And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
The love of Christ is too deep for any created understanding to fathom; it is unsearchable love, and it is so in divers respects.
1. It is unsearchable, in respect of its antiquity; no understanding of man can trace it back to its first spring; it flows from one eternity to another. We receive the fruits and effects of it now; but, O how ancient is that root that bears them! He loved us before this world was made, and will continue so to do, when it shall be reduced into ashes.
2. The freeness of the love of Christ passes knowledge. No man knows, nor can any words express, how free the love of Christ to His people is. It is said (Isaiah 55:8), "My thoughts are not your thoughts." In My thoughts, it is like itself, free, rich, and unchangeable; but in your thoughts it is limited and narrowed, pinched in within your strait and narrow conceptions; that it is not like itself, but altered according to the model and platform of creature, according to which you draw it in your minds. Alas! we do but alter and spoil His love, when we think there is anything in us, or done by us, that can be a motive, inducement, or recompence to it. His love is so free that it pitched itself upon us before we had any loveliness in us at all.
3. The bounty and liberality of the love of Christ to His people passeth knowledge. Who can number, or value the fruits of His love? They are more than the sands upon the seashore. It would weary the arm of an angel to write down the thousandth part of the effects of His love, which come to the share of any particular Christian in this world. Sins pardoned; dangers prevented; wants supplied.
4. The constancy of Christ's love to His people passeth knowledge. No length of time, no distance of place, no change of condition, either with Him or us, can possibly make any alteration of His affections towards us (Hebrews 13:8). So then, the love of Christ is a love transcending all creature love, and human understanding. We read in Romans 5:7, 8, that "peradventure for a good man, some would even dare to die"; but we never find where any, beside Jesus Christ, would lay down his life for enemies. It is recorded as an unparalleled instance of love in Damon and Pithias, the two Sicilian philosophers, that each had courage enough to die for his friend. One of them being condemned to die by the tyrant, and desiring to give the last farewell to his family, his friend went into prison for him, as his surety to die for him, if he returned not at the appointed time. But he did not die; yea, he had such a confidence in his friend, that he would not suffer him by default to die for him; and if he had, yet he had died for his friend. But such was the love of Christ, that it did not only put Him into danger of death, but put Him actually unto death, yea, the worst of deaths, and that for His enemies. O what manner of love is this! We read of the love that Jacob had for Rachel, and how he endured both the cold of winter, and heat of summer, for her sake. But what is this to the love of Jesus, who for us endured the heat of God's wrath? Beside, she was beautiful, but we unlovely. David wished for Absalom his son, "Would God I had died for thee!" But it was but a wish; and had it come to the proof, David would have shrinked from death, for all the affection he bare his beautiful son. But Christ actually gave His life for us, and did not only wish He had done it. O love, transcending the love of creatures; yea, and surmounting all creature knowledge! The uses follow. If the love of Christ pass knowledge, O then admire it! yea, live and die in the wonder and admiration of the love of Christ? As it is a sign of great weakness to admire small and common things, so it speaks great stupidity not to be affected with great and unusual things. O Christian! if thou be one that conversest with the thoughts of this love, thou can'st not but admire it; and the more thou studiest, the more still wilt thou be astonished at it. And among the many wonders that will appear in the love of Christ, these two will most of all affect thee, viz.:
1. That ever it pitched at first on thee.
2. That it is not, by so many sins, quenched towards thee.
Parallel VersesKJV: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.