And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
I. THE EXPERIENCE OF DIVINE LOVE IS AN OBJECT OF DESIRE. To know that we are loved! Is not this one of the chiefest blessings of life? Is it not most true, in a terrestrial sense, that there is no living without some sense of others' love? Now, the text sets before us the experience of celestial love as an object greatly to be desired. But we cannot know the celestial except through the terrestrial. We cannot understand the Divine apart from human manifestations. Let us, then, in praying this prayer, pray also that we may so live as to know the love which God has seated as an abundant spring in the human hearts around us.
II. THE EXPERIENCE OF DIVINE LOVE IS A SATISFYING EXPERIENCE.
1. There is a satisfaction arising from the possession of riches that is a part of our nature. Well, St. Paul speaks of "the riches, of God's glory" in this connection.
2. There is a satisfaction in the consciousness of power; and St. Paul speaks of being "strengthened with might by God's Spirit" in this connection.
3. There is another kind of satisfaction arising from the consciousness of mental treasures; a memory and an imagination teeming with great thoughts, with beautiful shapes and pictures. This kind of satisfaction is also brought into association with the subject. He speaks of "the inner man," and of "Christ dwelling in the heart by faith." There is a great satisfaction in being able to form a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ in His glorious character and attributes, and in keeping it before the mind's eye. It is a vast mental treasure, even apart from the sense of being an object of His love.
4. The knowledge of love, the apprehension of it as our life inheritance, and the portion of all souls — this is the deepest satisfaction. There is many an humble Christian, who has read nothing, can think but little, whose mind is not stored with ideas, but who is peaceful and happy in religion because he has made the knowledge of love his own — God is his Father, Christ his loving Redeemer who died for him. He finds all his life to be an expression of Divine love. The great cavity of his nature has been filled up, and it is enough.
III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST'S LOVE IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SOMETHING MOST VAST, OF SOMETHING INFINITE. The apostle, with that grand reach of expression which he loves to employ, speaks of its breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and again, of its surpassing knowledge. He means that we should desire to comprehend how exceeding vast, how profound, how boundless, how immeasurable, is the energy of this love. If you are standing, let us say, before Lincoln Minster, when the sunlight is pouring all its glory upon towers and windows and traceries, making the whole object so magically beautiful that you almost wonder whether it is not a dream that is passing before you, you do not want a bystander to begin teasing you with statements of the exact number of feet there are in the length, the breadth, the height of the building. They will not help you to enhance your impression of its magnificence. Or, if you are standing before the vast roaring flood of Niagara, you do not care at the moment of your greatest rapture of wonder to be informed exactly how many gallons of water are going over the fall at each second. These are matters of curiosity, interesting enough in other moods of mind; but when we have to do with the great feelings of awe, of wonder, in the presence of grandeur and sublimity, we wish to escape out of the region of exact figures and measurements. Much more so with this vast thought, the love of Christ. We need not desire, as we are unable to apply to it the measures of time and space.
(E. Johnson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.