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Author:Rev. Steven Swets
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Congregation:Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church
 Abbotsford, BC
Preached At:
Title:Christ's Love
Text:John 13:1 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

(songs taken from the Trinity Psalter Hymnal: 375, 351, 95B, 67B, 128B, 239, 338, 568)

Scripture Reading: John 13:1-20

Scripture Text: John 13:1

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,

            Everyone wants to finish well. Whether it is a class in school or the pursuit of a diploma, a sporting event, or even a career or the ministry. Sports collapses abound. Each year some team blows it. It still might be too soon for some examples. So, we go to golf. Greg Norman, the Australian, golfer was seeking his first Masters victory, one of 4 major tournaments in the year. He had finished second twice before, but still had not won the famed Green jacket given to the winner. Going into the last round he was up by 6 shots. The final day was a disaster. He dropped 11 strokes to Nick Faldo who took home the green jacket. He took the blame. He said, “I screwed up. It’s all on me. I know that, but losing this Masters is not the end of the world….I’ll wake up tomorrow, still breathing, I hope.” He never won the masters.  

            In John 13, we come to the end of the life of Christ on earth. He is going to leave them. But, he will finish well. He will accomplish the will of His father. His disciples will be scared, and they will scatter, but he will draw them back again. He will teach them about his love, and he will give them the Holy Spirit. In chapters 13-17, a beautiful section of scripture only found in the gospel of John, Jesus prepares the disciples for his departure. In this upper room discourse, Jesus teaches the disciples about love, service, prayer, God’s purpose, and their future…. all with a special focus on the Holy Spirit.

            This morning we look at verse 1. It is too profound a verse to move quickly by, so we will camp on it this morning. Our theme is:  Our Lord Jesus Christ shows the extent of his love.

  1. The Objects of His Love
  2. The Place of His Love
  3. The Duration of His Love

I. The Objects of His Love

            Here we come to the day before Jesus is crucified. They are nearing the time of eating the Passover meal, where Jesus will institute the Lord’s Supper. He will give to the disciples a very vivid picture of what his death will be like and how they are to commemorate it. Thus, after the resurrection, we see the early church meeting on the first day of the week to break bread, thereby celebrating the Lord’s Supper.  

            In this first verse of John 13, we see something of a summary of what is going to take place in the coming chapters. He will love his own to the end. The hour is at hand. Throughout the Lord’s ministry we see his focus on time. We oftentimes see him saying that his time is not yet at hand. We saw this change back in 12:27 (read). Now Jesus knows that the cross awaits him. He wants to get his affairs in order before he departs. So, of all the days of Jesus life, the day before he dies, we see him do more teaching to the disciples than he did any other day.

            What compelled the Saviour to such sacrificial leadership and service? Love. The whole cause of the atonement, the coming of Christ was love. Love of God the Father to send the Son, love of the Son to go to the cross, and love from the Holy Spirit to apply the work of salvation.

            However, what we see in John 13 is not some type of generic, general love. It is love for his own. There are three Greek words for love. There is eros, which is erotic, sexual love, there is phileo, which is brotherly love, that is the kind of love that Christians are to have for each other. Then there is this third type of love. It is agape love. This is an unconditional love. It is a love that is not built on performance, and it is not maintained by perfection. It is an unconditional love. When it comes from the Lord, we know that is a perfect love. This is like a love letter from a husband to a wife. He should not write thus to other women. They are not his own. Jesus perfectly loved his own.

            This love is directed toward his own. What does that mean? Who are Jesus own? Maybe we could argue that it was the Jewish people. He was a Jew who came to his own. But, this can’t be, because in John 1 we read that Jesus came to his own and they rejected him overall. Thus, we see Jesus later pronounce a curse upon them. So, what does it mean? Jesus’ own are the elect. Those whom God has chosen from before the foundations of the world to be given to Jesus Christ.  

            It is to those whom God has chosen, that God will give the ability to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. It is to the elect that Jesus would go to the cross to shed his blood for, he would go to the grave and die for, and he would be raised from the dead for. Jesus loved his own and he will show that in the coming chapters. It is a bit of an irony for this verse to be here. In I Corinthians, which is echoed in our catechism, we are told that we were bought with a price. We know that price. It was the price of the Saviour’s life for us. However, at this point, in John 13, the cross hasn’t happened. Nevertheless, there never was a doubt. The Old Testament elect were chosen and saved by faith in the promise. Jesus is that promise. It just so happens that now we are in the very week that salvation will be accomplished. 

            A second understanding of this love for his own, is a recognition, that by nature, none would belong to Christ. Time and again, in John 6, 10, 12 we see Jesus speak of those whom the father had given to him. Remember John 6:37, 39 (read). Jesus is doing the will of the Father. He doesn’t save indiscriminately, he saved definitely, purposefully, with his own in his mind’s eye.  

            They are his own because he loves them, and he saves them. Jesus doesn’t just provide salvation, he sovereignly gives, bestows, imputes salvation. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than to know that Jesus loved his own and that I am one of his own. Can we know that? Yes. By grace and through faith, we might know for sure that we belong to Jesus Christ.  

