So how can we have more patience? Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, has set the perfect example for us. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of the Savior’s patience occurred when, after having taught and instructed His Apostles and turned the ministry over to them, He found them again fishing on the sea. Jesus Christ had taught them the doctrines of the gospel. He had taught them the importance of obeying the commandments and loving others. He instructed them in word and in deed how to minister to His sheep. And He left the ministry in their capable hands and ascended back to the kingdom of His Father in Heaven. But then where did the Savior find His Apostles? Fishing on the sea of Tiberius. (See KJV John 21:3-6.)
But rather than getting frustrated with His Apostles, Christ taught them. In the way that only He could. When the Savior encountered a situation that might be frustrating—which likely happened frequently because He was the only perfect person who ever lived on the earth—He would address the situation by taking care of the needs of the individuals involved. In this way, He taught the rest of us how to have patience. Let me explain.
Patience in Times of Uncertainty
Although the Savior had instructed His Apostles in the ministry—both in His mortal ministry and during two visits after His resurrection—they seemed to not really understand the work they were to do. The scriptures teach,
There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee (KJV John 21: 2-3).
One can infer, at this little snippet of conversation, that maybe the Apostles weren’t quite sure what to do. So they followed Simon Peter and went fishing. But after fishing all night, their nets were still empty. Then a man on the shore called to them and asked if they’d caught any fish, to which they replied no. The man then said, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find” (KJV John 21:6). When they did so, the nets were so full they could hardly draw them in. Realizing it was the Lord on the shore, Simon Peter jumped out of the boat and swam to shore. The rest of the Apostles came to shore in the boat and brought the fishes.
After the group ate, Christ said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” Simon Peter replied, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” And the Savior replied, “Feed my lambs.” Twice more did the Savior ask Simon Peter, and Simon Peter was grieved but answered, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” And twice more, Jesus answered, “Feed my sheep.” (See KJV John 21:12-17.) After this powerful lesson, the Apostles knew what the Savior expected them to do.
Patience With Human Weakness
During His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ was frequently confronted—both directly and indirectly—with human weaknesses, foibles, and outright sinful behavior. Each time, He dealt with the situation with patience and love. When the rich ruler asked the Savior what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, the Savior answered to sell everything he had, give it to the poor and follow Him. The man was very rich and went away sorrowing. (See KJV Luke 18:23.) Christ then taught about the dangers of loving money more than God.
At another time, the scribes and Pharisees brought to the Savior a woman who had been taken in adultery. The angry mob wanted to stone her, but Christ stooped down and drew in the dirt as if He did not hear them. When the mob persisted, Christ said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (KJV John 8:7). Then He again stooped down and drew in the dirt, and the mob dispersed. Rather than condemn her, Christ told her, “Go and sin no more” (KJV John 8:11). Christ’s lessons were more powerful because He taught with patience and love.
Patience in Times of Trial
Christ set the perfect example of having patience in times of trial and suffering. He allowed Himself to be scourged, beaten, betrayed, and spat upon. And yet, as He suffered on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (KJV Luke 23:34). It was through His intense suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and the events leading up to His death on the cross that Jesus Christ has overcome the sins of the world. That if we repent and come unto Him, we can be saved in the kingdom of God. And three days after His death, Christ was resurrected, thus overcoming the sting of death. It was through His trials, suffering, and tribulations that He was able to overcome. And although we will never suffer as He did, we too are made better as we overcome our trials with patience. As the scriptures teach,
We glory in tribulations, … knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:3-5).
When Patience is Not Required
Christ was patient and loving—although sometimes direct—when teaching others. He willingly and humbly suffered indignation and abuse at the end of His life. But at the beginning and the end of His ministry, Christ cleansed the temple by throwing out the money changers. He could not stand by while they desecrated the House of God.
Through this lesson, Jesus Christ taught us not only how to have patience, but also when action—not patience—is required. The dictionary defines patience,
: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
When Christ came upon the money changers defiling the sacred temple, He could not allow that wickedness to continue. Christ overthrew the tables and cast out those who were defiling the temple. (See KJV Matthew 21:12.) Said Christ to the money changers,
It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves (KJV Matthew 21: 13).
Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise (KJV John 2:16).
Because Christ’s righteous indignation in the temple was so uncharacteristic, it illustrates just how terribly wicked were the actions of the money changers. Through His perfect life, Christ taught us how we can be more patient as well as when we need to stand up and protect that which is most sacred.