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Having Loved His Own Which Were In The World

(T&T 1995/96)


John 13: 1-17

The disciples had followed the Lord faithfully in all His journeys. They had left all to follow Him. But His hour had now come and He was to take His last journey and depart out of this world to His God and Father from whom He had come. This journey He had to take alone and leave His faithful followers behind.

They had followed Him because they loved Him. He was everything to them. But this chapter records that He deeply loved them and looked upon them as "His own." Though He was leaving them He was not forsaking them. He would endear Himself even more to them before he departed and seek to draw each one closer to Himself.

The will, the purpose and the work of God were committed to Him to complete. All things had been given into His hands. And even though there was one present who valued Him only for gain, yet such was the love and grace that filled His heart that He would not make him to be different from the rest of the disciples when He undertook His service.

He rose up from supper and having put aside his garments, girded Himself with a towel. In doing this He put aside His place as their Lord and Teacher and became a servant to each one. For one so revered by them to stoop down and perform so menial a task as washing their dirty feet was, indeed, a proof in itself of the love and tender feeling He had towards them. There was also demonstrated His willingness to go right down to the lowest level in order to meet their needs.

There was something else to be learned in the selfless act of the Lord. If the water He poured out and used removed the dirt and defilement, it also, together with the towel, set "His own" clean and at ease in His presence. There was to be no distracting element upon them. He would have them know comfort and rest.

How considerate, how caring, how understanding the Lord was, for they knew not the reason for this lowly service. In answer to Peter's protest they learned that what the Lord did was necessary to the end He had in view-"Part with Me" (He does not here enlarge on these words). Peter learned that this washing was for the constant defilement caused by moving through this world.

Having taken His garments and His place again he spoke to them of the example He had given. Because He had done this service He had imparted to it a virtue, a beauty, a value, it never had before. It now expressed the deep love that He had for "His own" and this would draw them to Himself. If he was about to leave them He would attach them firmly to Himself. So much so that in heart, mind, soul and spirit He might take them with Him. His part would be their part for he would that they should have part with Him. Here, indeed, we have true love. Love, they would learn hereafter, that would cause Him to stoop lower than their feet when He would go into death, in order to make them His own by His blood. But at this moment He would cleanse them that they may know His present love for them. He also would have them happily following His example and wash one another's feet, that the love expressed in care to them might fill them with love and care for one another. If His desire in so lowly a service was that they should have part with Himself, then they also, for their Lord and Teacher, should seek each others welfare in love that they might ever remain in the constant enjoyment of "Part with Me." Truly it is written: "Having loved his own which were in the world He loved them to the end."

How wonderful that we also, bought by His precious blood, belong to Him and also have part in that unique company that He calls "His own." He has placed us there and being there we are objects of His love and care as were those gathered in the upper room that night. If the spiritual significance of feet washing was necessary for them, how much more for us today? If they could know the living experience of "Part with Him," then that is the desire of the Lord for us today. May we desire for ourselves and for our brethren that each one of us may know a closer, richer part in having "Part with Me."

(The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous)

Having Loved His Own Which Were In The World (2)

John 13: 18-38

In the former verses of this chapter we have the love of the Lord expressed in care for His own. In the verses that follow we have the feelings of that love made known, for the love that bore with Judas also confided in His own.

Judas Iscariot was chosen to be one of the twelve (John 6: 70-71) but clearly he was not one of "His own." Not only did the Lord's love not possess his heart but there was no affection or true feeling for the Lord. He was ready to betray Him and only waited for the opportunity. The Lord knew all this and felt it intensely. Yet in love He bore with it, for He looked upon him at that moment as one of "the twelve." The Scripture had spoken of him as the one who was near to the Lord, eating bread with Him, then lifting up his heel against Him. By this Scripture the Lord appealed to Judas, letting him know that He knew all this. Yet patient, suffering love did not reveal him to the rest of the disciples. The Lord did make known to them how deeply He felt Judas' betrayal, but did not reprove him openly. How perfect was the Lord's love! In bearing with him was there not an appeal to his heart and conscience? Was this not also seen in giving the sop to him after He had dipped it for him? Though unexposed to the other disciples, he received permission to go and do what his heart desired-to betray His Lord. He turned his back not only on His Lord, but upon the yearning love that bore with him, knowing fully what he was going to do. How terrible, how solemn the words: "and it was night."

