The Faithful Jesus
January 25th, 1976 @ 10:50 AM
THE FAITHFUL JESUS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-25-76 10:50 a.m.
I have been preaching this week through state evangelistic conferences, and one of the young men noticed that one of the first things I do when I stand up to preach is to take off my watch. But he said, "You never look at it. Why do you take off your watch?" I said, "Because if I leave it on my arm, in days past when I have done so, I have flung the thing off of my arm. So I take it off in precautionary wisdom."
It is a joy for us to welcome you who are sharing this service of the First Baptist Church in Dallas on radio and on television. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Faithful Jesus. In our preaching through the Book of Isaiah we have come to chapter 42, and the message is an exposition of the first few verses of that incomparable prophecy. Isaiah, chapter 42:
Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment, justice, to the nations.
He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the dimly burning wick, the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment, justice, unto truth.
He shall not fail nor be discouraged, until He hath set justice in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law,
I the Lord hath called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light to the Gentiles.
Now, the message is built upon how the evangelist Matthew, how the writer of the First Gospel applied that glorious prophecy of Isaiah to the Lord Jesus. Reading in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Matthew beginning at the fourteenth verse:
Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him.
And when Jesus knew it, He followed from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all:
And charged them that they should not make Him known:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying,
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 justice to the Gentiles.
He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax, a dimly burning wick, shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory.
And in His name shall the nations trust.
What is remarkable to me about reading the prophecy in Isaiah, and how Matthew finds its fulfillment in our Lord, is the occasion upon which Matthew quotes it in fulfillment of the great and noble prophecy. For in the twelfth chapter, as in the chapters preceding, the Gospel writer Matthew has described the miraculous wonder of defined power resident in Jesus of Nazareth. Then he notices and is struck by, moved by, the humility, and the weakness, and the tenderness, and the sweetness, and the gentleness of that same mighty and wonderful Healer and Teacher of men.
And the prophecy, as Matthew applies it, looks like this: a union of the divine power of heaven in this humble and lowly Jesus – a man of such godly ableness, and yet a man free from ostentatious ambition, quietly, humbly, unmoved doing His work of healing and teaching the people. So Matthew presents it: "Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him. And when Jesus knew it, He departed: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all" [Matthew 12:14-15].
What a contrast between those who officially rejected Him and sought to destroy Him and the continuing humble ministries of the Lord Jesus as He taught and healed the people. Why, Lord, it is almost unthinkable how You are and how You do.
The official mind has rejected Him. And the leaders of the nation are now plotting to destroy His life. Surely, the Lord will fall into a great gloom. He will be discouraged. He will forget the needs of the multitude. His mouth will shut in stubborn silence, and the hand raised in blessing upon the people will fall at His side in paralysis. He will quit in the face of such frustrating and confusing opposition. Does it say that? No!
When the Pharisees called a council how they might destroy Him, the great multitudes continued to follow Him, and He healed them all [Matthew 12:14, 15]. He kept on with His ministry of blessing and encouragement, of life and health and healing. The sectarian mind might hate Him, but the multitudinous mind loved Him. As the Scriptures say: "And the common people heard Him gladly" [Mark 12:37].
But, Lord, maybe You don’t understand. In yonder city there is a council whispering. And the meaning of that whisper is death. You don’t realize they are plotting Your assassination, Your execution. They are encompassing Your death. Don’t You realize it?
And the Master just the same continued on in His healing and His teaching ministries. He did not look at the trial or at the trouble or at all of the bitter and hateful opposition, but He looked at the needs of the people, and He kept on His teaching and His healing. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be like that? Not look at the discouragements and at the trials and at the difficulties, but to look at the need of a great work done for God. "But, pastor, you don’t realize; think of the debt involved, think of the money involved, think of the time and tears and blood; think of it, pastor."
I know, I know. There is no mighty work for God ever done without tears, and time, and sacrifice, and trouble, and discouragements, but if God is in it, and if it is a work for which we are called from heaven, then the time and the tide and the trouble and the trial and the tears and the sacrifice are something by which God blesses us and strengthens us and works with us.
This discouragement that our Lord met in His humble and tender ministries among the people never discouraged Him. He kept on in His sweet and quiet way, ministering to the people, doing the work of God in the earth.
