Sermon 2936. Christ's 'New Commandment'
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MAY 18, 1905.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, APRIL 4, 1875.
"A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another: as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By thisall will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34,35.
I CAN never doubt, or for a moment distrust the affection of my dear people to myself. I certainly do not ask for any moreof your love, for I have as much as one man ought to have-perhaps a little more-certainly a great deal more than I deserve.I can now fairly turn round and say to you, putting myself altogether on one side, "Let brotherly love continue and let thewarmth of your affection towards one another increase." And I can say this, too, without anybody daring to insinuate thatthere is something wrong in the Church-some division or schism here. Blessed be God, I do not think that a microscopic eyecould discover anything of the kind! There may be some of you who do not like certain persons quite as much as you like otherpeople. I do not wonder at that, for there will always be some partialities even among the best of friends. Our Lord Jesus,Himself, had 12 Apostles and out of the twelve, three especially favored ones. and out of the three, one who leaned upon Hisbosom. There are some people who are more lovable than other people and we can hardly help loving them more than others. Still,I know of no special reason of that kind why I should preach this sermon. I bless the Lord that you are as loving as you areand pray that you may increase more and more in your love to one another.
I am going to speak upon our text thus. First, the title which our Lord gave to this commandment. He called it "a new commandment."Secondly, the example by which He expounded it-"That you love one another as I have loved you." And thirdly, the result bywhich He enforced it-"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
I. First, then, THE TITLE WHICH CHRIST GAVE TO THIS COMMANDMENT-"a new commandment."
Many of you, I do not doubt, have heard the story of Archbishop Usher and Mr. Rutherford. But it is so appropriate to thissubject that I cannot help telling it again. The archbishop had heard of the wondrous power of Rutherford's devotion and ofthe singular beauty of the arrangement of his household, and he wished to witness it himself. But he could not tell how todo so until it occurred to him that he might disguise himself as a poor traveler. Accordingly, at nightfall, he knocked atthe door of Mr. Rutherford's house and was received by Mrs. Rutherford. He asked if he could find lodgings there for the night,to which she answered, "Yes," for they entertained strangers. She placed him in the kitchen and gave him something to eat.It was a part of her regular family discipline, on Saturday evening, to catechize the children and the servants and, of course,the poor man in the kitchen came in among them.
Mrs. Rutherford put to all of them some questions concerning the commandments and to this poor man she put the question, "Howmany commandments are there?" And he answered, "Eleven." "Ah," she said, "what a sad thing that a man of your age, whose hairis sprinkled with gray, should not even know how many commandments there are, for there is not a child above six years oldin our parish who does not know that." The poor man said nothing in reply, but he had his oatmeal porridge and went to bed.Later, he rose and listened to Rutherford's midnight prayer. He was charmed with it, made himself known to him, borrowed abetter coat from him, preached for him on the Sunday morning and surprised Mrs. Rutherford by taking as his text, "A new commandmentI give unto you," and by commencing with the observation that this might very properly be called the eleventh commandment.By-and-by the archbishop went on his way and he
and Rutherford had been refreshed together. It is the eleventh commandment and if, the next time we are asked how many commandmentsthere are, we answer, "Eleven," we shall reply rightly enough.
But why is it a new commandment? Is it not included in the ten? You know how our Lord approved the lawyer's summary of theTen Commandments-"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength,and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." How is this a new commandment then-"That you love one another"?
It is new, first, as to the extent of the love. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we are to love our fellow Christiansas Christ loved us-and that is far more than we love ourselves. Christ loved us better than He loved Himself, for He lovedus so much that He gave Himself for us, so that now no one of us is to say, "I am to love my friend, my brother, my fellowcreatures as I love myself," but to interpret Christ's command thus, "I am to love my fellow Christians even as Jesus Christwho died for me, has loved me." This is a nobler kind of love altogether to the love which we are to manifest to our neighbors.That is the love of benevolence, but this is a love of affinity and close relationship and involves a higher degree of self-sacrificethan was enjoined by the Law of Moses, or than would have been understood by the bulk of mankind to have been intended bythe precept which bids us love one another even as we love ourselves.
