Oh, How He Loves!
Published on Thursday, December 15th, 1910,
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington,
On Lord's-day Evening, July 7th, 1872.
"Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!"—John 11:36.
IT WAS AT THE GRAVE OF LAZARUS that Jesus wept, and his grief was so manifest to the onlookers that they said, "Behold how he loved him!" Most of us here, I trust, are not mere onlookers, but we have a share in the special love of Jesus. We see evidences of that love, not in his tears, but in the precious blood that he so freely shed for us; so we ought to marvel even more than those Jews did at the love of Jesus, and to see further into his heart than they did, and to know more of him than they could in the brief interval in which they had become acquainted with him. When we think of his love to us, we may well cry, "Behold how he has loved us!"
These Jews expressed their wonder at the love that Jesus had for his friend Lazarus; they did not keep that wonder to themselves, but they said, "Behold how he loved him!" In these days, we are too apt to repress our emotions. I cannot say that I greatly admire the way in which some enthusiastic folk shout "Glory!" "Hallelujah!" "Amen," and so on, in the midst of sermons and prayers; yet I would sooner have a measure of that enthusiastic noise than have you constantly stifling your natural emotions, and checking yourself from giving utterances to your heart's true feelings. If we were in a right state of mind and heart, we should often say to one another, "How wondrous has the love of Jesus been to us!" Our conversation with one another, as brethren and sisters in Christ, would often be upon this blessed subject. We waste far too much of our time upon trifles, it would be well if the love of Jesus so engrossed our thoughts that it engrossed our conversation too. I fear that many, who profess to be Christians, go for a whole year, or even longer, without telling out to others what they are supposed to have experienced of the love of Jesus; yet this ought not to be the case. If we were as we should be, one would frequently say to another, "How great is Christ's love to me, my brother! Dost thou also say that it is great to thee?" Such talk as that between the saints on earth would help us to anticipate the time when we shall want no other theme for conversation in the land beyond the river.
I am going just to remind you of some very simple truths in order to excite the hearts of those of you who are coming to the communion to increased love to the dear Lord and Saviour who has loved you so intensely as to die for you. And first, beloved, let us think of what the love of Christ has done for us; secondly, of what his love has done to us; and then thirdly, I want to say that I am afraid our love to Christ will never cause any wonder except on account of the littleness of it.
I. So, first, let us quietly think over WHAT THE LOVE OF CHRIST HAS DONE FOR US.
When did Christ's love begin to work for us? It was long before we were born, long before the world was created; far, far back, in eternity, our Saviour gave the first proof of his love to us by espousing our cause. By his divine foresight, he looked upon human nature as a palace that had been plundered, and broken down, and in its ruins he perceived the owl, the bittern, the dragon, and all manner of unclean things. Who was there to undertake the great work of restoring that ruined palace? No one but the Word, who was with God, and who was God. "He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him." Ere the angels began to sing, or the sun, and moon, and stars threw their first beams athwart primeval darkness, Christ espoused the cause of his people, and resolved not only to restore to them all the blessings that he foresaw that they would lose, but also add to them richer favours that could ever have been theirs except through him. Even for eternity his delights were with the sons of men; and when I think of him, in that far-distant past of which we can form so slight a conception, becoming "the head over all things to the church" which then existed only in the mind of God, my very soul cries out in a rapture of delight, "Behold how he loved us!"
Remember, too, that in that eternal secret council, the Lord Jesus Christ became the Representative and Surety of his chosen people. There was to be, in what was then the far remote future, a covenant between God and man; but who was there who was both able and willing to sign that covenant on man's behalf, and to give a guarantee that man's part of that covenant should be fulfilled? Then it was that the Son of God, well knowing all that such suretyship would involve, undertook to be the Surety for his people, to fulfil the covenant on their behalf, and to meet all its demands which he foresaw that they would be unable to meet. Then the eternal Father gave into Christ's charge the souls that he had chosen unto eternal life through ages, of which we can have so faint an idea, were to elapse before those souls were to be created; and the eternal Son covenanted to redeem all those souls after they had fallen through sin, to keep them by his grace, and to present them "faultless" before the presence of his Father with exceeding joy. Thus, as Jacob became accountable to Laban for the whole flock committed to his charge, Jesus Christ, "that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant," undertook to redeem and guard the whole flock entrusted to his care, so that when, at the last great muster, they should pass under the hand of him that telleth them, not one of them should be missing, and the blessed Shepherd-Son should be able to say to his Father, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and not one of them is lost." It was in the everlasting covenant that our Lord Jesus Christ became our Representative and Surety, and engaged on our behalf to fulfill all his Father's will; and as we think of this great mystery of mercy, surely all of us who are truly his must exclaim with grateful adoration, "Behold how he loved us!"
