John 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; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
In this chapter, we see our Lord Jesus Christ loving His own apostles, those twelve He had chosen to be with Him, to preach and minister with Him. HE LOVED THEM UNTO THE END, UNTO THE UTTERMOST! And it wasn't until Friday morning when talking with my sister that we realized Judas was also present at that time. Knowing what was to happen to Him within a few short hours, knowing who was with Him that dark night, He still chose to love them all to the very end. Oh, The Love Of God!
1. Jesus' Love For The Twelve Apostles.
One thing I like to do when reading about various Bible characters and the situations they faced in their lives is to put myself in their places, to gauge my own life and see if I am like some of them, to think about what I would do when faced with the same circumstances, when confronted with the same truths, when dealing with the same choices. Consider the twelve apostles, and think about which one you are most like - consider their character and conduct, then consider how the love of God could change them:
1. Peter - who would deny his Lord three times that very night. (See John 13:36-38) Perhaps you have never denied the Lord Jesus Christ by your words, but how about by your actions? (See 1 Timothy 5:8 and Titus 1:16) Jesus loved Peter still...
2. Judas - who would betray Jesus that same night as well. (See John 13:10-11, 18-21) Perhaps you have never betrayed Christ to His enemies, but have you ever received Him as your Saviour? If not, you are siding with the same crowd, you are walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seat of the scornful. (See Psalm 1:1) The love of God was still reaching out to Judas that night...
3. Thomas - who doubted, he questioned the things of God; he was weak in faith at times. Like all the others, he would be scattered and flee in fear for his life that night. (See Zechariah 13:7) Jesus knew this and loved Thomas still...
4. James and John, the Sons of Thunder - named for their fiery emotional outbursts, at times it was strongly directed towards their enemies. Remember when they wanted to call down fire from heaven and destroy those who wouldn't receive their Master? (See Luke 9:51-56) So lacking in compassion for the lost, yet even then Jesus loved them...
5. Simon the Zealot - who had the wrong zeal in life, who was once supporting armed rebellion against the government. The love of God included him...
6. Matthew the tax collector - working for his enemies, oppressing his own people by basically stealing from them to make a living. The love of Christ reached out to him as well...
And the other apostles... Christ loved them ALL unto the end... No matter what you are like and what you have done, Jesus loves you too, and sometime within that long dark Passover, He was going to prove His love to all of us...
2. Jesus' Love For Lost Sinners.
Knowing the best and the worst about His twelve apostles, He still chose to love them all. Knowing the best and the worst about fallen mankind (that includes every one of us!), He still chose to love us, and to do something about our sinful condition:
Romans 5:6-8 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
When none of us had the strength or power to obey Him, when none of us were righteous in His sight, when we were all wretched, ungodly sinners, living in rebellion to God, our Creator, He still proved His love toward us by sending His Son to shed His blood and die upon the cross for our sins!
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 4:8-10 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Ah, the love of God - the love that chose to die for worthless sinners. You see, He didn't die because we were worth something - we were worthless, useless, our righteousnesses were as filthy rags in His sight. He didn't die for us because of something in us - but because of who He is; He died for us because He is love - and that love is what gives us value.
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
He first loved us!
3. The Greatness And Vastness Of God's Love.
Ephesians 3:14-21 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The following is taken from chapter 15 (Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians...) of The Epistle Of Paul The Apostle To The Ephesians by Oliver B. Greene:
It is humanly impossible for the finite mind to comprehend the love of God.
Its breadth - "God so loved the world." Can you conceive of such love? Do you dare ask yourself what it would mean to love the whole wide world? How many folks do you love? Think it over. The breadth of God's love covers the whole wide world.
Its length - "God... gave His only begotten Son." God's love reached from the portals of glory to a stable in Bethlehem. God's love placed His only Son in the womb of the virgin Mary. He was born . . . He lived . . . God gave Him. God surrendered His Son into the hands of wicked sinners, and they nailed Him to a Cross. That, in some small way, points out the length of the love of God. Do you have a son? Do you have an only child? Would you surrender your child to die for wicked men?
Its depth - "Whosoever believeth in Him should not perish." Oh, I know we say we love everybody . . . but do we? Do we really love everybody? It is easy to love the lovely. It is easy to love those who are always doing kind things for you and saying kind things about you - but God so loved that He gave His only Son, that whosoever . . . the lovely, the unlovely . . . might not perish. Christ died for the ungodly. God surrendered up Jesus when we were yet sinners.
Its height - "Everlasting life." The love of God reaches to the depth of sin and places that sinner in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. From the lowest depths to the highest height . . . only the love of God could work such a miracle!
4. Jesus' Love Changed The Apostles.
Thinking about the love of God brings to mind this hymn by Charles Wesley:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race;
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Jesus loved those twelve apostles unto the end - just as He loves each and every one of us! His love changed those apostles and can change each one of us today - if we will respond to that love.
1. The love of God changed an erring Peter into a faithful man of God.
2. Christ's love changed a zealous Simon and gave him a new reason for living.
3. It gave faith to a doubting Thomas.
4. It gave a new Master to Matthew.
5. It changed a Son of Thunder into an apostle of love.
6. It even offered forgiveness to Judas, if he would have only received it. We know that he didn't. He rejected that love because he rejected that Saviour, he rejected that free gift of salvation and the forgiveness that Jesus was extending to him. It is too late now for Judas to receive that love!
But that same love that Christ showed to His apostles that night, that same love He showed to the whole world the next morning by dying upon the cross of Calvary (almost 2000 years ago), that same love is still available today because the Lord changes not - Jesus Christ is still the same! (See Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8)
2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
The love of God is still extended to all who will receive it through repentance and faith.
The love of God still saves from the guttermost to the uttermost!
What is your response to the love of God?
Preached on July 28th/06
Written July 31st/06
For more studies in this series on The Apostles:
The Apostles #1 - Simon the Zealot
The Apostles #2 - Bold And Rash Peter
The Apostles #3 - Thomas The Doubter