Next, it is a new commandment because it is backed by a new reason. The old commandment was backed by this declaration, "Iam the Lord your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." The Israelite was toobey that Law because of the redemption which God had worked for his nation in Egypt. But we are commanded to love one anotherbecause Christ has redeemed us from a far worse bondage than that of Egypt and with a far costlier Sacrifice than the offeringup of myriads of paschal lambs. "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." He has brought us out from under the iron yokeof sin and Satan and has broken our bonds asunder. Our enemies have pursued us, but He has destroyed them at the sea, evenat the Red Sea. He has redeemed us with His own heart's blood and, therefore, His new commandment comes to us with the greatestpossible force, "That you love one another as I have loved you."
It is a new commandment because of the extent of it and also because of the reason by which it is supported.
It is a new commandment, also, because it is a new love, springing from a new nature and embracing a new nation. I am bound,as a man, to love my fellow man because he is a man. But I am bound, as a regenerate man, to love my fellow Christian stillmore because he, also, is regenerate. The ties of blood ought to be recognized by us far more than they are. We are too aptto forget that God "has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth." So that by the commontie of blood we are all brethren. But, Beloved, the ties of Grace are far stronger than the ties of blood. If you are reallyborn of God, you are Brothers by a brotherhood that is stronger, even, than the natural brotherhood which enabled you to liein the same cradle and to hang at the same breast, for brothers according to the flesh may be eternally separated. The righthand of the King may be the position accorded to the one and his left hand may be the position assigned to the other. ButBrothers who are truly born of God, share a brotherhood which must last forever! They who are now Brothers and Sisters inChrist shall always be Brothers and Sisters!
It is a very blessed thing when we are able to love one another because the Grace that is in any one of us sees the Gracethat is in another and discerns in that other, not the flesh and blood of the Savior, but such a resemblance to Christ thatit must love that other one for His sake! As it is true that if we are of the world, the world will love its own, so is ittrue that if we are of the Spirit, the Spirit will love His own! The whole redeemed family of Christ is firmly bound together.Born of God ourselves, we keep looking out to see others who have been "born-again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible."And when we do see them, we cannot help loving them. There is a bond of union between us at once. There are certain Brethrenwho hold that communion among Christians ought to be restricted-they say that if Believers are disobedient, especially withregard to Baptism, they ought not to be communed with. I do not judge my Brothers and Sisters who hold those views, but Ido not hesitate to tell them that they hold views which it is quite impossible for them to carry out. If they are, themselves,in the body of Christ they must of necessity commune with all the other members of the mystical body of Christ-they cannothelp themselves! Suppose that my little finger has been properly washed and cleansed, but that the rest of my hand it notso clean and that, therefore, my finger holds it to be its duty to shut off the rest of my hand from communion with itself?It cannot do it-it is impossible unless it is severed from the hand! It must commune with the rest of the body, whether itis washed or unwashed. You may deny your friend
the outward form of fellowship because he is not baptized, but you cannot deny him the inner fellowship which is much moreimportant. You are allied to God and therefore you must have fellowship with all others who are allied to God, whether youlike it or not! It is not a thing which your church discipline can touch-it can no more be bound than can the waves of airwhich are constantly in motion. "The wind blows where it wishes," and the Divine breath of fellowship comes where it pleasesand the life of God will manifest itself in all the members of the body of Christ! And neither can you by any possibilityrestrain it.
The love which Christ commands His followers to have towards one another is not the ordinary love of man to man as such, butthe love of the new-born man to the new-born man. Let us who love the Lord, love each other fervently in that sense. Thisis a love which arises out of a totally new union. A man who is a Christian belongs to a very special family. That familycircle does not comprehend the whole human race-it is a family inside the larger human family, yet separated from it by aninner spiritual life. What if I say that the distance between the saved and the unsaved is like a great gulf? It is true thatby the almighty Grace of God, there is a way across that gulf and many pass over it-still, the gulf is very deep and broad.But the moment a man is born unto God he enters that inner circle and becomes a member of a new family. Within that sacredcircle of electing love, all bonds of nationality are broken forever. There we are no longer Frenchmen or Englishmen, Americansor Russians, black or white, bond or free, but we are "all one in Christ Jesus." There neither circumcision nor uncircumcisionavails! There the barbarian is no less and the Greek is no more than any other member of the redeemed family. We are Brothersand Sisters because, in Christ we are all in one family and, therefore it is that we are called to a new kind of love, a lovewhich is like the love of the brothers of the same house, only more sublime, and with better reasons lying at the bottom thaneven the love of consanguinity can boast.
