Getting to Know “the Mind of Christ”
“‘Who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, that he may instruct him?’ But we do have the mind of Christ.”—1 CORINTHIANS 2:16.
1, 2. In his Word, Jehovah saw fit to reveal what about Jesus?
WHAT did Jesus look like? What color was his hair? his skin? his eyes? How tall was he? How much did he weigh? Over the centuries, artistic representations of Jesus have varied from the reasonable to the farfetched. Some have depicted him as manly and vibrant, while others have portrayed him as frail and pallid.
2 The Bible, however, does not focus attention on Jesus’ appearance. Rather, Jehovah saw fit to reveal something far more significant: the kind of person Jesus was. The Gospel accounts not only report what Jesus said and did but also reveal the depth of feeling and the pattern of thinking behind his words and actions. These four inspired accounts enable us to peer into what the apostle Paul referred to as “the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) It is important that we become acquainted with the thoughts, feelings, and personality of Jesus. Why? For at least two reasons.
3. Our becoming acquainted with the mind of Christ can give us what insight?
3 First, the mind of Christ gives us a glimpse into the mind of Jehovah God. Jesus was so intimately acquainted with his Father that he could say: “Who the Son is no one knows but the Father; and who the Father is, no one knows but the Son, and he to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.” (Luke 10:22) It is as if Jesus were saying, ‘If you want to know what Jehovah is like, look to me.’ (John 14:9) Thus, when we study what the Gospels reveal about the way Jesus thought and felt, we are, in effect, learning how Jehovah thinks and feels. Such knowledge enables us to draw closer to our God.—James 4:8.
4. If we are truly to act like Christ, what must we first learn, and why?
4 Second, our knowing the mind of Christ helps us to “follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Following Jesus is not simply a matter of repeating his words and copying his deeds. Since speech and actions are influenced by thoughts and feelings, following Christ requires that we cultivate the same “mental attitude” that he had. (Philippians 2:5) In other words, if we are truly to act like Christ, we must first learn to think and feel like him, that is, to the best of our ability as imperfect humans. Let us, then, with the help of the Gospel writers, peer into the mind of Christ. We will first discuss factors that influenced the way Jesus thought and felt.
His Prehuman Existence
5, 6. (a) Our associates can have what effect on us? (b) What association did God’s firstborn Son have in the heavens before coming to earth, and what effect did this have on him?
5 Our close associates can have an effect on us, influencing our thoughts, feelings, and actions for good or for bad.* (Proverbs 13:20) Consider the association that Jesus had in the heavens before coming to earth. The Gospel of John calls attention to Jesus’ prehuman existence as “the Word,” or Spokesman, of God. Says John: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1, 2) Since Jehovah had no beginning, the Word’s being with God from “the beginning” must refer to the start of God’s creative works. (Psalm 90:2) Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.” Hence, he existed before other spirit creatures and the physical universe were created.—Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14.
6 According to some scientific estimates, the physical universe has existed for at least 12 billion years. If those estimates are anywhere near correct, God’s firstborn Son enjoyed close association with his Father for aeons before the creation of Adam. (Compare Micah 5:2.) A tender and deep bond thus developed between the two of them. As wisdom personified, this firstborn Son in his prehuman existence is represented as saying: “I came to be the one [Jehovah] was specially fond of day by day, I being glad before him all the time.” (Proverbs 8:30) Surely spending countless ages in intimate association with the Source of love had a profound effect on God’s Son! (1 John 4:8) This Son came to know and reflect his Father’s thoughts, feelings, and ways as no one else could.—Matthew 11:27.
Earthly Life and Influences
7. What is one of the reasons why it was necessary for God’s firstborn Son to come to earth?
7 God’s Son had more to learn, for Jehovah’s purpose was to equip his Son to be a compassionate High Priest, able to “sympathize with our weaknesses.” (Hebrews 4:15) To meet the requirements for this role was one of the reasons the Son came to earth as a human. Here, as a man of flesh and blood, Jesus was exposed to circumstances and influences that he previously had only observed from heaven. Now he was able to experience human feelings and emotions firsthand. At times he felt tired, thirsty, and hungry. (Matthew 4:2; John 4:6, 7) Even more, he endured all manner of hardships and suffering. He thus “learned obedience” and became completely qualified for his role as High Priest.—Hebrews 5:8-10.
