A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, May 10, 1868, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. (John 13:1)
1. We shall consider these words first in their obvious relationship to the apostles, and those who were the companions of Jesus during his sojourn on earth, and afterwards we shall take them in their broader sense, as relating to all the Lord’s own whom he loves and will love even to the end.
I. HAVING LOVED HIS OWN. Those four words are a brief but
complete summary of the Saviour’s conduct towards his disciples. He
always loved them. There was never a single action or word which was
contrary to the rule of love. He loved them with a love of pity when
he saw them in their lost estate, and he called them out of it to be
his disciples; touched with a feeling of their infirmities he loved
them with a tender and prudent affection, and sought to train and
educate them, so that after his departure they might be good soldiers
of his cross; he loved them with a love of complacency as he walked
and talked with them and found solace in their company. Even when he
rebuked them he loved them. He subjected them to many trials: for his
sake they renounced all that they had; they shared his daily cross
bearing and hourly persecution, but love reigned supreme and
undiminished amid it all. On Tabor or in Gethsemane he loved his own;
alone or in the crowd his heart was true to them; in life and in
death his affection did not fail. He “loved his own who were in the
world.” It is a multum in parvo, a condensed life of Christ, a
miniature of Jesus the Lover of souls. As you read the wonderful
story of the four evangelists, you see how true it is that Jesus
loved his own: let me interject that when you come to read your own
life’s story in the light of the New Jerusalem, you will find it to
be true also concerning your Lord and yourself. If you are indeed the
Lord’s own, he at all times deals lovingly with you, and never acts
in unkindness or wrath.
He may chasten and correct,
But he never can neglect;
May in faithfulness reprove,
But he ne’er can cease to love.
3. Our Saviour’s faithfulness towards the chosen band whom he had elected into his fellowship was most remarkable. He had selected people who must have been very poor companions for one of so gigantic a mind and so large a heart. He must have been greatly shocked at their worldliness. They grovelled in the dust when he mounted to the stars. He was thinking of the baptism by which he was to he baptized, and he was constrained until it was accomplished, but they were disputing who among them should be the greatest. He was ready to deny himself so that he might do his Father’s will, and meanwhile they were asking to sit on his right hand and on his left hand in his kingdom. They often misunderstood him because of the carnality of their mind; and when he warned them concerning an evil leaven, they thought of the loaves, which they had forgotten. Earthworms are miserable company for angels, moles are unhappy company for eagles, yet love made our great Master endure the company of his ignorant and carnal followers. They were only babes in Christ, and possessed very little understanding, and yet for all that, he who knew all things and is the wisdom of God, condescended to call them his mother, and sister, and brother.
4. Worse than the fact of their natural worldliness perhaps, was the apparent impossibility of lifting them out of that low condition; for though never man spoke as he spoke, how little did they understand! and though he took them aside and said to them, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God,” yet after many and plain teachings he was compelled to say to one of the best of them, “Have I been so long a time with you, and yet you have not known me, Philip?” They were dull scholars. There is no teacher here who could have had patience with such heavy intellects, but our Lord and Master’s love remained for evermore at flood tide, notwithstanding their incorrigible stupidity. His love was stronger than their unbelief and ignorance.
5. My brethren, when we love a person, we expect to have a little sympathy from him in the great design and aim of our life. I suppose it would be difficult to maintain any deep affection towards people who had no kind of communion with us in our all absorbing passion; and yet it was so, that our Lord loved disciples who could not be brought to enter at all into the spirit which ruled and governed him. They would have taken him and forced a crown upon him, while he only sought for a cross. They imagined and desired for him the worldly splendour of a terrestrial throne; but he foresaw the reality of glory in sweat of blood and cruel death. Our Lord was all for self-denial, employing himself and acting as the Servant of servants. They could not comprehend the rule of self-sacrifice which governed his actions, nor could they see what he aimed at. Had they dared, they would rather have thwarted than assisted him in his self-sacrificing mission. They were fools and slow of heart to understand, even though again he plainly told them about his decease. When he set his face steadfastly towards Jerusalem, humanly speaking he needed friends to have aided and abetted him in his high resolve, but he found no help in them. When, in that dark, that dreadful night, he bowed in prayer, and sweat the bloody sweat, he went backward and forward thrice, as if seeking a little sympathy from men so dearly loved; but he had to complain of them, “What, could you not watch with me for one hour?” Still, having loved them, neither their worldliness nor their stupidity, nor their lack of sympathy with him could prevent him from loving them to the end. Many waters could not quench his love, neither could the floods drown it.
6. The Redeemer’s love was made to endure even sterner strains than these. On one or two occasions certain of them were even guilty of impertinence. It was a great trial to the Saviour’s affection when Peter took him and began to rebuke him. Peter rebuking his Master! Surely your Lord will be finished with you, you son of Jonas! The Lord turned to him and said, “Get behind me, Satan!” but after using that strong expression to rebuke a temptation which was evidently Satanic, his affection for Peter remained unabated. That was a stern trial, too, when at a later period than our text, “all the disciples forsook him and fled”; when not even the loving John remained constant to his Master in the hour of betrayal; when one, the boldest of them, with oaths and cursing said, “I do not know the man.” Carrying the text beyond its original position, we may say that over the head of all infirmities, ignorances, selfishnesses, desertions, and denials, Jesus Christ, who had loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end. It was not possible for them, with all their follies, failings, and sins, to break through the magic circle of his affection; he had hedged them in once and for all, had bound them to himself with bonds firmer than brass, and stronger than triple steel, and neither could the temptations of hell, nor the suggestions of their own corruption’s, tear them from his heart. The attachments of Jesus were abiding; he could never be charged with fickleness and instability. Others love for a little while and then grow cold; they profess eternal attachment and yet forsake; they admire and esteem us until a slight misunderstanding snaps every bond of friendship; but our Lord was the mirror of constancy, the pattern of fidelity, the paragon of unchanging love. As Jonathan clave to David, even so Jesus cleaved to his people.
7. The proofs which our Lord gave of his love for his people were very many, and for a little while we will ponder them: they will all go to prove that he loved his people, even to perfection, as the text may be read. Observe how our Master, having chosen a people for himself proved his love by his continual companionship. He sought no other company than theirs among the sons of men. There were minds far deeper in philosophic lore, but he did not commune with them; there were the great and mighty of this world, but our Saviour did not court them; he was content to dwell among his own people; he had made his choice and he kept to that choice—fishermen and peasants were his bosom friends. You would not expect a teacher to find rest in the companionship of his scholars; you do not expect men of mind and mark affectionately to consort with those who are far beneath them in attainments; and yet herein was love, that Jesus, passing by angels, and kings, and sages, chose for his companions unlettered men and women. Those fishermen of Galilee were his companions at all times; and only when he withdrew himself into the silent Mount, and the shadows of midnight, did he remove the bound of companionship from them, and only then so that he might make intercession for them with the eternal God. Yes, it was a deep proof of the unlimited love of Jesus, a sure sign of its going to the end and verge of possibilities, that he lived so long in affectionate fellowship with so poor, so illiterate, so earthbound a company of men.
8. He proved his love by being always ready to instruct them on all points. His teachings were very simple, because he loved them so well. The epistles of Paul are, in some respects, far deeper than the teachings of Jesus; for instance, Paul more explicitly lays down the doctrine of justification by faith, of total depravity, of election, and related truths. And why? Observe the humility and lovingkindness of the Master. He knew infinitely more than Paul, for he is essential wisdom, but he was pleased, because their weak eyes were not able at that time to bear the full blaze of light, to leave the fuller revelation of gospel mysteries until the Spirit had been given, and then he raised up his servant Paul to write under his guidance the deep things of God. His love for his disciples is shown as clearly in what he kept back from them as in what he revealed to them. How loving it was on the part of the great Teacher to dwell so often upon the simpler truths, and the more practical precepts; it was as though a senior scholar of the university should sit down in the family and teach boys and girls their alphabet day after day, or spend all his time in teaching village urchins simple addition and subtraction. A man who is thoroughly acquainted with the highest branches of knowledge finds it a terrible drudgery to go over and over the first principles—and yet this is very thing that our Lord did, and made no complaints about it; he, for three years, taught the simplicities of the faith, and so indisputably proved his condescending love to perfection towards his own who were in the world.
