children too have feelings, and loving parents take these into consideration. When correction is needed, such parents give it in ways that respect the dignity of their children and spare them needless embarrassment.* (Colossians 3:21) When we thus demonstrate consideration for others, we show that we have the mind of Christ.
Willing to Trust Others
12. Jesus had what balanced, realistic view of his disciples?
12 Jesus had a balanced, realistic view of his disciples. He well knew that they were not perfect. After all, he could read human hearts. (John 2:24, 25) Even so, he saw them not simply in terms of their imperfections but in terms of their good qualities. He also saw the potential in these men whom Jehovah had drawn. (John 6:44) Jesus’ positive view of his disciples was evident in the way he dealt with and treated them. For one thing, he showed a willingness to trust them.
13. How did Jesus demonstrate that he trusted his disciples?
13 How did Jesus demonstrate that trust? When he left the earth, he delegated a heavy responsibility to his anointed disciples. He placed in their hands the responsibility of caring for the worldwide interests of his Kingdom. (Matthew 25:14, 15; Luke 12:42-44) During his ministry, he showed even in small, indirect ways that he trusted them. When he miraculously multiplied food to feed the crowds, he delegated to his disciples the responsibility of distributing the food.—Matthew 14:15-21; 15:32-37.
14. How would you summarize the account recorded at Mark 4:35-41?
14 Consider, too, the account recorded at Mark 4:35-41. On this occasion Jesus and his disciples boarded a boat and sailed east across the Sea of Galilee. Shortly after they shoved off, Jesus lay down in the back of the boat and fell fast asleep. Soon, however, “a great violent windstorm broke out.” Such storms were not uncommon on the Sea of Galilee. Because of its low elevation (some 700 feet [200 m] below sea level), the air is much warmer there than in the surrounding area, and this creates atmospheric disturbances. Added to this, strong winds rush down the Jordan Valley from Mount Hermon, situated to the north. The calm of one moment may well yield to the raging storm of the next. Think about this: Jesus undoubtedly knew of the common storms, for he was raised in Galilee. Yet, he slept in peace, trusting in the skills of his disciples, some of whom were fishermen.—Matthew 4:18, 19.
15. How may we imitate Jesus’ willingness to trust his disciples?
15 Can we imitate Jesus’ willingness to trust his disciples? Some find it difficult to delegate responsibilities to others. They must always be at the helm, so to speak. They may think, ‘If I want something done right, I must do it myself!’ But if we have to do everything ourselves, we are in danger of wearing ourselves out and perhaps taking unnecessary time away from our family. Besides, if we do not delegate appropriate tasks and responsibilities to others, we may be depriving them of needed experience and training. It would be wise to learn to trust others, delegating matters to them. We do well to ask ourselves honestly, ‘Do I have the mind of Christ on this matter? Do I willingly delegate certain tasks to others, trusting them to do their best?’
He Expressed Belief in His Disciples
16, 17. On the final night of his earthly life, what reassurance did Jesus give his apostles, even though he knew they were going to abandon him?
16 Jesus demonstrated a positive view of his disciples in another important way. He let them know that he had confidence in them. This was clearly evident in the reassuring words he spoke to his apostles on the final night of his earthly life. Notice what happened.
17 It was a full evening for Jesus. He gave his apostles an object lesson in humility by washing their feet. Afterward, he instituted the evening meal that would be a memorial of his death. Then, the apostles became embroiled once again in a heated argument over which one of them seemed to be the greatest. Ever patient, Jesus did not berate them but reasoned with them. He told them what lay ahead: “All of you will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.’” (Matthew 26:31; Zechariah 13:7) He knew that his closest companions would abandon him in his moment of need. Still, he did not condemn them. Quite the contrary, he told them: “But after I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32) Yes, he assured them that although they would abandon him, he would not abandon them. When this terrible ordeal had passed, he would meet them again.
18. In Galilee, Jesus entrusted his disciples with what weighty commission, and how did the apostles follow through on it?
18 Jesus kept his word. Later, in Galilee, the resurrected Jesus appeared to the 11 faithful apostles, who evidently had gathered with many others. (Matthew 28:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:6) There, Jesus gave them a weighty commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) The book of Acts gives us clear evidence that the apostles followed through on that commission. They faithfully spearheaded the work of preaching the good news in the first century.—Acts 2:41, 42; 4:33; 5:27-32.
19. What do Jesus’ actions after his resurrection teach us about the mind of Christ?
19 What does this revealing account teach us about the mind of Christ? Jesus had seen his apostles at their worst, yet he “loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) Despite their shortcomings, he let them know that he believed in them. Notice that Jesus’ confidence was not misplaced. The confidence and faith that he had expressed in them no doubt strengthened them to be resolved in their hearts to carry out the work he commanded them to do.
20, 21. How may we demonstrate a positive view of our fellow believers?
20 How can we demonstrate the mind of Christ in this regard? Do not be pessimistic about fellow believers. If you think the worst, your words and actions will likely reveal it. (Luke 6:45) However, the Bible tells us that love “believes all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Love is positive, not negative. It builds up rather than tears down. People respond more readily to love and encouragement than to intimidation. We can build up and encourage others by expressing confidence in them. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) If, like Christ, we have a positive view of our brothers, we will treat them in ways that build them up and draw out the best in them.
21 Cultivating and demonstrating the mind of Christ goes deeper than just imitating certain things Jesus did. As mentioned in the preceding article, if we are truly to act like Jesus, we must first learn to view things as he did. The Gospels enable us to see another aspect of his personality, his thoughts and feelings about his assigned work, as the next article will discuss.
In the document, the forger describes the supposed physical appearance of Jesus, including the color of his hair, beard, and eyes. Bible translator Edgar J. Goodspeed explains that this forgery was “designed to give currency to the description contained in the painters’ manuals about the personal appearance of Jesus.”
Apparently, the children were of varying ages. The word here rendered “young children” is also used of Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter. (Mark 5:39, 42; 10:13) However, in the parallel account, Luke uses a word that is also used of infants.—Luke 1:41; 2:12; 18:15.
See the article “Do You Respect Their Dignity?” in the April 1, 1998, issue of The Watchtower.
Can You Explain?
• How did Jesus react when his disciples tried to prevent children from coming to him?
• In what ways did Jesus show consideration for others?
• How may we imitate Jesus’ willingness to trust his disciples?
• How may we imitate the confidence that Jesus expressed in his apostles?
[Picture on page 16]
Children felt at ease with Jesus
[Picture on page 17]
Jesus treated others compassionately
[Picture on page 18]
Approachable elders are a blessing