Love At Its Utmost
By Charles H. Spurgeon
“As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love” (John 15:9).
Let us unquestioningly believe that Jesus loves us. That is to say, if we are, indeed, in Him, He loves us infinitely. As if to confirm us in our belief beyond all wavering and to lead out our hearts to behold the largeness of His affection, He quotes a parallel to His love of the most extraordinary kind. He looks not to the loves of the earth, but to the greatest love of heaven, and says, “As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you.” Our Lord would have us place His love to us in the same category with the Father’s love to Himself! We are to be as confident of the one as of the other. What a wonderful certainty is conveyed to us by this token! The Father regards with boundless love, the Son, with whom He is in essential union, since they are one God – and as surely as this is the case – so surely does Jesus love the people whom He has taken into marriage union with Himself forever. Think of it and let your assurance become doubly sure!
He Chose Us in Love
Behold the course and proof of our Redeemer’s love! He chose us in love. The reason of His choice was love. Remember how He puts it in the seventh chapter of Deuteronomy? God there speaks of His choice of Israel – “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you...” (Deut. 7:6-8).
O Believer, Jesus loved you before the world began and all because He would love you! He loved you in order that He might manifest His love to you. He loved you in order that you might be conformed unto His image, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren and that thus we might share His nature and His character and His Father’s love, and so draw nearer and nearer to Him in ever-growing fellowship of affection! See the love which is its own cause, spending itself and, by its own efficacy, working out its gracious purposes – every one of which is as full of love as the love which designed it!
He Became Man
Having thus chosen us for love, so great was the love of our Lord that He became man for love of us. He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Phil. 2:6), but became man that He might carry out His purposes of love to us. It is written, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (Eph. 5:31). And this has its highest exemplification in Christ, who left His Father that He might become one flesh with His church. He took our nature so that He might be able to do for us and suffer for us what, otherwise, He could not have done and suffered. By thus taking upon Himself our nature, He established a nearer union and a sweeter fellowship with His beloved church than could otherwise have existed. If He had never become the Babe of Bethlehem and the Man of Nazareth, how could He have been made in all points like unto His brethren? Think what that love must have been which brought the Lord of Glory from the highest heaven to become the Man of Sorrows for our sakes!
He Died for Us
Having become a man for us, we remember that Jesus died because of love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That laying down of life in our Lord’s case was specially a proof of love, for He died voluntarily – there was no necessity upon Him, as upon us, to die.
He died, also, amid circumstances of pain, shame and desertion which made that death peculiarly bitter. The death of the Cross is to us the highest proof of our Savior’s infinite love to us. He must die the death of a felon, between two thieves, utterly friendless, the object of general ridicule – and this He must do as bearing our sins in His own body. All this makes us say, “Behold how He loved us!” O Beloved! Can we doubt Christ’s love, since He laid down His life, “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”? (1 Pet. 3:18). We have been brought near to Him by love. Jeremiah has a famous passage: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3).
The Fruits of His Love
Time would fail me if I were to go into all the fruits of love of Christ to you. For love He has forgiven you! Have you ever forgotten the blotting out of your iniquities by that hand of love? For love He has fed you day by day with the best of spiritual meat. “...Ye are complete in Him...” (Col. 2:10). All your needs His love has supplied – there are shoes for your pilgrimage, armor for your warfare, strength for your labor, rest for your weariness, comfort for your sorrow. No good thing does His love withhold! You have an inward satisfaction in Christ which all the world could not produce.
Moreover, He has led you through this wilderness life in safety to this day. In dark and devious roads He has been near you. His rod and His staff have comforted you. You have not gone astray, not because there was not the spirit of straying in you, but because the great Shepherd has kept you in His paths. How often has He succored you and delivered you! How graciously has He helped your weakness, enlightened your darkness, allayed your fears, renewed your hope and, above all, preserved you from sin! Surely, goodness and mercy have brightened all the days of our lives!
More surely than parent or child, or husband or wife, or the best tried friend, Jesus loves His blood-bought ones! O my soul, He loves you! Be you always ravished with His love.
Yet I must not quite close the list till I remind you that you are now, this very day, in union with Him. You are laid on Him and cemented to Him as a stone is built upon the foundation. You are also joined to Him by a living, loving, lasting union, as the bride is united to the Bridegroom. You are identical with your Covenant Head today in the purposes of God. God has dealt with Him as though He had sinned your sin – and now He deals with you as though you had brought His righteousness! In the purposes of God you are wrapped up with the Lord Jesus Christ. Herein is love! The future of Jesus is to be your future! You are to be with Him where He is.