9. How willing he always was, all his life long, to render any kind of assistance to his followers! Whenever they were in trouble, he was their willing and able Friend. When the sea roared and was tempestuous, and he slept for awhile close by the helm, they had only to awaken him, and he rebuked the sea, and immediately the winds and waves were still. When Peter’s wife’s mother was sick with a fever, he only entered the house and speak the word, and the fever left her; and when one of his dearest friends had passed beyond ordinary bounds of hope, and was not only dead, but had been buried for four days, yet he loved even to that far reaching end, and proved that he was the resurrection and the life by effectually crying, “Lazarus, come out.” Everywhere, at all times, he was at the beck and call of his disciples, whom he truly called his friends. They might freely express their desires—if these were right, they were granted; and if they were wrong, they were reproved with such gentleness that a refusal was better than a grant.
10. The Master displayed his love for his disciples throughout his life by the way in which he sought to comfort them when he foresaw that they would be depressed; this was especially true during the period before his passion—when one would have thought he might have looked for comfort, he was busy distributing it. Those choice words which have flown like a dove into many a mourner’s window bearing the olive branch of peace, were the fond utterances of a thoughtful heart. “Do not let your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions.” He applied many such bottles of oil and wine to the wounds of his disciples. He would not have them suffer any kind of spiritual turmoil. “In the world you shall have tribulation” he said, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He distributed his peace very generously, and left it as his last legacy: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: I give not as the world gives to you.” In the private life of everyone of those chosen men, there must have been incidents of matchless tenderness; but they are not recorded, because if all were written which Jesus did, even the world itself would not contain the things which could have been written. Enough is written to let us see that no tenderness of mothers, or care of friends, could match the ever, generous forethought of the Friend of man.
11. That he loved his disciples to the end is seen further in the fact that he constantly pleaded for them when he poured out his strong cryings and tears. He watched them with an eye that was quick to perceive their perils, and before they knew their danger, he had already provided a refuge from it. Before the poison was injected by the old serpent, the antidote was at hand. “Satan has desired to have you so that he may sift you as wheat”: the temptation had not reached the stage of actual fact, it was only a desire on Satan’s part, but the Lord outran the enemy with his intercessions, and so saved poor Peter from the sieve. The High Priest, chosen from among men, pleaded in his midnight wrestlings for all his people, mentioning their names one by one before the Majesty of heaven, and so averting evils which otherwise would have destroyed them. Surely those sacred pleadings brought down upon the apostolic band those matchless blessings which qualified them in later years to be the spiritual fathers of the church and the heralds of salvation to nations. Who doubts the love of such an Intercessor?
12. The text affords us one other illustration, for Jesus took the towel and washed his disciples’ feet. This is, no doubt, noted by our text as a clear proof of boundless love, in that he humbled himself, made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, and fulfilled a menial office. But yet, beloved, all these things put together do not amount to so overwhelming a proof of abounding love as the fact that, after having lived out his love, the Lord Jesus then died to display it even more. From Gethsemane to Golgotha, along the blood sprinkled road, you see proof that having loved his own he loved them to the end. Not all the pains of death could shake his firm affection for his own. They may bind his hands, but his heart is not restrained from love; they may scourge him, but they cannot drive out of him his affection for his beloved; they may slanderously revile him, but they cannot compel him to say a word against his people; they may nail him to the accursed tree, and they may ask him come down from the cross, and they will believe in him, but they cannot tempt him to forsake his work of love; he must press forward for his people’s sake until he can say, “It is finished.” Oh! that tragedy upon Calvary was indeed going to the ultimate end, when, having yielded up comfort, reputation, liberty, he gave up even his last rag of covering, and then resigned his breath. Standing, as it were, at the world’s end, at the grave’s mouth, and at hell’s door, the cross of Jesus reveals love to the utmost end, and is a grand display of the immutability and invincibility of the affection of the heart of Jesus.