Yet if the Lord bore this in love, He also confided in His own, revealing His feelings so that they might feel with Him. Already He had made known a difference that there was among them: "and ye are clean, but not all." He felt it keenly that there was one with Him who was also against Him, as foretold by the Scripture. He told His own, before the treachery of Judas was manifested, that they might have confidence in Him. Then He shared not only His foreknowledge but also the burden that lay upon His spirit because: "one of you shall betray Me." This touched true hearts, for they were astonished that any one of them would do such a thing.

The love that would not openly denounce the traitor made him known to caring and enquiring hearts. To know the intimacy of love one must be near and the Lord revealed His burden that He might draw them near. Simon Peter's love for the Lord declared itself, for he could not rest till he knew who the traitor was. Coming by one nearer than himself he asked, "Lord, who is it?"

How wonderful a place this one had taken who was nearer than Peter. He lay on Jesus' bosom as one whom Jesus loved, satisfied to be there and to rest in what he was to Jesus and of His thoughts about him. To know such a place is to know an intimacy that gives simple boldness. He leaned upon His breast and asked, "Lord, who is it?" He enjoyed the intimacy that kept nothing back. How readily love answered him! The token given to Judas made the answer known only to the enquirer, while not revealing his name to all. The love that confided in His own was as perfect as the love that bore with Judas.

The going out of Judas lifted the cloud from the Lord's spirit. Longsuffering love had borne with Judas to perfection and the testimony to this world was now complete: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Events would now take their course and the will, purpose and work of God would be brought to completion. Love would be perfected in His death and God would be glorified in Him. The One to whom God is indebted for glory, God Himself will glorify, and that without delay. Love, deep love to His God and Father, marked out His path which He was to tread alone.

He then makes known that He was to leave them and that at that time they could not go with Him. They will have one another, and their Lord, whom they dearly loved, gave them a commandment to love one another, "as I have loved you." The character, the purity, the fulness and the way of the Lord's love to them was to be stamped upon their love for one another.

This was not sufficient for Peter. He asked, "Lord, whither goest Thou?" How strongly He was attached to His Lord! This was in response to the Lord's love to His own. Peter would not be separated from His Lord even for a moment. The question, "whither?" is followed by a "why?" How beautiful the desire: "I will lay down my life for Thy sake." Though he knew not the weakness of his "I will" yet the Lord valued Peter's love, and in love to Peter would make him to know his weakness. The Lord's love would make Peter's failure known to him beforehand, that he might have an increased confidence in his Lord.

Having Loved His Own Which Were In The World (3)

John 14: 1-14

The hearts of the disciples were filled with sorrow and loss. The Lord whom they loved was leaving them and they did not know where He was going or why. At the contemplation of not seeing Him again their hearts were deeply troubled.

How beautiful then were the Lord's words to His own, "Let not your heart be troubled." He would have them without care even though His heart was burdened. If the Lord would have the feet of "His own" without defilement, He also would have their hearts without distracting fear. "Ye believe in God, believe also in Me." He introduces them to the sphere of faith. If God was unseen and yet an object of faith, He was now going to be likewise. He would have their hearts hold Him as an object of living faith. Though absent from them He would still love them. "In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Love reveals to love where He is going. He speaks the truth in love that He may strengthen their confidence in Himself. His going away to the Father's house was so that He might make room for them. How this must have thrilled their hearts! It was for their sakes He was going away, that His place there might be their place. As He had dwelt in their circumstances, even so they would dwell in His. But such was His love that He would come personally and receive them to Himself and bring them into His place. "Where I am, there ye may be also."

He is now conducting them to what is spiritual and not to what is material. Nor does He engage them with the details of what lay ahead for Him but with the One to whom He was going. "And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." What He had just said was in no way mystical. They already knew, in a conscious way, the meaning of His words. Thomas, puzzled at this, asks as to "whither" and "the way." The Lord's answer centres upon Himself as "the way," and the Father as the "whither." The end would be the fulness of what they already knew in measure, as He goes on to show. Love reveals to them the oneness and the fellowship of the Father and the Son. The One in their midst-the Son-seen and heard, represented the One unseen: the Father. He was made manifest in the Son.

