Thoughts on the Way Home

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Love Revealed - John 13:1

"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."-JOHN 13:1

The long-expected hour of departure had arrived. The
alternative was before Christ, either to refresh and
animate his soul by the contemplation of that world to
which he was about to ascend, or to fix his regard upon the
disciples from whom he was about to separate. There was
a bright ascending pathway before him, with principalities,
powers, and dominions, rising one above another, ready to
rejoice in his ascent-a pathway terminating at that throne
of preeminent glory assigned to the Son of God before the
world was. On the other hand, there were these few
indocile, unbelieving disciples, who had pierced his keenest
sensibilities a thousand times with their unworthy surmises,
and in whom lived, still too much unvanquished, the spirit
of human selfishness. Is it possible that his heart could do
otherwise than bound with joy at the prospect of escaping
from the dark and deadly atmosphere of this world to realms
of glory and perfect bliss? Say that he had thus
long patiently lingered on the earth under the influence
of a profound sense of man's need and of a hallowed determination
to open up a pathway of life to fallen humanity,
would he not permit himself, in the hour which should
terminate this long and bitter self-sacrifice, to rejoice with
joy unspeakable at the thought of exchanging the companionship
of these dull Galileans for that of the heavenly
hierarchies ? Shall we not see him sitting rapt and expectant,
scarcely heeding the observations of his companions,
mindful only of the seraphic sounds soon to burst on his

Nothing of all this. Having loved his own during the long
years of their fellow-pilgrimage, he loved them unto
the end. To them his thoughts were given. All his solicitude
was for them. Every emotion of their hearts, every
utterance of their lips, had for him the profoundest importance.
They were "his own." The angels are not his
own in any such sense, and therefore his thoughts were
now given, not to the angels, but to his disciples. If we
would but know it, the preference given by Christ to the
impure children of earth, whom he yearned to purify, over
the unfallen sons of God, was repeated hour by hour during
the whole of his life; and the triumph of his love was in
the perseverance with which he maintained unto the last
this preference, notwithstanding the new and sad revelations
of their unloveliness.

"He loved his own." This was their testimony. On
reviewing what had passed between him and them during
those years of his ministry, they were enabled to see that all
that he had said and done, without any exception whatever,
was fitly expressive of a marvelous love. Many things in
his conduct and in his language appeared to them at the
time, perhaps, dubiously expressive of love; but when they
had at length reached a position from whence they could
take an impartial and accurate survey of the whole of their
intercourse, they saw that in all things he had acted toward
them as toward his own peculiar treasure, and that if they
had been the apple of his eye he could not have been more
concerned for their interests.

The experience of those early disciples in this corresponds
with the experience of those who are walking with him in
these days. Sometimes he leaves them for many a long
hour toiling in rowing, but what they know not, then they
know afterward. He takes extraordinary liberties with us.
Believing in his love and having our own particular conception
of what love is, we settle it in our minds that
a certain contingency can never, by any possibility, be
allowed to come to pass. Against everything else we prepare-
not against that. We feel that it would be an
unpardonable outrage to his most loving nature to suppose
for a moment that he should suffer that contingency to
come to pass. And yet that is the very thing that he brings
to pass. We had boasted of the love of Jesus among our
neighbors, and told them that he would not suffer our
brother Lazarus to die, but ,would assuredly come and
restore him to health, and, lo! Lazarus dies and is buried,
and it is much if our sense of the love of Jesus be not
buried with him. He takes what seem to us frightful
liberties with our sensibilities and with our trust. But
there cometh sooner or later, if we only stubbornly trust
on, an hour when all his ways are vindicated, and those
apparent unkindnesses become sanctified and precious in
our memories.

Surely, he may do what he will with his own. The price
he hath paid to make them his own is a sufficient guarantee
that he will never make light of anything in which their
welfare is at all concerned. We are precious to him by
virtue of the blood which he has shed for us, and for him
to be found at any time wanting in solicitude for our
happiness would be for him to treat that blood of his
as the sinners of this world treat it. The persuasion of
Christ's love must be graven in our hearts so deeply that no
semblance of indifference on his part will ever make the
slightest impression upon us. This is the victory which
overcometh the world.

We are "his own." He hath set us apart for himself.
He has absolute dominion over us, and may do what he
will with us. There is no one in the universe that can call
him to account for any height of blessing and of privilege
he may see fit to bestow upon us. He may fill us with
all the fullness of God. He may make of us a new sharp
threshing-instrument, and thresh the mountains with us.
He may make us sit down upon his own throne and put
into our childish hand his own sublime sceptre. We are his.
Not a tongue in the universe can dare to wag, for we have
been bought with a price. There is no extravagance of love
equal or at all comparable to that of giving his life for us.
We are his own, and he is therefore identified with us.
We may boldly see the communication of all that ennobles
his own character. We are his own, and his eye will dart
flames of fire at all that would pluck us out of his hand.
He will not suffer the world to write its name upon our
foreheads beside his own.

-George Bowen