The Meek One

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

“Come to me, 
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

“’Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, 
‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 
Do you think I cannot call on my Father,
and he will at once put at my disposal
more than twelve legions of angels?  
But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled 
that say it must happen in this way?’”
Matthew 26:52-54 (NIV)

This month we have been considering the Coming One, the Messiah. It is an appropriate theme as we celebrate the first coming of our Redeemer. The many characteristics of the Lord Jesus provide us with a wonderfully rich portrait of the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Today we look at the Good Shepherd as exhibiting the beautiful characteristic of being meek. Too often the idea of being meek is seen as a sign of being weak. The Greek term translated into English as meek was often used to describe a horse broken to bit and bridle, in other words an animal that is domesticated. Meek in the Bible carries the notion of power under control.

In Gethsemane, when Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss, Peter wanted to resist with his sword. The Saviour told Peter to put his sword back into its sheath. He went on to remind Peter of His Father’s exceedingly great army He could call on to help Him. Here is an example of how the Good Shepherd was meek. He had enormous power to destroy the threat but He did not. He was determined to go willingly to the cross for the redemption of His enemies.

In life we sometimes face terrible trials and we know our Father in heaven has the power to remove the burden but He does not. Instead we experience His amazing grace as we endure by “seeing Him Who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).

Today may you exploit your problem and see the good that can come when the Lord works everything for good in your life. Today may you be inspired by the meek spirit of our Good Shepherd and follow Him through the good times and the difficult times with faith in His promises. He is faithful and shall be with you always right up to the day He welcomes you into His Father’s home.

The Persistent One

“…and then he said to his disciples, 
‘Let us go back to Judea.’ ‘But Rabbi,’ they said,
‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, 
and yet you are going back?’…
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus)
said to the rest of the disciples,
‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’”
John 11:7-8;16 (NIV)

“On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the disciples were together,
with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, 
Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this,
he showed them his hands and side. 
The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”
John 20:19-20 (NIV)

My friend, in his younger days, had accumulated a long list of convictions under the criminal code of his country. After becoming a Christian, he ceased his life of crime and became a model citizen. He learned that I was visiting a repeat offender and asked if he could come along on some of my visits. His gentle manner and history caused the convict to pay attention to my friend.

In spite of several visits by us the man continued his criminal activity each time he was released. My friend never gave up on the convict. Every time we were together, he would ask about the man. Each conversation would end with my friend telling me never to give up on the convict. My friend was a persistent man.

We believe that our Lord chose the diverse group of the twelve apostles deliberately, but His reasons are not given in the Gospels. By looking at the various apostles, Thomas stood out as a pessimistic person. His limited appearances recorded in John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-25 all show his negative attitude toward life.

In John 11 we read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus. The Master and the apostles were about 2 days away from Bethany near Jerusalem in Judea. On a recent visit to Judea the Jews had tried to stone Jesus. So, it was a very risky move on the Good Shepherd’s part to re-enter that territory. But He was persistent and insisted the apostles accompany Him.

Only Jesus knew that in a few days those who wanted Him to die would succeed in their lethal enterprise. He walked into the jaws of death deliberately for the sake of accomplishing His people’s redemption. He was persistent to the end.

For my reader who may have stumbled on their faith journey I encourage you ponder this persistent One. He does not give up on you ever. We know the disciples had pledged to follow the Good Shepherd to the death. However, when push came to shove, they all forsook Him and fled. They failed Him but He never failed them. The day of our Lord’s resurrection He sought out the apostles and renewed His relationship with them.

My dear reader, your beloved, persistent Saviour seeks you today. He will never give up on you regardless of how far you may have fallen. So, whatever the problem you may face today, return to Him. You will discover that while you may have left Him He never left you.

Come to the Savior now,
he gently calls to you;
in true repentance bow,
let him your heart renew.
Christ came that you may know 
salvation, peace, and love,
true joy on earth below,
a home in heaven above.