And, beloved Friends, this is a new commandment because it is enforced by new necessities. Christians ought to love one anotherbecause they are the subjects of one King who is also their Savior. We are a little band of Brothers and Sisters in the midstof a vast multitude of enemies. "Behold," said Christ to His disciples, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves."If you are true Christians, you will not have the love of worldlings-you cannot have it! They will be sure to ridicule you,call you fools, or hypocrites, or something equally uncomplimentary. Well, then, cling the more closely to one another! Whateveropposition you meet with outside, let it only weld you into a firmer unit, the one with the other. We are like a small companyof soldiers in an enemy's country, strongly garrisoned by the vast battalions of the foe, so we must hold together-we mustbe as one man, banded together in closest fellowship-as our Great Captain bids us. God grant that the very fact that we arefound in an enemy's country may result in making us more completely one than we have ever been before!
When I hear a Christian man finding fault with his minister, I always wish that the devil had found somebody else to do hisdirty work. I hope that none of you will ever be found complaining of God's servants who are doing their best to help theirLord's cause. There are plenty who are ready to find fault with them and it is much better that their faults-if they havefaults-should be pointed out by an enemy rather than by you who belong to the same family as they do! Even if you should knowthat a professor is a hypocrite, it may be the duty of a Christian to say, "Let him fall by the hand of another. I would rathernot give evidence against him." When I hear my Master say, "One of you shall betray Me," I may have a shrewd suspicion thatHe refers to Judas, but it will be wiser for me to say, "Lord, is it I?" rather than to ask, "Lord, is it Judas?"
Further, dear Brothers and Sisters, this is a new commandment because it is suggested by new characteristics. In our fellowmen there may be something lovable, but in our fellow Christians, there must be something lovable. Suppose they are only newlyborn to God-for my part, I hardly know of a more beautiful sight than a newborn Christian! I like to hear the prayer of theone who is just converted-there may be much of mistake and imperfection in it, but that does not spoil it! A lamb does notbleat in quite the same tones that a sheep uses, yet a lamb is a very beautiful object and one likes to hear its feeble notes.And there is a beauty about the lambs in Christ's flock as well as about the full-grown sheep. There is nothing more lovelyto be seen in the whole world than an aged Believer who has lived very near to God. How calm the old gentleman's spirit-andwhen he begins to talk about the things of God and to testify concerning the love of his Lord-how charmingly he talks! Thereis much that is beautiful about all true Christians, so try and search out their excellences rather than their defects. Ifwe are, ourselves, in a right state of heart, we are all the more likely to admire that which is good in others, just as Mercyand Christiana, when they came up from their bath, admired one another. I would advise you, Beloved, to imitate those graciouswomen. There is a beauty about your friend that there is not about yourself. Do not be always gazing in the mirror-there arefairer sights to be seen than any you will find there! Look into your fellow Christian's face and as you see anything therethat is the work of the Spirit, love him because of that.
And, once more, this is a new commandment because it is a preparation for better prospects than we have ever enjoyed before.We who believe in Jesus are going to live together in Heaven forever and ever, so we may as well be good friends while weare here! We shall see each other there in one common glory and be occupied forever in one common employment-the adorationof our Lord and Master. The remembrance of this Truth of God ought to break down many of the barriers which at present existin society. There was a wealthy Christian, a man who stood very high in social position, who was in the habit of picking outgodly people of a far lower class than that to which he, himself, belonged. He would bring home to his table the farmer fromthe plow, or the smith from the smithy, and one of his rich friends ridiculed him for seeking such associates. But he replied,"I do not think you ought to ridicule me for picking out those who are, socially, lower than myself, for those whom I havebrought to my table are men and women who, I believe, will be nearer to the Throne of God in Heaven than I shall be. Theyare very poor, but they are better, more pious and more gracious than I am-so I thought that I might as well pick the bestcompany I could while I was here-and associate with them." I like that gentleman's idea, and I can also bear witness thatI have often learned more in an hour's conversation with a godly poor man than I have learned from an educated man who hasknown but little of the things of God! Never judge men by the clothes they wear, but by what they are in themselves! It isa man's heart and, above all, it is the Grace of God that dwells within the man's heart that you and I are to prize and love-mayGod help us to do so!
