The Love of Jesus
In looking at Rev. 1: 5, 6, we can trace the following actions of love: first, love thinks of its objects. This marks the motive in operation to be unaffectedly pure, for when the heart regulates itself by meditating on its object, it seeks not to be noticed, to be praised or exalted for thinking of its object; its reward is found in the very thought itself—a reward, a pleasure with which nothing can compare. Secondly, love visits its object. It could not be content with merely thinking: the same principle that leaves love to think with pleasure, induces it to visit its object; and moreover, we can trace the same purity, elevation and disinterestedness, in the visit as in the thought. It does not think upon its object in order to please or attract the attention of anyone, neither does it visit in order to effect such ends; it has its own real substantial enjoyment, both in thinking of and visiting its object. Thirdly, love suffers for its object—it must suffer. In order to exhibit itself in all its reality and intensity, love must put itself to cost for its object; it must spend and be spent, not because it expects a return, but simply because it will express itself in a way not to be mistaken. Love never thinks of what it may reap for itself in thus suffering. No: it simply contemplates its object, in thinking of, visiting, and suffering for it. Fourthly, love exalts its object. This is the highest point. In the exaltation of its object, love sees the point of previous thought, visitation and suffering. Hence love feels exquisite happiness in exalting its object, for in so doing it reaps the wished–for harvest.
Let us now apply the above blessed characteristics of love to the Lord Jesus and see how his love exhibited them all. Did not He ponder in His own eternal mind His much–loved Church before the foundation of the world? Yes, truly; ‘His gracious eye surveyed us ere stars were seen above’. Did He rest satisfied with merely thinking about us? No: He laid aside all His glory; He came down into this cold, heartless world, as into a vast quarry, from whence He hoped to hew out stones for the temple. He made his way down into this ‘rough valley’ of ours, which had ‘neither been cared nor sown’. “The dayspring from on high hath visited us”, (Luke 1: 78), but He did not rest satisfied with coming down to look at us in our misery and degradation; He determined to suffer for us, to groan, to bleed, to die for us; He hath cleansed us in “His own blood”, (see Rev. 1: 5), which marks the intensity of His suffering for us. What, then, was all this for? Why those ineffable sufferings of Jesus? Why the groans and bloody sweat in the garden? Why the mysterious hours of profound darkness, together with the cry “Why hast thou forsaken me?”, (Matt. 27: 46). Simply that the love of Jesus might exalt its object. He has exalted His object, yea to the highest point of elevation: “He hath made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father”, (Rev. 1: 6). Thus we have seen how the love of Jesus has thought of, visited, suffered for and exalted its object.
All this is for our comfort, but then we should remember that if we love Jesus, we too will often like to think of Him, to contemplate His grace, ponder over His perfections: moreover, we will pay frequent visits to the secret of His sanctuary, not to gain a name as persons of much prayer, but simply to indulge the desires of our hearts after Him who is “the chiefest amongst ten thousand”, (Song. 5: 10), and “altogether lovely”, (Song. 5: 16). Again we shall be ready to suffer for Him, not in order to commend ourselves to our brethren as persons of great energy and zeal, but to express the high estimation in which we hold His blessed Person. Finally, it will be our constant effort to exalt Him in every place; our constant cry will be: “Magnify Jehovah with me, and let us exalt his name together”, (Ps. 34: 3). Let us earnestly pray for such a deep tide of divine love in our poor, cold, narrow, selfish hearts, as will make our service not the mere spirit of imperfect zeal, kindled by the unhallowed spark of human opinion, but the calm, steady, constant flow of unalterable affection for Jesus—that affection which has its primary joy in pondering over its object, before it comes forth as an actor or a sufferer in His cause.