O Beloved, you that love Him, are one with Him by an infinite and indestructible union! Who “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”? (Rom. 8:39). This eternal oneness is the security both of grace and glory to us. We also are on our way to the wedding feast – let us keep our lamps burning. Comfort yourselves with the divine hope of everlasting joy. His love which came to us from heaven to earth will bear us up from earth to heaven! Heart cannot conceive what love has laid up for those whom it has chosen.
Personal and Immeasurable
The Lord Jesus Christ loves each one of His people as much as if He had not one more. All the heart of Christ goes out to each one of us! Neither lose we anything by the fact that He is all the own of so many millions! No, we gain by His being thus possessed by so many brothers and sisters, for we find our bliss repeated in the happiness of all whom Jesus loves as He loves us!
It is a love, in fact, immeasurable – there is no boundary to it. Jesus loves His chosen without limit. He loves unto the end with a love which has no end. We can only become conscious of a limited portion of that love, but it is not limited in itself. To this ocean there is neither shore nor bottom. Jesus loves omnipotently, everlastingly and infinitely!
The Impact of Christ’s Love
The love of Christ received into the heart acts as a universal remedy. Christ is all medicine for all ailments, but He is vastly more than that. He heals and He fills! He fills and He beautifies! He beautifies and He confirms! He confirms and He perfects! Wondrously does His love work on men. Let the love of Christ be believed in and felt in your hearts and it will humble you. Proud self goes out when sweet love comes in – the flesh dies through the power of that love on which the spirit lives. Can I be proud when my Beloved unveils to me His love which passes knowledge? Impossible! No, I feel ready to sink into the ground when I see His glories – “...My soul failed when He spake...” (Song 5:6). The love of Christ is such a torrent that when it floods the soul, it carries self before it.
Love has also a melting influence. The hammer of the Law breaks, but the heart, when thus broken, is like a broken flint, every bit of which is still flint. When the love of Jesus performs its office, it dissolves us, turning the flint into flesh. How tender is the heart which Jesus touches with His pierced hands!
The love of Jesus has a cleansing and sanctifying power. To kill the love of sin, live in the love of Christ! He whom Christ loves hates sin. We begin to say within ourselves – What shall I quit for Christ? What shall I do for Christ? The love of Jesus shed abroad in the soul has a sanctifying savor – it perfumes the heart with holiness. His love is as a fire of odoriferous woods – it consumes sin and gives forth a fragrance of virtue. No furnace ever purifies our heart like the love of Jesus which burns like coals of juniper. The way of love is the road to perfectness. A heart enamored of the holy Jesus will be very jealous lest it grieve Him by sin.
A sweet sense of Christ’s love also strengthens us. Love is strong as death and it makes us strong for the duties of life. Christ’s soldiers never quail! And if you ask the secret of their courage, it is that He loves them – and they cannot but be bold for His dear sake!
This it is, too, that makes us tender to others and compassionate for this poor, ruined world. If any of you want to love the souls of men, learn how Christ loved you. You will love the vilest for His sake. If you would have eyes with which to weep over this sinful city, see how Jesus wept for you. If you would be prompt at all times to help the needy and succor the afflicted, keep close to the side of your gentle, tender, compassionate Lord – and as you feel His love to you – you will feel pity for others.
It is this love also that inflames men with a true zeal for God and for the good of men. Some hardly know what it is to be zealous. But there are a few saints yet remaining who are like pillars of flame from morning till night. The love of Jesus is that heavenly fire!
This love also fills believers with delight. He loves me! O joyous thought! Such an assurance creates a Paradise in a prison and a heaven in heaviness!
Continue in His Love
Let the love of Christ be your element – to you let love and live be the same word! You cannot think too much of Christ’s love! Get absorbed into it! Be swallowed up in it till it is “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).
And when you are once immersed in this love, continue in it. Christ does not love you today and cast you away tomorrow. Shall your faith be inconstant when His faithfulness is so abiding? How is it that you, today, are so happy in the Lord, and tomorrow will be so dreary? Surely near such a fire we ought to be always warm! Abide in His love!
Higher and holier is still our watch word! To where we have attained, let us abide in it and seek grace to go on to something more. Does not our Lord intend this when He says, “...Continue ye in My love”? (John 15:9). “Oh,” says one, “you set us a hard task.” No, I have set before you a pleasant privilege, but I admit that you will not reach it by your own power and as you are in yourself. But I am not talking to you as you are in yourself! I am talking to you as you are in Christ – and as you are in Christ, all power is given to you! Exercise that power!
My Beloved is mine and I am His. And till the day breaks and the shadows flee away, my soul shall feast upon His love – and joy and rejoice in Him!
– Condensed from a sermon. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) was a Baptist minister in London known as the “Prince of Preachers.”