Christ gave himself for us, and God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. John said that this was the essence of love. It meant and means that love cannot be hurt with what hurts it. It only knows one hurt, and that is the hurt of the hurter. It is not the killed who is hurt; it is the killer whose deed kills himself. So God who is love has only one hurt through history in the fall of the human race. Not the hurts we have inflicted on Him by our hates and sin and rebellion; but the hurts we inflict on ourselves, the eternal destiny of the damned. That has hurt God because He is love, and so hurt Him that He must save us.
Our need is His concern; so Jesus came to meet our need and take our hurt on Himself. He called Himself bread, meaning that His real living would be by becoming our life. God really lives by living the life of others: Jesus as bread, Jesus as living water, Jesus as the light of the world, Jesus as the door of the sheepfold, Jesus as the good shepherd—all mean the same thing: that the person who is love finds the meaning of life in being identified with others, in meeting their need, in taking their place, in being them.
Did not Jesus on Calvary so become us that it is said that when He was crucified, we were crucified, buried when He was buried, and risen when He arose? Is He not now our life? “Christ lives in us”, “Christ who is our life”. “In all our afflictions he was afflicted”. “I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in… Lord, when saw we thee and hungered and fed thee? Or thirsty and gave thee drink…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. The identification is so complete that he is saying that hungry, thirsty, naked man is He.
That is how far love goes, and God is love. It goes to the limit. It is a new interpretation of the meaning of life. We humans give our lives, maybe, for those we approve. God’s love has no reservations: it is total, unconditional. So Paul said: “Peradventure for a good man, some would dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…when we were enemies; we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” Christ gives His life for those He disapproves; for below their hate and guilt and rebellion, indeed, because of it, He knows their dire need; and God lives to meet need and gives Himself without limit to do it. That is a different quality of love, and only God is this kind of love. What is God’s joy? What is His pleasure? How does He complete Himself or express Himself (for, as we have said, a self must have self-completion and self-expression)? What is life, this eternal life, in its ultimate meaning?
The answer is given us in the God who has shown us exactly what He is in Jesus. It is in self-transcendence. God’s life is others having life: God is blessed when man is blessed: God sorrows when man sorrows: God (in Christ) moves into man’s earthly hell when man is in hell, to get him out of it: Christ lives His life in man, so that man in his turn now, through God in him, begins to live other people’s lives. The gaiety of God, the seriousness of God, the joy of God, the sorrows of God, the song, the laughter, the eternal livingness of life, the total meaningfulness of eternal life—here it is.
Taken from “The Spontaneous You” by Norman Grubb