8. What do we know about Jesus’ early life on earth?
8 What about Jesus’ experiences during his early life on earth? The record of his childhood is very brief. In fact, only Matthew and Luke related the events surrounding his birth. The Gospel writers knew that Jesus had lived in heaven before coming to earth. That prehuman existence, more than anything else, explained what kind of man he became. Nevertheless, Jesus was fully human. Though perfect, he still had to grow from babyhood through childhood and adolescence to adulthood, all the while learning. (Luke 2:51, 52) The Bible reveals certain things about Jesus’ early life that no doubt affected him.
9. (a) What indication is there that Jesus was born into a poor family? (b) In what type of circumstances did Jesus likely grow up?
9 Evidently, Jesus was born into a poor family. This is indicated by the offering Joseph and Mary brought to the temple about 40 days after his birth. Instead of bringing a young ram as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, they brought either “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:24) According to the Mosaic Law, this offering was a provision for the poor. (Leviticus 12:6-8) In time, this humble family grew. Joseph and Mary had at least six other children by natural means after the miraculous birth of Jesus. (Matthew 13:55, 56) So Jesus grew up in a large family, likely in modest circumstances.
10. What shows that Mary and Joseph were God-fearing individuals?
10 Jesus was raised by God-fearing parents who cared for him. His mother, Mary, was an outstanding woman. Recall that when greeting her, the angel Gabriel said: “Good day, highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.” (Luke 1:28) Joseph too was a devout man. Each year he faithfully made the 90-mile [150 km] journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. Mary also attended, even though only males were required to do so. (Exodus 23:17; Luke 2:41) On one such occasion, Joseph and Mary, after a diligent search, found 12-year-old Jesus in the temple in the midst of the teachers. To his worried parents, Jesus said: “Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Father?” (Luke 2:49) “Father”—that word must have had a warm and positive connotation to young Jesus. For one thing, he evidently had been told that Jehovah was his real Father. In addition, Joseph must have been a good adoptive father to Jesus. Surely Jehovah would not have selected a harsh or cruel man to raise His dear Son!
11. What craft did Jesus learn, and in Bible times, what did working at this trade involve?
11 During his years in Nazareth, Jesus learned the carpentry trade, likely from his adoptive father, Joseph. Jesus so mastered the craft that he himself was called “the carpenter.” (Mark 6:3) In Bible times, carpenters were employed in building houses, constructing furniture (including tables, stools, and benches), and making farming implements. In his Dialogue With Trypho, Justin Martyr, of the second century C.E., wrote of Jesus: “He was in the habit of working as a carpenter when among men, making ploughs and yokes.” Such work was not easy, for the ancient carpenter probably could not buy his wood. More likely, he went out and selected a tree, swung his ax, and carried the wood home. So Jesus may have known the challenges of earning a living, dealing with customers, and making ends meet.
12. What indicates that Joseph evidently died before Jesus, and what would this have meant for Jesus?
12 As the oldest son, Jesus probably helped to care for the family, particularly since it appears that Joseph died before Jesus.* Zion’s Watch Tower of January 1, 1900, said: “Tradition declares that Joseph died while Jesus was yet young, and that the latter took up the carpenter’s trade and became the support of the family. This finds some support in the Scriptural testimony where Jesus himself is called a carpenter, and his mother and brethren are mentioned, but Joseph is ignored. (Mark 6:3) . . . It is quite probable, then, that the long period of eighteen years of our Lord’s life, from the time of the incident [recorded at Luke 2:41-49] to the time of his baptism, was spent in the performance of the ordinary duties of life.” Mary and her children, including Jesus, likely knew the pain that results when a beloved husband and father dies.
13. When Jesus embarked on his ministry, why was it with knowledge, insight, and depth of feeling that no other man could have had?
13 Clearly, Jesus was not born into a cushioned life. Rather, he experienced firsthand the life of ordinary people. Then, in 29 C.E., the time came for Jesus to carry out the divine assignment awaiting him. In the fall of that year, he was baptized in water and was begotten as a spiritual Son of God. ‘The heavens were opened up to him,’ evidently indicating that he could now recall his prehuman life in heaven, including the thoughts and feelings that went with it. (Luke 3:21, 22) So when Jesus embarked on his ministry, it was with knowledge, insight, and depth of feeling that no other man could have had. With good reason, the Gospel writers devoted most of their writings to the events of Jesus’ ministry. Even so, they could not record everything he said and did. (John 21:25) But what they were inspired to record enables us to peer into the mind of the greatest man who ever lived.
What Jesus Was Like as a Person
14. How do the Gospels portray Jesus as a man of tender warmth and deep feelings?
14 The personality of Jesus that emerges from the Gospels is that of a man of tender warmth and deep feelings. He displayed a broad range of emotional responses: pity for a leper (Mark 1:40, 41); grief over an unresponsive people (Luke 19:41, 42); righteous indignation at greedy money changers (John 2:13-17). A man of empathy, Jesus could be moved to tears, and he did not hide his emotions. When his dear friend Lazarus had died, the sight of Mary, Lazarus’ sister, weeping touched Jesus so deeply that he gave way to tears himself, crying in full view of others.—John 11:32-36.
15. How were Jesus’ tender feelings evident in the way he viewed and treated others?
15 Jesus’ tender feelings were especially evident in the way he viewed and treated others. He reached out to the poor and oppressed, helping them to ‘find refreshment for their souls.’ (Matthew 11:4, 5, 28-30) He was not too busy to respond to the needs of the afflicted, whether a hemorrhaging woman who quietly touched his garment or a blind beggar who would not be silenced. (Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 10:46-52) Jesus looked for the good in others and commended them; yet, he was also willing to offer reproof when needed. (Matthew 16:23; John 1:47; 8:44) At a time when women enjoyed few rights, Jesus treated them with a balanced measure of dignity and respect. (John 4:9, 27) Understandably, a group of women willingly ministered to him from their own belongings.—Luke 8:3.
16. What demonstrates that Jesus had a balanced view of life and material things?
16 Jesus had a balanced view of life. Material things were not of primary importance to him. Materially, it seems, he had very little. He said that he had “nowhere to lay down his head.” (Matthew 8:20) At the same time, Jesus added to the joy of others. When he attended a wedding feast—typically an event marked by music, singing, and rejoicing—it is clear that he was not there to cast a pall over the occasion. Indeed, Jesus performed his first miracle there. When the wine ran out, he turned water into fine wine, a beverage that “makes the heart of mortal man rejoice.” (Psalm 104:15; John 2:1-11) The festivities could thus continue, and the bride and groom were no doubt spared embarrassment. His balance is further reflected in that there are far more occasions mentioned when Jesus worked long and hard in his ministry.—John 4:34.
17. Why is it not surprising that Jesus was a Master Teacher, and what did his teachings reflect?
17 Jesus was a Master Teacher. Much of his teaching reflected the realities of everyday life, with which he was well acquainted. (Matthew 13:33; Luke 15:8) His manner of teaching was matchless—ever clear, simple, and practical. Even more significant is what he taught. His teachings reflected his heartfelt desire to acquaint his listeners with the thoughts, feelings, and ways of Jehovah.—John 17:6-8.
18, 19. (a) With what vivid word pictures did Jesus describe his Father? (b) What will be discussed in the next article?
18 Often using illustrations, Jesus revealed his Father with vivid word pictures that could not be easily forgotten. It is one thing to talk in general terms about the mercy of God. It is quite another to liken Jehovah to a forgiving father who is so deeply moved at the sight of his returning son that he ‘runs and falls upon his son’s neck and tenderly kisses him.’ (Luke 15:11-24) Rejecting a rigid culture in which religious leaders looked down on common people, Jesus explained that his Father was an approachable God who preferred the pleas of a humble tax collector to the showy prayer of a boastful Pharisee. (Luke 18:9-14) Jesus portrayed Jehovah as a caring God who knows when a tiny sparrow falls to the ground. “Have no fear,” Jesus reassured his disciples, “you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29, 31) Understandably, people were astounded at Jesus’ “way of teaching” and were drawn to him. (Matthew 7:28, 29) Why, on one occasion “a big crowd” remained near him for three days, even going without food!—Mark 8:1, 2.
