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. IN THIS SONG THE REDEEMED MAKE GRATEFUL MENTION OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST; that being the spring of all their present privileges and all their future hopes. This is well put first in order, not only because it is the source of every spiritual blessing, but also because it is in itself their chief happiness — they being the objects of his love; and every ingenuous mind will more esteem the kindly heart, than the costly gifts of a benefactor. How, in ordinary cases, do we estimate the strength of a friend's affection for us? Is it in the first instance by the ardour with which it is expressed in words? Then what are the terms in which the Redeemer speaks of His people? "I have loved them with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee." Does it enhance our esteem of the benignant heart of a friend, when his kindness is continued, notwithstanding we have given him cause of offence; and is that friendship sufficient to melt the hardest heart which requites every offence with forgiveness, and suffers us not to sink under an unworthy return? Then is Christ such a friend. Is the love of a friend the more valued because it comes to us in circumstances of great destitution or distress? Now, it was when we were miserable and poor that the Redeemer loved us. His office was to bind up the broken-hearted, and to make the mourner glad. Do we appreciate the friendship which we have reason to believe has no connection with selfish motives or personal ends? The friendship of the Redeemer was purely disinterested. The only reward which He sought was the salvation of His people. The only joy that was set before Him was, that He should see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Do we estimate the strength of a friend's affection for us by his fondness for our society, by his affording us free access at all times, and by the frequency and kindness of his invitations to meet us? Then with what condescension has the Redeemer invited, nay, urged His people to repair to Him as their friend, as "a very present help to them, in every time of need!" Do we estimate the strength of a friend's affection by the sacrifices he makes, or by the personal sufferings He endures for our sakes? Then what sacrifice is so great, what sufferings so severe as those of the Son of God? Do we estimate the kindness of an earthly friend by his long-suffering patience in bearing with our infirmities, and in dealing tenderly with us, even when we most try his patience by our provocations? And what believer can fail to acknowledge that he is a living monument of the Redeemer's mercy, an unprofitable servant whom none but Divine patience could have spared. Finally, do we rest with confidence on the friendship of one who identifies himself with us, and acts as if our interests and his own were the same? Then is Christ the friend of His people. Whoso, saith He, receiveth you receiveth Me: Whoso shall give but a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward.
II. BUT THAT LOVE WAS NOT WITHOUT EFFECT, and the beloved disciple adverts to SOME OF THE BENEFITS WHICH HAVE FLOWED FROM IT TO HIS PEOPLE. He has washed us from our sins in His own blood. The words imply that the Saviour's blood was shed, and shed for the remission of sins; and it was a noble proof of His love. They also intimate that, besides being shed, that blood had been savingly applied, and had sufficient efficacy to wash them from their sins. And believers will ever regard the sawing application of that blood to their consciences as no less proof of the Redeemer's kindness than the fact of His having shed it. His love in leading them to that fountain is not less to be celebrated than His love in having opened it, especially when it is considered that, without such a personal application of His blood to them individually, His death would have been of no avail. By that blood they were delivered from the burden of an accusing conscience, and admitted into peace and friendship with God. By that blood they were delivered for ever from judgment to come.
III. THE DESIGN OF THE SAVIOUR WAS NOT ACCOMPLISHED, NOR HIS LOVE EXHAUSTED, BY PARDONING THE SINS OF HIS PEOPLE. It was His design to advance them as monuments of His grace to a state of great dignity, and to employ them in a very exalted station.
IV. IT IS THE NATURAL FRUIT, AND A STRONG EVIDENCE OF FAITH, AND AT THE SAME TIME A SOURCE OF GREAT SPIRITUAL COMFORT, TO BE MUCH ENGAGED IN REFLECTING ON THE LOVE OF THE REDEEMER, AND REGARDING WITH HOLY GRATITUDE THE BENEFITS WHICH YOU HAVE RECEIVED OR YET EXPECT AT HIS HANDS; for while we thus meditate on His love, and on our own honour and privileges, as His people, our hearts will burn within us, and our lips break forth in His praise. To many among us, indeed, who are downcast and sorrowful, it may seem as if this strain were more fitted for those who have already fought the good fight, and finished their course, than for us who are still in the body, burthened with the remains of a corrupt nature; weak, yet beset with strong temptation; prone to backsliding. But may not the most desponding believer take courage at least from their success? May not their triumphant song inspire us with new hopes, since it tells us that men like ourselves have obtained the victory.
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;