There are countless characters in the Bible I have a fondness for. Men and women whom I think to be particularly tender and loving.
John the Apostle always sounds like a loving Pastor/Father who wants nothing more than for me to know the deep, abiding joy that’s only found in the gospel (3 John 4).
Paul the Apostle’s tenderness explodes off the pages of his letters as he lovingly cries over his readers (2 Corinthians 2:4), as he tells them how they bring him joy (2 Timothy 1:4), and how he unceasingly prays for their spiritual health and holiness (1 Thess. 3:10). Paul is a man that fights for the joy of others (2 Corinthians 1:24).
Joseph’s patient endurance and overflowing forgiveness to his brothers always makes me yearn to meet him. I mean, if Joseph could be that merciful (see Genesis 45:1-15) to the brothers who sold him into slavery (which was their plan B only to murder), then how much more gentle and merciful would he be to me?
I want to meet all these men and the countless others who come across the pages of Scripture. They’re kind. They’re gentle. They’re merciful. They’re holy men who love God more than anything else. Knowing how great a sinner I am, those are the kind of men I need in my life. My weakness and failures demand that my friends are gentle, patient, kind, merciful, and holy.
But there is one who is infinitely more patient, kind, loving, holy, and merciful than even these men. There is One who is the sum of all the perfect attributes I yearn for my friends to have. Richard Sibbes shows us just who that is:
When we think of Joseph, Daniel, John the Apostle, we frame conceptions of them with delight, (we think of them) as mild and sweet persons. Much more when we think of Christ, should we think of Him as a mirror of all meekness. If the sweetness of all flowers were condensed into one, how sweet would that flower be? In Christ all perfections of mercy and love meet. How great then must that mercy be that lives in His gracious heart? Whatever tenderness that a husband, father, brother has is all but a beam from Jesus; all the best qualities in others is in Jesus in the greatest manner.
Yes, we are weak, but we are His.
(Taken from The Bruised Reed, p. 62).
Jesus is the tenderest of all men and the sweetest of all Saviors. My heart’s longing for friends like John, Paul, and Joseph is fulfilled in Jesus.
In the face of my sins, failures, and shortcomings, Jesus comes to me as friend to my soul and Savior of my life. Jesus comes to me with an infinitely greater love for my soul than John could ever have. Jesus comes to me with a more tender care than Paul could ever practice. Jesus comes to me with a desire to forgive my of my great evil against Him that eclipses Joseph’s forgiveness to his brothers. All the good men of Scripture and our lives are but a faint fragrance of Him. Jesus is the best of friends.
Yes, I am weak, but I am His.