One of my favorite statues is in downtown Boston, in Quincy Market. Towering above the crowd on a pillar is a life-sized Sam Adams statue. Engraved on it is this inscription: Fearless and Incorruptible. Now whatever you think of the early American Revolutionary you have got to admit that Adams was, from the perspective of his cause, fearless and incorruptible.
Likewise there are many great reformers in the Bible who fit into such a mold. One of my favorites is Ezra. God used this scribe-priest to bring about substantial biblical reform in Israel. He not only led many people out of exile but he set the cadence for post-exilic life with his biblically saturated life. Privately and publicly he was about the Bible, as he set his heart to study, practice and teach the Law of God (Ezra 7:10). There is little doubt as to why he was so successful, he walked around with ink-stains on his forehead from his hours pouring over the Scriptures. Furthermore, he was courageous (Ezra 7.28) and extremely preoccupied with the glory of God (Ezra 8.21-23). What a guy indeed.
Why do we like a guy like Ezra so much?
Well, is fearless and incorruptible. He is the type of leader you want. We like Ezra’s devotion, diligence, and courage.
But more than just this, I will tell you why you like him so much: it is because of how he looks like Jesus. The things that are so attractive in his life are his likness to Christ.
Don’t get hung up on Ezra without getting to see the Greater Ezra.
It is Jesus who delighted in the God of the word and the word of God (cf Heb. 10.5-7 and Ps. 40). It is Jesus who continually offered up prayer and thanksgiving to God (Heb. 5.7) and was heard because of his reverence. It was Jesus who had such missionary courage to strengthen his own hand and fullfill the charge that his father gave him (John 4.34).
We love Ezra because the hand of the LORD was upon him (Ezra 7.6, 9, 28). But we love the greater Ezra because the hand of the LORD was upon him in wrath. And it is only because of this fact that, that God crushed the greater Ezra, that anyone (you, me, Ezra) could ever experience the hand of the LORD upon us in favor.
What we like about Ezra is what we love about Jesus. It is Ezra’s beautiful foreshadowing of something, someone so much more that makes us smile with gospel delight. Ezra is charting the course, laying the groundwork for a greater reformer, a true and eternal savior to come for his people. Thanks be to God that Jesus was, is, and forever will be fearless and incorruptible!