Jesus came as a messenger of peace. He came to bear witness to the truth. And the truth to which he came to bear witness, was the truth of the covenant which God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And you will perceive that Jesus has borne the same testimony to the world that God proclaimed to Abraham. He proves to us that God is love.
And you will perceive that Jesus has borne the same testimony to the world that God proclaimed to Abraham. He proves to us, that God is love. “You have heard that it has been said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ (This is the old-fashioned doctrine, which Jesus came to condemn.) “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:43-45)
Now what is the sum of all this testimony? It is, that God loves all on whom the sun shines and the rain descends.
And remember, when you see the sunshine, and when joy and animation are around you, that as truly as the sun shines, God loves us.
And when you see the rain descend, and when with rapturous emotions you behold its refreshing influences, remember that as truly as the rain descends, God loves us.
Until you can find partiality in the sunshine and rain, never allow yourselves to believe that there is partiality in the love of God.
The whole that Jesus spoke and performed in the world, his death, and his resurrection to life and immortality, was but to make known that which was true before. The Scriptures declare, that “life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel.”
Mark the expression – “brought to light,” not created. All this was as true before the coming of Jesus, as it has been since. But “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Fervently may we exclaim, “Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will to men!”
Wherever he went, it is safe for us to go. “He went about doing good.” Do you desire to know how to think and act as Jesus thought and acted? Look at his example, and follow in his steps. Do you meet with opposition and persecution in your religious devotions? Jesus met with the same - and he treated it with kindness and affection.
And how did he treat his enemies, even in the last moments of his life? He prayed for them! “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” Surely, this was the Son of God! Surely in him we have a leader whom we can safely follow. Let his spirit always be ours; and let the light of his example continually direct our steps - for the Lord gave him as “a leader to the people.”
If you refuse to walk in his footsteps, you will tread the thorny road of iniquity - but if you follow him as your leader, he will lead you to the pastures of his love. If you disobey his commandments, you will find wretchedness and woe - but if you obey him from the heart, you will discover that "the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.”
Adapted from a sermon by Rev. Hosea Ballou, given Nov. 2, 1834