19 We can be thankful that Jehovah has revealed in his Word the mind of Christ! How, though, can we cultivate and demonstrate the mind of Christ in our dealings with others? This will be discussed in the next article.
That spirit creatures can be influenced by their association is indicated at Revelation 12:3, 4. Satan is there depicted as a “dragon” who was able to use his influence to get other “stars,” or spirit sons, to join him in a rebellious course.—Compare Job 38:7.
The last direct mention of Joseph is when 12-year-old Jesus was found in the temple. There is no reference to Joseph’s being present at the wedding feast in Cana, at the start of Jesus’ ministry. (John 2:1-3) In 33 C.E., the impaled Jesus entrusted Mary to the care of the beloved apostle John. That is something Jesus likely would not have done had Joseph still been alive.—John 19:26, 27.
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.
Are You Moved to Act as Jesus Was?
“He saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them.”—MARK 6:34.
1. Why is it understandable that individuals display admirable qualities?
DOWN through history many individuals have manifested admirable qualities. You can understand why. Jehovah God possesses and displays love, kindness, generosity, and other qualities that we esteem. Humans were created in God’s image. So we can appreciate why many would show a degree of love, kindness, compassion, and other divine qualities, even as most reflect a conscience. (Genesis 1:26; Romans 2:14, 15) You may realize, though, that some display these qualities more readily than others.
2. What are some good works that people may perform, perhaps feeling that they are imitating Christ?
2 Probably you are acquainted with men and women who often visit or aid the sick, show compassion to the handicapped, or give generously to the poor. Think, too, of individuals whose compassion moves them to expend their lives working in leper colonies or orphanages, those who do volunteer work in hospitals or hospices, or people who strive to assist the homeless or those who are refugees. Likely, some of them feel that they are imitating Jesus, who set the pattern for Christians. We read in the Gospels that Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry. (Mark 1:34; 8:1-9; Luke 4:40) Jesus’ displays of love, tenderness, and compassion are reflections of “the mind of Christ,” who in turn was imitating his heavenly Father.—1 Corinthians 2:16.
3. To have a balanced view of Jesus’ good works, what do we need to consider?
3 Have you observed, though, that today many of those touched by Jesus’ love and compassion overlook a key feature of the mind of Christ? We can gain insight into this by a careful consideration of Mark chapter 6. We read there that people brought the sick to Jesus to be healed. In the context, we also learn that upon seeing that the thousands who had come to him had grown hungry, Jesus fed them miraculously. (Mark 6:35-44, 54-56) Healing the sick and feeding the hungry were outstanding displays of loving compassion, but were they the primary ways in which Jesus helped others? And how can we best imitate his perfect example of love, kindness, and compassion, even as he imitated Jehovah?
Moved to Respond to Spiritual Needs
4. What was the setting for the account at Mark 6:30-34?
4 Jesus felt pity for those around him primarily because of their spiritual needs. Those needs were of chief importance, more so than physical needs. Consider the account at Mark 6:30-34. The incident recorded there took place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, close to the time of the Passover in 32 C.E. The apostles were excited, and for good reason. Having just completed an extensive tour, they came to Jesus, no doubt eager to tell him their experiences. However, a crowd gathered. It was so large that Jesus and his apostles could neither eat nor rest. Jesus told the apostles: “Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.” (Mark 6:31) Boarding a boat, probably near Capernaum, they sailed across the Sea of Galilee to a quiet place. But the crowd ran along the shore and arrived ahead of the boat. How would Jesus respond? Was he upset that his privacy was disturbed? Not at all!