Thus, I think I have said enough concerning the new commandment which Christ gave to His disciples.
II. Now I must pass on to the second point-THE EXAMPLE BY WHICH CHRIST EXPOUNDED THIS NEW COMMANDMENT. "As I have loved you,that you also love one another."
First, Christ loved them unselfishly. He certainly had nothing to gain from associating with them and nothing to learn fromthem. It is true that He used them to help in the extension of His cause, but He first made them fit to be used. He owed nothingto them and they owed everything to Him. There was nothing in them when He first called them-and to the very last there wasnothing good in them except what His Grace had put there-and there was not nearly as much of that as there ought to have been,for He had to say, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip?" Christians, you also are tolove one another, not because of the gain which you get from one another, but rather because of the good you can do to oneanother.
I once heard a minister speak very grumblingly of the Baptist denomination. He said, "I do not know what the denominationever did for me." I could not help thinking to myself, "Well now, that is a question which has never occurred to me and probablynever will. The question that has occurred to me is, What can I do for the denomination?'" And I think that is the kind ofquestion which every Christian minister ought to ask, not only concerning the denomination, but concerning Christians in general.We ought not to ask, "What can these people do for me?" No, put the shoe on the other foot and say, "What can I do for thesepeople?" If you want to love a man, you must not get him to do you a kindness, but you must do a kindness to him and thenyou will love him. You cannot do good to another person without finding growing up in your heart some degree of interest inthe person to whom you have done that good. It is possible that a child may forget its mother, forget that it drew its life,its nourishment and all the comforts of its infancy from its mother, but the mother does not forget that she reared it inits weakness and brought it up to strength. If you want to love a person, do some loving thing for that person and love willspring up in your soul to that person. Our Lord Jesus Christ loved His disciples unselfishly-let us do the same.
He also loved them very trustingly for, though He was not unwise and put no confidence in man, yet I might slightly alterone of our hymns and say concerning our Lord, "Oh, see how Jesus did trust unto Himself unto the childish love of His disciples!"He never wore any armor when He was alone with them. In the midst of skeptical scribes and Pharisees, we can see Him standinglike a man on His guard, with His sword drawn in His hand, but as soon as He gets among His own followers, He opens His heartto them and tells them many things that He does not tell others-so many, indeed, that He once said to them, "If it were notso, I would have told you," as if He had no secrets from them, but unveiled His very heart to them! Of course, you cannotdo this to the full with all professing Christian but still, when you are among your
fellow Christians, do not always go about suspecting everybody. I would sooner be taken in a thousand times than I would unjustlysuspect one true-hearted man. It is a shameful thing for any one of you to move among your fellow Christians and to be sayingin your hearts, "I am afraid that many of them are hypocrites." Sir, I am greatly afraid that you are yourself a hypocrite,for most men measure other people's corn with the bushel that they keep at home! So, if you think ill of other people, thesin is probably in yourself. I have often said that if there is any place where I am quite at home, it is among my own congregation-
"There my best friends, my kindred, dwell!
There God my Savior reigns!"
There must be a hearty spirit of trustfulness between those who love the same Christ or else a lasting union between themis impossible.
Next, Christ loved His disciples sympathetically. He grieved with them in their griefs and rejoiced with them in their joys.He entered into most intimate fellowship with them in their varied experiences. Let us try to do the same with our Brothersand Sisters in Christ. Let us weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. Nothing tends so greatly to oilthe wheels of life as a little loving sympathy-let us always be ready with a good supply of it wherever it is needed.
