The Love of Jesus
March 25th, 1975 @ 12:00 PM
THE LOVE OF JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-25-75 12:00 p.m.
These services this year are built around the theme “The Compassionate Christ”: yesterday, The Compassion of Jesus; tomorrow, Wednesday, The Spirit of Jesus; Thursday, The Tears of Jesus; and Friday, the day He was crucified, The Blood of Jesus; and the title of the message today is The Love of Jesus.
In the twelfth chapter of the First Gospel, beginning at verse 14: “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him” [Matthew 12:14]. Isn’t that unbelievable? How they might do away with Him. They decided it was not fit that He would encumber the earth. “How they might destroy Him; and when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all… That it might be spoken, fulfilled, by the prophet Isaiah when he said” [Matthew 12:14-15, 17], and then the evangelist quotes Isaiah 42:1-4:
Behold My Servant, whom I have chosen; My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased: I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall His voice be heard in the streets. A bruised reed, He will not break, a smoking flax, He will not quench…. And in His name shall the people trust.
When I read in the life of our Lord, I would be astonished in unbelief were it not that I see the world in which our life and lot are cast. It does not change. As it was then, it is today; and until He comes, will ever be.
“And they went out, and held a conspiracy, a council against Him, how they might destroy Him” [Matthew 12:14]. And what was the response of our Lord? Did He quit? Did He say, “These leaders do not appreciate Me? The reception that I have received from the official family of the nation is full of bitterness and acrimony”? And then does the Scripture say that the Lord fell into a great gloom? And His lips were shut up in stubborn silence, and the hand that was lifted only to bless fell limp and paralyzed at His side; does it say that? No. It says, “And when Jesus knew it, great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” [Matthew 12:15]. He kept on His gracious and loving ministry. The sectarian heart might hate Him, but the multitudinous heart loved Him. As the Scripture says, “And the common people heard Him gladly” [Mark 12:37].
“But Lord, You do not realize, You do not know, You are not painfully aware, in yonder city there is a whispering council, and those words mean death. You do not realize it, Lord.” No. He had an assignment from heaven. He had work to do, and however the conspiracy or the counsel to destroy Him [Matthew 12:14], He kept on with His work. “He healed them all” [Matthew 12:15].
His heart was in the need, and He was committed to the ministry of helpfulness. And He looked at the need and not the difficulty. What a message for us in our dear church just now. “Pastor, don’t you know the difficulty that awaits us in expanding our program of ministry? Don’t you know the cost, not only in money, but in tears, and in time, and in blood, and in sacrifice? Don’t you know that?” Yes, I’m most aware of the economic debacle into which our nation has fallen. It has taken a cruel toll out of me personally. But I’m not to look at that or to counsel with it. We’re to look at the need, always, and ask God to help us to fulfill it.
Not only did He not quit, He kept on with His ministry just the same. He not only did not quit, He did not reply in vindictive and vituperative recrimination and retaliation and retribution. “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets” [Isaiah 42:2, Matthew 12:19] He didn’t say, “Come now; let us plot the annihilation of our enemies. Let us fight fire with fire, and death with death, and bitterness with bitterness, and hatred with hatred. It will be for us an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, and a claw for a claw.” No, there was nothing in Him of vindictiveness or vituperation. “A bruised reed, He will not break; smoking flax, He does not quench. He will not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets” [Isaiah 42:3, 2; Matthew 12:20,19]. However the turmoil, and the trouble, and the hatred, and the violence, the Lord kept on just being Himself, the gentle, loving, healing, ministering Jesus.
Do you ever think sometimes of the conflicts in this world, and the war and rivers of blood, do you ever think above the battle scene, the sky arching overhead is blue, without any effort, it just is, just blue? And the snow on the mountain tops is white, without any effort, just being itself, just white. And the flowers are fragrant without any effort, just being itself. And the birds sing without any effort, just being themselves, they sing. And the Lord, however they might take counsel against Him to destroy Him, however the bitterness and the hatred in heart against Him, just remaining the same: sweet, and gentle, and gracious, and loving, and kind, and ministering to the needs of the people. Oh, how do you be like that?
