“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…”
Board a plane to Rome and visit the Palatine Hill Museum, and you will see the most unusual thing, “The Graffito Blasphemo.” It is perhaps the earliest known depiction of our Lord Jesus. The Graffito was discovered scratched into the plaster of Caesar’s boarding school for imperial pages. The Graffito shows the image of a young teen, bowed to the image of a man with a donkey’s head, nailed to a cross. Etched alongside the image are the mocking words: “ALEXAMENOS WORSHIPS HIS GOD.” Tragically, but tellingly, what Christians see as the outpouring of infinite, divine love on the cross, the world scorns as “foolishness” and “a stumbling block” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
Several years ago, I visited an art museum with a fine artist and later went to some galleries. My artist friend opened my eyes to things I was unable to see: composition, brushstroke, and symbolism. Knowing something about painting gives eyes to what one is seeing. Similarly, knowing something about love gives eyes for seeing and understanding love.
Thus, as we are first rooted and grounded in real love, we can better grasp infinite love poured out in a manger, poured out on a cross. Theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar writes: “The inner reality of love can only be recognized by love. In order for a selfish beloved to understand the selfless love of a lover… he must already have some glimmer of love, some sense of what it is.” (Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Love Alone Is Credible) We glory in what the world tragically mocks.
Here is the mystery of self-giving love: stooping to wash men’s feet and their souls, Jesus endured unbelief and hatred so that through His cross He might make us children of God.
“And when we proclaim that which is the summit and climax of the revelation of our Father in the person of His Son and say with the last utterances of Scripture that ‘God is love’, we do in other words proclaim that the very nature and deepest desire and purpose of the divine heart is to pour itself on the emptiness and need of His lowly creatures in floods that keep nothing back.”(Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Ephesians)
Thus, Paul earnestly prays, pleading to God for believers to be rooted and grounded deep in God’s love so that they might know and enjoy more of the incomprehensible love of Christ.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
“As the breeze fills the sails and bears forward the ship, so the love of Christ fills the soul and moves it in the direction of God’s will.” The Pulpit Commentary