Exciting phrases, easy acronyms, and memorable lists formed from dense works of systematic theology can be helpful for the everyday Christian. While these reductions of God’s Word and His nature help us understand general frameworks, they are unable to help us understand everything the Bible teaches. It is one thing...
Of course Jesus is good righteous, good perfect, good sinless. He’s good sovereign, good Lord, good holy. We know that he is upright and blameless in everything. That goes along with being God.
But did you know that he is also good kind? Good compassionate, good caring?
More often than I like to admit, I forget that Jesus is kind. I let an image of him as hard and exacting build up in my mind. I read his words with a tone. He sounds harsh and loud. I hear the good righteous but not the good compassionate. I obey him, but more out of fear than affection. My prayers are composed more with frustrated confession than overflowing gratitude. Joy is elusive, and I imagine that Jesus is fully righteous and fully disappointed.
Praise God that I am wrong.
Four Reminders That Jesus Is Good
Recently, I read straight through Matthew in a few days and was hit over the head with Jesus’ goodness, not as perfect Lord who is good over us, but as kind Shepherd who is good to us. Everywhere I turned he was healing, forgiving, inviting people to follow him, and being moved to compassion. My image of him as harsh began to melt, and his words started to sound sweet and tender.
Since that time I’ve been drawn to meditate on truths of Jesus’ ministry and teaching that put his kindness on display. I find I turn to him in prayer more easily and joyfully, and cynicism that I had held onto before is losing its appeal. Though there must be infinite examples of Jesus’ goodness, God has brought several truths about Jesus to my mind, to remind me that he is good over us and good to us:
1. Jesus came.
Jesus didn’t have to come to earth. He could have remained perfectly holy and righteous by staying in heaven. But he came to be with us. He is so good toward us that he chose the painful road of caring for us over maintaining his heavenly glory. He came.
2. Jesus had compassion.
Matthew tells us time and time again that Jesus was moved to compassion as he saw the despair of the people. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36). Even though he is perfect and righteous, it doesn’t say that he was moved to frustration or to annoyance. He was moved to compassion. What a heart Jesus has, that our sinful, confused state moves him to be compassionate toward us.
3. Jesus healed.
Jesus showed that he wants to heal us by physically healing people. He didn’t just outline a plan for us to obey him, to cast out sin and brokenness on our own. He entered into our world and connected himself to our dirty, smelly, diseased state, and he healed people from it. In his book Shame Interrupted, Ed Welch describes Jesus as absorbing in himself the shame of those he healed as he physically touched them, exchanging his healing power for their shame and sickness. He touched people whose diseases branded them outcasts, even when touching them made him unclean. But Jesus is so good to us that he desires to heal, regardless of how dirty and sick we have become.
4. Jesus invited.
When Jesus came, he didn’t just set us straight with new teaching. He invited us to receive him and be with him. He said, “Come to me,” “Follow me,” “Abide in me,” and “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” He actually desires for us, his people, to be with him. His goodness is so great that it overwhelms our sin, and he invites and creates a way for us to be with him.
Believe His Goodness
These are simple truths. But I don’t know that I’ve ever known them as clearly as God is showing them to me now. I’m praying that he will keep clarifying my vision of him, destroying the false and too-small views that I hold. I’m praying that even though my heart goes back to fear and cynical views about Jesus, he will continue teaching me that, in fact, Jesus is good.