Christ’s Perfect Love
Bible Reading: John 13:1-20
They were twelve ordinary men–amongst them were fishermen, a tax-gatherer, and a political zealot. Jesus had prayed all night, some three and a half years previous, before choosing these men (Luke 6:12-16). They were just like us–far from perfect. Though they had the best of teachers–who spoke as no man had ever spoke–Jesus’ disciples were not great students. This is evidenced in their inability to understand when He spoke of His pending suffering and death. He taught and exemplified love and humility and servanthood and sacrifice, but they remained prideful and on more than one occasion argued amongst themselves as to which of them was the greatest. Any one of His miracles should have garnered in them an unwavering faith, yet there remained in them a stubborn tendency to doubt. They were so audaciously out of step with Him, in spirit and purpose, they once asked if they should call down fire from heaven on a village which had refused Him welcome! They were just like us–frail humans, subject to doubt, prone to pride, selfishness and foolhardy choices, desperately in need of someone to love them and who would never give up on them.
“He knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Foot washing was a common practice in those days. The pathways were dirty. People wore sandals. Upon entry into a home, the lowest ranking servant would wash the feet of the guests. The day Jesus and his disciples arrived in the upper room, there was no servant to wash their feet. Any of the disciples could have taken on the task, or they could have washed each other’s feet, but they took no initiative. So Jesus, the Master, set aside His outer garments, tied a simple towel around His waist and set about as a servant to wash their feet. His main concern? To demonstrate His personal love to the twelve that they might rest secure in it. So He washed their feet. One of them would soon betray Him. The others would all abandon Him. But “he loved them to the end.” The word translated “end” means literally, He loved them to perfection. He never failed in His love for them. Later, in His prayer to the Father, He would say, “While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12).
Charles Spurgeon commented on this, “From Gethsemane to Golgotha, along the blood sprinkled road, you see proof that having loved his own he loved them to the end. Not all the pains of death could shake his firm affection to his own. They may bind his hands, but his heart is not restrained from love; they may scourge him, but they cannot drive out of him his affection to his beloved; they may slanderously revile him, but they cannot compel him to say a word against his people; they may nail him to the accursed tree, and they may bid him come down from the cross, and they will believe on him, but they cannot tempt him to forsake his work of love; he must press forward for his people’s sake until he can say, “It is finished.”…Standing, as it were, at the world’s end, at the grave’s mouth, and at hell’s door, the cross of Jesus reveals love to the utmost end, and is a grand display of the immutability and invincibility of the love of the heart of Jesus.”
Take courage, fellow Christian! He chose these people and “loved them to the end.” So it is with you! He will never leave you, or forsake you! Nothing can separate you from His love! How incredibly blessed we are to have such a loving Lord and Savior! And by the way, about those out of step disciples…not only did Jesus love them to the end, He later worked to transform them and Spirit-empower them to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6)!
Lord Jesus, how we praise You because Your love knows no limits and can never fail! We stand amazed by the example of how You forged ahead to the cross despite opposition, betrayal, and abandonment. May the Spirit open our eyes to the majesty of this miraculous love of Yours, which surpasses knowledge. Let us rest assured in your love for us. Let us grow up in it. Let us walk in it!
Oh love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be