Again, do you read in the story: "And the Pharisees, held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him." And when Jesus knew it, He called some of His disciples together and said, "We shall fight fire with fire, and death with death, and it shall be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and a claw for a claw. We shall retaliate in kind, and we shall bring unmitigated terror to their hearts." Does the evangelist write that in the life of Jesus? No!
When the Pharisees held a council how they might destroy Him, Jesus kept on in His ministries, teaching and healing them all [Matthew 12:14-15]. "He shall not strive, retaliate, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets" [Matthew 12:19]. Humble, gentle, precious, He just kept on His ministries of teaching and healing – just being Himself. What a wonder! No wonder Matthew fell in amazement before this mighty Man from heaven, who unperturbed, undisturbed by opposition, just kept on doing what God had sent Him to do – just being Himself. "He shall not strive, He shall not cry, nor shall anyone hear His voice raised in loud clamor and opposition in the streets" [Matthew 12:19] – just being Himself. How wonderful!
This last week I was in the northeastern quadrant of the United States, which was swept by a vicious and mighty storm. And flying in the plane from place to place, from appointment to appointment, there above those clouds beneath with the sleet and the rain and the wind and blizzard, the sky was perfectly clear and beautifully crystalline blue. Without effort, without struggle, just blue, blue, blue – quietly, wondrously heavenly blue above the turmoil, and the storm beneath.
I sat in a motel room in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the heavy snow come down. Hour after hour did it fall – quietly, gently, white, white, white, with no struggle at all; just being white, white, white. And it softly covered the whole earth, just being itself, white and soft. Like a flower that is fragrant: it is beautiful and it is fragrant with no effort at all, just being itself. Or like a song bird, a mockingbird, just singing to the top of its voice with no effort at all; just being itself, hurling up to heaven its sweet notes of beauty and glory.
That is the Lord Jesus! In the face of opposition and cruel hatred, quietly, continuing His sweet ministries before the Lord and healing all of the people [Matthew 12:15]. Whatever they might say about Him, no; however it is, just continuing His work.
When they arrested Him and bound Him, there were those who covered Him with their spittle, they spat upon Him [Matthew 26:67; 27:30]. And there were those who plucked out His beard [Isaiah 50:6] and then there were those who walked up to Him and said, "Thou Christ, prophesy: what is my name? Who strikes Thee?" And they struck Him. "Tell me my name, prophesy; who am I?" As they struck Him [Matthew 26:68], He answered not a word [Matthew 26:57-63; Mark 14:60-61]; calm and quiet; just being Himself.
And when they arraigned Him before Caiaphas and before Pontius Pilate, however many witnesses spake against Him, He answered never a word [Matthew 26:57-63; Mark 14:60-61, 15:5] – nothing in His own defense. He was quiet and calm.
And when they nailed Him to the tree, He was in their hands yielded and without resistance, like "a lamb led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth" [Isaiah 53:7]. And when they walked up and down before His cross, wagging their heads [Matthew 27:39] and saying: "Thou, Thou come down from the cross, and we will believe in Thee" [Matthew 27:40-42]. When I read the story, somehow I say in my heart: "Lord do it, come down from the cross and strike unmitigated terror in their hearts!!!"
No! When He does come down from the cross, it will be a limp, helpless, dead corpse of a man that they wrap in a winding sheet and place in a tomb [Matthew 27:50, 58-60]. And with all their insults and blasphemies, all He said was: "Father, forgive them; they know not, they do not realize what they do" [Luke 23:34]. But the third day He was raised from the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], and He said: "All authority – all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" [Matthew 28:18]. I know now what He will do. He will wreak vengeance on the heads of those who wagged their heads at Him. No! He called His disciples and said, "In My name preach the evangel of the remission of sins for all who will turn and trust in Me" [Luke 24:47-48]. "He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall anyone hear His voice in the streets" [Isaiah 42:2; Matthew 12:19]; the gentle and loving and faithful Lord Jesus, just continuing His work, even today.
