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GOD'S people love to speak of how precious the Lord Jesus Christ is to them. To extol the greatness, glory and grace of the Redeemer is the essence of Christian testimony and proclamation to the world. The Scriptures furnish us with the relevant facts concerning Jesus Christ and our experience confirms everything they state. What can be said in particular about the preciousness of Christ?
Firstly we should say that Jesus Christ is precious to God Himself. The apostle Peter quotes words from Isaiah: "Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious" (1Pet.2:6). That cornerstone is Christ, for "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1Cor.3:11). Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, a divine Person. From all eternity He has, with the Father and with the Spirit, lived the life of perfect fellowship and blessedness which belongs the holy Trinity. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Christ Himself speaks of this eternal communion in connection with the divine work of creation: "Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him" (Prov.8:30).
In the account of Abraham and Isaac we have a type of what God the Father did with His own Son. God commanded the patriarch to take his precious son into the mountains of Moriah and to offer him up there as a burnt offering. In the event Isaac was not sacrificed, the angel of the Lord calling to Abraham as he took the knife in his hand. See the contrast now with God the Father and His only begotten Son! God "spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all" (Rom.8:32). Christ was the greatest gift that could ever be given and in His love for sinners God gave Him most freely.
Jesus Christ is precious to mankind. This is true in many ways, although unrecognised and unacknowledged by men in general. We have life because of Christ the Creator: "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:3). Our lives are sustained because of Christ the Preserver: "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Col.1:17). Our lives are spared because of Christ the Governor: "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Eph.1:22). These things are so because God has a supreme plan and purpose in the world. He is building His church, taking out of our race a people for His Name.
Because of sin we live out brief and troubled lives here and then we pass away forever. The generations of men come and go and finish in futility. But because of Jesus Christ there is good news for our race! There is a gospel for us to hear and believe. There is a hope of salvation for the perishing. Have you ever thought what an utterly bleak and despairing place this world would be without Christ, the Light of the world? The real tragedy is that because of sin men are blind to His great worth. Christ is despised and rejected by very many of mankind, just as in the days of His flesh. To such He is "a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence" (1Pet.2:8).
However Jesus Christ is especially and personally precious to the Lord's people. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious" (1Pet.2:7). Paul can say, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil.1:23). John can say, "We love him, because he first loved us" (1John 4:19). Thomas can say, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). Together the church in every age confesses, "yea, he is altogether lovely" (Song 5:16).
We may say that Christ is precious to believers in a twofold sense. Objectively He has value and subjectively He has honour, the one following upon the other. Let us consider them in turn.
What value does Jesus Christ have to believers? It is surely seen in His work for them. Christ is firstly precious in His Person, for He is "the Lord of glory" (1Cor.2:8). As the only begotten Son He dwelt eternally in the bosom of the Father. However in time He entered our nature, becoming man as well as God. This was in order that He might perform the great work of redemption to which He had been appointed and which He was willing to undertake. "Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (Psa.40:7,8).
Christ's true and proper divinity enhanced everything He did in His true and proper (and sinless) humanity. There is a parallel in what the Lord Himself once said to the scribes and Pharisees. They had taught the people that to swear by their own temple gifts was binding, whereas to swear by the temple itself was not. They should not of course have made their oaths by any created thing, but their thinking was perverse in any case. "Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?" (Matt.23:17). The offerings which the worshippers made were only acceptable because of the temple and its altar upon which they were placed.
Christ, the God-man Redeemer, "through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God" (Heb.9:14). In consequence of the mysterious, yet real and permanent, union of the Godhead with the manhood in the Person Jesus Christ, His actions as the Mediator are invested with unique virtue. Christ's obedience has value and power to accomplish the divine purpose, which was that He should purchase a peculiar people. A mere man, however obedient, could not do this.
Therefore we read that when the Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the law it was "to redeem them that were under the law" (Gal.4:5); when He suffered for our sins it was "that he might bring us to God" (1Pet.3:18); when He sacrificed Himself at Calvary it was "to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt.20:28). The obedience of Christ in His life and death produced an atonement which has infinite worth with a holy and just God. The perfect righteousness of Jesus is able to justify guilty sinners and reconcile them to God forever. The consequence is that at the last there will be a great multitude gathered in glory, wearing white robes and bearing palms of victory, crying with a loud voice, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Rev.7:9,10).
What honour has Christ in the eyes of believers? It arises from His work in them. Redemption accomplished for sinners may render Jesus Christ precious to us in theory, but only redemption applied to us as poor and needy sinners can make Him precious to us in practice, such that He becomes our "first love" (Rev.2:4). When we have sought and found Christ by faith, and begin to enjoy the gracious benefits which He alone can give, He is truly everything we can admire and desire.
Christ is our life. When we are converted to Christ we are able to identify with the words of Paul, "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20). From regeneration through sanctification to glorification, in our lifelong struggle against sin and for holiness, we live by the grace of God in union and communion with Jesus Christ.
Christ is also our light. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (Eph.5:8). As the Holy Spirit blesses to us the Scriptures and they yield up to our renewed minds their treasures concerning Jesus Christ, there is a wonderful transforming effect upon our lives. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2Cor.3:18).
Christ is our love too. "What is thy beloved more than another beloved...My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand" (Song 5:9-10). We desire the presence of Christ with us more than that of anyone else, even our nearest and dearest in this world. "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me" (Song 2:6). What a day it shall be when we shall finally see our Saviour face to face!
Believer, if you would know just how precious Jesus Christ is to you, then try to imagine for a moment what your life would be without Him. Everything would surely be empty. You would have no reason for living and no hope in dying. May we be careful to show what Christ is to us by walking with Him faithfully and talking of Him with feeling.