…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25b).

Christ’s love for his bride is both unconditional and self-sacrificial. To say that another way, Christ loved his bride at great cost to himself – before she was attractive. He gave himself up for the church while she was still lost and dead in sin (see Romans 5:8), when she was living in utter rebellion against him. This is stunning. Consider why.

There are many reasons why a man might choose a woman to be his wife, or why a woman might choose a man to be her husband. A man might choose to marry a woman because she is beautiful, or because she is a good companion. He might choose to marry a woman because she comes from a reputable family, or because he thinks she will make a good mother. A woman might choose to marry a man because she thinks he will protect her or provide for her. A woman might choose to marry a man because she longs to have a family and thinks that he will support her in that desire. A woman might marry a man because she thinks they are soul mates.

Whatever the exact reason, when two people marry one another they do so, at least in part, because they believe that they will receive something from their spouse that will make the sacrifice, pain, and commitment of marriage worth it. There is, in every human marriage, a transaction. He gives her something she wants; she gives him something he wants. This doesn’t mean that he does not love her or that she does not love him. But when we choose a spouse, we choose someone who we believe to be capable of meeting our needs.

Christ loved the church, not because the church was beautiful or special, but simply because he is beautiful and special.

But that is not what Jesus did. We cannot think for a minute that Jesus loved the church and gave himself up for her because he needed something from the church! The Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe has no needs! He existed before the foundation of the earth in eternity past in perfect love and fellowship with God the Father and God the Spirit. We cannot believe that he woke up one day, thought about the infinite perfection of the Father, and came to the conclusion that what he really needed was a bunch of messed up, dysfunctional people to make his existence complete.

No. Jesus did not need us for anything. There was no lack in him that made him think, yes, this is what – or who – I need.

Rather, Jesus loved us because he loved us. Christ loved the church, not because the church was beautiful or special, but simply because he is beautiful and special.

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