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. It is not strange that the hour of departure should be the hour of quickened affection. When the child leaves home, father and mother seem more dear than before. And had this been the Saviour's home, and those around Him His relations, it would not have been strange that He should have felt more strongly for them than at any previous time.
2. On the other hand, when for purposes of health, business, or pleasure one has long been an exile, and the day comes for return, although he has made pleasant acquaintances, yet the thought of home swallows up every other. Applying this, who can imagine the vision that arose before Jesus at this hour? The infinitude of His power was to be restored, and the companionships He had known from eternity. Yet at this hour it is said that "having loved," etc.
3. This is wonderful. For consider what the disciples were. If Christ had dwelt in the accomplishments of the heavenly land, what must they have seemed to Him? Not one had any extraordinary endowment except John, and none save he and Peter and James have left any record except their names. Had Christ selected heroes like Luther, Melanchthon, Hampden, Sidney, Washington, or geniuses like Dante, Shakespeare, or Goethe, we can imagine how, surrounded by the greatest natures, He should have suffered at parting from them. But these were men with not only no royalty of endowment, but selfish, prejudiced, ambitious, and mean. And yet taking them with all their imperfections which the glory to which He was departing threw into bolder relief, having loved them He loved them unto the end.
4. It is plain that Divine love includes other elements than those usually imagined. It is not strange that God loves loveliness. We do that. But who of us loves that which is unlovely? This is what God does. But it does not follow that this love is not more qualified with growing excellency than without it. It is that kind of love which a parent feels toward children who are not in themselves attractive. Parental love, however it may grow, is what we feel by reason of what is in us, not of what is in our children. The newborn babe has neither thought, love, nor power of expression; and yet there is in the mother that which loves it with an intensity which is like life itself. So there is in the Divine nature a power of sympathizing with things at the lowest and poorest.
5. In this simple thought we find the world's hope and comfort. You may dismiss from your minds, if you can, all who are not your near relations; but I cannot. It is a burden on my soul what becomes of the vast multitudes of Africa, Asia, and of our great cities who crawl like vermin in and out of dens of vice and poverty. The only light on this problem comes from the fact that there is a God who loves things that are not lovable.
6. This universality of the Divine sympathy interprets the declaration, "God so loved the world," etc. His affection for a world lying in brutality and wickedness was such that He gave what was most precious to Him to redeem it. Men think that this obliterates the motives to right. Not so. Is there any feeling in the parent's mind stronger than this: that the beloved child shall grow out of nothingness into largeness and beauty? And God aims to purify and exalt and enrich human nature. He loves men without reason in them, but with infinite reason in Himself. His love is not simply good nature. It is intensely earnest and just, and suffering flows from it. There is nothing lovable in us at first, but under the fructifying influence of the Divine soul working on ours, germ after germ begins to develop into something lovable; and the Divine complacency takes hold of us as we rise to higher love and perfection.
7. What a consolation this representation presents to those who are battling with their imperfections.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.