By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16)
The love of Christ for us in his dying was as conscious as his suffering was intentional. If he was intentional in laying down his life, it was for us. It was love.
“When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).
Every step on the Calvary road meant, “I love you.”
Therefore, to feel the love of Christ in the laying down of his life, it helps to see how utterly intentional it was.
Look at what Jesus said just after that violent moment when Peter tried to cleave the skull of the servant, but only cut off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:52–54)
It is one thing to say that the details of Jesus’s death were predicted in the Old Testament. But it is much more to say that Jesus himself was making his choices precisely to see to it that the Scriptures would be fulfilled.
That is what Jesus said he was doing in Matthew 26:54. “I could escape this misery, but how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
In other words, I am not choosing to take the way out that I could take, because I know the Scriptures. I know what must take place for my people to be saved. It is my choice to fulfill all that is predicted of me in the word of God. It is my choice — every step of the way — to love my people to the uttermost. And I want them to feel this. And be utterly secure and free and radically different from the world.