When Christ Seems to be an Enemy
WHEN CHRIST SEEMS TO BE AN ENEMY
A dimly burning wick he will not extinguish.
Christ may act the part of an enemy a little while, as Joseph did, but it is to make way for acting his own part of mercy in a more seasonable time. He cannot restrain his bowels of mercy long. He seems to wrestle with us, as with Jacob, but he supplies us with hidden strength to prevail at length.
Faith pulls off the mask from his face, and sees a loving heart under contrary appearances. At first he answered the woman of Canaan, who was crying after him, not a word. Then he gave her a denial. After that he gave an answer tending to her reproach, calling her a dog, as being outside the covenant. Yet she would not be so beaten off, for she considered the purpose of his coming.
As his Father was never nearer him in strength to support him than when he was furthest off in the sensing of his favor and comfort, so Christ is never nearer to us in power to uphold us than when he seems most to hide his presence from us. The influence of the Sun of righteousness pierces deeper than his light.
In such cases, whatever Christ’s present bearing is towards us, let us oppose his nature and office against it. He cannot deny himself, he cannot but discharge the office his Father has laid upon him. The Father has undertaken that he shall not extinguish a dimly burning wick; and Christ has also undertaken to represent us to the Father, appearing before him for us, until he presents us blameless before him with exceeding joy.
The Father has given us to Christ, and Christ will surely give us back the Father again.
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed