For most of my life until about age 40 I struggled with anxiety. Almost nobody knew it because I hid it and because much of the time I was listening to them talk. But, inside my mind circled with worries, my stomach churned, and my bowels were irritated. Others did notice that I was really serious and usually in a hurry. These were symptoms of my anxiety.
So you can understand that one of my favorite qualities of Jesus that has ministered to me so powerfully, is that he is relaxed.
We can relax with Jesus because he’s the Prince of Peace.
Don’t you love how at peace the Lord Jesus is?! He has a patient, easy-going, fun-loving, interruptible, acutely aware, and nonreactive mode of being. Everywhere he goes, including situations that are enormously stressful, Jesus brings a non-anxious presence. He ministers the fullness of God’s peace to us.
Jesus doesn’t just teach us to be at peace, he shows us how to be at peace from his own life as a human being and how he dealt with stress and temptations to sin. He learned how to rest in Abba’s love even in enormous stress, intense conflict with family and friends, huge disappointments, and a demanding ministry.
Consider with me a few examples from the Gospels of how Jesus is relaxed as he deals with some very stressful situations:
When he must have been tempted to ambitiously launch his public ministry as a young man he chose to be content to grow in grace, care for his family, and work as a blue collar worker for 18 years until the Father released him (Luke 2:52).
When it’s time to launch his public ministry he’s unhurried and goes to the desert to pray for forty days (Mark 1:12-13).
When his family tries to manipulate him in front of a crowd he calmly sets a boundary (Mark 3:31-34).
When he’s in a fishing boat at sea and caught in a life-threatening storm he naps (Mark 4:37-38).
When some blind people shout, “Lord, have mercy!” as he’s walking by he stops to heal them (Matt. 9:27-30, 20:29-34).
When Jesus’ brothers pressure him to go to a feast in Jerusalem he doesn’t go till three days later (John 7:3-10).
When mobs try to kill him he coolly walks away (Luke 4:29-30; John 10:31, 39).
When he’s sweating drops of blood in the Garden he finds comfort in God as Abba (Mark 14:36).
While being tortured to death he lovingly ministers to everyone around him, even his enemies (Luke 23:34, 43).
In all these situations Jesus is relaxed. You might be thinking, Jesus wasn’t relaxed when he cleansed the temple of thieves, in the Garden when he sweat drops of blood, or on the cross, or when he’s confronting the Pharisees?
Certainly, Jesus has some unrelaxed emotions. Anguish, excruciating pain, overwhelming pressure, anger, and grief are indeed emotions that work against feeling relaxed. But Jesus shows us that even in emotional stress and pain a mature person can flow with divine love, joy, and peace.
The key point is that Jesus doesn’t get anxious (like we often do) from repressing emotions like fear, anger, or sadness, having wishy-washy boundaries, or trying to fit 25 hours into a 24 hour day.
The few times that you see Jesus experiencing something like anxiety it’s only because it’s natural and healthy to feel a certain fearful and worrisome emotional turmoil in the type of stress overload or traumatic crisis that he’s experiencing.