By Mike Cox
With divine foresight, Isaiah foretold of the “servant” who was to come, Jesus. Of Him he said, “A bruised reed shall he not break, and a smoldering flax shall he not quench . . . … What was then a somewhat obscure glimpse, would later become more clearly understood, for he spoke of the compassion of the Savior, which could not be clearly understood until He came.
Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Lk. 19: 10). The Pharisees, in their own arrogance, saw themselves not as “sheep without a shepherd” (lost), but looked only upon others as such. Jesus spent little thine with those who saw themselves without the need for a Savior, but went to those who would receive him. As He ate and associated Himself with the publicans and sinners (Lk. 5:27-32), the Pharisees murmured, not understanding how someone could bring himself to eat with such people. and especially perhaps He who claimed to be the son of God, for even God knew they were sinners. Jesus replied to their pride, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It is with some irony, I suppose, that Jesus should say this, because the Pharisees truly needed a “physician.” The difference is, they did not think so. They “trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (cf. Lk. 18:9-14).
The tax-gatherers and the sinners, the drunkards and the harlots might rightly be pictured by the “smoldering flax” and the “bruised reed” of Isaiah’s prophecy. But it might also be said of all who are bruised by sin and of those who see only a glow of hope (us). It is of these Isaiah says, Jesus will not complete the work of ruin and despair, but will lift them up and heal them. He is “a God (savior, mc) ready to pardon, gracious and merciful. . . ” (Neh. 9:17). To the Pharisees, these publicans and sinners were the “lowest” of society, unworthy even of their company, but to Jesus, these were the ones for whom He had come – for the “poor in spirit,” for those who see themselves destitute of the grace of God, lost without His favor. These are the ones who would receive Him!
What is just a little surprising is that things haven’t changed much. I wonder if the “righteous” are still that way? We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is still “‘full of compassion and is merciful” (Jas. 5:11). The compassion of Jesus toward sinners is clearly seen. He could look beyond the sin to the sinner; to see the person, and the potential for good; to see that they too, regardless of what their life had been, needed to know the love of God and the forgiveness of their sins by obedience to His will. I have often wondered why it is so much easier to see the bad in people, rather than the good. Maybe it is because we are looking for it. Yes, we need to teach people that they might change their evil ways, but unless we see a, potential for good, and are willing to “eat with the tax-gatherers and sinners” we will not have that opportunity.
If we could be more merciful and compassionate, like Jesus. And remember while we are on the mountain, there are still those in the valley. Sinners are sinners, regardless of what sins they commit.
Finally, we might find more people with an honest and good heart, if we just look in the right places. “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.”
Guardian of Truth XXX: 3, p. 70
February 6, 1986