The Character of Jesus
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:14-17
Jesus came to this earth and gave freely of Himself so others could receive that which they need. Jesus gave Himself in prayer and supplications to the Father. He gave Himself in fastings. He gave Himself in journeying from place to place, healing the sick and delivering those who were oppressed and possessed of the devil. Then, Jesus gave Himself to die. He gave everything for the redemption of mankind for soul, mind and body. What a wonderful Savior He is! Today, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. He has not changed; He is still giving to all who will receive His truth by faith. He has the power to make all things new, and we can be renewed in body, soul and spirit daily. He gives all things freely, so accept all that is needed today for us. And He desires that we be like Him.
The work unto which the servant of Christ is called is many-sided. Not only is he to preach the Gospel to the unsaved, to feed God’s people with knowledge and understanding ( Jeremiah 3:15), and to take up the stumbling stone out of their way ( Isaiah 57:14), but he is also charged to “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.” ( Isaiah 58:1) He is charged to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:2). All these things are what Jesus did and not always in love. However we say that love is blind because love sees only what it wants to see. Similarly many Christians only want to see the one side of Jesus the loving, gracious, compassionate side. They forget that He is God incarnate, manifest in the flesh who loves righteousness and justice. But the gospel of Matthew gives us a very nice perspective of the whole person of Jesus Christ who was quite outspoken and opinionated especially about those He didn’t like. It’s interesting that both Jesus and John the Baptist who were filled with the Holy Spirit from birth told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they were “Brood of vipers! God’s word is unchanging:
And John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, “and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:4-12
“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
“Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Matthew 23:33
Jesus Christ was unlike any other man of God or prophet before Him in the way He ministered to the masses. He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. And when they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics, He healed them. He told those who were poor in spirit, who mourned, were meek, merciful, pure in heart and peacemaker and those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness that they were blessed. But He warned those who didn’t repent that they were cursed and woe would come to them. God’s word is unchanging:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. “Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. Matthew 5:21-26
Yes, Jesus warned the offenders and victimizers, be they Christians or non-Christians, that unless they repented and made restitution they would suffer retribution and judgement in the current time of life. And this is something that very few preachers ever talk about that many of God’s people put themselves into a prison of affliction, sickness, poverty, lossess, etc. because they have failed to heed the words of Jesus about the consequences of offending or victimizing others. If God’s people were only in tune with the Holy Spirit they would not do or say many of the things that they do for judgment begins at the house of God. God’s word is unchanging:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:12-19
Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. Hebrews 12:12-17
When God chasten us, it’s not to cause us pain but to benefit from it and be healed and delivered. We are to strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for our feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. We are to pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: We are to look carefully lest awe fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest become a fornicator or profane person like Esau. God is on our side and He wants the very best for us. He wants us to succeed and be prosperous but at the same time He needs to change or correct the things that are wrong in us that will cause harm to ourselves or to others. His word is unchanging:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:1-8
Yes, in all things we are to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. We are to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. We are to live and walk in love and let brotherly love continue. We are not to forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. We are to remember and visit those who are in prison and in hospitals since they are flesh and blood just like our selves. We are to remember that marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. We are to remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever and are not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. We are to continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. We are not to forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. We are to obey those who rule over us, and be submissive, for they watch out for our souls. We are to pray for others that God would make them complete in every good work to do His will, working in them what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. We are to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And we are to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, God’s word is unchanging:
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:11-17
We know that that much Bible talk and Bible reading and Bible study in many churches has been of no spiritual profit to those who engaged in it. In many instances it has proved a curse rather than a blessing. Divine gifts may be misused, and Divine mercies abused. That this has been so in the present instance is evident by the fruits produced. Even the natural man may (and often does) take up the study of the Scriptures with the same enthusiasm and pleasure as he might of the sciences. Where this is the case, his store of knowledge is increased, and so also is his pride. Like a chemist engaged in making interesting experiments, the intellectual searcher of the Word is quite elated when he makes some discovery in it; but the joy of the latter is no more spiritual than would be that of the former. Again, just as the successes of the chemist generally increase his sense of self-importance and cause him to look with disdain upon others more ignorant than himself, so alas, is it often the case with those who have investigated Bible numerics, typology, prophecy and other such subjects.
The Word of God may be taken up from various motives. Some read it to satisfy their literary pride. In certain circles it has become both the respectable and popular thing to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the Bible simply because it is regarded as an educational defect to be ignorant of them. Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note. Others read it to satisfy their sectarian pride. They consider it a duty to be well versed in the particular tenets of their own denomination and so search eagerly for proof-texts in support of “our doctrines.” Yet others read it for the purpose of being able to argue successfully with those who differ from them. But in all this there is no thought of God, no yearning for spiritual edification, and therefore no real benefit to the soul.
Of what, then, does a true profiting from the Word consist? Does not Timothy 3:16-17 furnish a clear answer to our question? There we read, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Observe what is here omitted: the Holy Scriptures are given us not for intellectual gratification and carnal speculation, but to furnish unto “all good works,” and that by teaching, reproving, correcting us. And since we will not be reproved by the word, we will not have joy!
When Christ is supreme in the heart, joy fills it. When He is Lord of every desire, the Source of every motive, the Subjugator of every lust, then will joy fill the heart and praise ascend from the lips. The possession of this involves taking up the cross every hour of the day; God has so ordered it that we cannot have the one without the other. Self-sacrifice, the cutting off of a right hand, the plucking out of a right eye, are the avenues through which the Spirit enters the soul, bringing with Him the joys of God’s approving smile and the assurance of His love and abiding presence. Much also depends upon the spirit in which we enter the world each day. If we expect people to pet and pamper us, disappointment will make us fretful. If we desire our pride to be ministered to, we are dejected when it is not. The secret of happiness is forgetting self and seeking to minister to the happiness of others. “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” so it is a happier thing to minister to others than to be ministered to. We profit from the Word when we are sedulous in avoiding the hindrances to joy . Why is it that so many Christians have so little joy? Are they not all born children of the light and of the day? This term “light,” which is so often used in Scripture to describe to us the nature of God, our relations to Him and our future destiny, is most suggestive of joy and gladness. What other thing in nature is as beneficent and beautiful as the light? “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all ( 1 John 1:5). It is only as we walk with God, in the light, that the heart can truly be joyous. It is the deliberate allowing of things which mar our fellowship with Him that chills and darkens our souls. It is the indulgence of the flesh, the fraternizing with the world, the entering of forbidden paths which blight our spiritual lives and make us cheerless.[i] God’s word is unchanging:
The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above. Proverbs 14:14
Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And beatings for the backs of fools. Proverbs 19:29
[i] A. W. PINK COLLECTION PROFITING FROM THE WORD OF GOD