In this Second World War, one of our young men, a marine, was killed in the Pacific. When the government sent his body back to the church here to be buried, in the presence of his weeping and sorrowing family, the Marine Corp sent a chaplain, a Marine chaplain, to share in the service, to be present for it. And the Marine chaplain had brought with him a little folder, a program, an order of service, and the front of it was covered with a picture. As you looked at the picture, it was full of violence and bloodshed and war. Bombs were exploding, shrapnel was flying, the whole scene was one of fury! And in the foreground there was a fallen Marine, mortally wounded. And as the lad fell to the ground in death, he lifts up his face, and looking up, in death, he sees up and beyond and above it all the figure of our Lord with hands outstretched in blessing and in reception. As I looked at the picture, such a vivid, deep contrast between the war and the blood in the foreground, and the fallen Marine, mortally hurt, and up above, up above the blessed Savior in quietness, with His hands extended. And I thought, “I wonder, if that American soldier in that Marine uniform, I wonder if he were a Japanese soldier in a Japanese uniform, and were a Japanese Christian, and I had by my side a Japanese chaplain, would it be the same? Would the Lord still be there with His hands outstretched to receive the fallen soldier of the Japanese army?”
And as I looked at it I thought, “I wonder, if it were a German soldier in a German uniform, I wonder if the Lord would be present to receive that German boy who had fallen a victim in the service of his country.” What do you think?
For the love of God is greater
Than the measure of man’s mind;,
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
[There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy; Frederick W. Faber, 1854]
“He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets” [Isaiah 42:2, Matthew 12:19]. When they plotted His death He just kept on His ministry of healing. When they blindfolded Him and smote Him on the cheek, saying, “Tell us, who struck Thee” [Matthew 26:67-68], He was calm and quiet. And when He was accused before Caiaphas and Pilate, He answered not a word, nothing in His defense [Matthew 27:12-14, John 19:9-10, Luke 23:9]. And when they nailed Him to the tree, they passed up and down in front of Him, wagging their heads, saying, “Thou that destroys the temple and raises it up in three days, come down from the cross, and we will believe thee” [Matthew 27:39-42]. When I read that I can’t help but want to say, “Lord, come down. Tear Yourself from the wood and strike terrifying horror in the lives of these who thus spurn and scorn You.” He came down from the cross, yes, He did; but when He did, it was a limp, dead, lifeless corpse. They killed Him. Only thing that He said in reply, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do” [Luke 23:34].
But when He is raised from the dead, you watch: He will marshal armies, or He will come down with His angels, and He will pulverize His enemies; yes, He will. No, He didn’t. He called His band of faithful disciples and said, “You go preach to them remission of sins, forgiveness in My blood, and home in heaven for all who will trust in Me” [Acts 1:8]. O Lord.
“He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed, He will not break; and a smoking flax He will not quench” [Matthew 12:19-20]. Wonder what that bruised reed is? Do you suppose that’s some bulrush that is crushed by the heavy tread of a big animal going down to the river to drink? Or do you suppose that bruised reed is a little plant, so insignificant and inconsequential that was crushed under the iron heel of an indifferent man? Do you suppose it’s the figure of our Lord as He picks up the little thing and re-joints it, and is pitiful toward it, and Mother Nature lovingly gives life to it again? For Mother Nature is a great healer, seeking to cover the scars and the deep gashes in the earth. Do you suppose that’s what that bruised reed is? Or do you suppose that bruised reed is a little pipe, a little reed that a shepherd boy has made into a flute? I took a picture one time, stopped the car, watched and listened, as a little shepherd boy in Palestine was walking in front of his flock of sheep and goats, playing on that little pipe, leading his sheep, playing on the pipe. Do you suppose that bruised reed is that little pipe, and somehow it got hurt or crushed, and it lost its tune, and it lost its song, and it wouldn’t play anymore? And the Lord says, “Give it to Me, give it to Me. I will restore it, I will place the tune and the song back into its voice”—what God can do with a broken life.
Do you remember this poem?
‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it hardly worth his while
To waste such time on an old violin,
But he held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
“A dollar, a dollar. Now Two! Only two dollars?
Who’ll make it three?”
“Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three”—but no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up all the strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! Who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
And going and gone,” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.”
Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with his life out of tune,
And tattered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine;
A game—and he travels on.
He is “going” once, and he’s “going” twice,
And he’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Masters’ hand.
[from “The touch of the Master’s Hand,” Myra Brooks Welch]
“A bruised reed shall He not break; and smoking flax shall He not quench” [Matthew 12:20].
The poor man’s one little candle, and the wick is burned low, and the light is almost out—and the Lord takes it, and shields it, and nurtures it, and adds to it, and it burns once again, a spark of hope in our hearts. It’s almost gone, and the Lord lovingly touches us, and speaks to us, and helps us, and encourages us, and the spark is a flame again. That is our Lord; all of which is to say that He came into this world not to destroy men’s lives, but to save us [Luke 19:10].
He did not come to condemn the world;
He did not come to blame.
He did not only come to seek;
It was to save that He came.
And when we call Him Iēsous, Jesus, Savior,
We call Him by His name.
[“His Name,” Dora Greenwell]