‘Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life’. John 10:17
The free obedience of Christ. ‘I lay down my life. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.’ Brethren, there is nothing more certain than that no man can lay down his life for another. But you will observe, there were two things that made it right in Christ to lay down his life: (a) he is the Lord of all; (b) the Father gave him a commandment to lay it down. ‘I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.’
And you will notice from this that in laying down his life, he was not forced to do it. This is brought out in the example of Isaac. You remember that God commanded Abraham to take Isaac his son, and to go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering; but you will notice that Isaac was a young man, and his father an old man, so that, had he wanted, he could have resisted his being bound – Genesis 22:1-19. Now, brethren, this was intended to be a type of Christ. It is true that men bound him, but it is also true that he laid down his life himself
Dear brethren, from this let us learn the justice of this act. There are many persons who say that it is not just for an innocent person to die for the wicked; but this is an extraordinary case. The Father was willing to take Christ as the substitute, so it is in perfect accordance with law and justice.
‘Therefore doth my Father love me because I lay down my life’ I do not know any word in the Bible that is more sweet to meditate on than the love of the Father to the Son. There are many things that induce the Father to love the Son. He loved him for his Godhead. But here is another reason why the Father loves the Son – he loves him for his holy manhood. ‘He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners’ – Hebrews 7:26. God never saw anything so like himself. When God made Adam, he said, ‘It is very good’; but oh! when he saw Jesus, he saw a loveliness in him such as he never saw in any created thing.
But here is another reason why the Father loves him: ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life.’ We are told that he grew in favour both with God and man – Luke 2:52. He was every day fulfilling a part of his holy obedience, until he came to the last, and then the Father saw obedience as he had never seen it before. Oh, brethren! it was love that was never seen before, that he should die for the lowest for the vilest. And that appears to be another reason why Jesus died: it is, that the Father got a vent for his love to flow out to sinners: ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life. From all this, dear brethren, learn:
(a) Though a child of God carries the cross, he may be under the love of God. Never did God love Christ so much as when he was heaping wrath upon him – ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life.’ And, oh, brethren! so it often is with a saint. Often God puts a cross upon a child of God, and then takes it off, and lets us sing, ‘I will yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God’ – Psalm 42:11.
(b) Learn how sinners are to come into the love of God. Dear friends, I have often pleaded with you to come into the love and peace of God; but you may say, I do not know how to come; then, listen – the Father loves you because Jesus has finished the work. Come! O believe on him, and you will be brought into the love of God! Amen. Robert Murray M’Cheyne