Come to the Savior now,
all who have wandered far;
renew your solemn vow,
for his by right you are;
come like poor, wandering sheep
returning to his fold;
his arm will safely keep,
his love will ne’er grow cold.

Come to the Savior, now,
he offers all to you,
and on his merits you 
can plead for life anew.
No vain excuses frame,
respond to Christ today!
None who to Jesus came
were ever sent away.

Come to the Savior, all,
whate’er your burdens be;
hear now His loving call,
“Cast all your care on me.”
Come, and for every grief,
in Jesus you will find
a sure and safe relief,
a loving friend and kind. 

-J. Wigner

The Compassionate One

“When Jesus saw her weeping,
and the Jews who had come along
with her also weeping,
he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 
‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.
‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.
Jesus wept.”
John 11:33-35 (NIV)

“Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15 (NIV)

Approaching Christmas, we now consider the Coming One as the Compassionate One.

When you want to see the compassion of our Saviour you don’t have to look far. One entire Gospel is filled with stories of Jesus and His love for people who are suffering —how humble people, and people on the fringe of society were drawn to Him. If you want to read about the lowly shepherds, the despised Zacchaeus, the prodigal son, the widow giving her last two bits of money into the temple treasury, the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, the repentant thief, and other scenes—they are exclusive to Luke’s Gospel. Yet the other three Gospels share scenes of the Compassionate One including our text for today from the Gospel of John.

In today’s story we read that Jesus, a long way from Bethany (2-3 days journey), the home of Lazarus and his sisters, had a message sent to him. The message was simply a statement of the fact that the one He loved was sick. Many of us have been in a similar situation. A loved one is gravely ill and we don’t know how to pray so we simply state our situation to the Lord and leave to Him the outcome.

There is much encouragement for us as John tells us two reactions of Jesus to the death scene and the weeping by the family and friends. First, He was very emotionally distressed. His emotions boiled over. Secondly, He wept. Our Saviour complied with Paul’s command in Romans 12:15. Surely the Good Shepherd deserves the title the Compassionate One.

We may make a wonderful inference from the many biblical scenes of the Saviour’s compassionate lifestyle. In Hebrews 13:8 we read that Jesus is always the same. Thus, we know He mourns with us when we mourn and weeps with us when we weep just as He did in Bethany at the grave of His beloved friend Lazarus.

Come now to this Eternal, Omniscient, Compassionate One. He waits to be all this too you and more.

My God, how wonderful thou art,
thy majesty how bright!
How beautiful thy mercy seat,
in depths of burning light!

Wondrous are thine eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
by holy angels day and night
unceasingly adored!

O how I fear thee, living God,
with deepest, tend’rest fears,
and worship thee with trembling hope
and penitential tears!

Yet I may love thee too, O Lord,
almighty as thou art,
for thou hast stooped to ask of me
the love of my poor heart.

No earthly father loves like thee,
no mother half so mild
bears and forbears, as thou hast done
with me, thy sinful child.

How wonderful, how beautiful,
the sight of thee will be,
thine endless wisdom, boundless pow’r,
and awesome purity!

Father of Jesus, Love divine,
what rapture it will be,
prostrate before thy throne to lie,
and gaze and gaze on thee!

F. Faber

The Omniscient One

“The Lord knows human thoughts…”
Psalm 94:11 (NASB)

“Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him,
‘Here is truly an Israelite, in whom there is no deceit!’
Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’
Jesus answered and said to him,
‘Before Philip called you,
when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’
Nathanael answered Him,
‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God;
You are the King of Israel!’”
John 1:47-49 (NASB)

“For He knew the one who was betraying Him…”
“Jesus replied, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me?
Truly, truly I say to you, 
a rooster will not crow
until you deny Me three times.’”
John 13:11, 38 (NASB)

The coming One is wonderfully described in the four biographies of Him that we call the Gospels i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John found in the Bible. In the Bible’s sacred pages we find the story of the God Man Who entered history and turned the world upside down.

Today’s glimpse at the Coming One shows how He knows everything about everybody. When Nathaniel saw Jesus for the first time, he was startled to hear this stranger tell him that He saw him under a fig tree only a little while earlier. Also, the stranger said that Nathaniel was not devious. Nathaniel knew he was not sly or deceptive, but how did this person know that? Nathaniel drew the correct deduction from these two remarkable comments by the Teacher and called Him the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Coming One.

So, very early in His career as a travelling teacher, Jesus demonstrates His omniscience. Performing such a miracle in the presence of godly people received an appropriate response. Later in His ministry His miracles, even resurrecting people, would light the fire of hatred, c.f. John 11 and the fallout from Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

When we reflect on the reality that our Creator really knows our actions, where we came from and what we will do tomorrow, it can make some of us uncomfortable. Someone who can access our most private area of life—that is our thoughts—is truly omniscient! It is very uncomfortable to realize that Someone can read even the thoughts we want no one to ever know!

As we meditate on the Omniscient one, we feel like Adam and Eve in the garden after they ate the forbidden fruit. We want to hide from Him. But there is nowhere to effectively hide!! All we can do, all we need to do, is listen to His gracious invitation and run into His loving strong arms and receive from Him eternal life. He is willing and able to forgive the deepest darkest sins.

Come just as you are. Come to the Omniscient one and come today.

Come, you sinners, poor and needy,
weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
full of pity, love, and power.

Come, you thirsty, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
true belief and true repentance,
ev’ry grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience make you linger,
nor of fitness fondly dream;
all the fitness he requires
is to feel your need of him.

Come, you weary, heavy laden,
lost and ruined by the fall;
if you tarry till you’re better,
you will never come at all.

I will rise and go to Jesus!
He will save me from my sin.
By the riches of his merit,
there is joy and life in him.

-Joseph Hart

The Eternal One

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made
that has been made.”
John 1:1-3 (NIV)

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will come forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His times of coming forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Micah 5:2 (NASB)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have one who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—yet he did not sin.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

When we look at the Gospels Matthew, Luke and John, each begins their biography of our Lord at a different place in time. Matthew begins Jesus’ genealogy with Abraham. Luke starts his genealogy with Adam and John declares that the Saviour is an eternal Being.

So, from the commencement of the Gospels, the truth of the incarnation is affirmed. The coming One is both God and man. No one who encountered Jesus denied His humanity. However, many of the religious leaders in our Lord’s time among us demanded He die because He went around claiming to be God (c.f. John 5:18; 8:58).

The prophet Micah made the prophecy of the incarnation clear when he said the future ruler who would arise from Bethlehem would also be an eternal Being. Often in these devotionals the incarnation has been taught. Many Christmas carols we sing embody this truth. The theme of Jesus’ deity is enshrined in Scripture, in Christian writings and in the hymns and carols of the Lord’s people.

When we think of our Saviour being both God and man, comforting thoughts come to mind. First, we consider our Good Shepherd as a man because He came into His own creation the same way we all do through being born of a woman. He was able to experience all the temptations common to humanity. This means He can be sympathetic to our suffering and temptations of this life. Consider Hebrews 4:15-16 once more and see how compassionate our High Priest is because He has experienced great suffering when He walked among us.

Then, as the Eternal One, He controls the universe He created from calming the angry sea, to creating a meal for thousands from a poor boy’s bag lunch, to raising the dead. So then, your struggle is not beyond His ability to intervene with sovereign power supplying overcoming grace.

Come confidently today and receive the assistance that is more than adequate whatever your issue happens to be. You are His beloved child for whom He died and rose again. Hear Paul’s argument from the greater to the less when he wrote in Romans 8:32 (NASB)

“He who did not spare His own Son,
but delivered Him over for us all,
how will He not also with Him
freely give us all things?”

Come to the Eternal One and come today.