Jesus didn’t shy away from calling people toward commitment, but he did approach it in a surprisingly wide variety of ways. He was gracious to those who were struggling. He was unrelenting to those whose hearts were hard. With the woman at the well, he was tender and gentle, encouraging her to take the next step. With Nicodemus, he took a very direct approach, cutting straight to the heart of the issue. With the rich young ruler, he gave an unyielding challenge. Essentially, Jesus treated different people differently.
What determined his response? Although we can’t be certain, he seemed to individualize his approach based on several different factors: who the person is, the condition of their heart, their motives for talking with Jesus, what it was they really needed to know, and what direction their life was currently moving in.
Jesus was full of both grace and truth: accepting of where people were, yet encouraging them to go the next step. Understanding and grace-filled, yet capable of strong challenge when it was called for. He didn’t do just one or the other, but both. And he did ask for a response. He never forced, but he did present people with a choice about coming into relationship with him. I’m assuming we should follow suit.
- Jesus called people out from the crowds to a life of discipleship (Mark 8:34-37)
- Jesus required a decision in order to follow him (Matt 4:18-22)
- Jesus required a high level of commitment (Luke 9:62)
- Jesus was unafraid of challenging people and speaking the truth (Matt 23)
- Jesus connected discipleship with actions (Matt 7:21)
- Jesus connected discipleship with sacrifice (Matt 10:37-39)