Love Unto the End

John 13:1‑5  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 11
OH 13:1-5" 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."
"And supper being ended (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him), Jesus (knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God) riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments, and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded."
This is a deeply affecting and beautiful passage, exemplifying in a wonderful way the Lord's love to His own, at the close of His path upon earth, when about to return to that home which for a season He had left for their sakes, and still more for the sake of Him whose name it was His object to glorify. It opens as follows: " 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." Now here, observe, a set time is fixed, a given moment is specified; leading us surely to look for some equally definite act on the Lord's part, something either to be done or uttered by Rim at the time expressed. However, on reading the close of this passage, all that we find is, that, " having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Now love, an inward affection of the heart, as it is, and not of necessity issuing in any act of the hand or utterance of the' lips, in its very nature is neither bounded by time nor fixed to a moment. What, then, we ask, has He done, as shown in the passage
before us? Apparently nothing. HE HAD LOVED THEM BEFORE, AND HE STILL LOVES THEM. Hence we are tempted to think that no conclusion is reached, that the thought is imperfect, the sentence unfinished.
This, however, is wholly inconsistent with Him whose words are the. very essence of divine wisdom and knowledge; and hence, on looking a little more closely at the passage, we are led to the conclusion that the verb agapao (to love) is here intended to convey the thought of love not merely felt, but of love carried out and embodied in action; and that it prepares us for what we find in the sequel- namely, Jesus girding Himself, and washing the feet of the twelve. This, observe, was a mystical, typical action-a pledge to His own of His guardian care of them when He should no longer be with them: it showed that, as they passed through a world where they would be sure to encounter defilement, He would be at hand to wash the stains away from their feet, to keep their consciences clean, and enable them to walk worthy of their high calling as the children of God in the midst of a world sunk in iniquity. And this He would do for them as long as they needed it, even " to the end"-to the last hour of the sojourn of the Church
upon earth. For, observe, the love here expressed is by no means confined to the Apostles-it reaches to all, they being a sample at that moment of the whole elect body.
So, were we to paraphrase the closing words of this paragraph, we should express ourselves thus: " Having loved His own which were in the world, HE GAVE THEM A
TOKEN, A PLEDGE, OF HIS UNCHANGING LOVE TO THEM UNTO THE END; He showed them that, as He had loved them before, He would love them forever."
And now, having explained the former of the two above paragraphs, we will proceed to the latter, in which we find that for which the first had prepared us-namely, the actual description of Christ's washing the feet of the twelve. The bare narrative, divested of everything extraneous, is as follows: " And supper being ended, Jesus riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments, and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bacon, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was. girded." These are simply the facts, the two passages here omitted being each of them evidently parenthetical, and, as such, not actually needed as regards the bare history, and yet at the same time most needed in order to set forth and illustrate that love which led Jesus to speak and to act as we find Him here doing. They are as follows: First, " the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him"; Secondly, "knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God." How striking, how contrasted with each other, these two passages are! In the first we find the powers of darkness marshalling their forces-the traitor moved by the devil to compass the destruction of Jesus. In the latter we learn how the Lord at that moment, in view of His death on the cross, was realizing all that He was, and all that was His. From heaven, from God, He had come; and to heaven, to God, He was going again, there to be seated, to take His place on the throne of the Father, as Lord of all things in heaven and in earth: and He, blessed Lord! in the face of all this, in the full realization of the hatred and rejection of man on the one hand, of God's love and complacency, His full acceptance of Himself and His work, on the other-of His humiliation, in short, and His glory,. He thus humbles, He girds Himself, and washes the feet of those who were so soon to forsake Him, and one of them, alas!' to betray Him! What marvelous grace, what unspeakable love, what amazing humility! Well may we take courage and go on our way rejoicing, when we see what a Savior and Guardian we have to keep and defend us. Our object, however, is not so much to comment upon it as to bring out the structure and sense of the passage, believing that when these are discerned it will come home with fresh power to the heart. Observe, the two things which we have noted above are, the true meaning of the verb agapao (to, love), as used in this passage, and the moral connection of what we, find in the two parentheses with the action of Jesus in this scene at the supper-table. E. D.