Then there follows two analogies that are incomparably beautiful and precious: "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax, a dimly lighted wick, just about to go out, shall He not quench, until He send victory in the earth. And in His name shall the nations trust" [Matthew 12:20-21]. What is this? "A bruised reed shall He not break," the gentle Jesus? Could that be a bulrush that some heavy animal crushed and broke as he made his way down to the river? Is that what that is? "A bruised reed shall He not break," Or could it be a little succulent and tender plant ground under the iron heel of some indifferent man, and the Lord Jesus picked it up and was pitiful to it and re-jointed it. Maybe encouraged nature to be good to it, for nature has a wizardry of healing, covering all the rough gashes of the world – and encouraging the little thing to grow and to stand up straight. Is that what that is? "A bruised reed shall He not break," [Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20]. Or is that bruised reed a little pipe made out of a bulrush, or out of a cane stalk, or out of a papyrus, a little jointed reed, and it’s been made into a flute?
One of the most beautiful pastoral scenes I ever saw in my life was in Israel, a shepherd boy walking in front of his little flock of sheep and goats and he was playing one of those little reeds. Playing a little pipe like that. Is this bruised reed one of those little flutes, one of those little reeds? And somehow, somebody stepped on it and it was crushed, and it lost its song and it wouldn’t play anymore. But the Lord Jesus, when it was cast away, picked it up, and He mended it, and He placed its song back, and the little thing was beautiful and tuneful again. Is that what it is? The analogy is something like that: when the life seemed so spoiled and so ruined and it has lost its song and its melody, the Lord picks it up, tunes it beautifully, and it sings and praises God all over again.
I haven’t time to read one of the most beautiful, meaningful poems I think of truth ever written. It’s "The Touch of the Master’s Hand." It starts off with an auctioneer who has an old violin. And he holds it up and he says, "What am I bid for it? A dollar, two dollars, who’ll make it three?" And just before the old violin was sold for three dollars, there came to the auctioneer from the back, an old gray-headed man, and he took the violin and the bow, and he wiped off the dust, and he strengthened the bow, tightened it, and he tuned the strings, and he began to play angel music. Angel music! And when the auctioneer held it up again, he said, "What am I bid for it: a thousand dollars, two thousand dollars, who’ll make it three?"
Let me read:
The people cheered,
But some of them cried,
We don’t quite understand
What changed its worth?
Swift came the reply,
The touch of the master’s hand.
And many a man with life out of tune
And tattered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned off 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, he’s going twice,
He’s going, and almost gone.
But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
Can never quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
["The Touch of the Master’s Hand," Myra Brooks Welch]
"A bruised reed shall He not break." He takes it and mends it, and gives it back its song, and it glorifies God. "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench" [Isaiah 42:3; Matthew 12:20]. That wick, laid at the mouth of a cheap clay lamp, and the wick is almost gone. It barely is aflame and it is smoking to extinction – just the one little hope left in a man’s heart; just one little light that shines; just barely a spark that is left. And it is ready to be extinguished, to be quenched, and to be thrown out, worthless. But the Master trims the wick, and He pours in oil of heaven and of the Holy Spirit, and He nurtures it back, and it lights and flames and shines again – "this little light of mine."
What could that mean? What is this analogy that the Lord is saying to us? There’s many a man and there’s many a woman in whose heart the light of hope has nearly died. It barely flickers. One, our old and forgot: how many times do I see a man come to the age of retirement, and with nothing to do he soon dies? There’s not anything that destroys the fiber of a man’s life like feeling useless, unwanted. Nothing to do; no part to play; no purpose in life to live: he’s come to the end of the way, and the light that is in him begins to die. Useless; "Nobody wants me. Nobody needs me" – and he almost perishes, and soon he is to be cast away.
Ah, to be needed, to be wanted, to have purpose in life is something that means life itself to us. And that’s why I pray God will bless us in a new ministry that we have in our dear church; under Dr. Freeman, under Richard Peacock, under Gary Yates Moore, bringing our people who have gone beyond the days of their youth and their prime, and now they’re invalid, or they’re kept in a home – bringing to them a ministry of intercession and of prayer and of Bible study. Something going on down here in the church, and it’s a greater assignment than we can do in ourselves. They can pray for us, and undergird us, and strengthen us, and call us by name before the throne of grace.
I have never heard a sweeter word than one time Spurgeon, the pastor in London, said to a humble disciple who knew God. He said to him, "My friend, someday, when you have the ear of the great King, would you call my name?" More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of, and the ministry of intercession, of praying, of sustaining support before God’s throne, oh, how needed, how desperately needed! And this is a ministry these can have in our midst.
