Dog person? Cat person? To my mind this split in the human psyche is one of the great moral indicators of our time. I’m an unapologetic dog person, and frankly I’m not sure how much to trust cat people. Regardless, though, I’m almost certain that Jesus was a dog person. Why? Well . . . it’s because I’m a dog person.
While I might be joking in the paragraph above, it is certainly true that people tend to see in Jesus many qualities that reflect themselves. I’m not saying that a coward will think Jesus a coward as well, but that person might tend to stress the passivity of Jesus, the turn-the-other-cheek teachings.
It’s for this reason, I think, that extroverts tend to think of Jesus as an extrovert, and I must admit that my assumption that Jesus is an extrovert probably derives my own inward-looking tendencies. Still, I have evidence to back up my position.
We’ve already considered the possibility that Jesus had at least one prominent extrovert disciple, Peter, and one who might be classed an introvert, John. I’d like to emphasize that neither of these personality traits should be looked at as a weakness or a flaw. So with all that stated, let’s look at the introvert evidence on Jesus.
In Luke 5:15-16, we see a perfect example of Jesus showing his introvert stripes:
But the news about him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet he often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.
The extrovert would have reveled in the crowds, yet rarely if ever do we see Jesus getting energized by the crowds. Even at the Triumphal Entry, when we can imagine Jesus really getting into the excitement of the day, we don’t get that sense. But in this Luke passage, we see the Savior not just praying, but withdrawing to pray. And he didn’t just withdraw into a house but to deserted places. And he didn’t just do it this one time but “often.”
In the next chapter, Jesus chooses His disciples in 6:13-16, but before that he spends the night alone on a mountain praying. In Matthew 14:13, upon hearing of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus does not seek to grieve with friends but gets in a boat to withdraw. In John 7:10, Jesus sends his disciples to Jerusalem for the festival but then attends secretly and alone.
By contrast, can we think of a case in which Jesus seeks out crowds? He often pulls his disciples away to teach them separately. He sends them out in pairs to do the work that he could have done better and then he sends out even more pairs to pursue that same work. Would an extrovert have been able to be such a hands-off manager?
Look at the images of crowds in the 2014 film Son of Man. Jesus seems to be thrilled to be among the hustle and hubbub of the crowds.That makes good film, but is it an accurate portrayal of the Man?
Okay, I’ve convinced you that at least Jesus had some introvert behaviors. But so what? We’ll take up that question when this topic concludes tomorrow.