Up the dark hill called Calvary;
Wounded, He slowly struggles by,
On to the cross where He must die.
Was it for lies or evil deeds,
Brutish displays of wicked things?
No, for my Lord had naught of these,
Only because He loved me.”
How much did Jesus Christ love me? I have “turned to my own way,” made mistakes, hurt others, and sinned against God. I am far from worthy; as Isa. 53:6says, “all we like sheep have gone astray.” But what did God do in return? He sent His Son to die a cruel death for meRom. 5:8). My favorite hymn, “Only Because He Loved Me,” reminds me of the most pure, holy, yet undeserved Sacrifice that has ever been given: Jesus Christ on the cross.
Just like the innocent, spotless sacrificial lambs of the Old Testament, Jesus was led to the cross bearing the weight of our “griefs and sorrowsIsa. 53:4). He carried on His shoulders the burden of every careless word, every evil thought, every single mistake you and I have ever made. Nothing I could possibly do could remove my guilt. But that day at Calvary, Jesus willingly bore my sins though He had none of His own.
The second verse says:
Hear now the hammer’s stark report,
Driving the nails that pierce my Lord;
Blood of His hands, His head, His feet
Flows to the earth as Heaven weeps.
‘Angels, descend!’ He could have cried;
Rescue from Heaven to His side;
Yet He remained there on the tree,
Only because He loved me
Jesus could have taken the easy way out. He could have called for angels to take Him away from the excruciating agony His human flesh felt as He hung suspended, nails painfully digging into His hands and feet. But He didn’t. Instead, Jesus chose the brutal death of the cross, submitting to mockery and crucifixion by the very people He helped create.
The last verse brings prickly chill bumps to my arms and tears to my eyes:
“Bearer of sin, the Lamb became,
Laden upon His battered frame;
Hung between Heav’n and earth to die,
Even the Father turned His eyes.
Worthiness has no part in me;
I should have hung there on the tree;
Yet He is slain, and I go free,
Only because He loved me.”
This hymn reminds me of the plain, harsh truth: I am guilty. I was worthy of the ultimate punishment, but I didn’t have to take it. Instead, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God took my penalty for me. Jesus Christ saved my eternal life. My only reasonable response, then, is to give my life back to Him. 2 Cor. 5:14-15 says, “the love of Christ constraineth us,” or compels us, to no longer live for ourselves. Because Christ gave all that He had to us, we should do the same for Him.
As I sing this hymn or read Isaiah 53, I ache for the suffering Messiah, who was the Savior of the world, yet rejected and scorned. What incredible, unspeakable injustice! Why should the perfect Redeemer of mankind have to suffer humiliating and agonizing death? The fact is, he shouldn’t. But He did anyway.
Only because He loved me.