By Tim Sullivan

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,
who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)


Christianity is not about the Christian’s love for Christ. I know that is the tendency amongst the people of God, to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, to boast of their efforts for the Kingdom. But no man, not even the man who gives his life for the furtherance of the Gospel, will ever make a greater sacrifice for Christ than he made for him.

Christianity is about Christ’s love for us. By the testimony of God’s Holy Word, the Son of God laid down his life for us.

John 15:13:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

It takes the letters of Paul to put the sacrifice of Christ into proper perspective. For you and I were not the friends of Christ when he gave his life for us.

Romans 5:6-8:
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died for us when we were his enemies.

vv. 9-10:
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Only for the sake of perfect love would a man die for the ungodly, for sinners, for the enemies of God.

1 John 4:9-10:
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

It is only perfect love that compels a man to love his enemies.

Matthew 5:43-44:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

It was by this perfect love that Christ gave himself on the cross. It was his love, his faith and not ours, that sent him to Calvary’s cross.

Galatians 2:20:
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Why did he do it? For the joy that was set before him.

Hebrews 12:2:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who 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.

What was the joy that was set before him? Eternal life? Fellowship with God? Jesus had these already. Christ gained nothing for himself by his sacrifice. Everything he endured was on our behalf.

2 Corinthians 5:21:
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.

In that dreadful moment just prior to his death, Jesus Christ became sin for us. He didn’t just take all our sins. He was made sin for us. All that was true, all that was honest, all that was just, all that was pure, all that lovely and of good report, all that was of virtue and praise fled from him. No longer was he the fleshly tabernacle of the Living God. His was a temple of darkness, corruption and fear. Now can you see why he prayed three times that this cup might pass from him?

Matthew 26:39-44:
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

By all rights, it should have been you and me on that tree. Christ was not the one who needed healing. But he was wounded and bruised for our transgressions and our iniquities.

Isaiah 53:5:
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.

It wasn’t his sins that he bore on the Cross. Those belonged to you and me.

Romans 6:6:
Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

It wasn’t for his sake that he died and was buried and rose again. He endured the suffering so that you and I could be risen with him.

Colossians 2:12:
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

He did it for us, that we could be made righteous before God.

Romans 5:19:
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

No one gets anywhere being told how much he should love the Lord. Your life is changed when you understand how much he loves you. It is the goodness of God that leads a man to repentance. Because of his great love, we are entirely indebted to live for him. He died for you, that you might live for him.

Romans 8:12:
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

The life I now live is the life that God has given to me. I live in and by the name of the resurrected Son of God. He did it for the joy that was set before him. By our new life in him, we can fulfill his joy.

3 John 1:4:
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.



From the April 2001 issue of The Vine & Branches