Christ a Master
John 13:1-19
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world to the Father…


1. Even in matters secular there is no such thing as absolute independence. We are the subjects of the sovereign, who in turn is subject to national law, private advisers, or public opinion.

2. But, especially, in matters spiritual. It is the misery of the ungodly, that they are subject to no law but that of their own folly and passions. What a mercy that we have been placed under the management of Him whose regulations form "the perfect law of liberty!" That man is the slave whose master is himself; and he alone is the freeman whose master is Christ.

II. CHRIST IS OUR MASTER IN THE TRUE AND STRICT SENSE OF THE TERM — not one who is to be saluted with the name, merely in a spirit of courtesy. His mastership is that of a sovereign, whom his subjects must obey, for whom they must fight, and to whom they must pay tribute (1 Corinthians 9:21).

III. CHRIST HAS BEEN CONSTITUTED OUR MASTER BY THE DECREE OF HIS FATHER (Psalm 2:6; Acts 5:31). So that the devout man's satisfaction is, that, when he does homage to Christ as His Lord, he does homage to the Father, as honouring His appointment (Philippians 2:9-11). So far, then, is the worship of Christ from robbing of the Father of His honour, that it is an act which we honour both at once (John 5:19-23).

IV. THE FATHER'S ORDINATION OF CHRIST TO BE OUR MASTER PROCEEDS ON A PRINCIPLE OF EQUITY, and is not an act of mere arbitrary sovereignty. The Father (Hebrews 1:2; John 1:3) commissioned the Son, in His state of unincarnated glory, to create us, and in His state of incarnated mercy to redeem us (Revelation 5:12; 2 Corinthians 5:14). Since Christ died to save our lives, these lives are most lawfully His, to be consecrated to His service; should we deny Him which service we shall be condemnable, not only for a want of gratitude, but a violation of the law of equity.

V. CHRIST, AS OUR MASTER, IS ENTITLED TO, AND DEMANDS OF US, ABSOLUTE, UNIVERSAL OBEDIENCE; such as is commensurate with our entire being, and the whole economy of our lives, in our works, words, meditations; not only on the Sabbath, but on all clays; not only at the stated hours of devotion, but in the management of business, etc.; as a citizen in your political conduct, and in your domestic relations, etc. (Colossians 3:17). Does this seem oppressive? Do you feel as if He should be satisfied with only a partial control, and act accordingly? Then —

1. How foolish you are; as if there were any part of the economy of your being which could be safely entrusted to the management of yourself.

2. How corrupt you are; since it appears there is some part of your life which will not bear His inspection.

3. How ungrateful you are; grudging the subjection of any part of your life to Him who gave Himself from the manger to the cross for you!

4. How unjust you are; robbing the Redeemer of part of His pain-bought inheritance! If with purpose of heart you can coolly reason that there is one hour of life for the manner of spending which you are under no obligation to consult with Him — then all is wrong, you are still "in your sins."

VI. CHRIST IS OPEN AND FREE TO THE APPLICATION OF ALL HIS SERVANTS FOR AID IN PERFORMING THE WORK WHICH HE PRESCRIBES THEM. How many masters act unreasonably and unjustly by their servants in this respect! They starve them so as to enfeeble them, and refuse to furnish them with proper implements for their work. How different the Christian's Master! All His commandments are reasonable; and to an unperverted disposition would be easy. And He looks at the subjective weakness and incapacity of our hearts, and sympathises with our infirmity, and communicates strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).

VII. Perfect though Christ's rights be, and free and ample the help which He vouchsafes, so that all disobedience is without excuse, yet is CHRIST A MASTER MOST FORBEARING WITH THE FAULTS AND FAILURES OF HIS SERVANTS. Had we treated any other master as we have treated Him, long ere this we would have been dismissed from his service. A principal explanation of this forbearance is found in the circumstance that He was once a servant Himself (Hebrews 5:8); and in our own nature, amid the same scenes of trial through which we pass. And although He stood the trial, yet He does not make this a reason for condemning His weak brethren. But rather, remembering the force of temptation, and how much fortitude it required of Himself to withstand it, He apologizes to Himself for their failures, and easily forgives them.

VIII. AS A MASTER CHRIST REWARDS HIS SERVANTS WITH EXUBERANT LIBERALITY. As if He had done nothing for us as yet, at all, He encourages us to diligence and activity by the assurance of a "great recompense of reward."

(W. Anderson, LL. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

WEB: Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

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