And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
I. The love of Christ is wonderful, because it is IMPARTIAL (see Matthew 5:45). Look at the sunshine pouring down over a great city, and think on what different characters the light falls. The same sun shines on the Church and its faithful worshippers, and on the house of shame and infamy. The same light gilds the dying bed of the Christian and the couch of the infidel and blasphemer. The same beam glitters on the blessed altar of the faithful, and on the cell of the impenitent murderer. Look at the sunshine and the shower in the country. The fields of the earnest, prayerful man, and those of the unbelieving, prayerless scoffer lie golden under the same sunlight, are watered by the same showers. And why is this so? Surely it is a type of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. We shall get to know more of the love of Christ if we learn to be more impartial in our love for our fellow men.
II. The love of Christ is wonderful in its EFFECTS. In all the long roll of heroes, there are none so great as those who fought under the banner of Christ's love. Feeble old men, little children, weak women, were transformed by that marvellous power; they could do all things through Christ who strengthened them. Did you ever read, brethren, how the last fight of gladiators in the Coliseum ended? It was when Rome had become Christian, but still the cruel sports of the people had not been entirely given up. After a famous victory, the emperor, a feeble boy, and all the great men of Rome, went to the crowded theatre to witness the amusements given in honour of the triumph. After the harmless sports were over some gladiators entered the arena armed with sharp swords. The people shouted with delight because the old savage amusements of their heathen days were restored to them. Suddenly an old man, dressed in the habit of a hermit, and unknown to all, sprang into the arena, and declared that as Christian people they must not suffer men to slay each other thus. An angry cry rose from the eager crowd. The gladiators, disappointed of their gain, menaced the hermit fiercely, crying, "back, old man, for thy life." But the stranger stood fearless before that angry mob, he heeded not the swords of the gladiators, nor the yells of the people, but solemnly protested against the deed of blood. In another moment he lay dead on the red sand, pierced by a dozen wounds. He died, but his words lived. When the people saw the fearless courage of a weak old man, shame filled their hearts; the sports were stopped, and never again did the gladiators fight in the Coliseum.
III. The love of Christ is wonderful in its EFFECT ON OUR WORK. It is a common saying that such and such a work is a labour of love; and, believe me, that is the best done of all which is done for love. Long ago, there was an old cathedral somewhere abroad, I cannot tell you where. On one of the arches was sculptured a face of exceeding beauty. It was long hidden, but one day a ray of sunshine lighted up the matchless work, and from that time, on the days when the light shone on the face, crowds came to look at its loveliness. The history of that sculpture is a strange one. When the Cathedral was being built, an old man, worn with years and care, came to the architect, and begged to be allowed to work there. Fearing his age and failing sight might cause the old man to injure the carving, the master set him to work in a dark part of the roof. One day they found the stranger lying dead, with the tools of his craft around him, and his still face turned up towards that other face which he had carved. It was a work of surpassing beauty, and without doubt was the face of one whom the artist had long since loved and lost. When the craftsmen looked upon it, they all agreed — "this is the grandest work of all, it is the work of love." We, my brothers, are all set to do some work here in the temple of our lives, and the best, the most beautiful, the most enduring, will be that which we do because the love of Christ constraineth us.
IV. The love of Christ is wonderful in its POWER OF PARDON.
(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, 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.