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…
The Saviour has a treasure of immortal spirits who are not in the world. Angels and spirits of the just made perfect are all His own — a multitude which no man can number. This verse, however, shows the relationship of Jesus to His faithful followers who "are in the world." The disciples were no monopolists of Christ's love. The lapse of time may change the tense, but it does not change the sense of this gracious text.
I. THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS ARE CALLED BY A PECULIARLY ENDEARING NAME — ''His own." All things are His own. "All souls are Mine," even the rebellious and unthankful. Here, however, the words imply a relationship of the dearest and closest kind. A true mother has a sympathy for all children; but there is a singular depth in her words, as she looks into the eyes of the darling of her heart, and says, "My own!" The gift in the hand of a child is enhanced when it is understood to be his "very own." With such intense affection and delight does Christ regard His people. He constantly challenges them as "My brethren," "My sheep," "My friends," and emphatically, "Mine." They are His own —
1. As the purchase of His blood. They had sold themselves for nought, were sold under sin. Christ was their Redeemer. He gave His life a ransom for them, and they are become His purchased possession. "He justly claims us for 'His own,'" etc.
2. By willing personal surrender. This is an all-essential endorsement of His claim. The price of his freedom may be proffered to the slave, but if he will not accept it he is still in bonds. Christ hath purchased all souls. Yet it needs the assent of their understanding, and the consent of their will, in order to bind them to Him by the special tie and to make them peculiarly His own.
3. They bear the name, seal, and image of the Saviour.
4. As the gift of the Father, the reward of His mediatorial work. In chap. John 17, we see how the Saviour gathered strength and comfort from the thought of their prospective possession. "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me."
II. THE TEMPORARY POSITION OF CHRIST'S OWN! "In the world." When a sinner is converted and all is safe for heaven, how desirable it seems that he should be removed out of the world. Let him be taken away from the evil to come that he may never run the hazard of losing so rich a prize. Amid the troubles of life the Christian pilgrim is often tempted to say, "Oh that I had the wings of a dove," etc. But the Lord keeps "His own" in the world —
1. For their own sake. Eternal life is the gift of God unmerited and free; yet the Christian's future will be largely influenced by the tone and character of his life on earth. According to his spiritual growth, his moral victories, his love and sacrifice and service, will be the fulness of the glory which shall be revealed.
2. For the Saviour's sake. The world holds Him in dishonour, and gives His glory to another. Christians are in the world to represent the Saviour! "The glory which Thou hast given Me! have given them, that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me."
3. For the world's sake. The world cannot spare them. Its only hope lies in the element of godliness which is slowly leavening it more and more. "Ye are the salt of the earth."
III. THE SAVIOUR'S UNCHANGING LOVE FOR HIS OWN. "He loved them to the end." These disciples of His, from the day He called them, had been the objects of tenderest regard. They were full of faults and failings, were sadly slow of heart to receive the truth; yet in and through all He loved them. Now that the time is at hand when the bitter cup shall be lifted to His lips, His anxiety for their well. being is the foremost feeling of His heart. He pours into their ears the richest strains of comfort and consolation. "Let not your hearts be troubled," etc. He promises them a Comforter, and bids them "be of good cheer." In the garden, His gentle forbearance to the unwatchful three reveals the fixity and depth of His love. When the officers came, He wards His trembling disciples from the threatening crowd. Their desertion was a sharper pang than any made by jailer's scourge or soldier's spear. And yet it was quenchless love that "looked" on Peter. When He left the tomb, He gave the angel watchers a kindly message for His flock, and mentioned the penitent denier by name. And when at last they gathered round Him on the hill of Bethany, His latest movement was to lift His hands and bless them; His latest word a promise to be with them even to the end of the world; when a cloud received Him out of their sight, two angels stood before them to tell them that as they had seen Him ascend, so should He again descend, that He might receive them unto Himself! Afterwards, when seated at the right hand of God, Stephen's cry for help brought Him to His feet! Do you wonder that when the aged apostle called up each look, tone, deed, and word that marked his Saviour's later days, that with a gush of unrestrained devotion he should write, "Having loved His own," etc.? Conclusion:
1. Believer, you are in the holy and the privileged succession.
(1) Christ loves you with an abiding love. Your memory bears grateful witness. Many an Ebenezer stands out and tells how His love came in the hour of your sorest need. Your backslidings have been many; your imperfections more, but His love hath endured through all. Be of good cheer. He will love you to the end, and draw closer and nearer as the end draws nigh.
(2) Seek a closer, more perfect union with your Saviour. Be "His own" entirely.
2. Sinner! you are not in this saving sense "His own." Then whose are you? You are a servant of the devil, whose wages is death! Yet the Saviour loves you! Give Him your heart, then you shall be "His own."
(J. Jackson Wray.)
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.