James Smith, 1860
The strongest and tenderest love, is often the most deeply wounded. The finest minds, suffer most. Whoever loved like Jesus — and whoever was wounded like him? Literally in the days of his flesh — and figuratively or spiritually since he has gone to glory. Hence the language of the prophet is most appropriate to him, whether originally intended for him or no. "I was wounded in the house of my friends!" Zechariah 13:6
THE PARTIES COMPLAINED OF. "My friends." All who call themselves Christians, and profess to be the friends of Jesus. But his real friends are they, and only they, who receive his testimony. The testimony he bears to his own dignity, work, and love; and the testimony he bears to his Father's grace, will, and mercy. This testimony, so plainly borne, and so solemnly confirmed, must be received into the heart, and those who so receive it, set to their seal that God is true. Such rest on his atoning sacrifice. They renounce all other dependence, and build on Christ alone. They trust to what he has done and suffered, and to that only for the pardon of sin, acceptance with God, and everlasting salvation.
They rejoice in his name. It is precious to them. They love the very sound of it. If they plead with God, they plead it. If they sing a song of praise, they sing of it. If they converse together, they converse of it; and their sweetest meditations are on it.
They renounce all for his sake. They renounce . . .
their own righteousness,
the love of friends,
the esteem of the world,
their sinful practices,
things which were as pleasant as a right eye; or as useful as a right hand. They give up all to him, and are prepared to give up all for him.
They rule their lives by his word. They do not walk at random, nor make even conscience their guide. For conscience, unless thoroughly enlightened by God's truth, cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus, and made and kept tender by the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit — is a very unsafe and uncertain rule. The precepts of the gospel, and the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, form the most sure, safe, and certain rule for a believer. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:16-17
All then, who profess . . .
to receive the Savior's testimony,
to rest on his sacrifice,
to rejoice in his name,
to renounce all for his sake, and
to rule their lives by his word —
are considered the friends of Jesus.
THE PARTY COMPLAINING. This is the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the only party who never ought to have reason to complain, and who never would complain without a reason. Yet no one has such cause, for daily, hourly he is wounded in the house of his friends.
Yet, he is the personification of love. Love in all its fullness, tenderness, and glory, dwells in him, and is represented by him.
He is emphatically love, and he never had one feeling in his heart towards us, nor dropped one word from his lips to us, nor did anything in his dealings with us — but what flowed from love. Love . . .
reigns in his heart,
looks through his eyes,
speaks with his tongue,
and works with his hands.
He is the perfect pattern of friendship. He has the love, power, wisdom, and constancy necessary to constitute a pattern of friendship.
His love is infinite,
his power is omnipotence,
his wisdom is perfect,
and his will never changes. He is in one mind, and none can change him. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."
He calls his people friends, and always treats them as friends. He is the pitying High Priest of his church — as full of sympathy, as he is full of love. Touched with the feeling of our infirmities, having suffered in all points like his people — he is able to support them when tempted, afflicted, and tried. Tender, exquisitely tender, is the sympathy of Jesus. And with all the deep and loving sympathy of his heart, he officiates for us before the throne.
For us he sprinkles the blood upon the mercy-seat.
For us he offers the burning incense, filling Heaven with a grateful perfume.
For us he pleads his merit, the merit of his obedience — the merit of his agony and bloody sweat, of his cross and dying pangs, of his glorious resurrection and triumphant ascension to glory. He is the pleading intercessor for his friends. Every one of their names is on his breastplate, and on his heart. To all their cases he carefully and constantly attends. For them, he employs all his influence with his Father. To do them good in any way gives him joy; as it is written, "I will rejoice over them to do them good."
If Jesus is the personification of love,
if he is the perfect pattern of friendship,
if he is the pitying High priest of our profession, and
if he is the pleading Intercessor of his people —
then surely he could never be wounded by his friends!
Let us listen to HIS COMPLAINT. "I was wounded in the house of my friends." Precious Lord Jesus — is it true that you are wounded still! Can it be, that your people, your professed friends, wound you! Alas! it is too true.
WHO wounds him? The backslider, who turns away from him, and turns to him the back and not the face. How plaintively he speaks to such, "Oh my people, what have I done unto you? Wherein have I wearied you? Testify against me!" Your conduct, backsliding professor, has wounded, not merely his lands — but his heart.