13. II. I need not detain you longer on the text as it related to his people when he was here in the flesh, for I shall want your earnest attention for only a short time while, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I would expound THIS PRECIOUS TRUTH AS IT RELATES TO ALL HIM PEOPLE, TO ALL HIS SAINTS.
14. We read that our Lord “Came to his own, and his own did not receive him”; and here in this case we read, “Having loved his own.” Now, the words are different in the original. In the first case it is a neuter noun—“he came to his own (things)”; but in this instance it is a masculine—“Having loved his own (people).” Now, a man may part with his own things; he may sell his own house, or cattle, or merchandise; he may give away his own money; but a man cannot part with his own when it relates to people; he cannot part with his own child, his own wife, his own father, or his own brother. We hold indisputable property in our own relatives; this is real property with an emphasis, our own freehold, our inalienable inheritance, our perpetual possession. The Lord Jesus has just such a property in his own people—they are his brethren, for ever closely related to him.
15. Now concerning these “own” people; we read that our Lord, “Having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end.” The text opens three windows for us, with three outlooks upon the past, the present, and the future.
16. 1. And first, concerning the past; let us with holy contemplation review it. He has loved his own people from of old. A most blessed fact! He has loved them eternally. There never was a time when he did not love them. His love is positively dateless: before the heavens and the earth were made, and the stars were first touched with the torch of flame, Jesus had received his people from his Father, and written their names on his heart. This everlasting love has a speciality about it. Our Lord has a general love of benevolence towards all his creatures, for “God is love”; but he has a special place in his heart for his own particular ones. There is a discriminating and distinguishing power about that love that is spoken of in the text, for it is not said, “Having loved all men,” but “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Jesus, before all the world, set the crown of his particular love upon those whom he foreordained to his glory.
17. This love of his is infinite. Jesus does not love his own with a little of his love, nor regard them with some small degree of affection, but he says, “Just as the Father has loved me, even so I have loved you,” and the Father’s love for the Son is inconceivably great, since they are one in essence, ineffably one. The Father can only love the Son infinitely, neither does the Son ever love his people less than with all his heart. It is an affection which no angelic mind could measure, inconceivable, and unknown.
18. Jesus loved his people with a foresight of what they would be. Love is blind, they say, but not the Saviour’s love. He knew that “his own” would fall in Adam; he knew that as they lived personally each one would become a sinner; he understood that they would be hard to reclaim and difficult to retain, even after they had been reclaimed; he saw every sin that they would commit in the future, for from his prescient eye nothing can be hidden. And yet he loved his own in spite of all their sins, and their revoltings, and their shortcomings. Hence we see that he bears towards them an affection which cannot be changed, for nothing can occur which he has not foreseen, nothing therefore which has not already been taken into calculation in the matter of his choice. No new circumstance can shed unexpected light upon the case. No startling and unforeseen event can become an argument for a change. Hence Jesus’ love is full of immutability. There are no ups and downs in the love of Christ towards his people. On their highest Tabors he loves them, but equally as well in their Gethsemanes. When they wander like lost sheep his great love goes after them, and when they come back with broken hearts his great love restores them. By day, by night, in sickness, in sorrow, in poverty, in famine, in prison, in the hour of death, that silver stream of love ripples at their side, never stayed, never diminished. For ever is the sea of divine grace at its flood; this sun never sets; this fountain never pauses.
19. The love of Christ is more than a passion. You and I are moved by passion, but the Son of God is not so. As man, he may be, but as God, he has no passion. Hence the love of Christ towards his people is a settled principle—self-created and self-sustained; not subject to changes like terrestrial things, but firm and stable, built on a rock. Glory be to God, there was something in the very nature of Christ which made him love us, something in the very character of that blessed divine Person which constrained him to reveal affection towards his people: it was nothing from without, that mighty love was born from within. Here again we come back to the same precious truth, that hence that love cannot be destroyed, because the source from which it comes is eternal, and is found within himself.
