‘Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.’ (ESV)
Chapter 13 begins the second half of John’s gospel. In the first half John records signs and key moments from Jesus’ three years of ministry. He included the great ‘I am’ statements connecting him to Yahweh’s name in the Old Testament. He opened the gospel with the words, ‘In the beginning’ placing Jesus as the creator of all things, ‘through him all things were made,’ and now here he was, God living with us. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ John 1.14
At this point in John’s gospel the focus changes from a broader overview to narrow down in detail to the few hours before Jesus dies on the cross. The next chapters up to the end of chapter 19 all follow Jesus’ deliberate choice to obey his Father, to go through death to glory. Jesus knew what was to come and what he was doing.
Here lies the essential difference between Christianity and all other religions. Christianity at its core is not a set of teachings to learn and follow. It is the person of Jesus who loves us to the end. It is his relationship with us. He is God made flesh and he loves us. He loved us before we loved him. He loved us when our lives rejected him and caused him great offence. He loves us when we continue to offend him with our sin. He loves us to the end. If we are suffering, he chose to suffer more because he loves us.
His love is not a hopeless love without direction. It is a love that carries a certainty about its destination. He left this world to go to the Father to prepare a place for his own. His own are those who have trusted in him, whom he loves. He came to this world that he had created because he loves us and that love will not end. God created humankind to be in relationship with him and now, at the last supper, just before the Passover festival, Jesus knew the time had come to complete his saving work in the ultimate act of love.
It is God’s great desire to be in relationship with us. How can we not respond to such love?
The love of Jesus – Nathan Taylor