“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…”
We learn early in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus appointed twelve men “to be with him” (Mark 3:14). That began what must have been like a three-year camping trip as green, wet-behind-the-ears disciples, spent time with Jesus. They would find themselves transformed by just being with Jesus, eating together, walking together, serving together, and facing storms together. The result of those days spent with Jesus would mean that the world later “took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Such is the power of spending time with Jesus!
In today’s scripture, we follow Paul up his ascending staircase of prayer, growing closer to Jesus. Note the progression of Paul’s prayer. As Christ first dwells in our hearts through faith, we are grounded in His love and then made ready to comprehend still more of His surpassing love. Paul wants readers to explore the ever-expanding universe of Christ’s love in its breadth, length, height, and depth.
Scottish pastor Alexander MacLaren revels in the dimensions of Christ’s love:
“My sins are deep, my helpless miseries are deep, but they are shallow as compared with the love that goes down beneath all sin, that is deeper than all sorrow, that is deeper than all necessity, that shrinks from no degradation, that turns away from no squalor, that abhors no wickedness as to avert its face from it.”(Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Ephesians)
When I was in seminary, a student sought out our beloved Professor Hendricks asking for help with prayer. “Dr. Hendricks,” the student pleaded, “I’m really struggling with prayer!” True to form, the professor gave an assignment. “I want you to go home and pray for five minutes without asking God for one thing. It can revolutionize your prayer life as you go to God just focused on Him.” And it did for this student!
John Vianney was a French parish priest who was widely sought for spiritual counsel and guidance in prayer. He asked a peasant farmer what he was doing when he came into the church late every afternoon and sat. The old man smiled and replied: “I look at the good God, and the good God looks at me.” As Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, we are then rooted and grounded in His love for us, and His love transforms us. If we will but spend time with Jesus, the world will come to know us as people who have been with Jesus.
Famed violinist Jascha Heifetz once described his need for daily practice with his violin. “If I don’t practice one day, I know it. Two days and the critics know it. Three days and the public knows it!” Might we say the same for our need for daily time with Jesus!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
“Then keep near your Master. It all comes to that. Meditate on Him; do not let days pass, as they do pass, without thought being turned to Him…Keep yourselves in Christ.” Alexander MacLaren