These words are taken from Psalm 45:2 and describe him who was “fairer than the children of men”, whom God has blessed forever. In the psalm we are also told the source of such a blessing: “thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (v7).

At the commencement of our Lord’s public ministry there is a somewhat parallel occasion. After having the Holy Spirit bestowed upon him and spending forty days “tempted of the devil”, he “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee”. His fame preceded him, he taught in the synagogues and was glorified of all. It was there that he read Isaiah 61:1-2: “’The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. What more comforting and consoling words than these have ever been spoken? Those present listened with rapt attention. When informed that these words were then being fulfilled in their ears, there is an astounding observation: “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). We ourselves are left to ponder the wonder and depth in the prophet’s words and how we too are touched by them. They are some of the most beautiful words in Scripture.

Favourite words of our Lord

I wonder what you would say if I asked you what words of the Lord have special impact or signifi­cance for you? There is a certain sense in which we cannot differentiate, because all his words were “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), but some find a special place in our heart and mind. Recently I spoke to a brother who was struggling health-wise and he asked me the above question. In what follows we shall consider some of the favourites.

The first mentioned words were, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Perhaps we marvel at these comforting words because there is a reluctance in us to believe we are worthy of such an honour. Clearly, Jesus perceived this reticence and sought to reassure his disciples that not only was his Father going to give them the Kingdom, but that it was His good pleasure to do it. They are wonderful words because they help and encourage us to trust in God and His promises.

“Come unto me…”

Jesus observed that his preaching was most effec­tive among the common people, “babes”, and he thanked his heavenly Father that this was so (Matt 11:25-26). He then reaches out to the multitudes inviting them to come to him, heavy burdens and all, and learn of him. In him they would find one who was meek and lowly, who would lead them into the Kingdom of God, even eternal rest:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30; see also Isa 50:4; 55:1-3; Jer 6:16).

Just how true these words are becomes apparent with the passage of time. There are no prizes in the world worth having, and compared with the eternal truths in Christ, they are of no account. We deceive ourselves if we think otherwise. The knowledge of the Gospel of Christ is by far the greatest blessing to have come into our lives. How tragic it is when we hear that a brother or sister has forsaken Christ and is not attending the meetings. Perhaps the lost sheep is well-known to us and it might be important for us to seek that which was lost?

“Weep not” (Luke 7:13)

Jesus came to the city of Nain with many of his disciples and much people. At the gate there was another procession of people going in the opposite direction; a dead man was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, a widow. With her were “much people”, indicating she had many friends, though bereft. The Lord saw her and had compassion on her, and spoke the words above, “Weep not”. What did he mean? Were they empty words? What would the woman have made of them? Jesus then came and touched the bier and they that bore him stood still. He then spoke to the dead man! Something like this had never been done before at a funeral! Amazingly, he that was dead sat up and began to speak!

When Jesus said to the widow “Weep not”, he was not referring to a time in the future when the dead would be raised, but there and then. He knew what he would do – perform the greatest of miracles with his powerful words. We read that Jesus himself delivered him to his mother. The enormous impact of this miracle is emphasised in Luke 7:16-17.

“I am the way, the truth and the life”

Some of the most remarkable words of our Lord were spoken at the time of his deepest sorrow. In the time that followed the Last Supper and his arrest, as recorded by John in chapters 14-18, are words not focusing on his own immediate needs and sorrows, but those of others, his disciples. He was concerned about them in his absence, provid­ing them and us with comfort and consolation.

Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). In these words are encapsulated the greatest truths and wisdom: as the Apostle Paul put it, “In whom [Jesus Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).

In these remarkable words the Lord is not over­stating his distinctive, unique role in his Father’s purpose: he could say no less, because the words describe his Father’s purpose with him and all men needed to know these crucial facts.

Not long after this, Jesus was speaking to Judas (not Iscariot) about love, obedience and manifes­tation. Jesus explained, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). It is a remarkable portrait in words. The true test of a disciple’s love is whether or not he keeps his Lord’s words. If this proves true then both the Father and Son will love him and will abide in him. This is a challenge for all of us as disciples, to welcome the presence of the Father and Son into our heart, when our thoughts, words and deeds are known to them.

The Apostle Paul develops these words in Ephesians 3:16-19, when he says that the Father “would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith: that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which pas­seth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God”.

“Peace I leave with you”

A few verses on in John 14, Jesus makes the follow­ing beautiful statement: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. Again, amazing words considering he was the one facing, imminently, the most horrible death imaginable. Many over the centuries have been inspired by these words to endure suffering and tribulation for his sake. His peace embraces mercy and forgiveness, unity and fellowship with the Father, the Son and the disci­ples. The words are not dissimilar to the Lord’s final words in Matthew’s Gospel, and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (RSV close of the age). These, too, are words of consolation and what a great thing it is to know that when a brother or sister speaks the words, “the Lord be with you”, they are buttressed with these final words.

“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”

In the midst of an unbelieving multitude, Jesus made it clear that all whom his Father would give him would come to him. In these words we have the strongest assurance that those brought by God to His Son would be saved and given immortality: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (John 6:37-39).

Final thoughts

We have considered some of the many words Jesus spoke which make it clear that “grace was poured into his lips”. The temple officers explained their failure to arrest him with the words, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). On the road to Emmaus two disciples alleged that Jesus of Nazareth was a “prophet mighty in deed and in word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19).

The Bible has a lot to say about the tongue and words uttered. It is one of the avenues disciples have to be very aware of, for it is so easy to sin with words. We need to think carefully before we speak. The Apostle James says, “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (1:19). It is some­times a good thing to literally count to ten before replying. Taking that little bit of extra time may moderate harsh words, which could cause offence. We need to consider the impact of our words upon hearers, before we speak to them. The Apostle Paul counsels us, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col 4:6); and in an overall statement says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col 3:16-17).