Fairest Lord Jesus
The theme of our service today is the beauty of Jesus, to use the words of the Psalmist in the Psalm 45, “ fairer than all the sons of men.” and the hymn writer said “Fairest of 10,000 is Jesus Christ my Saviour.” In the moments left to me today, I want to paint a picture of the one who means more to me than life itself! I shall take the blank canvas of your imagination, (if you will permit me) and sketch from both the pages of Holy writ, and the words of many inspired Hymn writers, sketch a picture, a beautiful picture of the one who was fashioned unlike any other man. The beauty of Jesus is not something embodied only in physical form, or outward appearance, it is the expression of his whole person, indeed more the inner than the outer man.
Jesus was, and still is “unique” – as today’s Gospel from
John Chapter 7 confirms …
NO MAN SPOKE LIKE THIS MAN. v46
NO MAN STOOPED LIKE THIS MAN. v28
NO MAN SAVES LIKE THIS MAN. v23
NO MAN SUFFERED LIKE THIS MAN. v 6
And NO MAN SATISFIES LIKE THIS MAN. v38.
Most of us tend to measure beauty in terms of first impressions, but real beauty is not in the facial expressions, the friendly smile, the perfect body, the slim lines, or the sun tan! Real beauty is what the apostle Peter himself calls, a “gentle and quiet spirit”(1 Peter, 3.4) which indeed the Hymn writer gives to the one he calls “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.” He may not have come from the gentry, but he was a true gentleman!
In the first place let us consider that unlike other men,
NO MAN SPOKE LIKE THIS MAN. v46
Think with me for a moment of the words of Jesus. The apostle John reminds us that he is the “word” and was in the beginning with God. (John 1, and Genesis 1) His was in fact the creative word, and “the word became flesh” says John, “and dwelt amongst us, and we beheld his Glory the glory as of the only begotten of the father full of Grace and Truth. (John 1, 14)
Charles Wesley writes, “…veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,
hail the incarnate deity.”
The characteristics which John describes, those of Grace and Truth are, as we shall see in a moment, the very things that make his conversation – his speaking unique. Yet his words, were more than full of Grace and Truth, … they were full of power and authority, full of love and compassion, full of mercy and forgiveness. In the beginning, his words were spoken with a powerful authority that called into very existence the things which before had not existed. He said, let there be light and there was light. (Gen 1.3.)
That is why centuries later, when he arose in a boat and rebuked the winds and waves in a great storm, they remembered the voice of the one who had created them, and simply lay down under his authority! What power! No man spoke like this man. What peace, when he said “peace be still”(Mark,4.39) or spoke peace to Jirus when his daughter was dying, or to Mary and Martha as Lazarus lay buried in the grave. What of the pardon spoken to the woman taken in adultery when he said “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Think too of his great forgiving Love, as he said “Father forgive them” when he hung dying on the cross. Or when he gently rebuked doubting Thomas, or the fearful Peter after he had denied him. Words – full of compassion, full of forgiveness, full of Love. No wonder he is described as both the Lion and the Lamb, for his words, his speech displays both aspects of his humanity.
Of course there are numerous words of promise which he has given, for your comfort and mine. Think of the many times he has promised us his abiding presence and power. Jesus said, “I will never leave you” and “I will not leave you comfortless” and “I will be with you always” and “is anything too hard for me” and “Fret not” and “take no anxious thought” and “Look to me and be satisfied” ….. and so the list of promises goes on and on: And remember that his words are full of “truth” he cannot lie. The Hymn writer says, “Standing on the promises that cannot fail, I am standing on the promises of Christ my King” and another wrote” Take the name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe, it will joy and comfort give you take it then where’re you go. Precious name, Oh how sweet, the hope of earth, and the Joy of Heaven” That’s him, that’s Jesus…. and no man Spoke like this man.
Then in the second place,
NO MAN STOOPED LIKE THIS MAN v28
The Old Testament Prophets foretold his coming, and described how God would come down in human form, stoop to a level lower than the angels, and take on human flesh in order to redeem us, to rescue us from the penalty and power of sin. So the God of heaven set aside his Deity and took on our Humanity and came to earth, not as one might expect in a great cavalcade of excellence, or a great show of strength? Not on a great white horse, with a mighty army, but as a helpless little infant. Not to a palace, but to a stable, not to a princess, but to a humble virgin called Mary, and not to a great welcome, but to the terror of Herod who killed many in an attempt to kill him. He came too not to the acclaim and cheers of the crowd, or to the honours of men, but to the mocking of soldiers, the spitting of the mob, the crown of thorns, and the pain of crucifixion. He,
who could have called 10,000 angels to assist him at any given moment, but he stooped to be a man, and for 33 years laid down his divinity and wrapped himself in human flesh. Now don’t misunderstand me, – I do believe that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, (2 Cor 5.19) but Jesus lived, and worked, and ministered, and suffered and bled and died as a man, not as a super-man, or a god-man, but simply as a man filled and under the power and control of the Holy Spirit. -Hallelujah, what a Saviour. If he didn’t die a man, then he didn’t die for you?
This brings me neatly to my third point, namely that
NO MAN SAVES LIKE THIS MAN v23
You see Jesus was the only one able to take my place, able to take your place, the Bible says, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God”1 Peter 3.18 The Hymn writer puts it succinctly by saying “there was no other good enough to bear the price of sin, He only could unlock the gate of Heaven and let us in” The Scriptures of the Old and New testament are full of the glowing accounts of many great men and women of God, great prophets, greats priests, great Kings, great apostles, great men and women of faith, … but none of them possessed that one unique quality which Jesus did; He was without Sin. The rest of humanity was “born in sin and shapen in iniquity” and remember the Bible gives no indication that there was any other, male or female ever born without sin, save Jesus himself. Sin passed to all because of Adams sin. 1 Cor 15.22 So it was necessary, (Jesus says needful) for him to go to the cross for me. No one could have saved me, but him, and him alone. The Church does not save, the Bible does not save, the Baptism or Confirmation rites do not save, the anointing does not save, the ordination does not save, even obedience does not save,… Jesus Saves, and only Jesus can save our entire humanity from the penalty our sin deserves. I dare not tell you that if you do your best, say your prayers, and pay your way, that all will be well.
You and I both know that such is not true; yet it is a popular misconception, – the deceitfulness of Satan’s lies. We can only be Saved from the penalty and power of sin when we have accepted, and embraced by faith this Jesus as our sin bearer and Saviour.
Is it any wonder the Hymn writer says, “A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord,” and clothed in His righteousness we will be able to stand before the Judgement seat, not in any merit of our own, but with confidence in his finished work on the cross.
No man saves like this man.
So we have seen that no man speaks like Jesus, no man stooped like man, no man saves like this man – Jesus, and now let us consider that …
NO MAN SUFFERED LIKE THIS MAN v 6
We know of course that he was not the first to die on a cross in the terrible death of Crucifixion, nor was he the last. Many were and have been done to death by this horrible and painful process since. I believe that the terror group “Islamic State” are crucifying our Brothers and Sisters in Iraq and other Middle eastern locations even in these days. So when I say that none have suffered like him, … I mean that His suffering – while obviously a physical suffering, was much more than physical? There was an added emotional, psychological and spiritual dimension to it, unlike that of any other. You see he was not carrying a punishment, a pain that was his, it was yours and mine. The pain he bore, was the added pain of one undeserving it, and the suffering was made all the more intense by the knowledge that it was going to mean nothing to many for whom he was dying as their substitute. He was paying a price for many who would continually reject him, and spit in his face for it.
Many in 2015 still reject him, and use his name only as a swear word – unaware of the great cost and painful sacrifice he has made for them and on their behalf. This is a suffering without parallel, an agony beyond human imagination, and it was Love not nails that held him to that cross. Such love that moved another Hymn writer to pen the words. “The Love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell, it goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell.” and another hymn writer said: “Oh t’was Love, t’was wondrous love , the love of God to me, that brought my Saviour from above to die on Calvary’s tree.”
I have often wondered how Jesus endured such awful hostility, such pain, such cruelty, knowing that he could have called on Heavens Angels at any given moment to destroy all around him and set him free. How could he have resisted using his Earthly anointing to pull the cross apart and step down from it? How could he have controlled his natural anger and show the grace to allow others to spit on him, to pull the hair from his cheek, and rip the clothes from his back. What composure, what strength, what love. It was a suffering he gladly and willingly carried to fulfil the Fathers plan, and open the door to life – from the path of death and destruction.
Think too of the promises and encouraging remarks he had made to his disciples and friends and followers, all of whom must have felt let down at this point. “Many forsook him and fled“ tell the Gospel writers. Many more became fearful of the future, with hopes dashed, dreams ended, and an uncertain future, – and they laid him in a borrowed grave. This was the one above all others, the promised Messiah, the chosen of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lily of the Valley, the Sweet Rose of Sharon, the fairest of the fair, the bright and morning star, the Lamb of God, the great Physician, and now buried in a borrowed tomb – it seemed that all was over. But the end was only the beginning, because he had to die, – he said so himself that “unless a grain of corn fall into the ground and dies it remains alone”. (John 12.24) There can be no increase, no germination and no regeneration without death.
If he had not suffered, and had not died, then such a fate would still await every last one of us. BUT “because he lives, I can face tomorrow, because he lives all fear is gone, because I know he holds the future and life is worth the living just because he lives“. You see the whole point of his suffering death and resurrection was that you and I might have and enjoy life abundant and life eternal. (John 10.10)
And this very conveniently brings me to my last point, that
NO MAN SATISFIES LIKE THIS MAN v38.
Jesus says that he wants us to enjoy life, eternal life, abundant life, a fulfilled and satisfying life, now, not after we die, but beginning right now. He promised the woman at the well, that if she would drink from his cup, or portion he had to give her, she would never thirst again. (John 4.13) The whole world is athirst for Satisfaction, and multitudes are in search of it daily from “watering-holes” of every kind. And many of these so calls wells of refreshment, provided for our amusement, do give satisfaction? Sin satisfies, alcohol satisfies, sex outside of wed-lock satisfies, immorality satisfies, drug abuse satisfies, of course it does otherwise no-one would be doing it!
But my dear friends, the satisfaction is short lived! These cisterns hold no water, … they are, as the Hymn writer calls them, broken cisterns, when he wrote, “I tried the broken cisterns Lord but ah the waters failed, even as I stooped to drink they fled and mocked me as I wailed. Now none but Christ can satisfy no other name for me, there’s love and life and lasting joy – Lord Jesus found in Thee!”
A man, woman or young person who has found a friend in Jesus, has found a pearl of great price, a jewel, a treasure beyond comparison. A lasting Joy, a faithful friend, an enduring hope. Again the Hymn writer says, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one, Jesus knows all about our struggles, he will guide till the day is done, there’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus … no not one.” I believe it. …
“What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and grief’s to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in Prayer”
These great Hymn themes are lifted directly from the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament and together they paint a picture of one who is like none other in his speaking, his stooping, his saving, his suffering and his satisfying. Can you see him? Is the picture I have painted for you becoming a little clearer? Can you see the love in his eyes, the ache in his heart, the welcome in his voice, the passion in his mercy, and the joy in his plan for your life. I am only asking you to give him a chance. The Bible says, in Psalm 34.8 “taste and see that the Lord is good” and you will never know until you do. Surrender your life, and your future to him today, surrender your sin and your past to his mercy and forgiveness, and begin to walk with him, hand in hand into a new beginning, into your God ordained destiny.
Having walked with Jesus by faith myself for more than 50 years, I can testify with an unshakeable certainty that his friendship and fellowship is more precious to me than life itself. His partnership is more real than that of any other relationship I have. Not only does the believer have the conscious presence of Jesus to comfort and sustain him, but he or she may use the “name” of Jesus to free or release them from many of life’s difficulties. Paul writes to the Ephesian Church that Jesus has been given a name above all others, and there is power in the name of Jesus. At those times when I don’t have the words to pray I just whisper the name of Jesus over and over, and this usually brings me release, – faith rises, and I am transported in worship, wonder, love and praise to another dimension of faith. The Hymn writer wrote … “Jesus is the sweetest name I know, and he’s just the same as his lovely name, and that’s the reason why I love him so, Oh Jesus is the sweetest name I know”
So we can appreciate his presence, and appropriate his name.
Now this final word.
Jesus often-times visited in the home in Bethany of the Two sisters Mary and Martha and their Brother Lazarus, Mary and Martha, the Sisters, were as different as chalk and cheese! Martha was always on the go, busy with the housework, concerned about getting things just right, being the perfect hostess. Mary however was content to sit down with Jesus, often just on the floor at his feet, and listen and learn from His great wisdom, and soak up his every word, and every wish. She knew something that Martha didn’t. She knew that Jesus was far more concerned with the heart, than with the outward appearances. Today we have been thinking about the beauty of Jesus, and how he is the fairest of ten thousand. I firmly believe that he desires above all else that we reflect his beauty in our lives, and I believe that Mary found the secret of just how best we can achieve that goal. She was sitting at his feet.
You see that is the posture and the place of Prayer. It is in that place that we can learn, and grow to be like Him. We are called to reflect his nature, and we can never be a refection of someone unless and until we have discovered how to spend time in their company. I recon that I reflect some of the characteristics of my parents, even my grandparents, and some of the characteristics of my College Professors, and those writers and preachers who have influenced me down through the years. It is true that you become like the people you live with. If you live with the Lord, in other words, if he is your constant companion, your precious friend, your greatest confident, …then sooner or later you will become like him. They Hymn writer said, “To be like Jesus, – all I ask, is to be like him, so pure and Holy so meek and lowly, all I ask is to be like him” What do people see when they see you?
Are you like Jesus, … am I like Jesus?
God Bless You. Amen