Holy Week Devotionals Day Two:
Christ's Love For Us
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I often playfully say to Karstyn, "Hey, ask me how much I love you," only to put on a cheesy smile and spread my arms as far apart as I can as I declare to her "THIS MUCH!" Her usual response is to roll her eyes, call me a goofball, and kiss my forehead. It's cute, it's sappy, and it's meaningful for me to remind her how much I love her, even in a goofy way. But have you ever taken the time to ponder the love that Christ has for us, and the different ways that the Bible reveals it? A while back I read an article by John Piper in which he listed four ways to understand the depth of someone’s love. In the paragraphs below, I want to share with you those four ways that we can understand the depth of Christ’s love for us.
First, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs him. If he sacrifices his life for us, it assures us of deeper love than if he only sacrifices a few bumps and bruises. The language the Bible uses to describe what Christ endured on our behalf reveals the depth of the suffering he endured for us, the cost of his love. The Bible says that for us he was crushed, forsaken, and killed. He became the focus of the full wrath of God in our place. Just think about that for a moment, the FULL wrath of God was poured out on Jesus so that you wouldn't have to endure its pain. So, we see the depth of Christ’s love by the greatness of what it cost him.
Second, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by how little we deserve it. If we had treated God well all our lives and had done all that God expects of us, then when he loves us, it would make sense. But the love and grace of Christ are not founded in making sense. We have offended him, and shunned him, and disdained him, and forsaken him time and time again as we have sought after the fleeting pleasures of this world. So, we see the depth of Christ’s for us because of how utterly undeserving of it we are.
Third, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved. If we are helped to pass an exam, we will feel loved in one way. If we are helped to get a job, we will feel loved another way. If we are helped to meet our physical needs, we will feel loved another way. And if we are rescued from eternal condemnation and given a place within the fullness of joy and pleasure in God’s presence forevermore, we will know a depth of love that surpasses all others (1 John 3:1–3). So, we see the depth of Christ’s love by the greatness of the benefits he bestows to us in being loved by him.
Fourth, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the freedom with which they love us. If a person does good things for us because someone is making him, then we don’t think the love being shown is very deep. One of my favorite pastors has often said, “Love is deep in proportion to its liberty.” So, if an insurance company pays you when you lose your spouse, you don’t usually marvel at how much this company loves you. There were legal constraints in place that made them pay out your policy. But, on the other hand, if your Sunday School class makes you meals for a month after your spouse dies, and call and care for you every day, and often visit to check in with you, then you call it love because they are under no obligation to do that. It is free and willing. In the same way, we see the depth of Christ’s love for us in his freedom and willingness to give himself in our place: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).
The ultimate freedom is joy. Jesus rejoiced to do his redeeming work for us. The physical pain of the cross did not become physical pleasure, but Jesus was sustained through it all by joy. The author of Hebrews tells us that it was because of the “joy set before him” that he “endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). He really, really wanted to save us. His joy was to gather for himself a happy, holy, praising people. He loves us like a husband yearning for his beloved bride (Ephesians 5:25–33).
Take some time today to think through the questions below in light of the depth of love that Jesus has shown you. I would encourage you to grab a piece of paper and write your answers down and go back to them often. Take time to pray through your answers and seek God in how he is calling you to love as he loves.
How does the reality of Christ’s love for you motivate you each day?
Do you love others, even those different from you, with the same depth and passion that Christ has loved you?
How can you better live as a reflection of Christ’s love to those around you?
As we enter this year’s holy week, pray:
That God would focus your mind on the love that Jesus has shown to sinners like us.
Thank him for his mercy and grace that we do not deserve.
Ask that, through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, you would never become numb to the sacrifice of Christ on your behalf to show his love for you.
Also, as we focus this week on what Jesus has done to bring salvation to his people, take this opportunity each day to pray for someone who does not know the Lord and ask God for opportunities for you to share the gospel with them.