32574 Follow the first reason
The first reason that I would mention why we esteemed not Jesus is because we esteemed ourselves so highly. Self-esteem naturally keeps Jesus out of the heart. And the more our self-esteem increases, the more firmly do we fasten the door against Christ. Love of self prevents love of the Saviour! The sinner sets up an idol-god—himself—on the throne where God alone ought to sit! Hear this, O you heathen, and blush for the wickedness of men who live in this land of many privileges, in this enlightened age—and some of whom even profess and call themselves Christians! Instead of bowing down to blocks of wood and stone, or worshipping the sun, moon and all the host of heavenly bodies, they are worse heathens than even you are, for they prostrate themselves before themselves and adore their own merits, their own good deeds, their own charity, and so on!
Christian, was not this the reason why you did not esteem Christ—because self was everything to you in the days of your un-regenerate? If anyone had then told you that your heart was corrupt to its very core, what would you have replied? You would have answered, "I feel that I am as good as anyone else whom I know and better than most of those I see around me." If you had been informed that all your good works were but varnished sins and that the very best of them were foul and full of faults, would not your blood have boiled with indignation? Or if someone had told you that YOU’RE best righteousness was only like a heap of filthy rags, fit for nothing but to be burned, you would surely have replied, "I have a righteousness of which I have no reason to be ashamed. And although I do not say that it is perfect, yet I hope I shall have as good a chance of standing before God's Throne as anybody else will have."
"Such were some of you" and, as long as you thus highly esteemed yourselves, of course you did not esteem the Lord Jesus Christ! Does the man who is in perfect health esteem, the physician? If all were always well, who would care for the doctors? Would they not laugh them to scorn? Does the man who is rich hold in high esteem the one who would give him alms? "No," he says, "give your alms to those who need them. I do not require them." Will a man who has the proper use of his limbs care for crutches? "No," he says, "hand them over to the lame. I have no need of them." In like manner, we did not esteem Christ because we felt that we had no need of Him. We thought that we could do very well without Him, at least for the present.
There might come a time when He might be able to give us a lift over a fence, or if we came to a muddy place in the road, He might be willing to lay His cloak down for us to step on so that we might not soil our feet. But as for the rest of our journey, we thought we could get on very well by ourselves, though we might be glad for Christ to help us into Heaven at the last. Perhaps no one of us would have put the matter quite so plainly, as I have done, but that would have been the practical effect of our self-esteem—and that is why we did not esteem Christ, for self-love had completely engrossed our hearts. Self and the Saviour can never live in one heart. He will have all, or none. So, where self is on the throne, it cannot be expected that Christ should meekly come and sit upon the footstool.
Another reason why we esteemed not Jesus was because we esteemed the world so highly. We were like the man of whom John Bunyan tells us, who was quite willing that others should have the joys of the world to come so long as he could have all that he wanted in the present life. The world still says, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," and to him this present evil world is the bird in the hand—and he thinks of all the bliss of Heaven as though it were but a bird in the bush. "Let me live while I live," he says, "and have all the happiness that I can here. And let them have the next world who can win it." With some of us, it is not very long ago since we also talked like that—and scorned the glories that are everlasting!
And, we put far away from us Jesus Christ and His great salvation. "We esteemed Him not" because we loved the earth and all its follies, because we were so busy gathering its poisoned dust into heaps, or delighting ourselves in its unsatisfying pleasures. It is not until the rope is cast loose that the balloon can soar above the clouds—and it is not until the cord that binds us to the things of this earth has been cut that our soul can hope to mount towards the things which are unseen and eternal! Until we have been weaned from the world, we shall never esteem Jesus as the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely One in whom is all our delight!
A third reason why we did not esteem Christ was because we did not know Him. It is true that we knew a great deal about Him, but we did not know HIM. We had read what the Evangelists had recorded concerning Him. We knew much concerning His doctrines. Perhaps we had even tried to keep some of His precepts, yet we did not personally and saving we know Him. There is a great distinction between knowing about Christ and knowing Christ Himself. Between knowing what He did and knowing Who and what He is. Knowing Him in the sense in which He used that expression when He said, in His great intercessory prayer to His Father, "This is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Yet it is only through Him, by the Infallible instruction of His ever-blessed Spirit, that we can thus know Him! As the Apostle John writes, "We know that the Son of God is come and has given us an understanding that we may know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." The poet was right when he wrote—
"His worth, if all the nations knew, surely the whole world would love Him too."
Surely, Lord, if the whole world could see You, the whole world must love You. If You would but open only one of Your eyes and look upon them, they must run unto You, ravished with delight, for You are so fair, my precious Jesus, that You only need to be seen to be loved." But, the world has never seen Christ, so he does not know Christ and does not love Christ! Ah, poor world, if you had but seen my lord as I saw Him in the hour when He said to me, "I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins". You could, with the ear of faith, have heard that Divine declaration, sweeter even than the music of the harps of Heaven. In a single moment you would have loved the Lord Jesus with such an ardent passion that the bonds of life would scarcely have been strong enough to keep you in this clay tenement, but you would have longed to fly away and be with your beloved Lord forever!
And, World, could you have such a visit from Jesus as, now and then, the Believer is privileged to have—if you could experience but five minutes of the bliss that a Christian has, "Whether in the body, I cannot tell. Or whether out of the body, I cannot tell. God knows"—if you could thus be "caught up to the third Heaven" and hear unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter. If you could once behold our blessed Saviour, you would be compelled to love Him, for He is so lovely, so gracious, so glorious that you could not any longer think unkindly of Him! Those who think wrongly of Christ have never known Him. And we who do know Him, confess with shame that the reason why, for so long "we esteemed Him not," was because we then knew Him not.