I love to preach about Jesus’ wrath against sin. He is so holy, I enjoy pondering that attribute of His, and to think about the justice He will render in rectifying the universe when He banishes all sin from it.
But I also love to think about His love and tenderness. These are aspects of Him too. There are many tender moments in the bible where Jesus is directly involved in the lives of His people in a loving way. Here are a few.
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Jesus cares for the oppressed: Hagar
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Hagar was a slave woman, poorly used.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. (Genesis 16:1-4)
It was a common practice. That doesn’t make it any easier. The verses continue in 5-6
And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
So even worse, the situation between the women inflamed with emotion, as it is wont to do when there are too many women in the tent, and not enough men. And worst of all, Abram washed his hands of it. Essentially he said, “What-evah,” and went out. When Hagar fled, she went into the desert. The Angel of the LORD (Jesus) intervened and encouraged Hagar. First He told her to submit to her mistress. Then He promised her that her son would father a great multitudinous nation.
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Some years went by and Hagar was poorly used again. In Genesis 21, Isaac was born and Sarah was triumphant. She told Abraham to cast Hagar and the boy out. And Abraham did. He gave her a skin of water, a bit of bread, the boy Ishmael, and said “See ya.” And sent Hagar to the desert. When her water was gone, she put the boy under a bush because she could not bear to watch him die, and cried out to the LORD. The Angel of the LORD (Jesus) came again, and encouraged her, and prophesied to her.
“for I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 21:18b)
What care Jesus takes for the oppressed and those who piteously cry out! He sees.
“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:13).
Jesus hasn’t stopped doing that. He sees. He intervenes. He cares.
Our Savior is the God who searches hearts.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)
Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees, because he was THE Teacher of Israel. (John 3:10). We all know what kind of relationship the Pharisees had with Jesus, and the relationship that Jesus had with the Pharisees.
Jesus called them serpents. (Matt. 23:33). He called them dead graves (Matt. 23:27). He said they were blind guides, and fools (Matt. 23:16-17). He said they made sons of hell twice as worse as they were. (Matthew 23:15).
Yet when Pharisee Nicodemus came to Jesus, Nicodemus was not called those things. Jesus was not angry. He was patient. He listened. He knew what was in Nicodemus’ heart! He is the God who searches hearts!
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“And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:23b)
He led Nicodemus to the Truth, He received the man who the Father sent, and in no wise did Jesus cast him out. He is a loving God, who sees hearts.
Here is a third scene of tenderness.
Jesus loves the sinners, brokenhearted, downcast. So many people think that one must be good before you turn to Jesus. Many people think that if they make a mistake, they will be sent away from Jesus. Neither are true.
“He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12).
“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners’” (v. 13). (Matthew 9:9–13)
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15).
When Jesus was arrested and was being hauled all around town to different trials, in three different settings, members of the crowd asked Peter if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. We know what Peter did. He said “No!” three times. Peter denied even knowing Jesus, in front of many people, just as Jesus had said Peter would. (Matthew 26)
And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74)
Imagine the guilt! The self-hatred! Peter had been the spokesman for the Disciples for three years! He was fervent for the Lord in the Garden, going so far as to cut the ear off the High Priest’s servant! (John 18:10). And now he denied even knowing Jesus.
No wonder he wept bitterly.
But our tender Jesus did not leave Peter there in that state of guilt and bitter gall. He restored Peter. He met Peter in a private meeting after His resurrection, (Luke 24:34). Jesus also restored Peter publicly. (John 21:15-19). He asked Peter three times if Peter loved Jesus. He publicly restored Peter, and gave him a charge: “Feed My lambs.”
We have a tremendous God. Jesus is loving, holy, patient, kind. He searches hears, is kind, and cares for the oppressed. He is due all glory, and honor, and love. But He is also our friend, and our Father. We cry, “Abba!” and know that He is forever our holy and loving parent, caring for us intimately and personally. How deeply grateful I am, we all should be, for this gift. The gift of Jesus.
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