James Smith, 1861
"He gave Himself for us — that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works." Titus 2:14
The first and second advent of Christ are frequently presented to our notice together in the New Testament. The former sometimes introduces the latter, and sometimes the reverse. In writing to Titus, the apostle's mind was wafted away by the inspiring Spirit, to the second coming of the Lord, and he speaks of it as the "blessed hope" of the church of God, for which believers were looking and longing. Then he brings forth the end and design of the first advent, and says, "Who gave Himself for us — that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works."
The Glorious FACT."HE gave Himself!" Yes, Jesus gave Himself for us. Note the contrast between the Giver — and those for whom He gave Himself.
The Giver is He who was the only begotten Son of God, the author of creation, the sustainer of the universe, the brightness of divine glory, the source and end of all things! He who was proclaimed by the prophet as "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the prince of peace." He who is declared by the apostle to be "God over all — blessed for evermore!" He who is "God manifest in the flesh."
"He gave Himself for US." For us — who at the best are mere creatures, between whom and our Creator there can be no comparison. But it was not for us as mere creatures — but for us as base, vile, insignificant, and totally depraved creatures! We had debased ourselves, even unto Hell. Worse, our nature could not be, for "the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked!"
The most exalted, glorious, and holy being in the universe — gave Himself for the most vile, polluted, and degraded of His creatures! O how astonishing!
But He volunteered on our behalf, without any
solicitation, offering to become . . .
our Substitute and fulfill the law in our stead;
our Sacrifice, and make a full atonement for our sins; and
our Ransomer, paying the satisfactory price for our redemption.
He engaged to bear the desert of all our sins in His own
body — to suffer all that the inflexible justice of God could inflict on our
Surety — and so put away our sins forever, by the sacrifice of Himself. He
gave . . .
His person — for our persons;
His blood — as our ransom price;
and His life — for our lives.
He gave His entire self, doing and suffering all
that was necessary to secure our release from sin's curse, and our
everlasting salvation. O amazing grace of a gracious Savior!
The OBJECT in View.He gave Himself that He might justly redeem, ransom, or deliver us — from the guilt, power, and penal consequences of sin. He gave Himself to expiate the guilt, to destroy the power, and secure us against the eternal desert of our transgressions. He gave Himself to purify unto Himself, by fully expiating their sins, a peculiar people:
He redeemed us from all who claimed us, and from every claim that could be made upon us — in order that we might be honorably, exclusively, and eternally "His own". His own, in the highest, fullest, and most glorious sense.
His own peculiar people, "zealous for good works." That
being influenced by His love, affected by His example, enabled by His
Spirit, and guided by His word — they may answer the gracious design of God,
zealously performing "good works, which God has before ordained that we
should walk in them." Thus,
grace is gloriously displayed,
man's salvation is secured, and
God's glory by the good works of His people, is rendered certain!
"He gave Himself!" The love of Jesus is unparalleled. Out of pure love to us who had no love to Him, nor ever would have had — but for His first loving us! He gave, not only His time, His labor, His wealth — but Himself! He gave His entire person as the God-man, the incarnate Jehovah!
"He gave Himself!" This was more than as if He had given a thousand worlds — for these He could create with a word!
"He gave Himself," and not merely to live for us, or labor for us — but even to die for us!
"He gave Himself," and not even to die some easy and honorable death — but the most painful, shameful death, that man ever invented, or creature ever suffered!
O wondrous love!
O Jesus, never, never was there love like yours!
Note, the special object that Jesus had in view. "That He might redeem us" — by a price, which no one but Himself could pay — that He might . . .
satisfy all the demands of law and justice,
acquire a peculiar right to us, and so honorably . . .
deliver us from every foe,
rescue us from all that is degrading,
and exalt us to the highest honor.
Jesus would have us to be peculiarly His own, "His own peculiar people," which indicates peculiar love, and displays peculiar grace.
Observe, the parties redeemed: Those who were the vilest of His creatures — but who being claimed for Him, by His Holy Spirit — became a peculiar people, zealously endeavoring to do just what pleases Him, and all that pleases Him.
They are brought to have a peculiar knowledge of Him — which leads them to be peculiarly zealous in endeavoring to please Him.
See, the claim He has to, and upon His people. A more just claim to them — He could not have, seeing He has given His life, His all — to possess them! A greater claim He could not have upon them, seeing He has redeemed them from death, ransomed them from Hell, and purchased them in order to make them holy, honorable, and happy forever.
Notice then, what He expects from them. He
expects zealous obedience. He expects . . .
that His word be studied,
that His will be consulted, and
that His honor be sought in all they think, speak, or do.
He expects that they will abstain from all sin. Sin brought them into danger. Sin rendered it necessary that He should suffer, bleed, and die for them. Sin grieves His love, wounds His heart, and dishonors His name; therefore He requires them to avoid sin, abstain from sin, and hate sin!
Reader, what do you think of Jesus?
How do you feel toward Him?
What do you think of His love, His wondrous love?
What effect has it upon you?
What are your views of sin — all sin?
How do you feel toward sin?
What think you of good works?
Are you zealously endeavoring to perform them?
And WHY, dear Savior — tell me why,
You thus would suffer, bleed and die?
What mighty motive could you move,
The motive's plain — 'twas all for love!
For love of whom? Of sinners base;
A hardened herd, a rebel race!
That mocked and trampled on your blood,
And trifled with the wounds of God!
They nailed Him to the accursed tree;
They did my brethren — and so did we!
The soldier pierced His side 'tis true;
But we have pierced Him through and through!