How Can We Love as Christ Loved?
By Matthew Black, Pastor
Text: Ephesians 5:25-33
Date: Sunday, March 22, 2009
Tabernacle Baptist Church
7020 Barrington Road
Hanover Park, Illinois 60133
Introduction: Open your Bible to the book of Ephesians 5:25 and then we are going to turn to Isaiah 53. This morning we are going to ask a question: “How Can We Love as Christ Loved”.
We are normally in the book of Ephesians on Sunday mornings. We have been studying how husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Look over at Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”. How exactly did Christ love the church?
How can we love as Christ loved? We must look at his example. For we will look at Isaiah 53.
Please stand as we read Isaiah 53:4-10a, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief …”.
[Prayer for Guidance]
We are told to love as Christ loved.
Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”.
1 John 3:16, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
How can we love as Christ loved?
I. Behold the Lamb! (52:13-15). “Behold, my servant”! He is speaking of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God would have you behold Jesus this morning! Jesus Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:20). Behold the Lamb!
A. Behold His wisdom. “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently” (52:13). When Christ came into this world, He was the wisest man to walk the earth. He was the omniscient God in human flesh. We see from his life that the wisdom of God is foolishness to man. Christ’s wisdom led Him to lay His life aside. If you know Christ, it will lead you to count your life as nothing also.
Christ’s wisdom offends the wisdom of men. The wisdom of God is foolish to men. What we find is that the pathway to Christ’s exaltation is unlike what any wise person on earth would choose. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, “the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God”.
Christ’s wisdom led Him to put aside any agenda for glory for Himself in order to sacrifice Himself for wretched, unworthy sinners. Many times during the life of Jesus His followers wanted to make Him King and thought He came to the world to exalt Himself.
No one could have ever imagined a plan that would entail a holy God substituting Himself for sinful man. That is outrageous in man’s thinking. Yet God’s wisdom is infinitely above man’s wisdom. We are to Behold the Lamb! We are to look at Him—In his life he “dealt prudently”. He was the Word incarnate. He taught the doctors at age 12, even though he had no formal schooling. When Jesus taught in the temple, we find out that “the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15).
What we find at every opportunity Jesus had, He laid down His life for guilty wretched people. Behold the Lamb! Behold His wisdom!
Application: Do you know the Lamb? The Lord says in Jeremiah 9:23-24, “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me”.
B. Behold His exaltation. “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled [lifted up], and be very high” (52:13).
Christ deals so prudently that the result is He is exalted above all. His plan is so wise that He is given a Name above every name. Turn over to Philippians 2. Paul say in Philippians 2:9-11, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,..” Verse 11, “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Behold the Lamb and exalt Him! Look what He has done for wretched humanity! God has given Him a Name above every name!
Application: James 4:10, ‘Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” Being lifted up, simply means that God is going to use your for His glory. God tells us not to seek great things for ourselves. Jeremiah 45:5, “…Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not”. We will never be used of God if we seek great things. Instead we should seek to be nothing and serve others. As Peter says in 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”.
C. Behold His humiliation. “As many were astonied [astounded; repulsed] at thee; his visage [appearance] was so marred more than any man [or, beyond human recognition], and his form more than the sons of men” (52:14).
Christ was willing to be beaten in your place. He gladly laid down His life for you. He “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
The central event of human history is the death of Jesus Christ. Christ was humbled and beaten beyond human recognition because He loved you. We can be accepted because of Jesus’ perfect, wrath-bearing death. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When we think of God’s power, we think of His ability to one day destroy the entire physical universe. Yet, God’s greatest act of power is not the destruction of the wicked, but the humble, condescending act of taking all the wickedness of the church upon Himself and giving back love. “His visage [appearance] was so marred more than any man [or, beyond human recognition], and his form more than the sons of men” (52:14). Behold His humiliation for you!
D. Behold His reconciliation. “So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider” (52:15).
Explanation: Let me explain to you this picture of the sprinkling of the Mercy Seat. God’s servant Jesus Christ through the Cross would be “marred more than any man”. As a result He would “sprinkle many nations” with His blood. This image is from the Day of Atonement, when the blood of the Lamb was sprinkled on the mercy seat above the Law that condemned the sinner, making him fit to enter back into communion with God.
Consider Augustus M. Toplady’s song Rock of Ages
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
We are free from the Law’s condemnation. Christ has sprinkled many nations with His blood! The Gentiles are coming to know the Messiah. Let us go into the highways and hedges and compel them to “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!” He says Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Love and live! Behold the Lamb!
How can we love as Christ loved? We must behold the love of the Lamb! Secondly…
II. Believe the Lamb! See the Lamb’s Revelation (verse 1). Isaiah 53:1, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” A question is asked. “Who hath believed our report?” What report? Who will believe this report (literally, doctrine or preaching) of Christ’s death? Almost no one in Israel believed the Lamb’s message. Yet we already read that many nations will believe and be sprinkled in His blood. How will they believe it? It will be revealed to them (verse 1). The human heart is so hardened that it takes the “arm” or power of the Lord to reveal Christ to the unreceptive human heart.
John 1:11-13, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” To receive Christ, you must have a supernatural revelation. You must be drawn by the Father. Jesus said in John 6:65, “no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” The Spirit of God must soften and open and break the hard heart of man before he will ever come to Christ. Until then, no one will believe the preaching of the Cross.
Application: Believe the Lamb! Give your whole agenda to Christ. See that everything in this life is a waste. Say to God “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
III. Recieve of the Lamb! Consider the Lamb’s Incarnation. Isaiah 53:2-3, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not”.
