The Love of Christ.

Notes of an address by J. A. Trench at Galashiels, 1916.

The depths of the love of Christ set forth in John 12:24, are wonderful. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." The heart is thrilled when one thinks that the Lord Jesus in figure fell into the ground and died in order to bring forth such profusion of fruit. He became man and died on the Cross in order that He might be able to associate us with Himself for ever. That association was according to the eternal purpose of God. He introduces us to that communion of divine joy which subsisted in the past eternity between the Father and the Son. That is opened out to our enraptured gaze in Prov. 8. There we hear Wisdom's voice speaking about the Father and the Son sufficing for each other in an unbroken continuity. They rejoiced mutually in each other, sharing each other's thoughts. Before the foundation of the world, the Lord Jesus typified by Wisdom delighted in the sons of men. How blessed it is to have such intimation as to the direction in which Their hearts were going even then. That we should be taken up and ushered into such scenes of delight surpasses all human comprehension! But it is important to see that we could not be taken into such association with Him in any other way than by His becoming man and dying. That He gave Himself for us is a statement of scripture which enhances the magnitude of the gift and the love behind the gift. The Father and the Son were in perfect harmony in the action of giving! God so loved the world that He gave His Son sets forth a wider thought of the matter; but when the gift is viewed relative to His own then it is said that the gift originated in the heart of the Father and the Son. The Son took the initial step in perfect obedience to the Father's will and He was found in the body specially prepared for Him to give further effect to the same will. In the perfection of that path on earth He was alone. The more we contemplate Him in that perfect path of obedience the more we shall follow in dependent appreciation of Him. In John 16:32 we read that His own would be scattered and He would be left alone, and yet essentially not so, because His Father would be with Him! Notwithstanding that, next day He had to fathom infinitely deeper depths of isolation on the Cross in the forsaking by His God. That explained the meaning of His anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He foresaw what was necessarily entailed in meeting God as the victim, the Lamb of God's providing in the complete and lasting solution of the question of man's sin against God. We cannot conceive what it meant to Him to be totally abandoned by God! In rebuking the overzealous Peter who sought to deliver his Master, He said "The cup that my Father hath given Me shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). In every step of His pathway, His love shone forth, witnessed by such statements as the following: "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you" (John 15:9). That love continues unchanged in the exalted position in which He now is. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever! Shortly He will descend into the air to take us up to the place He has won for us in resurrection. That place is beyond the reach of distress, difficulties and death! Meanwhile, the contemplation of that unchanging love should have a practical effect on our lives and service. The passage in John 12:24, is followed by, "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me." In these words we are invited to follow in the path which His footsteps have traced out for us in an unmistakeable way. Then our service will partake of the character of that path. The power to make it our own lies in the extent to which our hearts have been absorbed by the significance of the little word "Me" twice repeated in one short sentence. The great criterion of our service in the ultimate assessment of the One who never makes a mistake will not be its amount nor apparent success before the eyes of our fellowmen but in the measure in which Christ has been the object thereof.