1 Peter 1:8
Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Peter does not include himself among those who loved the Christ whom they had never seen. To him belonged the blessing of those who had believed because they had seen, and who had loved before they had fully believed. But he n ill not think that he and his fellows, who had been Christ's companions, love him "more than these" who inherit the blessing pronounced by Christ himself on those who have not seen and yet have believed. Perhaps some echo of that benediction may be heard among the antitheses of this verse, blending with some tones caught from the question which, as with triple point, had pierced his heart, "Lovest thou me?"
I. WE HAVE HERE BROUGHT INTO PROMINENCE A UNIQUE FACT, namely, love to an unseen Christ. Thousands in every age since have cherished a passionate attachment to Jesus, wholly unlike what is evoked by any one else. Time and distance seem to be powerless to diminish it. It is no tepid affection; it is no idle sentiment. Those who cherish it aver that it lies at the foundation of their lives. It rules, guides, stimulates. It is the mother of heroisms and of patience. It sheds light on all dark places. It mates and masters the fear of death. The stake and the gibbet, the dungeon and the rack, are powerless to repel those whom it attracts. It brings peace and hope, holiness and wisdom. It conquers the soul, and makes it conqueror of sin, time, and the universe. And all this passionate ardor of love which transforms the heart it enters is called out by and lavished on a Man who died nineteen centuries ago! There is no other fact the least like that.
II. WHAT IS THE EXPLANATION OF THIS UNEXAMPLED PHENOMENON? If Jesus is but one among the great names of the past, however high and pure; if whilst he lived he had no thoughts of us, and now sleeps in the dust and does nothing in the world but by the record of his past, - admiration rising to reverence may be his due, but anything worth calling love is impossible. It was not such a Christ who kindled the hearts of these Asiatics, who had never seen Peter's Master. But if I can believe that Jesus Christ died for me, that I had a place in his Divine-human love when he bore our sins, and that he lives today to love me and to succor and to save, and that he knows when I love him, and delights to accept and to return my love, - then I do not need the ordinary helps to love. All other benefactors and mighty names in the past stand in different relation to us. Praise and admiration are their guerdon. But One alone is loved though unseen, because, and only because, One alone died for each of us and lives to bless us. There are some mutilated forms of Christianity which present a Christ without a cross. They result in a Church without love enough to keep it warm. The Christ whom Peter preached was the Christ to whose transcendent love, as manifest in his death, the uttermost fervor of human love was the fitting and yet all-inadequate return. Is there any other conception of him and of his work which really has power to kindle through all the ages and in all hearts the flame of all-conquering love?
III. THERE IS NO REAL CHRISTIAN LIFE WITHOUT THIS LOVE. At bottom there is only one bond which unites spirits to spirits, men to men, or men to God. Love is the one uniting force. "Cords of love" must fasten us to Christ, or we are not fastened to him; and that love must flow from the faith which recognizes him for Savior by his cross, and trusts him. Love is second, not first; but so second that wherever and as soon as faith is exercised, love comes to life. Imperfect conceptions of Christ's work as Teacher, Example, and the like, do not really unite us to him. They may lead on to loftier and truer thoughts of him, but till we are united to him there will he no real love, and therefore no real union. Faint and feeble our love may be, unworthy of him it ever is; but if we have none we are not Christians. We shall have none unless our faith grasps him as our Savior by his incarnation, cross, and resurrection. The question for us all is - Do we trust to Christ who died for us? Do we therefore love him because he loved us, and gave himself for us? Confidence and love have always been the bonds of union between men, which alone have made human society better than a den of hyenas. They are the bonds which unite us to God. Christ asks no more of us than that we should transfer to him the emotions and affections which we have lavished on one another, and let the tendrils which we have twined round rotten boughs and dead stumps clasp his cross, that there we may cling and climb, and grow and bear fruit. From his cross, from his throne, he asks of each, "Lovest thou me?" Though our eyes have not seen him, our hearts need not falter in the answer, "Thou knowest that I love thee." - A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: