The Love of Christ.

Extracted from W. Magowan ,"Words of Grace," 1905.

In the death of Christ we perceive the extent of His love to us (1 John 3:16). Death is the greatest act of sacrifice by which love can be expressed, "for greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). In this, perfect self-abnegation consists, because of the love of Christ to us an obligation rests on every saint to lay down his life for the brethren. With us, love is relative not sovereign, for a motive is needed to produce love in our hearts. Therefore we love because He first loved us; but no reason is given for the love of God, that is due to the divine nature, sovereign in its exercise! In order to express divine love, Christ has gone to the utmost limit of self-sacrifice. No consideration could deter Him from entering into all that we were liable to by the just judgment of God. The wrath of man was there and the dread power of Satan also. He perfectly understood and measured what lay before Him and entered into it that the mighty unfathomable love of His heart might be known. No man took His life from Him, He laid it down of Himself. In this we recognise perfect kindness as well as perfect love. He might have gone into heaven as a man apart from death, but we should never have known love, nor kindness, nor the mind of God. All the love of God was made known in the death of Christ. Satan has blinded men's eyes to the attitude of God, representing Him as hard and exacting. In the saint, the dark distance has vanished in the sunlight of Christ's love. The faithfulness of the love of Christ is the subject of John 13., "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end," i.e., not to the end of any time, but however tried, it is changeless in character. He foretold the treachery of Judas and the denial of Peter and that the little band would desert Him under pressure, but the mighty current of His love was not disturbed. He was the unchangeable One; He could be implicitly trusted! Ch. 13. was in full view of the evil and showed an epitome of all that has appeared since in Christian profession. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me" (John 14:1). What an unspeakable comfort that He abides faithful and loves to the end!

Another aspect is presented in Rom. 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The eternal love of Christ is our lasting portion. Nothing in the universe is so strong. Over sevenfold evidences of the enemy's power, we are counted more than conquerors! Samson, type of the conqueror, slew the young lion; bees took up abode therein, the resultant honey produced meat and sweetness. Strength and refreshment were found in what had threatened him with destruction! In all that assails us in our pathway we find meat and sweetness for we are more than conquerors and nothing can separate us from His love. Another character is shown in Eph. 5:25, giving the devotion of love. He gave Himself in the infinite value of His person thus He has a right to the church and shows it by holy solicitude, sanctifying and purifying from all trace of defilement. When the day of glory comes, as the last Adam, the head and centre of all, He will present the Church all glorious to Himself; that will be the full result of His devoted love displayed. Eph. 3:16 gives the boundless nature of the love of Christ. To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge may seem a paradox. But to know that love we need to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; then we know its vastness like an illimitable ocean which can never be fully explored but our spiritual capacity to appreciate and enjoy is constantly increased. Then Gal. 2:20, speaks of His love to the individual. The Apostle had the consciousness of Christ's personal love to Him and he refused to find guidance for his life in flesh by the Law. He received all light and direction from the Son of God who loved him and gave Himself for him. The love of Christ constrained him in his service and was the spring of its action towards men as well as the light by which he walked! May we be enabled to consider the love of Christ in its extent, faithfulness, strength and devotedness. Then we shall be able to appropriate it personally and say, "He loved me and gave Himself for me!"