II. The Place of God’s Love

            There are two places of God’s love in our text. One is the geographical and the other is chronological. First, geographical. He loved his own who were in the world. The word world is used twice in this verse and over 80 times in the gospel of John. In fact, by far the majority of the time the word world is used in the NT, it is used by John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The word world can mean a number of different things depending on the context. Even in our text it is used in slightly different ways.

            The first use of world, that Jesus was going to depart out of this world, meant that he was going to leave the earth and go to heaven. We could switch out the word globe with world there. The second use of this in our text, is that his people were in the world. This means that they are part of humanity, the human race. However, this idea of world involves the depravity of humanity as well. Charles Spurgeon said the church is but a camp amidst heathendom. It is not easy to live as a believer in this world.

            Our Lord is going to be comforting his disciples because of what lies ahead. He will die before each of them, but they will also die for the faith. They will be persecuted….they will flee for their lives. I Peter describes the faithful as pilgrims among pagans. James Boice puts it well. He says, “The difference between God’s relationship to the world and his relationship to his own has sometimes been stated in this way. God has done some things for all men, that is, everyone in the world. He has created them, sustained them, kept them from the worst that is possible, even tolerated them and this kept them for a time from hell. On the other hand, God has done all things for some men. The are his own. They do not lack and will never lack any good thing.”

            God will sustain his children in this world. He will hear their cries and receive their prayers. He has a place prepared for them in heaven and that is a comforting truth to the weary sinner.

            A second thing to consider about the place of God’s love is the timing. He loves in the past, present and future. He has always loved his own. His sovereign election is the foundation of it all. They did not have to prove themselves to God. God did not call Abraham because he was the most faithful man in the land. No, God gave him his Holy Spirit. Let this humble us and move us to gratitude. God’s love is unexplainable. We have a hint of this in Deut. 7:6-8 (read). In our text, we see this focus on the past by the fact that we have the word “having”. That is an action that is begun in the past and continues in the present. This is like you saying, “I am eating.” You are doing it now, but you were also doing it before you said that. Having loved his own who were in the world, God has showed that love all throughout covenant history. The entirely of the scriptures are the story of God’s love for his own.

            That love continues into the present. It is the continual and abiding love of God that continues to sustain the church. Jesus work for us isn’t simply something he did 2,000 years ago. Rather he continues to intercede for us at God’s right hand. He continues to be near to us. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, right now: Jesus shows his love by raising you to a new life, you are given the Holy Spirit, you are called sons of God, your sins are forgiven, you are part of God’s covenant people. The blessings abound. They have in the past, they do in the present, and they will in the future.

III. The Duration of Christ’s Love

            Our text says that Christ “loved them to the end.” The first question that comes to mind is, “to the end of what?” There are three answers to this, and they are all true.

            First, Jesus will love them to the end of his life. In fact, it is in those last hours of his life that his love will be most clearly seen. Think about it, he had the power to come down from the cross. He could have struck the soldiers dead. He who had eternal authority over Pilate, was willingly flogged, mocked, spit upon, and crucified. He died an excruciatingly painful death, while his loved ones looked on, including his own mother. He will not waver from the call of the Father to the Son. He will love his own to the end of his life.

            Second, he will love his own to the end of their lives. What a comfort to the disciple who was falsely imprisoned. He Jesus ascended to heaven, after having given the apostles the great commission, remember, he lifted his hands and blessed those who looked on. His hands still had the marks of the cross upon them. He sent them forth in love. Did Jesus send the disciples to their deaths? No, he sent them to their lives. For this reason, also they came into the world. Jesus changed their understanding of death. He taught them that even though we die, yet shall we live. Reading biographies of saints that have gone before us, is one of the greatest Christian treasures we have in print. Especially is this the case when they died the death of a martyr. I remember being a child and hearing about Guido de Bres or some other martyr and wondered how they could be so brave before the executioner. I’m sure it certainly wasn’t easy, but it was certainly mitigated by the fact that Jesus loved them to the end.

            Third, Jesus loves his own even after death. At the end of it all on this earth, after Jesus returns and the great judgment takes place, Jesus will love his own. He loves them with an everlasting love. The phrase “to the end” is often translated as forever. He loved his own forever. It is difficult to grasp this since everything we know has a beginning and an end…but not Jesus’ love. It is sealed to the believer by the Holy Spirit, and it affords him the comfort to live and die in the Lord.

            Brothers and sisters, what does this mean in your life. If God’s love for you is so great, then let us respond by loving one another, all the while, fervently loving him. We will never love as much as our Saviour loved but let us resolve to love God with our whole being until we breathe our last. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”  

            For those who are yet unbelievers. Having heard of this amazing love of God, how could you think you can go through this life without it. You can’t afford that. No one else in this life will love like Jesus Christ. One day you will stand before God in judgement and what will become of you on that day? What will you do if you refuse the grace and love of the Saviour? Dear friend, come to the Saviour and be saved. Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Steven Swets, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2022, Rev. Steven Swets

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