Benjamin Grosvenor, a little-known English pastor in the 1700s, preached a sermon titled, “The Temper of Jesus.” It is a reflection on the words of Jesus when he said “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). William Symington later considered it to be “one of the most touching discourses ever composed.” This section, and especially the final paragraph, move me to agree with this sentiment.
“It is very affecting, that the first offers of grace should be made to those… who least deserved it. They of all people had most deserved the contrary! That they who had abused Christ to a degree beyond the most pitiful description, should lie uppermost in his care, and stand foremost in his pity, and find so much mercy from one to whom they showed none at all!
“One would rather have expected the apostles should have received another kind of charge; and that Christ should have said, ‘Let repentance and remission of sins be preached, but carry it not to Jerusalem, that wicked city… let not the Gospel enter those gates, through which they led me, it’s author, to crucifixion…”
“But Gods thoughts are not as ours… our way is, to make the chief of offenders examples of justice; to avenge ourselves upon those who have done us personal injury or wrong; but Christ chooses out these, to make examples of mercy, and commands the first offer of eternal life to be made to them, and all the world are to wait.”
“Tell them, you have seen the prints of the nails upon my hands and feet, and the wounds of the spear in my side; and that those marks are so far from giving me vindictive thoughts, if they will but repent, that every wound they have given me speaks in their behalf, pleads with the Father for forgiveness of their sins…”
“If you meet that poor wretch that thrust the spear into my side, tell him there is another way, a better way, of coming at my heart, if he will repent, and look upon whom he has pierced and will mourn. I will cherish him in that very bosom he has wounded; he shall find the blood he shed an ample atonement for the sin of shedding it. And tell him from me, he will put me to more pain and displeasure by refusing this offer of my blood, then when he drew it forth.”
Even if you’re not sure Jesus is the savior and king of the world, wouldn’t this be exactly the kind of savior-king you would want? I hope that ‘poor wretch’ found the better way to Christ’s heart. I know the wretch typing this right now was directed to the way. And the way is still open to all.