Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for your love is better than wine.…
I. CHRIST'S LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE BECAUSE OF WHAT IT IS NOT.
1. It may be taken without question. Many delightsome things, manor of the pleasures of this world, are very questionable enjoyments. Christians had better keep away from everything about which their consciences are not perfectly clear; but all our consciences are clear concerning the Lord Jesus, and our heart's love to Him; so that, in this respect, His love is better than wine.
2. It is to be had without money. Many a man has beggared himself, and squandered his estate, through his love of worldly pleasure, and especially through his fondness for wine; but the love of Christ is to be had without money. The love of Christ is unpurchased; and I may add that it is unpurchasable. Christ's love is the freest thing in the world, — free as the sunbeam, free as the mountain torrent, free as the air.
3. It is to be enjoyed without cloying. If ever there was a man on earth who had Christ's love in him to the full, it was holy Samuel Rutherford; yet you can see in his letters how he laboured for suitable expressions while trying to set forth his hungering and thirsting after the love of Christ. He says he floated upon Christ's love like a ship upon a river, and then he quaintly asks that his vessel may founder, and go to the bottom, till that blessed stream shall flow right over the masthead of his ship. He wanted to be baptized into the love of Christ, to be flung into the ocean of his Saviour's love; and this is what the true Christian ever longs for.
4. It is without lees. There is nothing in the Lord Jesus Christ that we could wish to have taken away from Him; there is nothing in His love that is impure, nothing that is unsatisfactory. Our precious Lord is comparable to the most fine gold; there is no alloy in Him,; nay, there is nothing that can be compared with Him, for "He is altogether lovely," all perfections melted into one perfection, and all beauties combined into one inconceivable beauty.
5. It will never, as wine will, turn sour. He is the same loving Saviour now as ever He was, and such He always will be, and He will bring us to the rest which remaineth for the people of God.
6. It produces no ill effects. Many are the mighty men who have fallen down slain by wine. But who was ever slain by the love of Christ? Who was ever made wretched by this love?
II. CHRIST'S LOVE IS BETTER THAN WINE BECAUSE OF WHAT IT IS. Let me remind you of some of the uses of wine in the East.
1. Often, it was employed as a medicine, for it had certain healing properties. The good Samaritan, when he found the wounded man, poured into his wounds "oil and wine." But the love of Christ is better than wine; it may not heal the wounds of the flesh, but it does heal the wounds of the spirit.
2. Wine, again, was often associated by men with the giving of strength. Now, whatever strength wine may give or may not give, certainly the love of Jesus gives strength mightier than the mightiest earthly force, for when the love of Jesus Christ is shed abroad in a man's heart, he can bear a heavy burden of sorrow.
3. Wine was also frequently used as the symbol of joy; and certainly, in this respect, Christ's love is better than wine. Whatever joy there may be in the world (and it would be folly to deny that there is some sort of joy which even the basest of men know), yet the love of Christ is far superior to it.
4. It is better than wine, once more, for the sacred exhilaration which it gives. The love of Christ is the grandest stimulant of the renewed nature that can be known. It enables the fainting man to revive from his swooning; it causes the feeble man to leap up from his bed of languishing; and it makes the weary man strong again.
III. The marginal reading of our text is in the plural: "Thy loves are better than wine," and this teaches us that CHRIST'S LOVE MAY BE SPOKEN OF IN THE PLURAL, because it manifests itself in so many ways.
1. Think of Christ's covenant love, the love He had to us before the world was.
2. Think next of Christ's forbearing love.
3. Aye! but the sweetness to us was when we realized Christ's personal love, when at last we were brought to the foot of His cross, humbly confessing our sins.
4. When you first felt Christ's forgiving love, I will not insult you by asking whether it was not better than wine. That was a love that was inconceivably precious; at the very recollection, our heart leaps within us, and our soul doth magnify the Lord.
5. Since that glad hour, we have been the subjects of Christ's accepting love, for we have been "accepted in the Beloved."
6. We have also had Christ's guiding love, and providing love, and instructing love: His love in all manner of ways has come to us, and benefited and enriched us.
7. And we have had sanctifying love; we have been helped to fight this sin and that, and to overcome them by the blood of the Lamb.