20. The love of Jesus Christ in the past has been attested by many deeds of love. That he loved us he proved by the fact that he stood surety for us when the covenant was made, and entered into stipulations on our behalf that he would fulfil the broken law, and that he would offer satisfaction to the justice of God, which had been provoked. In the fulness of time he took upon himself our nature. What higher proof of love than that? In that nature he lived a life of blameless service, in that nature he died a death in which all the weight of divine vengeance for sin was compressed into a few hours of bodily and spiritual anguish. Now that he lives exalted in the highest heaven, he is still his people’s servant, interceding for them, representing them at the right hand of God, preparing a place for them, and by his mighty Spirit drawing them out from the mass of mankind, and preparing them for the place which he has prepared for them in glory. All these proofs show indeed, my dear brothers and sisters, how in the past Jesus Christ has loved his people. Grasp it, I urge you, now, for a minute, grasp it! Experience it by putting out the hand of individual faith, and saying, “He loved me in those hoary ages; he loved me before time began to be counted, and days and years were first mapped out; he loved me before he had made a star or given light to the sun; he loved me, yes, me in particular, me with a speciality, me as much as any of those on whom his heart is set.” Do you believe in him this morning? Say, poor sinner, do you cast yourself upon him, and take him to be your only trust and confidence? Then you may take the text with full assurance as being yours—having loved his own, he loved you, even you. I always feel, when I speak upon this topic, as if I would rather sit down and be silent than speak, because it is not so much a theme for speech as for meditation. Expressive silence must sing this hymn in your soul’s ears. Jesus did not merely think of you, and pity you, but loved you and betrothed you to himself for ever. That an angel should love an ant would be a remarkable stoop, but that Jesus should love you is a miracle of miracles, a wonder which never could be excelled. Let each one adoringly bless the name of the Lord, who does great wonders.
21. 2. The second window looks out upon the present. The text says, “Having loved his own who were in the world.” It does not seem to strike one as an extraordinary thing that Jesus should love his own who are in heaven. See them up there, white robed and fair to look upon, with melodious voices, without fault, before the eternal throne. Well may Jesus love them, for there is much beauty in them; his grace has made them lovable; but to love his own who are in the world is quite another and more strange thing, and yet it is the blessed fact to which the text calls attention. May you now by faith feed upon it—Jesus Christ loved those who were in the world when he was here, and he now loves his own who are in the world today. You are in the world, and, as you all too surely feel, temptations have shown you that you are not yet in heaven; you have sighed for a lodge in some vast wilderness, so that you might cease from the troublers of earth, for with the evil language which you hear, the corrupt practices which come under your notice, the temptations that are thrust in your own way, and the persecutions and the cruel mockings with which you are tried, you feel that this is a wretched world to live in. Now notice, Jesus loves his own who are in the world. You working men who have to work with so many bad fellows, you tradesmen who have to go in among many who shock you, you good working girls, who encounter so many tempters, if you are his, he loves his own who are in the world. “Behold,” he says, “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.” Now, if the shepherd sends out the sheep into the midst of wolves, you may rest assured that if he is going to take his eye off any sheep, it will not be from them; he will have a particular regard, a watchful affection, for those who are exposed to particular perils through the sinfulness of the generation among whom they dwell. He loves his own who are in the world. “Oh!” one says, “I would not mind if it were only temptations, and trials, and persecutions, but oh! I find I am in the world by the fact that I sin myself. If I could only keep my own nature clean, all would be well; but, alas! I fall. My angry temper betrays me; proud thoughts are indulged, vanities lodge with me. I have to come groaning up to the house of God this morning, and feel half ashamed to sit with the Lord’s people, for I am less than the least of them all.” This is the result of your being in the world, for as long as you are in this world, you will have to wrestle hard with the old nature and its inbred sins. Well, but Jesus loves his own who are in the world. He sees your imperfection, he knows what you have to struggle with, he understands well enough the uprisings of your nature, and he loves you notwithstanding all. “Ah!” says another, “I have come here today, burdened with a very heavy trouble. The partner of my life is sick at home and near to death.” “Alas!” cries another, “my dear child is dying, and