March 21, 2020. Day 81: Love is strong as death.

Song of Songs 8:6-7.

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
    as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
    jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
    the very flame of the Lord.
Many waters cannot quench love,
    neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
    all the wealth of his house,
    he would be utterly despised.

Most of us probably avoid the Song of Songs because ancient erotic love poetry can feel a bit awkward. But as we said in yesterday’s reading, this poem must be read on two levels. Yes, it is ancient erotic love poetry, but it is also the story of our salvation. The song that God is singing over us. The song that we can sing to God.

When the young bride asks her new husband to set her as a seal upon his heart and upon his arm, she is asking her husband to love her forever. To stay committed to her. The ancient seal (usually a ring or bracelet) marked not only possession but also a deep commitment. Like our wedding rings today, it marked a covenant.

“My beloved is mine and I am his” she has already declared. The two lovers possess each other. But she continues to seek reassurance. When she sees the seal on his arm, she will know that she is the seal upon his heart.

Can you hear yourself saying these same words to Jesus? “Jesus set me as a seal upon your heart. Be dedicated to me. I need the full devotion of your love today.”

But maybe you feel like this is to bold a thing to say. “Jesus love me. Yes, me, insignificant me, personally, individually, with everything you’ve got. All your power and all your grace. Jesus I need you to desire me.” Is this too presumptuous? Maybe even selfish? Let me assure you it is not. In fact, it would be wrong of you not to ask for and expect Christ’s full loving commitment to you. It would be wrong not to require his covenant faithfulness. Whatever a bride might expect from her husband, expect that from Christ, and more.

But isn’t placing expectations on Jesus wrong? No. Quite the opposite. He’s the one person in your life that you should place expectations upon. His is the one heart that can carry the weight of all our expectations. His infinite supply of love can bear our infinite demand. The fact is, he’s already constantly loving you as much as he ever could and will. He’s already loving you beyond anything you could hope or imagine. So ask away. Ask as if you are the only one asking.

But how do I know that his love for me is this intense? This infinite and eternal? That it won’t fail?

Because Christ’s love for you was stronger than death, and his jealousy (passion) for you was fiercer than the grave. Jesus fought the great battle for you. He ran into the flood waters of Sheol (the grave) and stared death in the face, and then conquered it with the fire of Yahweh’s invincible love.

Belle’s love: as strong as death, or stronger.

Jesus experienced your fate. Your consequence. Your separation. Your agony. Your hell. Your death. And he defeated it all with the power of unconditional love. The power that only true, unearned and unpurchased love can bring.

If a man offered for love
    all the wealth of his house,
    he would be utterly despised.

Purchased love is no love at all. But love that purchases, that is a love that can conquer even death. Love that is free, love that flows completely from grace. And that is the love of God for us. Christ, in love, purchased us, paying the ransom that death held over our heads. Now we will never have to purchase God’s love. Now we can live freely in and from the unconditional love of God sealed in our hearts by his indwelling life – the Spirit of Christ.

“To live is Christ” means we can and should expect the love of Jesus to overwhelm our lives each and every day. Why? Because his love has already overwhelmed every enemy of love there is – fear, death, shame, guilt. Now we can love freely from freely given love. Not purchased love, but a love that purchased us.

You

Do you expect Jesus to love you today? Why or why not?

You in Christ

How does knowing that you are in Christ allow you to boldly demand Jesus’ love for you?

Christ in you

The strongest power in the universe, God’s love, is in you. How will you use this power today?

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