If you know an old man or an old woman who is still here, there is a reason why they still live, why they’re still present in our midst. God has a purpose in it. And for us to cast them out and to walk by them on the other side and to forget them, is of all things unlike and dissimilar to the sweet and loving Jesus.
"A bruised reed He would not break, and a dimly lighted, smoking wick He would not quench" [Matthew 12:20]. But He brings it to life and to hope in Him. Not only is it addressed to the old who are just about to lose hope, it is addressed to the lost. They also lose hope. God alone could know the number of young men and young women and sometimes teenagers who find themselves enmeshed in the weaknesses of life, in sin and in compromise, and they nearly give up, "I’m hooked; I’m caught; I’m helpless; I’m weak, and I can’t lift myself out of it and above it. My life is destroyed. My work, my hopes, my dream, my every vision, they are ruined, and I am a wreck left behind. Nothing of the future and nothing of purpose for me – but that I die."
Ah, the Lord takes a broken life, and He mends it, and He blesses it, and He forgives, and sweetly tunes, and lifts up and saves, and sanctifies, and strengthens, and encourages; that’s His great assignment in the earth. Not to destroy men’s lives, but to save men’s lives [Luke 19:10], that we might have strength and ableness and upwardness in Him [John 10:10]. There is not a soul that walks this earth, no matter what the tragic of the background, but that the Lord can lift up. Set their feet upon a rock, put a song in the heart, praises of God upon the lips; put the light of the glory of God in the face and in the eyes and in the countenance and walk; sun-crowned, able, forgiven, strengthened in the name of the Lord. That’s why He came into this world, that we might be saved [Matthew 18:11].
He did not come to condemn the world
He did 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.
Do you know the blessedness of the companionship of that Lord who walks with us through every day, through every trial, who stands by our side in loving compassion and sympathy when we cry; who was tried in all points like as we [Hebrews 4:15]; who is moved with the feeling of our infirmities; who in all points is a faithful High Priest [Hebrews 4:14-16], able to succor, to encourage, to strengthen, to deliver those who come by faith to Him? [Hebrews 2:17-18]. Do you know Him? He is the best partner a businessman ever had. Do you have problems where you work? He knows all the answers. Take Him into the firm. Add Him to the staff. Open the door to Him. And see what happens to you in the divine encouragement and presence and wisdom of God. Do you have troubles and problems in your heart and in your home? Tell Him all about it. Don’t be ashamed or reluctant. He also knew trial, and trouble, and tears, and agony, and heart ache. He can help you. "I must tell Jesus all of my troubles." He is a kind, compassionate friend. And do you know Him as the Savior? If an accident took your life away, would you be ready to meet God? Have your sins been forgiven? Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? [Luke 10:20; Revelation 20:12, 15]. Do you belong to the household of faith? Are you numbered with those who are redeemed by the blood of the Crucified One? [1 Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 5:9].
Today is the day of salvation for us [2 Corinthians 6:2]. For this purpose did He come into the world, that we might know Him, be regenerated, be forgiven, be lifted up, be encouraged, be set and sent into the world shining for God, singing for the Lord, just being ourselves in Him, happy in the pilgrim way.
Do you know Him? Do you? It is as simple as being introduced to a friend who might be your husband, or might someday be your wife; an introduction. All that follows after is known but to Him, but it will be dear and sweet, and it is as simple as that as forming a friendship. "Hello, Lord Jesus. Here I am. My name is Jim," or "My name is Jack," or "My name is Mary," or "My name is Martha." "Lord Jesus, I want to be Your friend, and I want You to be mine. And I want You to come into my heart and into my life, and I want to walk with You, and I want You to walk with me. I want You to forgive me all my sins and give me strength for the journey that lies ahead. Stand by me, and then Lord, in the hour of my death, may I have the sweet communion and comfort that Jesus knows me. His arms are stretched and opened wide in welcome when I am called to my heavenly home."
