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…
Consider these words —
I. IN THEIR RELATION TO THE APOSTLES. The words "having loved His own," are a brief but complete summary of the Saviour's conduct. He loved them with a love of pity when He saw their lost estate, and He called them out of it to be His disciples; touched with a feeling of their infirmities He loved them with a tender and prudent affection, and sought to train and educate them, that they might be good soldiers of His cross; He loved them with a love of complacency as He walked and talked with them and found solace in their company. Even when He rebuked them He loved. On Tabor or in Gethsemane He loved His own; alone or in the crowd, in life and in death. Our Saviour's faithfulness was —
1. Most remarkable. He had selected persons who must have been but poor companions for one of so gigantic a mind and so large a heart.
(1) He must have been greatly shocked at their worldliness. He was thinking of the baptism wherewith He was to be baptized, but they were disputing which should be the greatest. When He warned them of an evil leaven, they thought of the loaves. Earthworms are miserable company for angels, moles but unhappy company for eagles, yet love made our great Master endure the society of His ignorant and carnal followers.
(2) Worse was the apparent impossibility of lifting them out of that low condition; for though never man spake as He spake, how little did they understand! "Have I been so long time with you," etc. No teacher here could have had patience with such heavy intellects, but our Lord's love remained, notwithstanding.
(3) When we love a person, we expect him to have some little sympathy in the great design and aim of our life; yet our Lord loved disciples who could not be brought to enter at all into the spirit which governed Him. Had they dared, they would rather have thwarted than assisted Him in His self-sacrificing mission. Still, this could not prevent Him from loving them unto the end.
(4) On one or two occasions certain of them were even guilty of impertinence. Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him. But after rebuking a temptation which was evidently Satanic, His affection to Peter remained unabated.
(3) That was a stern trial, too, when at a later period "all the disciples forsook Him and fled." Carrying the text beyond its original position, Christ, who had loved His own, loved them to the end.
2. Christ proved His love —
(1) By His continual companionship. You would not expect a master to find rest in the society of his scholars; and yet herein was love, that Jesus, passing by angels, and kings, and sages, chose for His companions unlettered men and women.
(2) By being always ready to instruct them, and His love is shown as clearly in what He kept back from them as in what He revealed. How loving to dwell so often upon the simpler truths, and the more practical precepts; it was as though a senior wrangler should sit down in the family and teach boys and girls their alphabet day after day.
(3) By rendering every kind of assistance. Whensoever they were in trouble, He was their willing and able friend — when the sea roared; when Peter's wife's mother was sick; when one of His dearest friends was dead and buried.
(4) By comforting them when He foresaw that they would be cast down; especially was this true at the period before His passion — when one would have thought He might have sought for comfort, He was busy distributing it.
(5) By constantly pleading for them. Ere the poison was injected by the old serpent, the antidote was at hand. "Satan hath desired," etc.
(6) By washing their feet.
II. IN THEIR RELATION TO ALL HIS SAINTS. We read that our Lord "Came unto His own," etc. — the word is neuter — his own things; but in this instance it is masculine — his own persons. A man may part with his own things; sell his own house, cattle, merchandise; but a man cannot part with his own when it relates to persons, his own child, wife, father. Our own relatives are real property, perpetual possession. Jesus has just such a property in His own people — they are forever near of kin to Him. These He "loved to the end." The text opens three windows.
1. As to the past. He has loved His own people from of old; eternally. This everlasting love has a speciality about it. Our Lord has a general love of benevolence towards all His creatures; but He has a special place in His heart for His own peculiar ones.
(1) Jesus loved His people with a foresight of what they would be. He knew that "His own" would fall in Adam; that they would be hard to reclaim and difficult to retain; and yet He loved His own over the head of all their sins. On their highest Tabors He loves them, but equally as well in their Gethsemanes; when they wander, and when they come back.
(2) This love is more than a passion, it is a settled principle, not subject to changes like terrestrial things.
(3) This love has been attested by many deeds. By the fact that He stood surety for us when the covenant was made, and entered into stipulations on our behalf that He would fulfil the broken law, and offer satisfaction to the justice of God. In the fulness of time he took upon Himself our nature, lived a life of blameless service, died a death into which all the weight of Divine vengeance for sin was compressed. Now that He lives exalted in the highest heaven, He is still His people's servant, interceding for them, representing them, preparing a place for them, and by His Spirit fetching them out from mankind, and preparing them for the place which He has prepared.
2. The second window looks out upon the present. "Which were in the world." It does not seem an extraordinary thing that Jesus should love His own who are in heaven. Well may Jesus love them, for there is much beauty in them. But Jesus loves you working men that have to work with so many bad fellows, you tradesmen who have to go in among many who shock you, you good work girls, who meet with so many tempters. He sees your imperfection, He knows what you have to struggle with, and He loves you notwithstanding all. Again, as the sparks fly upwards, so were we born to trouble. But Jesus loves His own which are in this dolorous world: this is the balm of our griefs.
3. The third window looks out to the future. "Unto the end."(1) To the utmost end of their unloveliness. Their sinfulness cannot travel so far but His love will travel beyond it; their unbelief even shall not be extended to so great a length but His faithfulness shall still be wider and broader than their unfaithfulness.
(2) To the end of all their needs. They may need more than this world can hold, and all that heaven can give, but Jesus will go to the end of all their necessities, and even beyond them, for He is "able to save to the uttermost."(3) To the end of their lives.
(4) To the end of His own life. Until the eternal God shall die, His love shall never depart from any one of His beloved. Conclusion: If Jesus Christ thus loves to the end —
1. How ought we to persevere in our love to Him.
2. Let us not indulge the wicked thought that He will forsake us.
3. What a misery it must be to be without such a Saviour!
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
And supper being ended. — The translation should probably be, "And it now becoming supper time." As a matter of fact the supper was not ended (vers. 12, 26); but they had already reclined, and were, as we say, ready for supper.
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands. —
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.