By Steve Wallace
The Word of God tells of the matchless love of Christ which we celebrate in song. Indeed the Bible’s portrayal of the love of Christ is one which shows it to be unlike any love known to man. We could examine Christ’s love from the standpoint of the effects it has had on mankind where it has provoked change of life, devotion, praise, sacrifice, and wonderful works. However, such effects, no matter how marvelous, are only reactions to this unique love. Therefore, let us look at some things that the Bible says about it and, though dealing with a broad subject within a limited space, seek to know more about the matchless love of Jesus.
1. The background of his coming. God had loved Israel “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) and could say in the book at the end of the Old Testament canon, “I have loved you” (Mal. 1:2). However, his love was generally not requited. On the contrary, his people had largely rejected him in various ways throughout their history (Hos. 3:1f; Heb. 3:7-11; Matt. 21:33-44). Rightly does Isaiah write that “all we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6). Through all this “God, willing to show his wrath (e.g., Sodom and Gomorrah, the flood, the Babylonian captivity), and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering (i.e., he showed his love, Eph. 4:2) the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Rom. 9:22). Having shown love for mankind through all its tragic history, God made the greatest demonstration of his love: he “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Where on earth can one go to find such an example of love? The matchless love of Christ had its roots in a similarly matchless love.
2. His life. Love gives (Jn. 3:16) and Jesus’ life was a life of giving, a life of love. Though he existed in the “form of God,” Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7, ASV). “He came to his own, and his own received him not” (Jn. 1:11). Undaunted by the enemies he made, he “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Summing up his work, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:5). He taught that man’s primary obligation is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and to “love thy neighbor as thyself ” (Matt. 22:37-39) and exemplified such love for all to see by his good works and by his keeping God’s commandments (Jn. 14:15). Though tempted, he “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 1:22). The life that he lived is without parallel; the love he exemplified is matchless!
3. His last day. We see our Savior’s matchless love from another perspective when we study some of the last deedsof his life. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (Jn. 13:1). With the humiliation and pain of the cross looming up before him, he humbled himself, washing his disciples’ feet as an ex-ample to them (Jn. 13:15-16). As he was being led to Calvary, bloodied by the beating he had just received, he refused the sympathy of women who followed him choosing rather to sympathize with them (Lk. 23:27-31). In spite of the intense pain he must have felt as he hung on the cross, his thoughts were of others: he prayed for his executioners, spoke salvation to one of the thieves, and saw to the care of his mother (Lk. 23:34,39-43; Jn. 19:25-27). “When he was reviled, (he) reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not” (1 Pet. 2:23). Through it all, he was the picture of perfect love. We search in vain for such an example in all the pages of all the books that have ever been written, save one: The Bible. “Oh what love, matchless love.”
4. His death. This sacrifice would be incomplete if we failed to note what the Bible says about our Lord’s death. He said, “No man taketh (my life) from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (Jn. 10:18). Jesus chose to lay down his life. “Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us” (1 Jn. 3:16, ASV). “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6). “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in what while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us . . . when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom., 5:6-10). Satan once said, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2:4). It was love that caused Christ to overcome man’s natural aversion to dying, a love not quenched by the long history of man’s rebellion against God nor by the treachery which surrounded his death. “Oh what wondrous love I see freely shown for you and me!”
5. How should we then live? Love begets love (Jn. 15:9; 1 Jn. 3:16). Therefore, we should strive at “having the same love” Christ has shown us (Phil. 2:1-2). I suggest the following applications of his love to our lives:
1. We should love Christ’s body, the church (Eph. 5:25). He gave himself for it and we should do our part to keep it as he would have it, without “spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27).
2. We should love the truth which Jesus died to give man (Heb. 9:14-23; Jn. 8:32; 14:23; Gal. 5:6).
3. We should love our brethren (Phil. 2:1-2; 1 Jn. 3:16; 4:7).
4. We should love the lost On. 3:16; Rom. 5:8).
5. Husbands should love their wives as “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25).
6. We should cultivate love’s wonderful character so that it becomes a part of our personality (1 Cor. 13:4-8).
7. We should love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-48; Lk. 23:34).
Christ’s love is without comparison. Nothing which we might allow to influence us in this world can approach matching the one-of-a-kind love we find in Jesus, and our greatest endeavors are worthless without love (1 Cor. 13:1-3). May we all give ourselves to him because of the “love that will not let me go” and be “constrained” by it to walk closer to him each day (2 Cor. 5:14). Brethren, “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21).
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII No.23, p. 13-14
December 1, 1994