I have been speaking of very ancient things, but let us now come to matters that we can more clearly comprehend. In the fulness of time, our Lord Jesus Christ left the glories of heaven, and took upon him our nature. We know so little of what the word "heaven" means that we cannot adequately appreciate the tremendous sacrifice that the Son of God must have made in order to become the Son of Mary. The holy angels could understand far better than we can what their Lord and ours gave up when he renounced the royalties of heaven, and all the honour and glory which rightly belonged to him as the Son of the Highest, and left his throne and crown above to be born as the Babe of an earthly mother, yet even to them there were mysteries about his incarnation which they could not fathom; and as they followed the footprints of the Son of man on his wondrous way from the manger to the cross and to the tomb, they must often have been in that most suggestive attitude of which Peter wrote, "which things the angels desire to look into." To us, the incarnation of Christ is one of the greatest marvels in the history of the universe, and we say, with Paul, "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." The omnipotent Creator took the nature of a creature into indissoluble union with his divine nature; and, marvel of marvels, that creature was man. "He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham." For an angel to become an emmet, if that were possible, would be nothing at all in comparison with the condescension of Christ in becoming the Babe of Bethlehem; for, after all, angels and emmets are only creatures formed by Christ, working as one of the persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, for John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expressly says, "All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made." O glorious Bridegroom of our hearts, there never was any other love like thine! That the eternal Son of God should leave his Father's side, and stoop so low as to become one with his chosen people, so that Paul could truly write, "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, is such a wonder of condescending grace and mercy that we can only exclaim again and again, "Behold how he loved us!"
Then, "being found in fashion as a man," he took upon himself human sickness and suffering. All our infirmities that were not sinful Jesus Christ endured,—the weary feet, the aching head, and the palpitating heart, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sickness." This was a wondrous proof of love, that the ever-blessed Son of God, who needed not to suffer, should have been willing to be compassed with infirmity just like any other man is. "We have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
But if you want to see the love of Jesus at the highest point it ever reached, you must, by faith, gaze upon him when he took upon himself the sins of all his people, as Peter writes, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree." Oh, how could one who was so pure, so absolutely perfect, ever bear so foul a load? Yet he did bear it, and the transfer of his people's sin from them to him was so complete that the inspired prophet wrote, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," and the inspired apostle wrote, "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." When a man marries a woman who is deeply in debt, well knowing the burdens that he is taking upon himself even though it is enough to crush him all his life, we may well say, "Behold how he loves her!" That was what Christ did for his Church when he took her into an eternal marriage union with himself, although she had incurred such liabilities as could not have been discharged if she had spent all eternity in hell; he took all her debts upon himself, and then paid them unto the uttermost farthing; for we must never forget that, when Christ bore his people's sins, he also bore the full punishment of them. In fulfillment of the great eternal covenant, and in prospect of all the glory and blessing that would follow from Christ's atoning sacrifice, "it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief." We cannot have the slightest conception of what that bruising and that grief must have been. We do not know what our Lord's physical and mental agonies must have been, yet they were only the shell of his sufferings; his soul-agony was the kernel, and it was that which made him cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Then it was that the precious "corn of wheat" fell into the ground and died; and dying, brought forth "much fruit" of which heaven and eternity alone can tell the full tale. I cannot speak of this wondrous mystery as I fain would do, but you who know even in part what it means must join me in saying, "Behold how he loved us!"
Further, than that, Christ has so completely given himself to us that all that he has is ours. He is the glorious Husband, and his Church is his bride, the Lamb's wife; and there is nothing that he has which is not also hers even now, and which he will not share with her for ever. By a marriage bond which cannot be broken, for he hateth putting away, he hath espoused her unto himself in righteousness and truth, and she shall be one with him throughout eternity. He has gone up to his Father's house to take possession of the many mansions there, not for himself, but for his people; and his contrary prayer is, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." Jesus has an ever-flowing fountain of joy in his heart, but he desires that his joy may be in you if you belong to him, and that your joy may be full; and everything else that he has is yours as much as it is his, so surely you will again join with me in saying, "Behold how he loved us!" (Please click here to continue reading, "Oh, How He Loves Us!")