I found it hard to tear myself away from the bedside.” “Worse still,” moans another, “I have a living cross to carry, one of my sons is breaking my heart.” “Ah!” exclaims a fourth, “I have a bill due tomorrow, and I do not know how it will be paid. I fear I shall be ruined.” All these things go to show that we are still in the world of sorrow. As the sparks fly upward, so were we born to trouble—why do we count it a strange thing? But Jesus loves his own who are in this dolorous world: this is the balm of our griefs, and I call upon you to hold to it, and not let the devil delude you into the idea that the Lord does not love you because affliction happens to you as it does to other men. Of course it must so happen as long as you are in the world. How can you expect exemption? Would you have a glass case made for you to keep you snug away from all the frosts and winds of this world? Would you have your heavenly Father indulge you with all the sweet things of this life, and spoil you for the life to come? Would you cut the root in this world and never be transplanted to the heavenly Eden? Do you wish to have your rest and portion in this life? Oh! no; you could not wish for that. Well, then, take what God sends to you, receive evil as well as good from Jehovah’s hand, as Job did; but never let it be the thought of your heart that Jesus does not love you because you are subjected to evils which are necessary to the place in which, for wise reasons, he allows you to remain for a little while. He prizes his gold as much while it is in the furnace as when it is drawn out. Believe in his love now. Do as Rutherford did: he tells us that when banished by his enemies, and confined as it were in the world’s dark cellar, he began to feel around him for the wine bottles (for God keeps his choice wines in the vaults of sorrow), and he soon found the wine of heavenly consolation, wines on the lees, well refined, and drank freely and was refreshed; so do you. When you are brought low, believe that there is always a comfort near. When you have much of this world’s prosperity you may suspect some danger is near. After a profound calm comes the terrible tempest. Whenever you are overwhelmed with great trouble, you may rest assured that choicest blessings are on the road to you. Jesus Christ will make your consolations to abound in proportion as your tribulations abound; if one scale is heavy, the other shall balance it. While you are in the world, you shall be cheered with tokens of the Bridegroom’s regard.
22. 3. The third window of the text looks out to the future. Having loved his own he “loved them to the end.” He will love his people to the utmost end of their unloveliness. Their sinfulness cannot travel so far but what his love will travel beyond it; even their unbelief shall not be extended to so great a length but what his faithfulness shall still be wider and broader than their unfaithfulness. He never will allow one of his chosen to fall into such deadly sin, or to go so far in it that he cannot yet outstrip all the strides which his iniquities may have taken. If our sins are mountains, his love shall be like Noah’s flood, and the tops of the mountains shall be covered, and not so much as a sin shall be found against us.
23. He will love his own to the end, that is, to the end of all their needs. Deep as their helpless miseries are shall be the extent of his grace. If their need of pardon abounds, the blood shall be more able to pardon than their sins shall be able to defile. They may need more than this world can hold, and all that heaven can give, but Jesus will go to the end of all their needs, and even beyond them, for he is “able to save to the uttermost those who come to God by him.” He will love them to the end of their lives; as long as they live here his love shall be with them; and since there shall be no end of their existence hereafter, he will still continue the same fondness for them. And what if I say he will love them to the end of his own life, if such thing could happen? Until the eternal God shall die, his love shall never depart from any one of his beloved. Unless the heart of Jesus shall cease to beat, and the eternal Saviour shall expire in death, that heart shall never fail in affection towards his people, nor shall his love ever depart from them. Oh! how charming it is to reflect that to the end Jesus loves, because you cannot raise any objection, or think of any difficulty, but what the text covers. If you go ever so far, still it is obvious that when you are there you are not beyond the end, and Jesus’ love will and must go up to the end, and that is as far as either the sin or the sorrow, the needs or the difficulties of his people can possibly go. The word translated end in the Greek frequently means to perfection—he loved them to perfection. Oh, the perfectness of the love of Jesus Christ. All that his love can do he will do for his people. No one shall be able to say that he has omitted anything which was good for them. “No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Out of all their needs and necessities there shall not be one left unsupplied, but from the first dawn of grace in them, even to the last, the perfection of Jesus’ love shall be revealed.