Our Lord also loved His disciples patiently. They must often have grieved Him by their ignorance and unbelief. If any of ushad been in His place, we would have said, "You set of dummies, we cannot bear with you any longer." But our loving Lord didnot talk like that. After He had told them the Truth of God 20 times and yet they did not know it, He went on in the samefashion and told it to them again and again until they didknow it. As He was so patient with His disciples, it ill becomesus, who are ourselves so imperfect, to say concerning any of our fellow Christians, "I cannot feel any affection for So-and-So,"or, "I cannot have any communion with So-and-So." Do you talk like that because you perceive some imperfection in them? But,my dear Brother, have not you many imperfections? It may be that some other person is looking upon you in the same cold lightin which you are looking upon him and that he is finding as much fault with you as you are finding with him! If so, it isa great pity that any of us should be impatient with one another when our Lord Jesus Christ is so patient with us.
Once more, our Lord loved His disciples practically. His love did not consist in the mere effervescence of transient emotionor in only kind words, but He loved them deeply and shared all that He had with them. He even condescended to wash their feetas though He had been their servant! What more could He do for them? Yet He did far more than that, for He laid down His lifefor them. He gave up all He had for them. He gave up all the members of His body and all the faculties of His soul-His entireNature-that He might save His people. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." "As I haveloved you," He said, "even so love you one another." What a marvelous exposition of the precept the whole life and death ofJesus Christ make up for us! May we have the Grace to follow where the path is so plainly marked out for us!
III. And now, thirdly, I am to speak of THE RESULT BY WHICH THE PRECEPT IS ENFORCED. "By this all will know that you are Mydisciples, if you have love for one another."
Among all of them who know that we are Christ's disciples, there is one very important person-and that is yourself. If youhave love towards Christ's disciples, you will know that you are one of His disciples, for how does the Beloved Apostle Johnput it? "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." It will be one of the clearest evidencesto your own heart that you are really a disciple of Jesus when you realize that for Christ's sake, you love the whole redeemedfamily of God! By this test shall all men know that you are His disciples and you shall begin by knowing it yourself.
By this test shall your fellow Christians also know that you are Christ's disciples. I do not know of anything which morecommends a Christian to his fellow Christians than a true spirit of love. I have read many controversial works and I haveadmired the force of the arguments in many of them. But when I have read them, I have not gathered from the perusal that thewriters on either side were very eminently followers of Christ. They may have been-it was no business of mine to judge asto that matter. They may have been showing other precious qualities while they were contending for the faith once and forall delivered to the saints, but the Grace of Christian charity has not always been very manifest. For instance, if you readthe controversy between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Toplady-well, I do not know which was the
worse of the two-they could both say a thing very sharply when they tried and the devil helped them to make it even sharper.Yet they were, both of them, good men and it was not according to the nature of either of them to say anything bad of theother. It is quite a relief to notice how Mr. Whitefield conducted his controversy with Mr. Wesley. As I have read it, I havesaid to myself, "This man is a Christian and no mistake." It is reported that Mr. Whitefield was one day asked by a partisan,"Do you think that we, when we get to Heaven, shall see John Wesley there?" "No," said George Whitefield, "I do not thinkwe shall." The questioner was very delighted with that answer, but Mr. Whitefield added, "I believe that Mr. John Wesley willhave a place so near the Throne of God and that such poor creature as you and I will be so far off as to be hardly able tosee him." As I read such remarks made by Mr. Whitefield, I have said to myself, "By this I know, as a Christian, that he mustbe a Christian," for I saw that he loved his brother, Wesley, even while he so earnestly differed from him on certain pointsof Doctrine. Yes, dear Brothers and Sisters, if we cannot differ, and yet love one another-if we cannot allow each Brotherto go his own way in the service of God and to have the liberty of working after his own fashion-if we cannot do that, weshall fail to convince our fellow Christians that we, ourselves, are Christians!
