Come near to God and He will come near to you. (James 4:8)
Help From Richard Sibbes
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) was an English pastor who loved to encourage Jesus’ people with reminders of God’s love and grace. In his book, The Bruised Reed, he wrote “We have this for a foundation truth, that there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” Sibbes wrote further:
When we think of Joseph, Daniel, and John the Evangelist, we remember them with delight, as peaceable people, not overly severe. Much more when we think of Christ, we should conceive of Him as a mirror of all meekness. If the sweetness of all flowers was condensed into one, how sweet must that flower be? In Jesus, all perfection of love and mercy meet. How great is that mercy that lodges in His gracious heart? Whatever tenderness is scattered in husbands, fathers, brothers, heads of families, all that is but a beam borrowed from Jesus. Christ is tender to the highest degree. We are weak, but we are His. We are deformed, yet He put His image upon us. A father appreciates his own image in his children, and doesn’t focus on their blemishes. So Jesus loves His own work of grace for us and in us. He sees His own likeness in us. We are spiritually diseased, but we are the members of His family. Who ever neglected his own family members because they were sick or weak? No one ever hated his own flesh. Can the Head forget His family members? Can Christ forget Himself? We are His fullness, and He is ours. Jesus is love itself clothed with human nature…to communicate His goodness more freely to us….Let us reject all suspicious thoughts, as if He did not have such tender love toward us. Satan aimed from the beginning to discredit God, by calling God’s love into question with our first parents, Adam and Eve. The devil’s success with them makes him eager to still use that weapon on us.1
When we are tempted to doubt the Lord’s goodness, Sibbes urges us to run back to Jesus again and again. The whole Bible speaks of Christ’s love and tender care for those who come back to Him humbly, turning from sin and trusting Him repeatedly.
More Scriptures on These Points
- 1 John 4:9-10 This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
- Psalm 34:18 The righteous (Christ’s followers) cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 147:1,3 Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
- Hebrews 13:5-6 God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
- Luke 1:78-79 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from Heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.
Comment: In Luke chapter 1, Zechariah prophesies that Christ the Lord is coming personally to help, redeem, and forgive His people. He is pointing to Jesus’ incarnation (in-fleshing), His sinless life, His atoning death, and His bodily resurrection. Zechariah is also pointing further down the tunnel of time to Christ’s Second Coming and a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. Through Jesus’ one-for-all sacrifice and His ongoing ministry for us, Christ’s followers now have God’s all-surpassing peace from the Prince of Peace, our Savior.
Jesus’ Parable of the Lost Son
Luke 15 excerpts: When the rebellious son came to his senses, he went back to his father. And while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. The son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a special ring on his finger and sandals on his feet….Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”2
Comments: Earlier in this well-known story, the younger son was disrespectful toward his father, demanded his inheritance, left home, and squandered his fortune. And everything went wrong for him. He was estranged from his family, lived in poverty, had no resources and no help. In his hopeless situation, he decides to confess his wrongs and return to his father, seeking mercy. When seeing his son at a distance, the father feels compassion and takes the initiative to embrace his son and restore him to full fellowship in the family.
The Bible says that Jesus does not simply watch and wait passively for us to return to Him. He leads us home with cords of kindness and ties of love. When we wander and stray from God like lost sheep, Christ seeks and saves lost people.3
Christ says: “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.”4
Is He calling you to come back to Him today?
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Adapted from Banner of Truth Magazine, Jan 1998 (Issue #412). 2 The full parable is found in Luke 15:11-32. In the parable, both sons are lost. The younger son is outwardly rebellious and the older brother is proud, smug, self-righteous, and self-satisfied. He is just as alienated from God as his brother, but he doesn’t yet realize it. Dear reader, are you more like the younger or the older brother? Either way, returning to God through Christ is what you need. 3 Hosea 11:4; Psalm 119:176; Luke 19:10. 4 Matt 11:28-30. Further note: Sibbes also wrote, “The Returning Backslider” which contains 16 sermons that he preached on Hosea 14. It is not an easy read.