Love that Suffered the Sorrow and Shares the Song

How wonderful is the love of Jesus, our Saviour and our Lord! In it there is no alloy, no mixture of selfishness, and no reserve. It passes knowledge, we are told in the Holy Word, and how true that is, for no human thought can measure the bounds of it or gauge its strength. Yet we may know it, and, thank God, we do know it; we know the love of Christ that passes knowledge. We know it because it has been told to us, as He alone could tell it, told not in words only, that might be treasured for a while and then forgotten, but in deeds; told in the way it has taken to win us, and to make us eternally happy; told in what it has suffered for us, and in what it shares with us.

We shall do well to heed that first command, shall we call it, in John's Gospel: "Behold the Lamb of God;" to follow with eyes anointed that pathway of holiness and love to the cross; to follow it with adoration for that which we have already discerned by the Holy Spirit's teaching, and with expectation also, knowing that He will yet show us greater glories in it; but were our expectations enlarged a thousandfold we still should be surprised. The more deeply we know the love of Jesus the more unknowable we find it to be; the more we consider the way of it the more amazed we stand at its wisdom and its warmth. It is not a blind love, that may awaken to find flaws and faults in its objects that it knew not of, for it knew from the beginning with omniscient certainty all about the loved ones. It knew, also, with the unerring knowledge of God the whole way of sorrow that must needs be trodden in order to obtain its desire. It is a love that cannot be disappointed or alarmed, and when the great tests came it neither faltered nor fled. We need not fear that it will break down or change now; it has been fully proved.

"His love to the utmost was tried,
Yet firmly endured as a rock."

Consider that great crisis in the life of the Lord when Judas came with "a band of men and officers … with lanterns and torches and weapons" (John 18). How hideous, how hellish did the treachery and hatred of the human heart appear in that torchlight glare! Yet that band was but an advance guard, a flying column sent out to reconnoitre; behind them lay the hosts of darkness, waiting to crush and overwhelm Him. They were but as the spray of a stormy ocean cast up upon the strand; behind them surged the seas of sorrow, frightful and unfathomed. But how did He meet the crisis? He met it by saying, "Let these go their way." He might have escaped what lay before, from one point of view, for two words of His were enough to paralyse their every power. But He would not use His divine might to save Himself, for had He done so He must have lost His loved ones. In their fervid devotion His disciples might well have put that band to flight, but He would not let them fight. Of what use would their feeble arms have been against all that lay behind that band of men who came to take Him with Judas as their leader? He saw what lay behind them — the awful sorrow, the malignity of Satan, the judgment of God, and He said, "Let these go their way." He saw the wolf preparing to devour the sheep. He saw the righteous sword, also, that had awakened against His people's sins, and He said, "Let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled which He spake, Of them which Thou gavest me, I have lost none."

He would bear all the sorrow alone. Not one pang must they feel of all those pangs that He would endure for them; not one stroke of all that judgment that He would bear must fall upon them. Not one drop of that bitter cup must gall their lips; He would drink it to the dregs and drink it alone for them. He would shield them from the suffering; stand between them and the threatening foe; become their substitute under the judgment, and sacrifice Himself for them. That was the only way, and His love led Him that way, with steadfastness and deliberation, that He might keep for ever for Himself those that the Father had given Him. And we were represented there in those of whom He said, "Let these go their way." And we can say, each for Himself, "He loved me and gave Himself for me."

"Alone He bare the cross,
Alone its grief sustained."
He bore it all for me.

But that is not the only way in which we know His love. Behold its activities when He was brought again from the dead by the glory of the Father. As His last thought ere He entered the darkness and death was of "His own," so His first thought on rising again from those depths was of them. How graciously He sought them, how tenderly He revealed Himself to them; with what matchless tact He dealt with them, each according to his or her necessity, until they were prepared to see Him and to hear Him tell that which filled His heart. What Christian heart could muse upon the doings of that resurrection day without being profoundly moved thereby? He did not vindicate His character before those who had besmirched it; nor retaliate upon His foes; nor prove to Israel that He was their Maker and Messiah; all this He might have done, but He did not. He sought the company of His loved ones, that they, in the precious peace that His presence gave them, might learn from His own lips the relationship and the joy into which He would bring them, a relationship and joy which up to that moment He alone had known. That was the moment for which He had longed; until it came He was straightened; but now at last He was free to share with them His greatest joy — His Father's love — and to make them one with Him in His most blissful place — the Father's bosom. He could do this, for they were now His brethren; His Father was their Father, and His God was their God.

This joy and place is ours also, for He says of us as of them, "I will declare Thy name to MY BRETHREN, in the midst of the assembly will I sing praise to Thee."

Brethren! What a name is this for Him to call us, but nothing else would satisfy His love. Are we sufficiently alive to this? We shall be when He

"Shall share the bright tomorrow
With His loved ones, you and me."

But now, in this present time, are we seeking to gratify His great love, that can only satisfy itself by sharing its best with us, by entering into the realization of these things? Oh, may God deliver us from treating anything as greater than this. May the love of the world give place to the love of the Father, and even our service to Christ cease to cumber us, that we may have more time and thought for this. And may He grant to us His grace that we may not by indifference to this slight that love —

"That gives, not as the world,
But shares all it possesses

With its loved co-heirs."