“Oh the Deep, Deep Love Of Jesus! Vast, Unmeasured, Boundless, Free!”
To look at the love of God poured out through His Son dying on a cross, is an experience beyond human words. I concur with hymn writer Frederick Lehman who wrote:
“Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”
The magnificence of God’s love for His own revealed in Christ’s soul-purchasing death, is beyond what our finite minds can even grasp. I wait for the day when this perishable body will be raised imperishable, “sown in dishonour” and “raised in glory,” sown “a natural body…raised a spiritual body (1Corinthians 15:42-44).” Then may this dull and tired mind be awakened, and these eyes that see now only “in a mirror dimly” finally see him “face to face (1Corinthians 13:12).” I feel in myself, in my comprehension and in my expression of who I know Christ to be, such a weakness to adequately express how great He is. In fact, I know that I will fall far short of expressing it, and of knowing it. This is why I eagerly wait until he appears and “we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is (1John 3:2).” In light of who he is, and what He has done, I want to express that I fear my affections for Him are not near what they should be! Maybe you can relate to this part of a poem I wrote one night titled “My Pursuits So Frail, His So Furious.”
Mark me with intensity
That in despair I’d thirst for thee
As if this be my last minute of breath
May I desire Him as though His absence meant death.
I would love to describe my soul’s panting as such
Yet in truth my pursuits so often lack much
So to the praise of His Glory instead I will boast
In the strength of Him who sought and found me
The Lord of Hosts.
I am weak; my heart is dull
But Christ claims my attention
He redeems my affections,
I find I have not strived at all
But grace He has given
To make known the things hidden
I do nothing but fall
Then He raises my head
To show forth His beauty
Shed by the light of His face
To me a stuttering wanderer standing
In His most Holy Place.
So let us ask the Lord Jesus to reveal Himself to us as we look at His death on the cross and what it has accomplished. The love of God is so incredibly amazing that we literally need strength to comprehend it. So may this be our prayer, that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that (we) may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Love Revealed In The Manner Of Men For Whom Christ Died
Romans 5:7-8,10 “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. ”
It is not hard, maybe, for us to imagine bolting in front of a moving vehicle to save our own child. It might be a bit harder to imagine taking a bullet and sacrificing your own life for that of a loyal friend. What about someone who is a stranger to you? If you heard about his strife, and were able to sacrifice something of your own- even your life, for another ordinary human being, how compelled would you be to do it?
The truth of the matter is, the closer we feel to another person the more likely we are to be willing to make sacrifices to meet their needs. We hear about people all the time who are down and out, who are starving, persecuted, homeless, parentless, hopeless- I am not saying we are necessarily indifferent, but certainly we do not care as we should, nor as we would if they were our own loved ones.
But do we realize the state that humanity was in -the state that each one of us was in- at the time when Christ died for us? We “who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (Colossians 1:21-22).” We were not affectionate towards God in a way that would inspire him to have affection for us. We were not by nature His children, but were rather children of our father the devil, and our desire was to do our father’s desires (John 8:44). We were not friends of God, but rather haters of God, we His enemy and He ours. We were all those who “say to God ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him (Job 21:14-15)?’” Yes indeed, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…while we were enemies…”
Do you know why, friends, that Jesus Christ can command “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)?” You need to look only to the passages that follow it: “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 the unjust.” He can command us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors, because this is exactly what he has done for us, even to the point of death.
To what manner of men did Christ hand himself over? Or to quote again Charles Spurgeon: “Into what depths art thou dragged through my sin, and the sin of all the multitudes whose iniquities were made to meet upon thee!”
Come see the one who truly was the King of Kings, of all of Heaven and all of earth, made to be mocked as if an imposter, and mortified as if the most scandalous of shams. See him stripped and torn dressed in a purple robe, as if to say “Behold His Majesty,” with laughter and scorn. See them beat his head with a reed, and place it in His gentle hand as if to say “Who do you rule over now?” and shouting “Hail, King of the Jews (Mark 15:19).” See them “spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him (Mark 15:20)” while he silently endured “oppressed, and…afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” At his crucifixion their own words condemn them, nailed above his head declaring “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews (Matthew 27:37).”
What manner of men was Jesus Christ, Eternal God, handed over to! The one through whom was “created the world (Hebrews 1:2)” and who “upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3).” This, the Son of God, we held in such disdain and lack of faith that we would accuse him of blasphemy.
My precious Lord, when before His accusers warned that they would “see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64),” but the high priest responded “’He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?’ They answered “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”
What type of men does Christ come and die for, come and embrace as His very own? See the men and woman protest “Crucify, crucify him!” “demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified (Luke 23:21,23).” Turn the page of scripture and gaze upon Jesus nailed to a cross before his accusers crying out “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” What type of men does Christ die for? He dies for those who hate him so much they would implore his death.
See Saul’s face, pleased as He watched the stoning of God’s mighty servant Stephen (Acts 8:1). Witness Saul on the road to Damascus “breathing threats and murder against the disciples (Acts 9:1)” and finding them bringing them “bound to Jerusalem (Acts 9:2).” Hear the voice of my Lord Jesus, crying out in mercy to this vile persecutors ears “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me …I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting (Acts 9:4,5)” and surely you will know that Paul was right in saying “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
Is it not true of us all, my friends, that He died to save us wretched sinners. 1Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us; that we should be called children of God; and so we are (1John 3:1).” If Christ had not come to offer the ultimate sacrifice on the behalf of sinners, we could have never known the depths of love that God has in Himself. It is not that He has loved a people who deserve it, but rather that He has taken a filthy and desperately wicked people and shed His own blood for their crimes.
And this Christ considered so valuable that it was worth dying for: that God’s glorious attribute of loving kindness would be magnified in all the earth. In laying down his life he showed that there is no one like God, who would have a love in and of Himself that seems to us too great. His love is so extravagant, so extreme, and towards us so unmerited and undeserved. You see, I was living in “the passions of (my) flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind” and was by nature a child of wrath, “like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:3).” I was worthy of nothing other than the holy and righteous wrath of God, and yet God has chosen not to pour out wrath on me but rather on His own Son, dying in my place.
Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.”
I will end with a poem I wrote some years ago, in reflection upon the one true God who stoops down to rescue sinners.
Where is what is lovely?
Where is what is pure?
My eyes winced at his glory
For to me it seemed obscure.
I walked among a people
Of unclean lips
My tongue had been a rudder
To steer hell’s own ship
Wickedness sprang forth from
Wellsprings of deceit
The overflow of my hard heart
Did cause my Father’s grief.
No- there has not been a lack of obscenity in me
Yet none so wretched and so vile
That Christ’s blood cannot redeem.
“What is man that you remember him?
Or the son of man that you are concerned about him?”
But God has not forsaken me,
Nor turned away from my depravity
But he has become provision for me
Unto life- and life eternal.
What man but God did offer up his flesh as bread
And blood as wine?
Partaking in his offering
Unto his great will divine?
Whose sin lay on his broken body?
Whose idolatry did need for his blood?
I see none but mine before my eyes
The magnitude of all my crimes
And there my Savior on a hill
“Not my will…”
But God’s fulfilled.
He has been my righteousness
I have drank deeply of his grace
I have tasted of his mercy
Though I should be dismissed and cast away.
Precious Jesus, Lord of all
I faint and grow weary
I have none to profess but thy great name
That I am saved,
Oh I am saved,
I am saved by grace.