Let us stand still, and admire and wonder at the love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners; that Christ should rather die for us, than for the angels. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God: yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us vessels of glory, Oh, what amazing and astonishing love is this! This is the envy of devils. and the admiration of angels and saints.
The apostle, being in a holy admiration of Christ’s love, affirms it to pass knowledge, Eph. 3:18-19; that God, who is the eternal Being, should love man when he had scarce a being, Prov. 8:30-31, that he should be enamored with deformity, that he should love us when in our blood, Ezek. 16., that he should pity us when no eye pitied us, no, not our own. Oh, such was Christ’s transcendent love, that man’s extreme misery could not abate it. The deploredness of man’s condition did but heighten the holy flame of Christ’s love. It is as high as heaven, who can reach it? It is as low as hell, who can understand it? Heaven, through its glory, could not contain him, man being miserable, nor hell’s torments make him refrain, such was his perfect matchless love to fallen man. That Christ’s love should extend to the ungodly, to sinners, to enemies that were in arms of rebellion against him, Rom. 5:6, 8, 10; yes, not only so, but that he should hug them in his arms, lodge them in his bosom, dandle them upon his knees, and lay them to his breasts, that they may suck and be satisfied, is the highest improvement of love, Isa 66:11-13.
That Christ should come from the eternal bosom of his Father, to a region of sorrow and death, John 1:18; that God should be manifested in the flesh, the Creator made a creature, Isa. 53:4; that he that was clothed with glory, should be wrapped with rags of flesh, 1 Tim. 3:16; that he that filled heaven, should be cradled in a manger, John 17:5; that the God of Israel should fly into Egypt, Mat. 2:14; that the God of strength should be weary; that the judge of all flesh should be condemned; that the God of life should be put to death, John 14:41; that he that is one with his Father, should cry out of misery, ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!’ Mat. 26:39: that he that had the keys of hell and death, Rev. 1:18, should lie imprisoned in the sepulcher of another, having, in his lifetime, nowhere to lay his head; nor after death, to lay his body, John 19:41-42; and all this for man, for fallen man, for miserable man, for worthless man, is beyond the thoughts of created natures. The sharp, the universal and continual sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, from the cradle to the cross, does above all other things speak out the transcendent love of Jesus Christ to poor sinners. That wrath, that great wrath, that fierce wrath, that pure wrath, that infinite wrath, that matchless wrath of an angry God, that was so terribly impressed upon the soul of Christ, quickly spent his natural strength, and turned his moisture into the drought of summer, Ps. 32:4; and yet all this wrath he patiently underwent, that sinners might be saved, and that ‘he might bring many sons unto glory,’ Heb. 2:10.
Oh, wonder of love! Love enables Jesus to suffer. It was love that made our dear Lord Jesus lay down his life, to save us from hell and to bring us to heaven. As the pelican, out of her love to her young ones, when they are bitten with serpents, feeds them with her own blood to recover them again; so when we were bitten by the old serpent, and our wound incurable, and we in danger of eternal death, then did our dear Lord Jesus, that he might recover us and heal us, feed us with his own blood, Gen. 3:15; John vi. 53-56. Oh love unspeakable! This made [Bernard] cry out, ‘Lord, you have loved me more than yourself; for you have laid down your life for me.’
It was only the golden link of love that fastened Christ to the cross, John 10:17, and that made him die freely for us, and that made him willing ‘to be numbered among transgressors,’ Isa. 53:12, that we might be numbered among the ‘general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,’ Heb. 12:23.