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…
[Read "loveth us, and loosed us from our sins."]
I. THE EVER-PRESENT, TIMELESS LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST. John is writing these words of our text nearly half a century after Jesus Christ was buried. He is speaking to Asiatic Christians, Greeks and foreigners, most of whom were not born when Jesus Christ died, none of whom probably had ever seen Him in this world. To these people he proclaims, not a past love, not a Christ that loved long ago, but a Christ that loves now when John was writing, a Christ that loves us nineteenth-century Englishmen at the moment when we read. Another thing must be remembered. He who speaks is "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Is it not beautiful that he thus takes all his brethren up to the same level as himself, and delights to sink all that was special and personal into that which was common to all. The foundation of all our hopes and all our joys, and all our strength in the work of the world should be this firm conviction, that we are wrapped about by, and evermore in, an endless ocean, so to speak, of a present Divine love, of a present loving Christ. Then, further, that love is not disturbed or absorbed by multitudes. He loveth us, says John to these Asiatic Christians; and he speaks to all ages and people. Again, it is a love unchilled by the sovereignty and glory of His exaltation. The Christ of the gospels is the Christ in His lowliness, bearing the weight of man's sins; the Christ of the Apocalypse is the Christ in His loftiness, ruling over the world and time. But it is the same Christ. From the midst of the glory and the sevenfold brilliancy of the light which is inaccessible, the same tender heart bends down over us that bent down over all the weary and the distressed when He Himself was weary; and we can lift up our eyes above stars, and systems, and material splendours, right up to the central point of the universe, where the throned Christ is, and see "Him that loveth us" — even us!
II. THE GREAT ACT IN TIME WHICH IS THE OUTCOME AND THE PROOF OF THIS ENDLESS LOVE "He loosed us from our sins by His own blood." The metaphor is that of bondage. "He that committeth sin is the slave of sin." Every wrong thing that we do tends to become our master and our tyrant. The awful influence of habit, the dreadful effect upon a nature of a corrupted conscience, the power of regretful memories, the pollution arising from the very knowledge of what is wrong — these are some of the strands out of which the ropes that bind us are twisted. We know how tight they grip. But the chains can be got off. Christ looses them by "His blood." Like a drop of corrosive acid, that blood, falling upon the fetters, dissolves them, and the prisoner goes free, emancipated by the Son. His blood looses the fetters of our sins, inasmuch as His death, touching our hearts, and also bringing to us new powers through His Spirit, which is shed forth in consequence of His finished work, frees us from the power of sin, and brings into operation new powers and motives which free us from our ancient slavery. The chains which bound us shrivel and melt as the ropes that bound the Hebrew youths in the fire, before the warmth of His manifested love and the glow of His Spirit's power.
III. THE PRAISE WHICH SHOULD BE OUR ANSWER TO THIS GREAT LOVE. Our praise of Christ is but the expression of our recognition of Him for what He is, and our delight in love towards Him. Such love and praise, which is but love speaking, is all which He asks. Love can only be paid by love. Any other recompense offered to it is coinage of another currency, that is not current in its kingdom. The only recompense that satisfies love is its own image reflected in another heart. That is what Jesus Christ wants of you.
(A. Maclaren, 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;