He Died for Me
James Smith, 1859
The man was poor, but happy. His countenance was often lighted up with a smile. His voice often sung the hymn of praise. He worked hard. He lived hard. But no one ever heard him murmur, or found him complaining. His Bible was well read. His place in the house of prayer was regularly filled, except when he worked late, or was ill. A sermon full of Christ, made his eyes glisten; and to crown Jesus Lord of all, filled him with delight. He often spoke a refreshing word to the weary ones, and a word of encouragement to those who were seeking the Lord. His prayers for his pastor, were constant and fervent, and his efforts to keep the Church lively and thriving, were regular. He seldom seemed to lack a stimulus, or to be urged to duty.
When asked as to the source of his comfort, or the cause of his cheerfulness, he replied, "He died for me!" He expected everyone to know who he meant, without mentioning his name. He thought a sufficient reason would be found in those four words, for all he felt, and for all he did. He had confidence in God, he had peace in his soul, he had comfort in his afflictions—and all flowed from this fact that Jesus died for him. What a manifestation of love! Jesus dying for a poor day laborer. What a glorious way of salvation! Jesus dies, the just for the unjust. What a ground of confidence! for if Jesus died for the sinner, surely that sinner shall live in heaven with Jesus.
Beloved, we do not sufficiently dwell upon this great truth: Jesus died for us. We do not by faith take it home, and realize our personal interest in it, and therefore we are seldom heard saying, "He died for me." Yet nothing more wonderful ever occurred in time, nothing so interesting or stupendous is to be found recorded on the page of history. They can tell of nothing greater in heaven. Indeed, the poorest believer can say of himself, something more surprising, than any angel can; for he can say of the Son of God, who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the joy of all the heavenly hosts, "He died for me!"
Let us seek to realize this great fact. Let us beseech the Holy Spirit, to unfold it to the mind, and apply it to the heart. Let us meditate on it. Let us talk of it. For how can we doubt or fear—how can we repine or complain—how can we envy others, or covet that we have not—if looking up to heaven, where Jesus sits on the right hand of God; or looking back to Calvary, we can say, "He died for me!"
Jesus died for sinners.
For the ungodly.
For those who were without strength.
For all who feel their need of him.
For all who believe on his name.
For every one who heartily wishes, or ardently desires a saving interest in his death.
Yes, if I can from my heart say, "O, Jesus died for me!" Then there can be no reasonable doubt—but Jesus did die for me, and that I have a saving interest in his death. For such a desire springs from the Spirit's work in the heart, and proves that we feel the need of Christ, see the adaptation of Christ to our cases, and are willing to be saved by his merit and mercy.
Now no one but the Holy Spirit can bring a sinner to this. Nothing but the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart will produce this. Nor does the Holy Spirit take up his residence in any one, or work on the heart of any one—but those for whom Jesus died.
As a rule, I am entitled to every spiritual blessing, of which I shall feel my need, and which I am desirous to receive and enjoy. As therefore I feel my need of Jesus, and desire a saving interest in his sufferings and death, I am warranted to say with confidence, "He died for me!"
But, did Jesus die for us? He did! Then how much we ought to think of him. Surely he ought never to be out of our thoughts. At home and abroad, by night and by day, in sickness and in health—we ought to be thinking of Jesus. How glorious his person! How wonderful his love! How surprising his condescension! How dreadful his sufferings! How shameful his death! How glorious his resurrection! What a triumph his ascension to heaven! And this, all this for me!
Did Jesus die for us? He did! Then how grateful we should be to him. How often and how heartily we should praise him. Surely, surely, we should sing of him, and sing to him. We should speak well of his name, and as he has commended his love to us, we should commend his love to all around us. How astonishing it is, that we do not speak of that love in all companies, and to all people with whom we converse. If we speak of anyone—we should speak of Jesus; and if we speak of anything—we should speak of the love of Jesus. Yes, yes, this should be our theme, "He loved me—and gave himself for me! He died for me!"
Did Jesus die for us? He did! Then we should scrupulously obey him. Every precept should be kept with care. Every ordinance should be observed according to the inspired pattern. Nothing should be considered unimportant, if required by him who died for us. Nothing should be spoken of as non-essential, if it will in any way honor his dear name. Obedience to Jesus, is the surest proof of our love to him; as he said, "You are my friends—if you do whatever I command you." And again, "He who has my commandments and keeps them—he it is that loves me; and he who loves me, shall be loved of my father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." Precious assurance this, that if I obey Jesus, because he loved me, and died for me—then he will love me, and his Father will love me, and he will manifest himself to me.
Holy Spirit, enable me thus to obey my beloved Savior, and give me the sweet, inward assurance that Jesus loves me, and that his Father loves me, and that sweet manifestations of Jesus will be granted to me. I do desire, if I desire anything, to see more of my Savior's glory, to drink deeper into my Savior's love, and more exactly and scrupulously do my Savior's will.
Did Jesus die for me? He did! Then let me adore him, pray to him, and seek to walk in close and holy fellowship with him. I would have my thoughts filled with Jesus—my desires, ever going forth after Jesus—my praises, always ascending to Jesus—and my soul live, in uninterrupted communion with Jesus. To him I would tell every grief, to him I would carry every sorrow, to him I would communicate every desire.
Precious Lord Jesus, as you died for me, you have an unquestionable right to me; and I wish you to cleanse me, converse with me, employ me, and make me an instrument to glorify you every day, every hour, yes, every moment. Never, never shall I be satisfied, until you have full possession of my soul—until every power and faculty is fully and forever engaged in glorifying and honoring you.
Did Jesus die for me? He did! Then let me be willing to suffer, and if need be, to die for him. Let me never wish to keep anything from Jesus. My sufferings for him, let them be what they may, are not worth a thought—if once compared with his. Any sacrifice I can make for him is not worth naming—when I think of the sacrifice he offered for me. O the sweetness, the savor of those precious words, "Christ has loved us and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor!"
Sinner, you cannot say," He died for me." And yet it is only by his dying—that you can live. Unless Jesus died for us—we can never be saved. But no one can be justified in saying, "Jesus died for me," until the need of Christ is felt, and an application for salvation to Christ is made. O that God the Holy Spirit may quicken you, enlighten your mind, and lead you as a poor, lost, wretched sinner—to him for life and peace, and then you may say, and say with confidence and comfort, "He died for me!"