And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us…
Let us consider —
I. THE INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE: "He hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God."
1. He is represented as our Priest. The offering of sacrifices, unquestionably had its origin in the earliest ages of the world. This mode of worship may be traced back, not only to the era of giving the law from Sinai, but to the days of the ancient patriarchs. Its Divine origin is not less evident than its antiquity. We read, indeed, of the practice, before we read of the precept enjoining it; but from the former, we may fairly infer the latter. Since, then, the offering of sacrifices was enjoined by the Supreme Lawgiver, and was practised in the Church from the beginning, for what end was it appointed? What could move. the eternal Majesty to require that sacrificial oblation should, for so many ages, form an essential part of His worship? My brethren, ye know the sublime explanation! Ye know that it was to prefigure the offering up, in the fulness of time, by Jesus Christ.
2. Christ is also represented as the sacrifice of His people. Let us, then, contemplate this stupendous sacrifice. In it we behold a sacrifice at once perfectly suitable, and infinitely valuable. Christ, I say, in giving Himself, gave a sacrifice that was perfectly suitable. Being independent, His life was entirely at His own disposal; being a partaker of flesh and blood, He was allied to His people, and was thus qualified to make satisfaction in the same nature that had offended; and, being at the same time supernaturally conceived and born of the Virgin, He was exempt from the penalty which Divine justice had attached to the violation of the first covenant, and immaculately pure — and was thus altogether fitted for being a true and proper sacrifice in the room of His people. But the sacrifice which Christ gave was not only perfectly suitable, it was also infinitely valuable; for, mark the force of that wonderful expression, "He gave Himself." It was not simply His blood, or His life, or abstractly His human nature, but Himself that He gave an offering and a sacrifice for us. We now proceed to consider —
II. THE SATISFACTION AND DELIGHT WITH WHICH THIS INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE IS REGARDED BY GOD. His sacrifice is to Him "for a sweet-smelling savour." In this expression the allusion is clearly to the wine and oil, or rather, to the precious perfumes that were wont to be sprinkled on the sacrifices under the law, in order to counteract the offensive savour of that bloody service. The apostle represents the fragrance of such sweet perfumes as arising to God from the propitiatory sacrifice of His beloved Son, to intimate the supreme satisfaction and pleasure which He has in that sacrifice. When the magnificent work of creation was finished, Jehovah is represented as resting from all His work which He had made, and surveying it with delight. But from no part of creation, even although retaining its original purity and loveliness, does there arise so sweet and grateful a fragrance to Him as from the altar of the Saviour's sacrifice. If you inquire on what grounds that sacrifice is so peculiarly and supremely delightful to God, the following considerations may serve to illustrate the subject: It is a sacrifice of God's own appointment; it is in itself a sacrifice of transcendent worth and efficacy; and it is in consequence of these things the means of eternal salvation and happiness to countless thousands of His immortal creatures, and the source of glory to Himself in the highest.
Parallel VersesKJV: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.