The Greatness of the Saviors Love!
William Nicholson, 1862
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved!" Ephesians 2:4-5
The Bible is replete with interesting subjects — but the most interesting of all is the love of Christ. Therefore it has a prominent place in the sacred oracles. It possesses universal interest — it interests the Church below and the Church above. It is a subject of boundless, and of eternal importance. Paul loved this subject exceedingly. He had felt its power; it filled him with joy and hope, and peace. He was not ashamed of it; he gloried in it, and was willing to suffer martyrdom for it.
The subject of the text is, The greatness of the Savior's Love.
The love of Christ surpasses knowledge.
We cannot reach its sublime heights.
We cannot fathom its profound depths.
We cannot comprehend its immense breadth, nor know its eternal length. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." However, the Scriptures reveal to us enough for our salvation — enough to give us peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The greatness of this love appears,
I. From its Antiquity.We need not trace the manifestation of this love to the prophets, and to the patriarchs, and Adam, who received the first promise. This love was in operation "before the foundation of the world." See Proverbs 8:22; Ephesians 1:11; 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:4.
God foresaw my fall, guilt, ruin, and exposure to eternal death, before the world began — and then in his love and pity, contrived for me the stupendous plan of redemption. Amazing love!
II. From the essential dignity and glory of Christ.It was not an earthly potentate — not a celestial spirit, not any one of the "principalities and powers," who was commissioned to become our Ransomer. It was "the only begotten Son of God" the dignified and uncreated Lord Almighty, Jehovah's fellow and equal — the Lord of angels, the God of the universe! See John 1:1-3; 17:5; Philippians 2:5, 6; Hebrews 1:1-3, etc.
III. From what he became.He dismantled himself of his heavenly splendor — he vacated the throne of his glory — he came down to earth — he was born — he became flesh, John 1:14; Philippians 2:7, 8; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 2:14. Thus he became man, and was poor, 2 Corinthians 8:9. He was despised and rejected of men; he was reviled and persecuted, etc. etc. How great was his love!
IV. From what he endured. . .
as a man, from hunger, fatigue,
from his agony in the garden,
from the scourging, the crown of thorns that encircled his brow,
from the nails which pierced his hands and feet.
He suffered civilly, as a member of society, being falsely accused, and condemned to die as a traitor to his country, and a blasphemer of his God. An insurrectionist and a murderer was preferred before him!
He suffered spiritually . . .
from the thick volley of fiery darts which were showered upon him,
from the sword of inflexible justice which pierced his heart,
from the hidings of his Father's countenance. Witness his agony when he said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
1. This suffering and death was voluntary. John 10:17, 18.
2. It was vicarious, or substitutionary. See Isaiah 53:4, 5; Daniel 9:24; Romans 5:6-9. His death, therefore, was more than that of a martyr.
V. From the character of those for whom he suffered and died.It was for . . .
"the ungodly" Romans 5:6;
"sinners," Romans 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:15;
"the unjust," 1 Peter 3:18.
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners!" etc.
These were the characters for whom he died! Immoral, rebels, vile and odious before Infinite Purity. Hence the greatness of Divine love! Who would die for the unworthy — for a thief, a murderer? None! "Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:7-8
There have been astounding sacrifices of love, but they have been made for friends or relatives who were dearly loved. Pythias promptly offered to die for Damon. Some of the citizens of Calais offered to redeem that city by the sacrifice of their own lives. A shipwrecked crew, by reason of their scanty stock of provision, found it necessary to throw one overboard. The lot fell upon one who had a family depending upon him. But his younger brother, who was single, offered to die for him. But Christ died for his enemies, the ungodly, the vile!
VI. From the glorious results of his sacrifice.
The result is a free, complete, and everlasting salvation. A deliverance from . . .
sin, guilt, and condemnation — the worst of all evils;
self, the worst of all companions;
death, the most awful of all changes;
Satan, the worst of all enemies;
Hell the worst of all prisons; and
the wrath of God, the worst doom!
Here is reconciliation with God,
peace of mind, the result of pardon,
all spiritual privileges,
all precious promises,
a title to Heaven,
and an "abundant entrance" to everlasting glory!
1. Be clothed with humility. Such great love we have not merited. Salvation is of grace. Be thankful.
2. What ground for the Christian's joy — and the penitent sinner's hope!
3. Study the greatness of Divine love. "And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:18-19