WHO wounds him? The half-hearted professor. The man, the woman, who tries to be on good terms with the world, and with Christ too. The professor who is neither hot nor cold — but lukewarm. The man that halts between two opinions, and who has a divided heart.
Lukewarm professor, you have wounded Jesus. You are wounding him this very moment by your lukewarmness, and half-heartedness in his ways.
WHO wounds him? Every inconsistent believer. O Christian, will you, can you, wound that Savior, on whom alone your dependence is placed, for help in life, hope in death, and glory beyond the grave! Yet . . .
by the irregularity of your walk,
by the carnality of your conversation,
by your mixing up with the world, and
by your want of thoroughness in his cause
— you wound him.
WHAT wounds him? Our unbelief wounds him, for it gives him the lie. What would wound a man of fine feeling, loving heart, and having a deep sense of honor — like refusing to believe his word? Yet this is the way we constantly treat our Savior. He has given us his word, be has confirmed it with an oath, he has sealed both with blood — and yet we refuse to believe him? Do we not? What do our doubts, our fears, our misgivings say? Ah, this pierces the very heart of Jesus!
WHAT wounds him? Our neglect. When we neglect to come to his throne, to read his holy word, to attend to his ordinances, and to meet at his table. What wounds a sensitive mind like cold neglect? How touchingly the Lord complains of Israel of old on this point. "I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." To show how deeply he felt this neglect, he adds, "What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me?"
WHAT wounds him? Our pride and worldliness.
We think so much of ourselves — and so little of him.
We pay so much attention to ourselves — and so little to him.
We give so much of our time, our talents, our energies to the world — and so little to him.
How could we insult him more, than by preferring ourselves, our ease, our pleasure, our wealth, our reputation to him; except it be by preferring the world, which is his enemy, to him?
O beloved, how deeply have our pride of heart, and worldliness of spirit, wounded Jesus!
What wounds him? Our bitterness and lack of love to each other. How many times, in how many forms, has he said, "Love one another?" How plainly and explicitly has he commanded us to put away all bitterness! "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you."
If then we indulge in bitter feelings, and if we speak bitter words against each other — we wound him; for he has said, "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."
What wounds him? Whatever is unlovely and unholy. He wishes his people to be like himself; as lovely as he is lovely; as holy as he is holy; and only as we aim at this, do we please him, and gratify his holy heart.
Are we the friends of Jesus? Friends or foes we must be, for neutrality is an impossibility. We must be for him — or against him. We are either reconciled to him — or at enmity against him. I must know if anyone is my friend — or if I am the friend of anyone. So if we are the friends of Jesus, we must know it.
Do we act towards Jesus as if we were his friends?
What does our bible say?
What does our prayer-closet say?
What does our seat in the house of God say?
What does our conscience say?
What would Jesus say, if the question was put to him?
Have we wounded Jesus? Have we done so lately? I fear we have. His heart is so tender — and we are so unfeeling and perverse. Have we not forgotten him at times? Have we not preferred creatures to him? Have we not neglected him? These things wound him.
Can we think of his wounds without sorrow?
Look at his open side,
look at his thorn-pierced brow,
look at his mangled hands and feet,
look at his broken heart —
and ask: Who did all this?
The answer is, "You did it!"
The soldier's spear pierced him once — but you have pierced him a thousand times!
The executioners drove four nails into his hands and feet — but you have driven four hundred!
The Jews crowned him with thorns once — but you have thrust the thorns into his temples many times.
You have crucified him afresh.
You have torn open his wounds anew.
Can you think of such conduct on your part, and on such love and patience displayed by him — and not be filled with sorrow. Can you wash and cleanse his wounds with your tears? These would form a precious balsam. These would cheer and refresh his heart.
O Holy Spirit, open . . .
our eyes, that we may see how we have wounded the Savior;
our ears, to listen to his sighs and groans;
our hearts, that we may mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son;
in our fountains of tears, that we may weep and wash the wounds of Jesus, in deep penitential sorrow!
O Lord, give, give us grace we beseech you, that we may wound our loving, tenderhearted, and gracious Savior no more!
Holy Spirit, endear Jesus to us more and more daily, and may we be full of sympathy with him, love to him, and zeal for his glory!