But the point of our Savior's remark is here-"By this all will know that you are My disciples." That is to say, the outsideworld will know it. Let me tell you a remarkable instance of this. In the early days of Christianity, a terrible plague brokeout in Alexandria. It was very dangerous to be near a person smitten with the disease and to touch such a person meant almostcertain death. When the plague broke out, the heathen in Alexandria thrust out of their houses every person who had the slightestsign of the disease and left them to starve-and would not even bury their bodies for fear of contagion. But the Christiansvisited one another when they were sick with the plague and no Christian was left to die unattended. They were zealous togo and visit each other, although they knew that they would, in all probability, catch the disease. And among the carcassesoutside the walls of Alexandria there was not found one single corpse of a Christian, for, with sedulous care, they committedthe bodies of their beloved to the earth in the sure and certain hope of Resurrection unto eternal life. And the heathen saidto one another, "What is the meaning of this?" And the answer went throughout all Egypt, "This is the religion of Jesus ofNazareth, for these Christians love one another." No sermon can be so eloquent to the world as a true manifestation of thelove of Christ! And when God restores to His Church genuine, hearty, and sincere Christian love-I trust we have not whollylost it-but when He gives us much more of it, then shall the world be more impressed by the Gospel than it is at present!
I will tell you an anecdote. It is one which, I fear, might be multiplied a thousand times and yet be true. During a revival,a young woman came into a certain congregation and was impressed by the services. She heard that the Christian Church wasthe home of union and love-in fact, a little Heaven. And perhaps more charmed by the beauty of the Church than by the beautyof Christ, she joined the fellowship of Believers there. After a little while she heard some Christians speaking very bitterlyof others. Indeed, speaking of the faults of others, not at all as if they grieved over them, but as though they rather rejoicedto have something to say against their fellow Christians! Immediately the thought crossed the mind of the young woman, "Ihave been deceived. The Christian Church is not the holy and happy family that I believed it to be." That conviction led todoubts upon many of the doctrines that she had been taught there. She soon neglected the means of Grace and then became skepticalconcerning the Savior Himself. All this followed from finding disagreement where she had hoped to find Christian love andunion. It pleased the Lord to bring her, at last, back to the Savior's feet, but, for many years she was the subject of greatdoubt and inward struggle-and the occasion of it was the lack of love among Christians! O Beloved, do not let it be so amongyou! If ours is not a loving Church, I have labored in vain and spent my strength for nothing! If you love not one another,surely you do not love the Savior! But if you are knit together in love, then is our joy fulfilled in you and Christ alsorejoices over you!
I have finished my discourse when I have said a word or two to those who are out of the family of Christ. It must be a verysad thing not to be a member of the family of which the Head is the loving Lord, Himself-where the law that governs the familyis the rule of love and where the distinguishing mark of every member of the family is love, one to another. And if it istrue that we must either belong to that family, or else belong to another family of which Cain, who slew his brother, wasthe firstborn son, it makes it a very solemn matter! There are two seeds in the world and if you do not belong to Christ theLiving Seed, you belong to the serpent's seed. Woe to the man who is not of the family of God! Egypt had to weep and wailon that very night when Israel, beneath the blood-sprinkled lintel, could afford to sing and
shout. And when the day comes for God to let loose the angel of vengeance, woe unto you unless you belong to the family oflove-to the host of the living God!
"How can I get love?" asks one. Love comes by the way of faith. First trust the Master and then you will soon learn to loveHis servants. Rely upon the Savior and you will then feel an affection for all the saved ones. Commit yourself now into thehands that were pierced for sinners and you will soon joyfully give a loving embrace to those for whom Christ's precious bloodwas shed! May we all meet in Heaven, where love reigns supreme, for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: JOHN13:1-17.
Verse 1. Now before the feast of the Passover. Or, just as it was about to begin-
1. When Jesus knne w that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His ownwhich were in the world, He loved them unto the end. That is a very beautiful description of Christ's death- "His hour wasthat He should depart out of this world unto the Father"-just as though He was merely going on a journey, leaving one landfor another! And if this is a fair description of such a stormy passage as that of our Lord Jesus, who died for our sins uponCalvary's Cross, it must with equal truth describe the death of any of the children of God. There is also an appointed timefor us to depart and to be with Christ which is far better than remaining here. The loosing of the cable, the spreading ofthe sail, the crossing over the narrow sea, the coming to the eternal haven and the abiding there-what Christian heart needsto dread this? How much better is it even to look forward to it with ardent anticipation! Think much of the abiding love ofChrist-"Having loved His own"-His by Election, His by Redemption, for He regarded that as already done which was about tobe accomplished-"Having loved His own which were in the world"-not yet in Heaven, but still in the midst of trial, still imperfect,even as you and I are-"He loved them unto the end," or, "unto the perfection," as it might be rendered. The Alpha of His lovewhich we find in eternity bids us believe that we shall find the Omega of it nowhere but there.
