He Gave Himself
The cross is the greatest fact of Christianity. Without it Christianity would be non-existent. From the Divine standpoint it was an absolute necessity and from the stand point of human need there was no other way by which man could be reconciled to God. It was the subject of the eternal counsels of God, the burden of Old Testament prophecy, and the substance of every type and shadow of atonement in the old economy. At the cross we see the greatest manifestation of human depravity, and there we see the greatest display of God’s love.
Concerning Christ, the expression, “He gave Himself,” is mentioned six times in the New Testament. As we ponder these, let us draw near by faith to the cross, and learn afresh that through Christ’s offering, the giving of Himself, we are delivered from the bondage of sin, we have a perfect standing before God, we are cleansed from defilement, and have peace, justification, and reconciliation before God, as well as the means of sanctification before the world.
THE CROSS IS THE RESTING PLACE OF FAITH: “The Man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all, (1 Tim. 2:6). Christ shed His blood that God’s righteousness might not be violated in our salvation. The death of Christ was the ransom that God Himself provided and accepted on our behalf. In that vicarious death, God received the propitiation, and man receives the reconciliation, (Rom. 5:11 marg.). There is an interesting repetition of the word “all” in this passage from Timothy. The ransom has been given for all (vs. 6); God wills the salvation of all (vs. 4); therefore, the intercession of the church is for all, (vs. 1).
THE CROSS IS THE MEANS OF SANCTIFICATION: “Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world,” (Gal. 1:4). What aimless lives we lived in this poor world. We squandered our affections pursuing objects which left a sense of disappointment and frustration. From all the evil of the world, its lawlessness, its philosophies, its systems, and its theories, Christ has separated us in His Cross. Moreover, through His work accomplished there, He has satisfied every yearning of our hearts. In Him we find the perfect object of delight. Both the negative and the positive sides of our sanctification by the cross, have been expressed for us in the prophetic language of Ephraim, “What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him, and observed Him.”
THE CROSS IS THE SECRET OF SPIRITUAL VITALITY: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me,” (Gal. 2:20). Christ gave Himself that He might live out His own beautiful life in the lives of His people. In this regard, four things are stated in this portion. First, I died in Christ. The sentence of death was executed on me in Christ at the cross. I now stand in the safety of resurrection ground. In second place, Christ lives in me, that is, by His Spirit Who forms the image of Christ in the growth of the “New Man.” Christ has no eyes in this world, but ours with which to look with compassion on human need; no hands but ours to do His noble work; no feet but ours to run errands of mercy; and no lips but ours to speak forth His message of pardon, peace, and love. His love demands the yielding of our all, in order that in very truth, we may be able to say, “For me to live is Christ.” In third place, relationship with the former “I” or “the old man” has been broken; that “I” is an intruder in this new sphere of life in Christ. We live not by his maxims; therefore, his deeds must be put off as having no place in our lives as the people of God. Finally, we live by a new principle, a vital energy in the life. It is the faith of the Son of God. In other words, that faith embodied in Christ, that was the rule and force of His life as a perfect man, is now the principle and energy of our lives. By it we live and move to the glory of God; we overcome in the conflict of life, and establish in heaven a record in view of the Day of Christ, (Heb. 11:2 and 39).
THE CROSS DEMANDS THE ABSOLUTE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST IN OUR LIVES: “Our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity (lawlessness) and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works,” (Titus 2:14). He bought us at highest cost, that He might take up the reins of government in order to supremely rule over us. The cross displays God’s wondrous grace. In this particular passage, we read of the grace that justifies (11), that sanctifies (12), and that glorifies (vs. 13), and, that even satisfies now (vs. 14). The grace of God is a great incentive to our yielding our all to Him, so also are the hope of the coming of Christ, and the eternal purpose of His cross. Let us ever remember that, “Christ both died and rose and revived that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.”
THE CROSS IS THE EXAMPLE OF LOVE: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour,” (Eph. 5:1-2). Love is the greatest virtue of the Christian character. Christ unselfishly yielded His all that His people might learn to walk in happy fellowship with each other. The sacredness of Christian communion is learned only under the shadow of the cross. In life and in death Christ was the true Meal Offering and Peace Offering; for others He lived and died. He, the Peace Offering, in His perfect sacrifice has fixed the foundation for reconciliation both with God and man; consequently, He has established the only ground of fellowship with God, and with man. The racial enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles has been abolished by the cross; believers in Christ from both races are now fellow citizens in the heavenly Kingdom, and fellow-members of the body of Christ. In the light of the cross, we, therefore, are to walk in love the one toward the other. We are to be imitators of God and reflect His lovely character. Let us stand beneath the shadow of the cross till the very love that led Him to die for us warms and illuminates our whole being. In such an atmosphere the noxious weeds of corrupt human nature (bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice) will wither, and in the soil of the new nature the tender plants of His own sowing (kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness, purity, love, and sacrifice) will bloom for His delight and glory, (Eph. 4:31-5:2).
THE CROSS IS THE ASSURANCE OF HEAVEN AND HOME: “Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it … that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” (Eph. 5:25-27). Each member of that Church is born with a heavenly calling, rejoicing in a heavenly citizenship, possessed with heavenly affection, endued with heavenly wisdom and power, and bound for a heavenly destiny.
“Unto Him who loved us, gave us
Every pledge that love could give;
Freely shed His blood to save us;
Gave His life that we might live;
Be the kingdom,
And the glory evermore!”