A. Like Christ, we must live in the presence of God. Verse 2a, “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant”. The idea here is that Christ lived before the presence of God as a man. In the eyes of men he is like a powerless “tender plant” or sapling. Or He is as as a desolate root out of a barren desolate “dry ground”.
Remember Jesus is called the “root of Jesse” that comes out of the cut down tree of Israel.
B. Like Christ, we must put no stock in outward pretense. We read of Christ that “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (verse 2b). You would imagine the King of the universe to have a “glow” about Him as He is portrayed in the Hollywood films. He wasn’t like that. He looked like a man. There was no natural beauty in Him. He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).
Application: If you are to follow Christ, you must not put stock in how you appear to people. That should have no worth to you. You must live in the presence of God and care not what men think of you.
For our church, we must not put stock in numbers alone, but in changed lives. We must not put stock in programs but in the power of God surging in our prayer lives. We must not put stock in our outward knowledge, but in our knowledge of the Holy One. If you are to live and abide in Christ, then you must put no stock in outward pretense. It does not matter if people praise you. You must life for the “well done” of the Lord. That brings us to our next point.
C. Like Christ we must be willing to be rejected of men. Verse 3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not”. Here Christ is the wisest Person in the universe, and He is despised for His wisdom. No one wanted to look at Him. He lived a perfect life, and He did not make it on the most popular person list. In fact, He was so dispised that He was crucified and “we hid as it were our faces from him”.
Application: If you will follow Christ, you must also become nothing. 1 John 3:13, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Remember the words of Jesus in John 15:18, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” You must “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
IV. Rest on the Lamb! See the Lamb’s Substitution (53:4-10a).
I want you to see a description of what Jesus Christ did so that you can be accepted by God. Verses 4-10a, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…”.
The summary of all this is in verse 6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”.
A. Consider the sinfulness of sin. It was your sin that put Jesus on the Cross. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way”. This is man’s natural depravity. From birth we go astray speaking lies.
1. Definition of sin. Sin is us seeking our own way. It is the transgression of God’s Law (1 John 3:4) and is all that is contrary to God Himself. It is rebellion against God, and it makes us all enemies of God (Colossians 1:21). God hates sin with a perfect hatred.
2. Demonstration of God’s wrath against sin. To understand the wrath of God, you must see how much God hates sin. Because of our sin, we are all due the wrath of God.
What makes sin so dangerous to the sinner, is that sin blinds the sinner, so that the sinner does not see how bad sin is. Man’s heart is defiled with hardness and blindness.
Most people recoil from thinking they are that bad. We cannot imagine that our sin deserves eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. Yet, this just shows how blind we are to God’s holiness. Sin has blinded us to how sinful sin really is.
John Bunyan said, "Sin is the dare of God's justice. Sin is the rape of God's mercy. It is the jeer of His patience, the sleight of His power and the contempt of His love." We will all answer for what we have done. God is a righteous Judge.
Thomas Goodwin, the Puritan, wrote about how the Bible describes sin. He said, [In the Bible] "Sin is called poison; sinners, serpents. Sin is called vomit; sinners, dogs. Sin is called the stench of graves; sinners, rotten sepulchers. Sin is called mire; sinners, pigs."
We must see the sinfulness of sin in order to see the depth of Christ’s love.
In order to rescue the church (made up of nothing but vile sinners) God had to satisfy His wrath and just hostility toward sin. God hates sin with an infinite holy hatred. You must understand the sinfulness of sin before you can understand the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
B. Now let us consider the love and mercy of God. We come back to verse 6 in Isaiah 53. It would be one thing for God to love us if you deserved it. The more undeserving you are, the more amazing God’s love is. We have not done what God expects of us. Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
God has held Jesus Christ accountable for your sin! All your sin is laid upon Him! It is removed from your record!
Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Application: Christ loved the church, and He loves the church, and it is not based on anything in you! God will bring you through to holiness. We need to get rid of self-righteousness in our lives by looking at the cross. What I mean is you are not a good Christian because you keep all the rules. You are a good Christian because Christ has cleansed you and changed you—Jesus paid it all!
You are accepted by God every day—allowed to go to the throne of grace—not based on how many people you’ve witnessed to or on how many verses you’ve memorized. You are accepted into God’s presence because God loves you through Jesus Christ. In other words, you are accepted not based on your performance, but based on Christ’s performance. How accepted are you by God? As accepted as Jesus Christ is.
Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Paul says in verse 38, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
It took Christ’s death to allow God to accept you, but now that you are “accepted in the Beloved” you can never be separated from the Love of Christ. Romans 8:1, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus”.
V. Adore the Lamb! Behold the Lamb’s Exaltation. Because of Christ’s death he will be exalted above all. Look at Isaiah 53:10b-12, Speaking of God the Father, Isaiah writes: “…he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days [RESURRECTION], and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
A. God raised Christ from the Dead to secure Christ’s seed! In verse 10b we read that God the Father “shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days”. Who is the seed [or OFFSPRING] of Christ? We are! We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are the nations that God promised to Abraham. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:29, “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham‘s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
What seed is this? This seed is the church, God’s chosen and elect people. It is the group of people God is calling out of the world. Christ says in John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
It is was for this seed of people that Christ died! Paul says He “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
B. God is satisfied with Christ’s death and resurrection. Verse 11, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied”. God is not satisfied with you, but with Christ. Hide yourself in Christ. Run to Christ.
C. Finally, Christ divides his spoil, His inheritance with the seed, who are here called the mighty and the great! Verse 12, “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” God has given all things to Jesus Christ and has made you a joint heir with Him. All of this should cause you to exalt and adore Jesus Christ!
Conclusion: How can we love as Christ loved? Behold Him, Believe Him, Receive Him, Love Him, and Adore Him!