As coach and counselor, Jesus did not forsake one hemisphere of the mind for another. Without his guidance, the cognitive people were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7) and the intuitive people were “led astray by various passions” (2 Timothy 3:6). People bent towards reason search for wisdom. People of intuition may pursue a sense of prestige or power. Jesus provided a balance so his followers would do well to learn “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Jesus no doubt was an influential character. No other man has had more books, films, or television programs written about him. There is H.B. Warner as Jesus in King of Kings, Pasolini’s Gospel according to St. Matthew, Ted Neely as Jesus in the controversial movie, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Charlton Heston who encounters Jesus on his way to the cross-in Ben-Hur.
Jesus’ widespread fame among the masses did not arise from his family history, education, wealth, or influential friends. He kept the company of tax collectors, ordinary men, and people of low esteem. Many hated him. Dying at the age of thirty-three, his twelve disciples deserted him upon his burial in a dark tomb.
How then is Jesus the greatest coach and counselor the world has ever seen? Consider the angel’s command following his resurrection from the dead, ““Go, tell his disciples and Peter that [Jesus] is going before you to Galilee” (Mark 16:7). The angel gives specific mention of Peter, and this is significant. Just a few days earlier, Peter denied Jesus three times and left him to face the cross alone. It is an epic betrayal, but Jesus is not dismayed. He quickly beckons Peter back to him, intent on restoring the broken relationship.
Few coaches happily offer second chances to poor performers. They might lose their tempers, withdraw their friendship, or bar them from the playing field. Harsh discipline might address the problem in one sense but leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the person at the receiving end. Hurt, resentment, and sometimes indifference towards either the coach or task-at-hand may ensue.
Gracious, healing words are hard to come by in a world of “now or never” and “perform or quit” promoting a “rat race,” “survival of the fittest,” and “lean and mean” mentality. The problem with a rat race world is, even if you win, you are still a rat!
Jesus is not in the condemning business. He takes the hands of those who have fallen, counsels them to health, and coaches against future unfaithfulness. Jesus’ disciples failed miserably as students, always learning yet slow to arriving at the truth. It took them years to understand how to live in light of Jesus’ mission.
Despite the fallen nature of humankind, Jesus’ grace has no end. Because he loves us, he encourages repentance and the leaving behind of destructive habits and worldly pursuits. He does not want us to wallow in the bitter fruits of our offenses but instead embrace forgiveness and, in turn, extend the same to others:
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22).