5. How did Jesus feel toward the crowds that came to him, and what did he do in response?
5 Jesus’ heart was touched by the sight of this crowd of thousands, including sick ones, who eagerly awaited him. (Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:44) Focusing on what aroused Jesus’ compassion and how He responded, Mark wrote: “He saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) Jesus saw more than a mass of people. He saw individuals having spiritual needs. They were like sheep straying helplessly, having no shepherd to guide them to green pastures or to protect them. Jesus knew that the coldhearted religious leaders, who were supposed to be caring shepherds, actually despised the common people and neglected their spiritual needs. (Ezekiel 34:2-4; John 7:47-49) Jesus would treat them differently, doing the greatest possible good for them. He began teaching them about God’s Kingdom.
6, 7. (a) The Gospels reveal what priority in Jesus’ response to the people’s needs? (b) With what motivation did Jesus preach and teach?
6 Notice the sequence and the suggestion of priority evident in a parallel account. This was written by Luke, who was a physician and keenly interested in the physical well-being of others. “The crowds . . . followed [Jesus]. And he received them kindly and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those needing a cure.” (Luke 9:11; Colossians 4:14) Though it is not so with every account of a miracle, in this case, what did Luke’s inspired account note first? It was the fact that Jesus taught the people.
7 This actually agrees with the emphasis that we find at Mark 6:34. That verse clearly shows how Jesus was principally moved to express his pity. He taught the people, responding to their spiritual needs. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had said: “To other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) Still, we would be mistaken if we thought that Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom message out of mere duty, as if he perfunctorily went through the motions of the preaching work that he had to do. No, his loving compassion for the people was a key motivation for his sharing the good news with them. The ultimate good that Jesus could do—even for the sick, the demon afflicted, the poor, or the hungry—was to help them to know, accept, and love the truth about God’s Kingdom. That truth was of central importance because of the role of the Kingdom in vindicating Jehovah’s sovereignty and providing permanent blessings for humans.
8. How did Jesus feel about his preaching and teaching?
8 Jesus’ active preaching about the Kingdom was at the core of the reason why he came to earth. Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus told Pilate: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37) We have noted in the two preceding articles that Jesus was a person of tender feelings—caring, approachable, considerate, trusting, and above all, loving. We need to appreciate those aspects of his personality if we truly want to understand the mind of Christ. It is equally important to realize that the mind of Christ includes the priority he placed on his preaching and teaching work.
He Urged Others to Witness
9. For whom was preaching and teaching to have priority?
9 Priority put on preaching and teaching—as an expression of love and compassion—was not for Jesus alone. He urged his followers to imitate his motives, priorities, and actions. For instance, after Jesus selected his 12 apostles, what were they to do? Mark 3:14, 15 tells us: “He formed a group of twelve, whom he also named ‘apostles,’ that they might continue with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to expel the demons.” Do you see any priority for the apostles?
10, 11. (a) When sending out the apostles, what did Jesus tell them to do? (b) In the setting of sending out the apostles, what was the focus?
10 In time, Jesus did enable the 12 to heal others and to expel demons. (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1) He then sent them on a tour to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” To do what? Jesus directed them: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons.” (Matthew 10:5-8; Luke 9:2) What, in fact, did they do? “So they set out and  preached in order that people might repent; and  they would expel many demons and grease many sickly people with oil and cure them.”—Mark 6:12, 13.
11 Since teaching is not in every instance mentioned first, is noting the above sequence reading too much into the matter of priorities or the motives involved? (Luke 10:1-9) Well, we should not discount the frequency with which teaching is mentioned before healing. Consider the context in this case. Just before sending out the 12 apostles, Jesus had been touched by the condition of the crowds. We read: “Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’”—Matthew 9:35-38.
12. The miraculous works of Jesus and the apostles could serve what additional purpose?
12 By being with him, the apostles could absorb some of the mind of Christ. They could sense that their being truly loving and compassionate toward people included preaching and teaching about the Kingdom—that was to be a principal aspect of their good works. In line with that, the fine deeds of a physical nature, such as healing the sick, did more than help the needy. As you can imagine, some people might be drawn by cures and miraculously provided food. (Matthew 4:24, 25; 8:16; 9:32, 33; 14:35, 36; John 6:26) Beyond being of physical help, however, those works actually moved observers to recognize that Jesus was the Son of God and “the prophet” that Moses had foretold.—John 6:14; Deuteronomy 18:15.