8. The Lord has also given us sustaining love under very sharp troubles. Some of us could tell many a story about the sweet upholding love of Christ, — in poverty, or in bodily pain, or in deep depression of spirits, or under cruel slander, or reproach. His left hand has been under our head while His right hand has embraced us.
9. Then let us reflect with shame upon Christ's enduring love to us. Why, even since we have been converted, we have grieved Him times without number! Yet He uses the most kind and endearing terms towards us to show that His love will never die away. Glory be to His holy name for this! Is not His love better than wine?
10. There is one word I must not leave out, and that is, Christ's chastening love. I know that many of you who belong to Him have often smarted under His chastening hand, but Christ never smote you in anger yet. Whenever He has laid the cross on your back, it has been because He loved you so much that He could not keep it off.
11. There are other forms of Christ's love yet to be manifested to you. Do you not sometimes tremble at the thought of dying? Oh, you shall have — and you ought to think of it now, — you shall have special revelations of Christ's love in your dying moments. Then shall you say, like the governor of the marriage feast at Cana, "Thou hast kept the good wine until now.
12. And then — but perhaps I had better be silent upon such a theme, — when the veil is drawn, and the spirit has left the body, what will be the bliss of Christ's love to the spirits gathered with Him in glory?
13. Then think of the love of the day. of our resurrection, for Christ loves. Our bodies as well as our souls; and, arrayed in glory, these mortal bodies shall rise from the tomb. With a life coeval with the life of God, and an immortality divinely given, we shall outlast the sun; and when the moon grows pale, and wanes for ever, and this old earth and all that is therein shall be burned up, yet still shall we be for ever with Him. Truly, His love is better than wine, it is the very essence of Heaven, it is better than anything that we can conceive.
IV. CHRIST'S LOVE IN THE SINGULAR. — Look at the text as it stands: "Thy love is better than wine."
1. Think first, of the love of Christ in the cluster. That is where the wine is first. We talk of the grapes of Eshcol; but these are not worthy to be mentioned in comparison with the love of Jesus Christ as it is seen, in old eternity, in the purpose of God, in the covenant of grace, and afterwards, in the promises of the Word, and in the various revelations of Christ in the types and symbols of the ceremonial law. There I see the love of Christ in the cluster.
2. Next, look at the love of Christ in the basket, for the grapes must be gathered, and cast into the basket, before the wine can be made. Oh, the love of Jesus Christ in the manger of Bethlehem, the love of Jesus in the workshop of Nazareth, the love of Jesus in His holy ministry, the love of Jesus in the temptation in the wilderness, the love of Jesus in His miracles, the love of Jesus in His communion with His disciples, the love of Jesus in bearing shame and reproach for our sakes, the love of Jesus in bring so poor that He had not where to lay His head, the love of Jesus in enduring such contradiction of sinners against Himself!
3. But oh! if your hearts have any tenderness towards Him, think of the love of Christ in the wine-press. What a crushing was that under the foot of the treader of grapes when Christ sweat as it were great drops of blood, and how terribly did the great press come down again and again when He gave His back to the smiters, and Sis cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and hid not His face from shame and spitting! But oh! how the red wine flowed from the wine-press, what fountains there were of this precious sweetness, when Jesus was nailed to the cross, suffering in body, depressed in spirit, and forsaken of His God! "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" These are the sounds that issue from the wine-press, and how terrible and yet how sweet they are!
4. Now I want you to think of the love of Christ in the flagon, where His precious love is stored up for His people; — the love of His promises, given to you; the love of His providence, for He rules for you; the love of His intercession, for He pleads for you; the love of His representation, for He stands at the right hand of the Father as the Representative of His people; the love of His union with His people, for you are one with Him, He is the Head, and you are the members of His Body; the love of all that He is, and all that He was, and all that He ever shall be, for in every capacity and under all circumstances He loves you, and will love you without end.
5. And then not only think of, but enjoy the love of Christ in the cup, by which I mean His love to you. For this we have the declaration of inspiration; nay, we have more even than that to confirm it beyond all question, for we have His own death upon the cross. He signed this document with His own blood, in order that no believer might ever doubt its authenticity. "Herein is love." "Behold what manner of love" there is in the cross! What wondrous love is there!
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.