2-4. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him; Jesusknowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God, and went to God; He arose fromsupper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself Notice the wonderful contrast revealed to us inthese verses! Our Lord Jesus Christ had a very vivid realization that He had come from God and was going back to God, andthat all things had been given into His hand. Yet, while He knew that and had a more than ordinary consciousness of His owndignified Nature and position, He condescended to wash His disciples feet! Though many years elapsed between the event andthe time when John recorded it, all the details seem to have been still present in his memory so that he distinctly mentionseach separate act-"He rose from supper, and laid aside His upper garment and took a towel, and girded Himself."
5. After that He poured water into a basin. The one that ordinarily stood in the guest chamber for the washing of the handsand feet of the guests.
5, 6. And began to wash the disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then came He to SimonPeter: and Peter said unto Him, Lord, do You wash my feet? You must lay the stress on the pronouns in order to get the fullforge of the original. "Lord, do YOU wash MY feet?" The contrast is between Peter's Master and himself.
7, 8. Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do you know not now, but you shall know hereafter Peter said unto Him, Youshall never wash my feet That is, "NEVER, as long as I live You shall do such a thing as that!"
8-10. Jesus answered him, IfI wash you not, you have no part with Me. Simon Peter said unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, butalso my hands and my head. Jesus said to him, he that is washed needs not, save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit:and you are clean, but not all We have often, in commenting, noticed Peter's fault. Perhaps we have noticed that too much.Let us now notice Peter's excellence. I admire his humility in thinking it too mean an office for Christ to wash his feet.It seems to me to be a most proper feeling which prompted him to ask, "Do You wash my feet?" It seemed an overwhelming condescensionof love which he could scarcely permit. No doubt he spoke too positively when he said to Christ "You shall never wash my feet,"but still, his motive in speaking thus was a good one. It was because he could not allow his Lord to stoop so low-he thoughtit ill manners to permit such an One as Christ to wash the feet of such an one as the poor fisherman, Peter. I have alreadysaid that there was something that was not right and yet that was perfectly natural to this "rock" disciple, and this "dove"disciple, who was such a strange mixture of boastfulness and fickleness. Yet do not forget how much of good there was in him.I wish all of us were half as good as Peter. That was a grand utterance, "Wash not my feet only, but also my hands and myhead." He meant, "Lord, let me have all the cleansing I can, not only such as the washing of my feet would bring, but suchas the washing of my head and my hands also would bring. Let me be clear of everything which would prevent full fellowshipwith You, for I long to be altogether one with
Then our Savior meekly, gently, quietly, explained that there was no need for the washing of his head and his hands, for hiswhole being had already been renewed by the one great act of Regeneration. And as he had been cleansed from sin by the freegift of pardon at the time when he first believed, there was no need of any repetition of the spiritual bathing. All thatwas required was the washing of his feet-a beautiful distinction always to be observed. He that believes in Christ is fullyforgiven. He is like a man who has gone into the bath and washed, but, when he steps out of the bath and puts his foot onthe ground, he often soils it, so that before he robes himself, he needs to wash his feet again. That is our condition asBelievers in Jesus-we are washed in His precious blood and are whiter than snow-but these feet of ours constantly touch thisdefiling earth so they need, every day, to be washed. Christ our Lord Jesus said to Peter, "He that is bathed needs not, saveto wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all."
11. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, You are not all clean. They were all washed so far as their feetwere concerned, but not all of them had been cleansed in the sacred bath which removes the stains of sin!
12-17. So after He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and was set down again, He said unto them, Know youwhat I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, havewashed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet For I have given you an example, that you should do as I havedone to you. Verity, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater thanhe that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. Blessed are they who, when they understand the meaningof Christ's example, imitate it in their own lives!