I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. These are some of the simplest words imaginable, and yet some of the most profound. We teach them to the smallest of children. Still, the most mature in the faith only scratch the surface of their grandeur and grace.
Jesus loves me is not a basic truth to master and then move on to bigger and more complicated things. Rather, it is an almost unspeakably great reality, one into which we’re first introduced as a child or at some point in our journey, and then a truth into which we dive deeper and deeper without end.
The love of Jesus is an ocean, accessible enough for a child to wade into at the shore, and yet massive enough that it will take eternity to explore and swim in deeper in it.
Praying for the Ocean
The apostle Paul prays for our experience of the ocean in Ephesians 3:16–19. He asks God,
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16–19)
This is an extraordinary prayer — one of the richest in all the Bible. At the heart of Paul’s request for these believers is the ongoing increase of the felt sense of Christ’s love. And this is not only for special individuals, but for “all the saints.”
Paul prays here for Christians to have strength, but here it’s not strength to serve the Lord or to love others or to pursue holiness. He does pray for those things elsewhere. But here the prayer is for “strength to comprehend . . . what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge.” The love of Christ is no small thing. Jesus loves me is no mere child’s tune; it is the ever-ripening, always-expanding, forever-blossoming reality into which we increasingly wade.
What does it mean to “be filled with all the fullness of God”? To truly know that Jesus loves me.
Demonstrated in His Death
And by “the love of Christ,” Paul does not mean some bland, ethereal love on high, with obscure divine smiles and Christian warm-fuzzies. The love of Christ has a very specific meaning. We see it in Romans 5:8, with the love of the Father: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It is the death of Christ for us, the self-sacrificial giving of his own life to save ours. That is the clearest, supreme manifestation of his love.
“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). And it’s not just “us,” but “me.” In Galatians 2:20, it’s intensely personal:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
He loved me and gave himself for me. Jesus loves me, this is I know, for he died, his love to show.
And this love of Christ for us — for you —not only is so rich and deep and thick and full that we increasingly grow in our ability to comprehend its breadth and length and height and depth, but it is a ceaseless love. It is an unstoppable love. It is a never-ending love.
I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38–39).