John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…
I. THE LOVE IS ABSOLUTELY SOVEREIGN. It was not called forth by any sort of worthiness in the objects of it, but was entirely spontaneous, self-moved. No doubt these objects come to have most attractive features. In course of time they are washed, cleansed from the filthiness in which they lay by nature, or loosed from the degrading bondage in which they were held. They have moral and spiritual excellences of the highest order, though not unmixed with imperfections and impurities. But to whom are they indebted for all this distinction? To Christ alone. And what moved Him to beautify them with salvation, to take them, as it were, from the dunghill and set them among the princes? His love. When the love first rested on its objects, when it contemplated and planned their redemption in the counsels of eternity, it had respect to them simply as fallen, ruined creatures. It was while provoking the vengeance of high heaven that the arresting hand was laid on them. Nothing like personal doing or desert had any place whatever in effecting the blessed change. And this feature is made still more abundantly manifest by a consideration of the persons often thus raised to a participation in the high calling of the saints. They are not seldom those that would have been deemed by us the most unfit and unlikely. They are not the best, but the worst characters; not those standing out from their fellows for good, but for bad qualities.
II. THE LOVE IS IMMEASURABLY GREAT. How shall we estimate its magnitude? In no better way than by considering what it freely bestows on its objects, and the sacrifices it makes for what it thus bestows. Try this love by both these measures. What, then, does it give those upon whom it rests? All the benefits of redemption. Take these benefits as summarised here, in connection with and as the ripened fruit of the love in question. The washing spoken of very specially points to forgiveness, the blotting out of sin in the blood of atonement. The graces of the Spirit spring up where before there were only the works of the flesh, and these graces both beautify the character and satisfy the soul. Thus believers are fitted for being kings and priests unto God and the Father. And has all this cost Him nothing, or cost Him but little? Has no sacrifice, or only a small one, been required? He has washed them in His own blood, and to it is to be traced not less their royal priesthood. His blood was that of sacrifice, of atonement, the price of our redemption. Here was the great ransom, and it is only in consequence of it that any sinner is washed and invested with a royal priesthood. Truly, when tried thus, the love passes knowledge.
III. THE LOVE IS UNCHANGEABLY CONSTANT. He loved and He loveth us. Who can tell how much He suffers at the hands of His people? How unthankful and rebellious are they! But still He forgives, restores, and keeps them. No doubt there are sometimes appearances to the contrary. He withdraws from His people, hides His face from them, so that they walk in darkness, and feel as if they were utterly forsaken. But there is no proof here that His love is either gone or weakened. Behind the frowning Providence there is still a smiling face. The clouds temporarily obscure, but they do not extinguish, or even really diminish, the light of heaven. And so it will ever be. The love has stood true during all the past, and it will not fail in all the future.
(John Adam, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;