Do you know Him like that? May today you find Him sweet and precious, your Savior. Wherever you are, listening on radio, or watching on television, or you are in this great throng in the house of God today; "This hour, this moment I decide for God, and here I am, and here I come." In the balcony round, there is a stairway at the front and the back. On this lower floor, there are aisles down here to the front. Make the decision now in your heart, and in a moment when we stand up to sing our hymn of appeal, be the first walking down that aisle. "Here I am, pastor, and here I come. I make it now. Today I give my heart to Christ." Or, "Today I give my life to a calling from heaven." Or, "Today I am putting my life in the fellowship of this dear church." Maybe a family of you, maybe just two, or one somebody you, do it now, make it now, come now, while we stand and while we sing.
THE FAITHFUL JESUS 5/,4/4/50,1/65,3/75,1/76
THE GENTLE JESUS
THE LOVE OF JESUS
How Matt. applies it: United the divine power with entire
freedom from the ostentation of ambition.
Such power, slowly breathe.
Matt. 12:14 His reaction
:15 Do the scriptures say that He quit,
ceased, His work?
Jesus Christ was so distressed with His official reception, or the reception of
the official mind, that He paid no heed to the multitudes, He forgot this persecution
and suffering. He fell into a great
gloom; his lips were shut up in stubborn silence and His hand that had never
been raised, but to bless, fell in paralysis at His side.”
“He healed them all” The
sectarian heart might hate Him, but the multitudiness heart loved Him. “The common people heard Him
don’t you realize, there is a council whispering in yonder city, and the
meaning of the whisper is death?
Nevertheless, He kept on with His healing. Looked at the Word, not the difficulties in the way. The Great program: “Ah, but it costs
money, tears, time, blood, life> but the multitudes who need the Lord.
Jesus Christ filled with bitterness, hate, fought fire with fire, hate with
hate, death with death, a plotter of the annihilation of His
minions.” “eye for eye, tooth
for tooth, claw for claw.”
No. 12:19 Just kept
on, in His humble, gentle, precious way.
Just being Himself, undistorted by the words said and the deeds plotted.
The troubles, turmoils,……the sky is blue, unchanged,
without effort. Just is…the snow is
white, the flowers fragrant, the birds sing….just is.
Himself is gentle, loving, all the way through.
said about Him–kept on teaching, healing.
Smitten- “prophecy–who struck thee?” Remained quiet, calm.
witnesses before Caiaphas, Pilate. No
arrested–nailed to the tree–no resistance…Lamb, slaughter, silence.
(e) On the
cross, the insults, His only reply,”Father, forgive them, they know
surely risen from the dead, all power…now, those who wagged their tongues, falsely testified. He will strike unmitigated terror,
unadulterated fear. No- “preach
the gospel” the glad tidings.
Matt. 12:20 The
beautiful figure of His disposition. He
did not come to destroy mankind, but to save.
Isa 42:1-4 And the exquisiteness
of the perfection of His single purpose are indicated in this analogy.
bruised reed, not worth the saving.
What is the bruised reed?
A bull rush, crushed by some heavy beast as it moved toward the
river? A small plant crushed by the
iron heel of an indifferent man. Jesus
Christ takes it up, or spares it, rejoins it, making nature pitiful to it with
extra nursing and care and love–for nature is a great mother, healing every
scar, healing every wound, working a great wizardry of healing for all the
great gashes, bruises of the world.
Or is the
reed the simple musical instrument of the primative kind, of which the shepherd
played upon the hills and in the valleys–and had it got out of order–been
crushed–so that the tune would no longer come out of it? Jesus Christ says, give it to me; breathes
upon it; the bruised reed shall be as musical as ever.
(a) The old
smoking flax, almost gone out.
by a wick in a cheap clay lamp, which is almost gone, barely a flame. One little hope left in man’s heart is
smoking to extinction. But the Master
trims the wick, and He pours in oil of heaven and of the Holy Spirit. He nurtures the life back and it flames and
shines again. The feeling of
uselessness. such as retired men, so
often soon die, the feeling of not being needed. Our programs for the elderly..Prayer, intercession.
giving up. No use trying.
anyway–it means this: That the Son of Man is come to save, not to
destroy. His name is Jesus: Savior.
Prepare the way of the Lord–while meaning of the
He did not come to condemn the world.
He did not come to blame.
He did not come only to seek
It was to save, He came
as when we call Him Jesus, Savior,
We call Him by His name.
THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND
‘Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while,
To waste much time on the old violin.
But 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,
Two dollars and 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 quaint and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and 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 life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned off cheap to the 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 “going” twice,
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 Master’s hand.