The disciples, like Israel, had heard and witnessed His marvellous words and works, but never fully realised what they heard and saw. So the Lord has to say, "If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also." He now brings them to the truth: "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Love draws them on and closer to Himself. He makes known the oneness of the Father and the Son: "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." What they heard and saw found its source in the Father. The works that the Lord did were not only proof of His own Person but also a revelation of the Father. How love delights to make known these things! But love would give "His own" part in this testimony. For as He represented the Father so those who believed on Him would represent Him. And those who are here for Him will have yet a fuller testimony when He goes back to the Father. If love bestows part and privilege, it also gives liberty. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in My Name, that will I do." If "His own," left in this world and bearing His Name, ask, He in the glory will answer freely for the glory of the Father. They, through the Son, can glorify the Father. His separation from them would, through His Name, guarantee confidence and assurance in Him. What blessings of love the Lord shows to "His own."

Having Loved His Own Which Were In The World (4)

John 14: 15-31

In the preceding verses the Lord had shown His own the provision that He would make for them in the Father's house. He now tells them of the support He will provide in His absence. Love seeks to give them eyes of faith and the comfort of love in view of His going away.

He first of all tries their hearts as to their response: "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." He is surely saying, "Am I dear to your hearts as your Lord? Then hold very dear what I say to you!"

To responsive love which values Him He promises that He will beg the Father to send One in His place. How much the Lord loved His own! In His absence He would have them cared for by One who would never leave them but would support them in every way even as He had done.

The One who would come to them is the Spirit of Truth. The world had no room for the Lord. It was about to reject Him completely-the Truth-whom it had seen and heard, and therefore it could not see or receive the Spirit of Truth. His own had received Him who is the embodiment of truth and therefore they could receive and know the Spirit of Truth.

But the Lord with all His burdens feels the sorrow of His own at losing Him. For even One in His room and stead is not Himself and He had made Himself everything to them. He tells them again that He will come to them, not as coming from the Father's house for them, but as coming to them now by the same Spirit of Truth whom the Father would send. He knew that their hearts desired Himself.

Very shortly the coming events would separate Him from the world and He would (re)enter another sphere. There, in that spiritual realm not seen by this world, His own would behold Him. Because He lives, His own would live also. They would have His life. At that day (no doubt when the Spirit should come), they would not only know of the intimate fellowship between the Father and the Son, but also have part themselves in that fellowship which had been unknown to them before: "Ye in Me, and I in you." True responsive love is to have His commandments and to keep them. The Lord addresses each one of His own personally here, sounding out the desire of their hearts. The one who loves and values Him is especially loved by the Father and also knows the love and company of the Lord in a personal way. Not only so, but to anyone who loves the Lord and values the Word-the revelation-which He brought, there would be made known the love of the Father in a special way, together with the abiding presence of the Father and the Son.

This wonderful sphere of fellowship would be known and enjoyed in a fuller way by the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, sent in the Name of the Son. He would teach and bring to remembrance all the communications of the Son, that nothing might be lost. Love would make them the depositories of the truth by the Spirit of Truth.

It was time for Him to go away. The path that He must tread alone is before Him. He knows that His coming trials would trouble them. Thinking of them and knowing their sorrows, He bestows peace and also His personal peace which He had known during His life on earth. Having His peace, their hearts would not be troubled or afraid. If love desires the best for its object, He has fully shown His desire for them. But likewise, He counts upon their love for Him, that they would desire His happiness. He would therefore have them rejoice that He was going home, back to His Father, the One from whom He had come. His foreknowledge of what lay before them all was made known for their strengthening. The hour of the ruler of this world was at hand, though he had no claim upon the Lord. It was also the hour when the father would be glorified and when the lord's devotion to Him unto death would be seen by this world. He was going to display before it that He loved the Father even unto death and was totally obedient to His will and commandment. He would have His own witness it also: "Arise, let us go hence."

Having Loved His Own Which Were In The World (5)

John 15: 1-14

The Lord has been making known to His own how dear they were to Him. He has revealed His deep abiding love for each one and His desire that, appreciating His love, they would hold dear His commandments and His Word. To this circle of fellowship which He has formed He now speaks of what He would have them to be for Him in His absence.

