When people talk about Jesus, we often think of His love. And why shouldn't we? Even the most skeptical of men would note that, if Jesus was a real person (He is), He was the most kind, sacrificial, tolerant person in the course of human history. Or at least one of them. The cross is a great example, and should be an example to us all about how to love.
However, we miss something profound when we look at Jesus ONLY in this light. Ephesians 1 helps us with this, because we see it's through Christ that God worked to reconcile us to Himself, but to what end? vs. 3, 6, 12, and 14 all have a repeated theme.
v. 3 → Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed here is an adjective, it is describing God's character. The word blessed means “Worthy of Adoration or Praise.”
vs. 5-6 → … He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace...
vs. 11-12 → In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory.
vs. 13-14 → In Him you also... were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His Glory.
Look at what Paul is saying here. Followers of Christ are adopted as sons into God's family, they gain an eternal inheritance, and they are sealed with the Holy Spirit, all through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But notice what they ultimately should result in:
Those things all result in the praise of God!
These blessings and guarantees are great (and there are more of them within this beautiful letter), but Paul is ultimately not pointing out God's love in this letter. Instead, he points out the glory of God in His character, as well as how He demonstrated His glory through Christ.
This is important as we consider Jesus. We often just describe Him (and God) with the word “love.” While this is true, it would be limiting to all of who God is. And the point of the gospel isn't to just point out God's love, it's to see God's glory and to praise Him for it. This includes His love, His wisdom, His power, His might, His beauty, His justice, His faithfulness, and ultimately, His God-ness. And we see all of these displayed through the cross.
Consider, for a moment, God's power through Christ. If I died like that for the sins of the world, it would be seen as a somewhat heroic, yet pointless and confusing, sacrifice. Why? Because I don't have the power or perfection to do it. However, Jesus has the power and perfection to die for sinners. It shows God's glory that He is a worthy sacrifice.
This is why Paul can say that through Christ, our pathway to God and heaven is guaranteed. It's not just because God loves us (although He does), it's because He's God, and He proved Himself to be God in the cross by defeating death once and for all. In doing so, He's elevated. Paul writes later in Ephesians 1: “according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:19b-21) Jesus is worthy of praise, and is placed far above rule and authority, as He should be. Our salvation, among other benefits, is for us to praise God! This is why our salvation is rock solid if we are in Christ. Our salvation is not primarily for us, but for God to bring glory to Himself. If God goes back on His Word, then it goes against God's holy character, against His power, against His faithfulness, against His perfect justice. We can rest assured that salvation is guaranteed, because God's glory is at stake. And Jesus displayed that glory, proving His love for us by dying for sinners, and then defeating death so that we might be reconciled to God through Him.