Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) was a renowned Scottish theologian who taught at St. Andrews University. The selection that appears below comes from an exhortation that Rutherford delivered in connection with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. His prose borders on poetry in terms of its power to awaken the love of our hearts for Jesus our Savior.
He addresses the Lord himself, believers, and God the Father. He even speaks to nature—the sun and rivers and streams.
You and I, like many believers in the first century, have never seen Jesus. Nevertheless, we love him just as people did in the early years following the ministry of the Lord. The apostle Peter put it this way: “Though you have not seen him, you love him” (1 Peter 1:8). We love him for what he did for us on the cross, laying his life down in our place.
Read Rutherford slowly and meditatively, and may the Holy Spirit touch our hearts so that our love runs out to Christ with deep affection (to use an expression from Jonathan Edwards):
“O Life! Wouldst Thou bear that blessed body company no longer? O Life of Life! Wouldst Thou be taken death’s prisoner? Oh to see that blessed head fall to one side! Oh to see Life wanting life! To see Life lying dead! To see that blessed life silent! To see that fair corpse rolled in linen and laid in a tomb! Oh to see sweet Jesus, that blessed body, in Joseph’s arms! Come hither, come hither, believers, and see a sight that you never saw the like of! Oh, what would the disciples say but, ‘We are beguiled men! We thought that He should have restored the kingdom to Israel, and now He is gone away, and now He is dead, the One that raised Lazarus from the grave.’ Oh, angels would think, ‘Our Master is dead.’ There must have been much scarcity of life in the world (one might say), for Him to have died for want of it!”
“The whole guard about Christ might say, ‘Oh, what evil has He done?’ O sun! Why would you not lend Him light? He never angered you, but gave you light! O floods, O rivers, O running streams! What has angered you at your Creator, that you would not send your Lord a drink? O bread! Why are you gall to Him? O drink! Why are you vinegar to Him? O worldly pomp and glory, what ails you at Him—that He is so ashamed? O life, where are you going? Why do you leave the Lord of Life? O joys! Why would you not cheer Him? O disciples, why did you leave and forsake Him? O Father, what ails Thee at Thy dear and only Son? O what evil way went these feet, that they are pierced? What evil have these hands done that they are pierced? O what evil and what vanity did these eyes behold, that death has closed them? O what sin has that fair face done, that it is spat on? O what did these hands steal, that they are bound? O what evil has that blessed Head done, that it is crowned with thorns?”
How should you and I, as believers, respond to the Lord in the light of what he has done for us? The apostle Paul shows us the way. After he presents the mercy of God for us in our salvation in Romans 1-11, he transitions to this exhortation in Romans 12:1-2: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all that he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (NLT)
Let us spend much time in the Gospels. Let us think often about the cross. Let us love the Lord with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind (Matthew 22:37).