13. The prophecy at Deuteronomy 18:18 stressed what role for “the prophet” to come?
13 Why was it significant that Jesus was “the prophet”? Well, what was the key role foretold for that one? Was “the prophet” to be famous for performing miraculous healings or compassionately producing food for the hungry? Deuteronomy 18:18 predicted: “A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you [Moses]; and I shall indeed put my words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him.” So even as the apostles learned to have and express tender feelings, they could conclude that the mind of Christ was to be evidenced also in their preaching and teaching activity. That would be the very best that they could do for people. By that means, the sick and the poor could gain permanent benefits, not just those limited to a short human life span or a meal or two.—John 6:26-30.
Develop the Mind of Christ Today
14. How is having the mind of Christ involved in our preaching?
14 None of us would view the mind of Christ as unique to the first century—to Jesus and the early disciples of whom the apostle Paul wrote: “We do have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) And we would readily admit that we are obliged to preach the good news and to make disciples. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Yet, it is beneficial to reflect on our own motives for doing that work. It should not be out of a mere sense of duty. Love for God is a primary reason why we share in the ministry, and truly being like Jesus includes being moved by compassion to preach and teach.—Matthew 22:37-39.
15. Why is compassion an appropriate part of our public ministry?
15 Granted, it is not always easy to feel compassion for those who do not share our beliefs, especially when we encounter apathy, rejection, or opposition. Yet, if we were to lose our love and compassion for people, we could lose a vital motivation for sharing in the Christian ministry. How, then, may we cultivate compassion? We can try to see people as Jesus saw them, as “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Does that not describe many today? They have been neglected and blinded spiritually by false religious shepherds. As a result, they do not know of the sound guidance found in the Bible nor of the Paradise conditions that God’s Kingdom will soon bring to our earth. They face the problems of daily life—including poverty, family discord, sickness, and death—without having the Kingdom hope. We have what they need: the life-saving good news of God’s Kingdom now established in heaven!
16. Why should we want to share the good news with others?
16 When you thus ponder the spiritual needs of those around you, does not your heart move you to want to do all you can to tell them about God’s loving purpose? Yes, ours is a work of compassion. When we feel for people as Jesus did, it will be evident in our tone of voice, our facial expression, our manner of teaching. All of that will make our message more appealing to those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.”—Acts 13:48.
17. (a) What are some ways in which we can display our love and compassion for others? (b) Why is it not a matter of either doing good works or sharing in the public ministry?
17 Our love and compassion should, of course, be manifest in our whole life course. This includes our being kind to the disadvantaged, sick, and poor—doing what we reasonably can to relieve their suffering. It encompasses our efforts in word and deed to dispel the grief of those who have lost loved ones in death. (Luke 7:11-15; John 11:33-35) Yet, such manifestations of love, kindness, and compassion must not become the main focus of our good works, as they are with some humanitarians. Of much more lasting significance are efforts motivated by similar divine qualities but manifested in sharing in the work of Christian preaching and teaching. Recall what Jesus said about the Jewish religious leaders: “You give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things.” (Matthew 23:23) With Jesus it was not one or the other—either helping people with their physical needs or teaching them life-giving spiritual matters. Jesus did both. Still, it is clear that his teaching work was foremost because the good he thus accomplished could be of everlasting help.—John 20:16.
18. To what should our considering the mind of Christ move us?
18 How grateful we can be that Jehovah has revealed the mind of Christ to us! By means of the Gospels, we can come to know better the thoughts, feelings, qualities, activities, and priorities of the greatest man who ever lived. It is up to us to read, meditate upon, and put into practice what the Bible reveals about Jesus. Remember, if we are truly to act like Jesus, we must first learn to think, feel, and evaluate matters as he did, to the best of our ability as imperfect humans. Let us, then, be determined to cultivate and demonstrate the mind of Christ. There is no better way to live, no better way to treat people, and no better way for us and others to draw close to the one whom he perfectly reflected, our tender God, Jehovah.—2 Corinthians 1:3; Hebrews 1:3.
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