24. What shall we say to all this in closing the sermon this morning? We shall only say this, if Jesus Christ so loves to the end, how ought we to persevere in our love for him. Sometimes, dear brethren, we become warmed up, and we do a great deal very zealously, but soon, too soon, we grow cold again. It is one of my temptations, and I suppose it is yours, to begin to flag, to cease from one’s earnestness, to say, “Well, the thing can go on pretty well without my being quite so fast and zealous.” The true way of living for Christ is to live always at the highest possible rate of energy. Zealous, not now and then, but always, in a good thing for Christ. Sometimes you are very generous, prayerful, and earnest in looking after souls, why not always so? Suppose Jesus were sometimes loving towards you, sometimes thoughtful of you; and imagine that there were intervals of forgetfulness on his part, as there are in your case, what a sorry matter it would be for us! Let us repent that we have been so spasmodic in our affection for him, and let us pray to him that his Spirit may dwell in us, that he himself may abide with us, that we may be every day, as we are sometimes, “always abounding in the work of the Lord,” steadfast, unmoveable. Beloved, I would have you always winning souls, always adorning the doctrine of God your Saviour by holiness, always much in prayer, always in communion. Oh that we were so! The constant faithfulness of our Lord should lead us to this.
25. The second practical remark will be, if these things be so, that Christ loves his own to the end, let us not indulge the wicked thought that he will forsake us. It is impossible that Jesus should leave a soul that depends upon him. You may be brought very low, but still underneath you shall be the everlasting arms. You may feel as if you were crushed by the wheels of providence, your spirit may sink nearly into despair, but neither “things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus your Lord.” Do not give way to the fainting fit of unbelief; believe in Christ, and not in your own feelings; believe in his promise and not in your own feelings. What does it matter whether it is day or night with you, whether it is winter or summer? Christ Jesus is the same, and he has said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” Resort to your unfailing Friend; lean on the arm whose sinews cannot break; cast your weight on the shoulders which cannot grow weary. Play the man, and be of good courage, for the honour of the gospel; for if the gospel does not cheer us in time of trouble, what is the good of it? If it will not buoy us up when the floods are out, what is the use of it? But, my brothers and sisters, it will. We are not of those who have to deal with a vacillating Redeemer, who casts away his people for their sins, and rejects them for their backslidings, who loves his own today and hates them tomorrow—a Christ in whom I have no confidence, and in whose existence I do not believe; but we have to deal with one who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, one who never did flinch from his purpose, nor turn from his decree; and having to deal with such a one, let us not dishonour his name by wavering, and doubting, and fearing. Cast yourselves on the Lord, you mourners, and rejoice in him; lean yourselves upon him, you burdened ones, and take up your psalm of praise this morning, and go on your way rejoicing.
The last practical remark is, what a misery it must be to be
without such a Saviour! I scarcely know of any two words more
sorrowful than these two—“without Christ”; and yet those words are
applicable, I fear, to many in this congregation; you have no
heavenly Friend into whose ear to whisper your sorrow; you have no
faithful Brother, or mighty Saviour, to help you in your time of
need. Your sins are upon you; your iniquities are written in the book
of God, engraved as with an iron pen, and written with the point of
the diamond. The day of death will soon come, and you will have no
one to help you over Jordan’s swelling billows. You will stand before
the tremendous throne, where the voice shall be as thunder, and the
eyes of the Judge like lightning, and you shall have no advocate to
plead your cause, no Redeemer to take your soul beneath his
sheltering wing. There is still hope, for Jesus is still the friend
of sinners. Come to him, you weary; hurry to him, you labouring and
heavy laden; for he excludes no one—he welcomes all who come to him,
with broken hearts and downcast eyes, seeking pardon through his
precious blood. Oh that you would come to him this morning! Before
another day shall pass away, may you have ended your career of
rebellion, and commenced a course of obedience. Then you will sing
with us of everlasting love; then will you rejoice with us in
immutable grace; then our God shall be your God, and our heaven shall
be your heaven.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon—John 13:1-17]