The Love of Christ

Where should I begin my thoughts on the subject of the love of Christ to men? And when I begin, how will I end? It has a width and length, a depth and height that goes beyond knowledge. If the apostle Paul, who had the brightest revelations of this love, said this, how much more should I? I could far more easily measure the height of heaven, the circumference of the earth, and the depth of the sea, than measure Christ’s love. It is an unfathomable ocean without shores or bottom. Where did his love take him? From the height of glory to the depth of misery. Our fall is so far down, that nothing could retrieve us or raise us up, but the deep humiliation of the Son of God, the King of glory. How far down the step he took to help us up; even to taking on our nature, suffering to be pierced for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities? Blessed Lord, you did not take upon yourself the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham; men, women and children tightly chained with chains of darkness, while you pull us to yourself with cords of love! How gloriously unique is your love to man, that brought you from heaven to earth, from the throne to the manger, from the manger to the wilderness, from the wilderness to the garden, from the garden to the judgement hall, from the judgement hall to the cross, from the cross to the grave; yes, from the glory of heaven to the very torments of hell! And all for creatures that were black and ugly as hell. How wonderful is the sight you call me to see at the Lord’s table? To see you suffering for sin, who never committed sin! To see “him made sin for us who knew no sin,” that we “who knew no righteousness, might be made the righteousness of God in him!” What an amazing sight!

“Lord what is man that you are mindful of him!” What is he, that you would set your heart on him? And what am I, the worst of men and most vile of sinners, that you would stoop so low to exalt me? That you would endure the poverty of this world, so that I can enjoy the riches of heaven? That you would be content to live in the form of a servant, so that I could be adopted as a son? That you were willing to bow yourself to death, to raise me to eternal life? That you were content to be counted with criminals, so that I could be among the blessed? That you were crowned with thorns, so that I can be crowned with glory? That you were condemned before men, so that I could be justified before God? That you drank the bitter cup of wrath, so that I can drink the pure river of life? That you cried out in anguish on the cross, so that I could rejoice in triumph before the throne? That you endured the flames of hellish wrath, to keep its flames from me? O Lord Jesus, your love and compassion overflows beyond comprehension! Can I think about it without my heart burning? Can I think of it and not be overwhelmed, and not be filled with emotion?

O love that passes knowledge! How will I think of it and not be amazed? That the General would die for the soldier, the Physician for the patient! That the righteous Judge of heaven should come to the court, put on the criminal’s clothes, and be condemned for him!

O that I would from now on live under a continual sense of my debt to my glorious Redeemer… what can I return to him for all he has done, is doing, and will do for me? O that I could spend my whole life, each day of it, proclaiming his love and living to his praise. “Blessed be his glorious name forever and ever; let the whole earth be filled with his glory.” Amen and Amen.

John Willison, Meditation XII — “And to know the love of Christ…” (c.1742), revised and updated.