How Jesus handled tension
"But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" (v.50)
Jesus' behavior when He looked around at the Pharisees "with anger" was not the result of a bad temper but the fulfilling of a redemptive purpose. The cutting was not to hurt, but to heal. When we display anger, it is usually for purposes of destruction rather than construction.
Although Jesus was free from bad temper, however, He was not free from tension, that is: "a state of moderate stress." Moffatt, in fact, translates our text for today in this way: "What tension I suffer, till it is all over!" A certain amount of tension is a necessary part of life. Jesus experienced it, and so will we. And it is not necessarily a bad thing. The violin string that is free from tension is incapable of music, but when tightened gives forth a sound that delights the ear. The tension that Jesus felt was a tension that was harnessed to the interest of others. He was on His way to a cross and the tension was not to be loosed until He pronounced the words: "It is finished."The tension, however, did not leave Him frustrated and bad-tempered; it left Him calm and composed, with a prayer
for the forgiveness of His enemies upon His lips. It drove Him, not to pieces, but to peace -- the peace of achievement and victory. This was so because the tension was harnessed to God's perfect will -- hence it was a constructive urge. Unfortunately, many of our tensions drive us, not toward God's will but toward our own will. We are more concerned for ourselves than for the divine interests. This kind of driving will succeed only in driving us "nuts."
Dear Lord and Master, teach me how to harness my tensions to Your purposes, so that they are transformed into rhythm and song. In Christ's Name I ask it. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What tension did Paul feel?
2. What does the word "compel" convey?