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…
Among those rules for his daily conduct which the pious, though visionary Lavater, suspended in his study, and seriously read every night and morning, the following is far from being the least important: — "I will not do nor design anything which I would omit if Jesus Christ were standing visibly before me, or which I suppose He would not perform if He were in my situation. I will, with the assistance of God, accustom myself to do everything in the name of Jesus Christ; and, as His disciple, to sigh every hour to God for the blessing of the Holy Ghost, and be always disposed to prayer." Happy the believer who acts in this manner!
I. THAT IT IS OUR DUTY TO IMITATE THE EXAMPLE OF THE REDEEMER IS EASILY PROVED.
1. For what reason was the history of His life written? Not that it might gratify an idle curiosity; not that it might amuse us by its wonderful events, and produce a barren admiration; not that it might afford scenes on which we might carelessly gaze, and subjects on which we might coldly converse. They recorded the actions and the words of Jesus, that a living, lustrous, obligatory rule of conduct; that a visible commentary on God's law might be presented for our imitation; that a light, unerring as the pillar of fire and cloud that led the Israelites, might be given to us to conduct us through this wilderness to the promised land that is on high.
2. In your Scriptures you are constantly and unequivocally commanded to imitate the Redeemer. "Learn of Me"; "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me." "Let the same mind be in you which was in Christ" is the admonition of Paul (Philippians 2:5). Do they exhort us to holiness? As He who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15). Do they incite us to charity? "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2); "This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). Would they arm us with patience? "We must consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest we be weary and faint in our minds" (Hebrews 12:3). Would they teach us to condescend to our neighbour for his benefit? "Let everyone please his neighbour for his good to edification, for even Christ pleased not Himself" (Romans 15:2). Do they urge us to forgiveness? "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:13).
3. The sacred vows that are upon us, the tender and solemn relations that we sustain to Jesus, enforce this duty.
4. A regard to the best interests of our fellow men should induce us to follow the example of the holy Jesus, Oh! let us be careful not to alienate them: let us imitate Jesus, and then perhaps we will draw them to the Saviour, or if not, we shall be "pure from their blood."
5. A regard to our own spiritual improvement and salvation should induce us to study and imitate the example of Jesus. There is no other example so comprehensive: from that wonderful union of greatness and humiliation. Other lives afford instruction to men in particular circumstances and relations; though they are burning and shining lights, they dissipate the gloom but for comparatively a short distance around them: but He, like the sun, is set in a higher orb, and with an everlasting and uncircumscribed light illumines the universe. Other lives may be excellent examples of some particular virtues: as Job, of patience; Moses, of meekness; Paul, of zeal. But in Jesus there is a beautiful and attractive harmony of all the virtues. Other examples present us with only a short period of time, reaching merely from the birth to the death of those who exhibit them. We are taught by Him not only when He tabernacled in flesh, but also when He first raised the hopes of fallen man: when He appeared to the patriarchs and prophets; when He comforted His martyrs, and cheered His children in every age; when He now sheds down into the souls of His followers joys unspeakable. Other examples communicate no quickening influence. Other examples are of persons who are not united to us by such endearing bonds as is Immanuel. Other examples bear the slump of imperfection. Let us remember that a conformity in our internal principles of conduct forms the first step of this imitation. Hence we are exhorted by Paul to "have the same mind which Christ had" (Philippians 2:5). We must, then, in order to imitate Jesus, be animated by the same Holy Spirit that He possessed. We must also receive the same systems of Divine truths, otherwise our obedience will spring from different motives.But in what particular instances must we take Jesus as our model, and conform ourselves to His example?
1. Imitate Him in His piety towards God. It was constant and unwearied. In no single instant did His heart cease to glow with affection to His Father. Ye who "did run well for a season," blush when you contemplate the steady path of Jesus, and return from your wanderings. His piety was zealous. He does not coldly and heartlessly engage in the duties of religion. His piety was attended with frequent prayer.
2. He is an example to us in His benevolence. This is exhibited in all His conduct, as it breathed in all its discourses. On the wings of charity He descended from heaven, and His whole life proved that He had lain from eternity in the bosom of everlasting love.
3. He is an example to us in His humility. Never were such endowments as He possessed; yet, with celestial wisdom, He never was assuming.
4. He is an example to us of superiority to the world. He might have enjoyed all that the world idolizes; His renunciation of it was voluntary.
5. He is an example to us in His patience and forgiveness.
6. He is an example to us in tolerance and forbearance. Though zealous, His zeal was never cruel and malignant; though perfectly innocent, He tenderly compassionated the errors and the follies of men. Though His censures were faithful, they were ever meek and gentle.
(H. Kollock, D. D.)
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.