Having Loved His Own … He Loved Them Unto the End

John 13:1  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 5
These precious words are found in John 13:11Now 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. (John 13:1). Most of us know that "to the end" there mean s on and on, through every day. That is, He has loved and loves us with a love that nothing can stop; nothing can make Him cease to love us. We are loved with a love that will never cease to love us!
It is a little remarkable too, right in that connection, we find a passage in Hebrews 13 which says, "Let brotherly love continue." What does that mean? Just exactly what it says: that it is to continue-to never cease. Our brethren cannot act worse toward us, nor we toward them, than the disciples did toward the Lord. "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." John 15:1212This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12). This means that we are to love our brethren in the same way—the same manner—on and on through and through-in spite of everything.
The way in which this love has to manifest itself, of course, has to do with the way in which others conduct themselves. We find John lying on the Savior's breast, and we find Peter denying Him with oaths and cursing. He loved them both with the same love, but that love had to manifest itself according to the ways of each. I speak of the principle now. Of John it is written, "He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto Him, Lord, who is it?" John 13:2525He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? (John 13:25). Here is intercourse-communion.
What about Peter's denying Him with oaths and cursing? Is there communion there? Oh, no. The cock crows, and he remembers the words that Jesus spake unto him, and their eyes meet. That is, Peter's eye catches the Lord's eye, and t he Lord's eye catches Peter's. What is the result? The poor failing one went out and wept bitterly. The Lord's love to Peter was not one whit less when he was denying Him than at any other time.
I was thinking a little of Martha's service to the Lord; it had become a burden (Luke 10:40-4240But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:40‑42)). When service to the Lord becomes a burden, it loses its worth in His sight. And when does it become a burden? When love to Himself is not the spring; so we hear the dear soul saying, "Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." She wants help. Her service has become a burden because He is not known as He should be, though in a sense He is the object of service; nevertheless, it is a burden.
Then there is that wonderful servant of God, Elijah. It is very interesting to note when we first meet him and when we leave him. He comes before us first directly from the presence of the Lord. Out of a hidden place he comes forth to speak; no one ever heard of him before, according to the record given in Scripture. He comes before us in this way: "As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." 1 Kings 17:11And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1 Kings 17:1). A passage from the New Testament (Jas. 5:1717Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. (James 5:17)) tells us he had been in communion with God about it. It was his love to the Lord's people, and his love to the Lord, that led him to say in substance, "Lord, if nothing else will bring the people to their senses—to a sense of their sin-withhold the rain." It was a hard thing to ask, yet it was love that led to it. He got the answer.
Elijah goes on, and after a while we find him leaving this world, and oh what a departure! He was carried to heaven in a chariot of fire. Next we see him, not going to heaven, but in the glory itself, and there with the Lord and with Moses (Matt. 17:33And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. (Matthew 17:3)). But what preceded his going to heaven that way? He was a man overcome with evil. What! you say, a man that went to heaven in a chariot of fire, and was seen on the mount of glory, and in the glory with the Lord and Moses, was overcome of evil? Yes, he was, and there is nothing more easy than for a godly heart to be overcome of evil if there is not the continuance of love. You ask, How was he overcome of evil? What do we find him doing? Making intercession against Israel (Rom. 11:22God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, (Romans 11:2)). "Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life." Then he asked to die. He was overcome of evil in that way.
We are told to not be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:2121Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)). That love with which we are loved, and the love with which we are to love, is the love of Christ-it never can be overcome of evil. Do not we feel the danger of being overcome with evil, being cast down, when we see evil coming in like a flood?
Now in John 13 it says, "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Then what did He do? He laid aside His garments, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He had girded Himself. Instead of being all carried away with the thought that "now I am going to leave the world and depart to the Father," He was thinking of them. He says, as it were, "I know I will be up there, but I will not be happy without their fellowship and communion, and without My services I cannot have it, so I will just suit Myself to their need; I will take a position-an attitude—toward them that will maintain them in fellowship with Me while absent from them, until they need not that kind of service anymore." His is a love that never for a moment forgets its object. Oh what a humbling, blessed truth! how we feel more and more our utter unworthiness of it! Nothing humbles like grace—like love. That is the love we are loved with.
After He had rendered them that service—a type of the service in which. He is now engaged in order to sustain us in communion with Himself, which, so to speak, His love cannot do without—He sat down. All this took place in that upper chamber.
This is the only place that I remember that the Lord calls the attention of the disciples to the fact that He is their Lord and Master. "Know ye not what I have done to you? Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet." vv. 12-14. Never had He said this before. Then He says, "If ye know these things"—what?—"happy are ye?" No, it does not say that. There is a little word of two letters in there that is important: "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Do what? Wash one another's feet.
Now we all know, if we know what communion with Christ is, that there is no such thing as going on with Him without His doing for us what He did for His disciples. It is utterly impossible for us to restore our souls. "He restoreth my soul." We are dependent on Him for the restoration of the soul as well as for its salvation. We cannot get on without this service—we cannot get on without the Lord. There is another thing, brethren: WE CANNOT GET ON WITH ONE ANOTHER WITHOUT KNOWING HOW TO DO IT WITH ONE ANOTHER.
He says distinctly, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." And how often have we felt the communion broken-a cloud between. How is it going to be removed? There is just one way, and that is to put the feet into His hands. That is all. We will never get the cloud removed in any other way. "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." Just so, unless there is this service one to another, there is no going on with one another. Think of the love that we are loved with-the love of Christ.
What the heart feels the need of is personal communion with Christ. What He looks for and values above everything else is personal devotedness to Himself; and no amount of service can ever compensate, can ever make up to Him, for communion with Himself. If there is devotedness, there will be communion; if there is communion, there will be service.