He declares to them that He is the Father's True Vine. He and He alone was the One in whom the Father could find His full and unfailing delight. All that He said and did was devoted to the Father's pleasure. From Him only could the Father find fruit for Himself, yet as the figure unfolds He shows that there are also branches in Him to which the Father attends.

The Father is seeking fruit from those who are branches in the True Vine. It is a privilege given and jealously watched over by the Father. The fruit He seeks and values is the reproduction of the virtues of His Son. Therefore as a true Husbandman He removes what does not bear fruit and prunes and helps on what does, to increase yet more the fruit He delights to see.

The love that washed their feet and gave such words in discourse shows what it seeks: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." They are united to Him as branches to a vine. They need to consciously "abide" in Him that He might abide in them to bring forth fruit. Such abiding would result in much fruit. Love has given them a living link with Himself. They must receive everything only from Him that they might be here in His absence for the pleasure of the Father. The more they are like their Lord the more they bring forth fruit. The Father's way with each one of "His own" is that they might bring forth much fruit. This is Love's privilege; to be so like Him that the Father is glorified.

In this living circle of union where His words abide, there is liberty to make request and assurance about receiving an answer. The keeping of His commandments is the surety of abiding in His love.

The Lord is their example. How wonderful the love known in this fellowship: "As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you..." They were simply to abide in that love in the same dependant and obedient way that marked their Lord when He was here below.

As they abode in His love, so His joy would find a constant abiding place in them. Knowing His joy within would lead their hearts into fulness of joy. Obeying the commandment to love one another would knit and bind His own together with love even: "as I have loved you." How intense their love for one another was to be! Love would give all for its friends. His love would cause Him to give His life for them. The keeping of His commandments was the proof of their being His friends, for that showed how much they valued Him.

Having Loved His Own Which Were In The World (6)

John 15: 15-27

Using the figure of a vine and its branches, the Lord has not only demonstrated how vital it is to abide in Him, but that they are thus able to bring forth fruit for the Father's pleasure. In unfolding these things, He is seeking to draw them closer to Himself.

In the intimacy of this fellowship with Him and the Father, He can speak freely to them as friends. He calls His own His "friends" because they have a ready ear and heart to receive all that the Father has given to His Son to communicate to them. His heart, the heart of the Son, had gone out to them. how favoured they were! Further, He makes known that they were His chosen ones, set in a place of favour, as ordained to go and bring forth fruit which should remain. This would be fruit in service for Him. In serving Him they have a place of nearness that gives free access to the Father in His Name. They can seek the Father's help and support. Such is the value of that Name to the Father that they will receive their requests. This service for Him requires unity amongst themselves and they are commanded, "That ye love one another."

He passes on now to speak of the place of their service, where they were to bring forth fruit. The whole sphere and atmosphere of love into which they had been brought, is in direct contrast to a hateful and hating world into which He is sending them. He is hated by it: therefore they who are His own will be likewise hated. His deep caring love for them reveals these things to them so that they may be ready, prepared and strengthened. They were once part of the world, but as chosen out from it He says: "Ye are not of the world." The measure of their Lord's acceptance or rejection would determine their own. They would be rejected on His account. Darkness and ignorance marked the world that received not the light of the revelation of the Father, manifested through and in the Son. The world did see Him whom the Father sent, for He had walked before them for three and a half years, and could not be hidden from their eyes. His words were words of truth, from which they could not escape. He had done works of power which they could not deny, though they refused them. Hatred toward the Son was hatred toward the Father, and this without a cause, for the Lord was without sin. All this He reveals to them beforehand, that they may be left in no doubt about the world into which He, in love, was sending them. How rich and how precious, therefore, would be the fruit they would bear.

Were they then to be here without power? Not so. The Comforter, the Spirit of truth, would be their power and resource. He would come from the Father, sent by the Son, to bring a testimony from thence of His glory. Besides this heavenly testimony, they would be enabled to testify also concerning Him, for they had been with Him "from the beginning" of His ministry. His own could bear witness of His life of humility, His path of love, and His devotion, even to the death of the cross. Beside all this, as they lived like Him in the world, they would manifest Him continually for the Father's pleasure while He was absent.

To be continued...