Great Proofs of the Love of God
The love of Christ is unchanged and unchanging. Indifference and coldness of heart on our part does not diminish the force of it at all. John did not get orders to write the 17th chapter of his Gospel until long after Paul had written his 2nd Epistle to Timothy. In the latter we see how faithless the Church on earth was, and was yet to be; in the former we learn how tender, faithful and true our Lord abides. Do any of us want to be true to Him? to war a good warfare on His behalf? Here is our backing. In John 17 we are brought into contact with our reserves, or to be more accurate, the Lord’s reserves. Our base of operations, from whence all supplies flow is the heart of Christ, and John 17 is the pouring out of His heart in prayer for us. Soldiers of the cross, sit down and consider what exhaustless supplies yours are, what a wonderful backing you have got in the love of Christ! Consider:—
1. WHAT HE GIVES.
2. WHAT HE IS DOING OR HAS DONE.
3. WHAT HE DESIRES.
1. What He gives
He gives “eternal life” (v. 2). He gives “the words” (v. 8). He gives “Thy word” (v. 14). He gives “the glory” (v. 22).
THE LIFE is His own life; He must begin with this, for without it we were dead. And this life finds no pleasure in worldly things; it carries us into a new sphere of interests; it belongs to those realms of glory into which He has gone, and into which we shall enter soon; it finds its sustenance and joy now in the Father and in Jesus Christ, His sent One.
THE WORDS are the actual communications that the Father gave to the Lord Jesus; by them we become intelligent in the relationship into which we have been brought. In the life we have the capacity for enjoying God; in the words the intelligent entrance into that joy.
THY WORD sets forth the whole counsel of God, His thoughts expressed in their utmost completeness. The revelation of what He is, is fully declared. And it has been given to us not in a fragmentary way, not as so many isolated texts, but in its beautiful and worship-compelling wholeness, and as we keep and treasure it we have the abiding presence of the Father and the Son (14:23); for the “word” is not a system of doctrine, but the revelation of the love of living Persons, of the Father and the Son.
THE GLORY. This covers all that He is entitled to as the Man who has glorified God on the earth. He does not give His essential Godhead glory to any. But all that He can give He does give, such is His love to us, and He is not impoverished in giving, though once He did become poor that we might be enriched in all this wealth of glory that He now shares with us. It begins with the relationship of sons even now, for He calls us brethren, saying, “Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God”. But it embraces also what is yet to come, when every thought of God will be completed in our full conformity to the image of His dear Son, that He may be the Firstborn among many brethren.
2. What He does
HE PRAYS (v. 9). His whole heart is poured out in intercessory communion, and He asks for His own. He stands up on their behalf, having bound up their blessing and preservation with His own glory. He puts them directly into His Father’s hands and claims for them that the Father should keep them in His name; sanctify them by the truth, and keep them from the evil that is in the world.
HE DECLARES THE FATHER’S NAME (v. 26). He speaks to the Father of us, but He also speaks to us of the Father, and the object of this is “that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them”. That is the oneness in which infinite love sets all the saints, and that same love will neither rest nor be satisfied until they know and enjoy it. It is not for heaven only but our portion now.
3. What He desires
“THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE” (v. 21). This is not an ecclesiastical unity. Rome can offer that. It is a blessed oneness, brought out when disorganization and decay had spread in the Church publicly on earth. In this oneness there are no clashing judgments or opinions, nor is it an agreement to differ for the common peace. It is the oneness of heaven, for “All the mind in heaven is one;” it is oneness expressed in those words. “I in them and Thou in Me”; oneness of life, of mind, and tastes. We are kept from the evil of the world—that is, from the principles that energize and control the world in which the Father has no place—and sanctified through the truth—that is, formed and built up and satisfied by what the Father is as declared to us in Jesus—this is the Lord’s desire. It is outside the evil of the world that works consistently and always dissolution and death; and inside the truth, in Him in whom the Father is, that we shall know this desired oneness.
“THAT WE MIGHT BEHOLD HIS GLORY” (v. 24). This is our prospect. Full victory at last; no failure in the fight; the soldiers of Christ Jesus brought triumphantly through to find every true desire of their hearts realized in His glory; that to which they had borne witness to in faith, at last beheld—His glory, as the One who was loved by the Father before the foundations of the world were laid, and loved still and for ever after having passed through the world and out of it, fulfilling all God’s will. And this glory, they will behold, not from afar, but made nigh, for they will be with Him where He is, His companions in the Father’s house.
Seven times over He speaks of His own as those whom the Father had given to Him. This seems to be the chief reason why He loves them so well, and why He prays with such tenderness for their blessing and fullness of joy.
If love like this is upon us and behind us, we need not fear to take our stand in witness for Him; for what He gives, and does, and desires, fence us about on every hand, and furnish us within and without so that we may be invulnerable in Him in the presence of the foe.