Two Breathtaking Signs of the Love of Christ
In the opening verses of John 13, as Jesus prepared to eat the last supper with his disciples on the night when Judas would betray him, we are confronted with two glorious indications of how much Christ loved his own. Continue reading . . .
In the opening verses of John 13, as Jesus prepared to eat the last supper with his disciples on the night when Judas would betray him, we are confronted with two glorious indications of how much Christ loved his own. We read this in John 13:1-5,
“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it 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 had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:1-5).
First, often times, power and authority get in the way of love. When people are promoted and praised and find themselves in a position of authority they tend to forget others. They are absorbed in their own achievements, they are enamored with their own press clippings, and all others suddenly become expendable and less important. Admit it: it’s hard to be passionately concerned for others when your head is swelled with thoughts of your own importance. But not Jesus. Look again at v. 3. Jesus again knew that “the Father had given all things into his hands.”
By “all things” he had in mind not just the disciples who loved and followed him but also Judas Iscariot who was about to betray him. All of these were his to do with as he pleased. Satan was his to do with as he pleased. Pontius Pilate and Herod and all the rulers of both Rome and Israel were his to do with as he pleased.
With all the power of heaven and earth at his disposal, he chose to think of his own. Remember, he said he could have called 12 legions of angels to deliver him had he so chosen (Matt. 26:53). With the authority to blast Judas and Satan and Pontius Pilate into the next galaxy, he thinks only of his own.
Try to imagine the disciples sitting around the table that night, looking intently at the face of Jesus. What was racing through their minds? Perhaps questions like: “What’s he thinking about? What’s on his mind?” I’ll tell you exactly what he was thinking about. Jesus was saying to himself: “It’s all mine. I am the Lord and Sovereign King over everything. My Father has put all things in my hands.”
His mind is filled with thoughts of the power and dominion and authority and glory and honor that have been given him by his Father. And it was precisely then, at that very moment, with images and ideas of his authority swirling around in his head that he rose from supper and girded himself with a towel and got down on his knees and washed his disciples’ feet (vv. 4-5)!
Instead of letting thoughts of his own greatness exempt him from serving others, instead of using the truth of his own preeminence and power to justify ignoring their needs, instead of his own exalted position leading him to think that this rag-tag group of sinners was beneath his dignity as Lord of the Universe, he loved and serve them by washing their feet.
This is stunning! In the midst of such indescribable turmoil and impending arrest and crucifixion, all he could think about was loving and serving his “own”.
Second, often the knowledge of our derivation and our destination get in the way of us thinking about anyone but ourselves. In other words, when we take into consideration where we’ve come from and where we’re going, we find that such turns our thoughts inwardly and away from any focus on or concern for others. Some people think that since they come from aristocracy, being blue-bloods, as it were, they have no business mingling with, much less serving the lower classes of society.
Not Jesus. Look at v. 3. Jesus was thinking about the fact that “he had come from God” and that he “was going back to God.”
Clearly this refers to his thoughts concerning his pre-existent glory and majesty and mutual love between the Father and Spirit in the fellowship of the Godhead (see John 17:1-5). Perhaps he is thinking of the echo of angelic praise. Perhaps he’s reflecting on the adoring worship of the four living creatures or the sustained cry of “Holy, Holy, Holy” coming from stunned seraphim surrounding his throne. It may also be a reference to his sense of divine mission. It certainly refers to his expectation of being exalted once again to that place and experience of glory that his state of humiliation had temporarily interrupted.
And yet, knowing full well who he was, knowing and reflecting on the glory that was his from eternity past, the glory that would be his for eternity future, he still chose to think about others: his own. John couldn’t have been any clearer: while such thoughts were swirling around in his head he was fixated on the love he had for his own (v. 1).
Such is the love of Christ for those he came to save!