How Deep the Love of Christ for His People!
It is the singular joy and privilege of every Christian to be able to say, as did the apostle Paul, that Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). We could explore the depth and intensity of this love in countless ways, but consider what likely was in the heart of our Lord as his sufferings intensified and the cross grew ever closer. Continue reading . . .
It is the singular joy and privilege of every Christian to be able to say, as did the apostle Paul, that Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). We could explore the depth and intensity of this love in countless ways, but consider what likely was in the heart of our Lord as his sufferings intensified and the cross grew ever closer.
In Miscellany 762, Jonathan Edwards draws our attention to the circumstances of Christ’s suffering as he was given “an extraordinary and near view of it in the time of his agony” (Yale, 18:408). That is to say, as his agony in Gethsemane deepened and his death on the cross grew ever closer, he became increasingly “sensible how great his approaching sufferings were” to be.
He knew, for example, the “hatefulness” and “malignity” and “baseness” of the sins for which he was to die. “He, then, actually feeling the torments and cruelties, and suffering the reproach and contumely [harsh and contemptuous language] that was the fruit of the malignity and venom of that sin, yet his love did not fail” (Yale, 18:408).
One might think that as the horror of the sin for which he was to suffer became ever more vivid and real he would back off, withdraw, or reconsider whether his love for sinners like you and me was really worth the incomparable agony he was about to endure. I say that because, in all honesty, that is precisely what I would have done. When we are faced with a great challenge or are asked to sacrifice much for the sake of others, our resolve often wanes as the reality of the price we must pay becomes more vivid and intense. Yet, says Edwards, “all this baseness [of our sins] did not overcome his love; but he was willing to yield himself a sacrifice, and endure such extreme sufferings out of love to those who were so cruel towards him, and to expiate that very iniquity that appeared in that cruelty” (Yale, 18:408).
In sum, when Jesus saw the hatefulness and wickedness and perversity of all the sin for which he was to be punished, “it did not overcome his love.” Such was the sincerity and focus of his love for you and me that notwithstanding the horror that became progressively more clear to him, he willingly yielded up himself for us all, that we might live!