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…
I. A MARVELLOUS LOVE: that of Christ for His own. Marvellous in respect of —
1. Its time.
(1) Before the feast of the Passover, when His thoughts might have been occupied with its memories.
(2) Before His departure, when He might have been absorbed in the contemplation of death or the heaven beyond.
(3) Before His exaltation, when the vision of the coming glory might have fixed His Spirit's eye.
2. Its intensity — "unto the end."(1) To the uttermost, or in the highest degree, with a love passing knowledge (Ephesians 3:19), which many waters (of affliction) could not quench, nor floods (of sorrow) drown (Song of Solomon 8:9).
(2) To the latest moment of His life, with a love which, as it had been without beginning, so also would it be without end (Jeremiah 31:8).
(3) At the last, surpassing every previous demonstration and stooping even unto death for its objects (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Romans 5:8).
3. Its reason. While He was departing from, they were remaining in the world, exposed to the enmity and evil He was escaping. The thought of their feebleness and defencelessness, and their sufferings and imperfections, added fuel to the fire of His affection (Hebrews 4:15).
II. A MARVELLOUS DEED (ver. 5). An act of —
1. Amazing condescension, considering —
(1) Its nature — the work of a slave (1 Samuel 25:41).
(2) His dignity — the Incarnate Son, conscious of His heavenly origin and destiny (ver. 3), on the eve of grasping the sceptre of the universe (Matthew 28:18).
(3) The objects — frail and erring men and one of them a traitor. Had Christ been only man He would have spurned Judas: being God, He loved him and even washed his feet.
2. Sublime significance. Symbolic —
(1) Of Christ's self-abasement who, in order to effect the spiritual cleansing of His people, laid aside the form of God, assumed the garment of humanity, and poured His purifying blood from the cross (Philippians 2:7, 8; 1 John 1:7).
(2) Of the working of regeneration through which sin's defilement is removed (Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5).
(3) Of the daily cleansing which the renewed need (Psalm 51:7; 1 John 1:9).
III. A MARVELLOUS OBLIGATION (vers. 14, 15). Christ's example calls His disciples to —
1. Personal humility. If the Lord and Master could stoop and wash the feet of a Judas, it ill became them to be puffed up with thoughts of their own greatness (Romans 12:3; Luke 22:27; Matthew 9:29; 1 Peter 5:5).
2. Loving service. Not that Christ instituted a new religious service. The Pope is Christ's ape rather than His imitator. Christ's example is to be followed spiritually in ministering to necessity and practising Christian kindness (John 15:17; Matthew 25:34-40; Romans 12:9, 10; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:13, 14, 22; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Timothy 5:10).
3. Brotherly forgiveness. Christ had washed and therefore forgiven them; they were to practise the charity which covers a multitude of sins (Matthew 6:12; Mark 11:28; Luke 17:3, 4; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).Learn —
1. The supreme Divinity of Christ.
2. The diabolical depravity of the fallen heart.
3. The imperfections of even Christ's followers.
4. The absolute necessity of Christ as a Saviour.
5. Christ's perfect knowledge of men.
6. The duty of taking Christ as our example.
7. Obedience the royal road to happiness.
(T. Whitelaw, 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.