Ever been on a drive with small children and had to listen to the continual chorus from the back seat of, “Are we there yet?” Small kids don’t have the patience to sit for long periods of time on a trip. They just want to get there and get into the fun part of the holiday. They don’t like to travel, they like to get to the destination. Oddly enough we see Jesus in a similar frame of mind in this section of scripture.
Even Jesus got frustrated
This is an unusual piece of scripture because it shows Jesus being frustrated. The scripture says, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!” (Verse 49-50)
Jesus had a job that needed to be done and he wanted it to be done and it would benefit all of mankind and…much more. But he had to wait! He wanted it to BE THERE but it could not and so he had to have patience. How frustrating is that? When you know the end result, as Jesus certainly did, and yet have to wait until everything is in place before it could be achieved.
Yes even Jesus had to exercise patience and wait until all the pieces were in place for the next stage to take place.
What was he waiting for?
Jesus had a mission to accomplish while he was on the earth. He had to teach the people the ways of God and the message of the New Covenant which is quite different to the Old Covenant.
There was a process he had to go through to enable man to come into the place where he would be ready to accept the teachings of Jesus and the ways of God. And that could not be sped up.
We see his frustration when he said, “…how I am constrained until it is accomplished.” The Greek word that constrained is translated from means to be compressed, held in check, in a narrow place (ie. straits). What Jesus was saying is that he was not free to manoeuvre and to do all that was possible until all the pieces were put into place.
He came to bring fire on the earth. That fire was the fire of the Holy Spirit. And he came to bring a new baptism that would allow people to be set free from their sin through entering into the death of Jesus by baptism.
But the outpouring of the Holy Spirit could not occur until after he was resurrected, and the baptism into Jesus death could not occur until he died and the people were not ready until they had been taught the way, which he did with the early disciples.
Jesus knew what needed to be done and how much better it would be when these things were accomplished, but he had to wait.
Patience is a virtue
We know that Jesus suffered in the flesh with all of the failings and weaknesses of humanity, yet without sin. And here we get a glimpse of His humanity in this expression of frustration and impatience. But as we are told elsewhere, “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
Jesus learned to obey and he learned patience just as we too need to learn patience. The Bible tells us, “The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you.” (2 Peter 3:9) Sometimes we think the Lord is not listening to us and sometimes we may think he has forgotten. But that is not true.
When I consider my own impatience from time to time, I remember Abraham who was told by God that he would be the father of many nations. But it was not until some ten years later that he received the son Isaac who be his heir.
Be patient as the Lord had to be patient. And consider that when the Lord does follow through, as he certainly has now, that his timing is always right and perfect. He is not slow but there may be things to be put in place and lessons to learn before an action takes place. Yes…patience is indeed a virtue.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Cylonka Bsg)