The Tender Kindness of Christ
Thomas Goodwin shows that in all His glorious holiness in heaven, Christ is not sour towards His people—distant, unconcerned. No, if anything, Christ’s glorified capacious heart beats more strongly with tender compassion towards His people. And if anything, in particular—two things says Goodwin—two things stir Christ’s compassion.
First, our afflictions stir His compassion. Second, almost unbelievably, our sin stirs His compassion. Having experienced on earth, the utmost load of pain, rejection, and sorrow, in all points tempted as we are, Christ in heaven empathizes with our suffering. There is a man who has suffered on the throne of heaven. He understands. But more, he looks at Hebrews 5 verse 2 where we read that is part of the qualification of the high priest to have mercy on those who are out of the way—that is sinning. And says Goodwin, “you’re very sins move Him to pity more than to anger, yay His pity is increased the more towards you even as the heart of a father is to a child that has some loathsome disease. His fatherly hatred shall be all full but only upon the sin to free you from the sin by its ruin and destruction, but his bowels shall be more drawn out to you and this as much when you lie under sin has under any other affliction. Therefore, fear not, ‘what shall separate us from the love of Christ?’”
His point is those who are in Christ have a new identity; they are no longer defined by their sin, they’re defined by Christ. And the sin that remains in them is a sickness. And fathers, they love their children, they don’t hate their children when they get sick. That the sickness in their children arouses their compassion for their children. Hatred for the sickness, compassion for the child. In glory, says Goodwin, Jesus’ first reaction when you sin is pity. Where you would run from Him in guilt, He would run to you in grace. It makes all the difference when your heart feels cold and cloddish. Right then in your very coldness, you can know it is your joylessness that stirs His compassion. And what Goodwin realized, was that as a pastor, this loving compassion will draw us back to Christ from our sin. Maybe you sense it that in our guilt we’d never want to face up to some cold, pitiless God. But the tender kindness of Christ woos us. The beauty of Christ’s heart in heaven wooes ours.