(February 2, 1964 P.M.)
read a few verses from the Gospel by John, chapter
thirteen, verses one to twenty. You have had it announced
that tomorrow night there will be a love feast, but I
want to say that the true love feast is tonight. We all
believe that the Lord's Table is the full expression of
Divine love. All the hymns that we have been singing this
evening were about God's love. There have been hymns
gathered round the Lord's Table. That table has been
speaking to us anew of the love of God in Christ Jesus.
In this chapter which we have just read, we have the Lord
setting forth His table for the first time. This was the
first time that He gathered with His disciples around
that particular table. Do you notice how the chapter
begins? "Now before the feast of the
passover, Jesus knowing that His hour was come that He
should depart out of this world unto the Father, having
loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto
the end - unto the uttermost" (ASV).
that table, He wrote His love for His own. In effect He
said, 'This table, at which we are now going to eat and
drink, is the embodiment of My love for you. Having loved
His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the
uttermost.' And, then, all that follows in that chapter
is an explanation of that love. If I tell you that there
are seven things in those twenty verses which define His
love, please do not be afraid that I am going to preach a
long sermon on seven points. In a short time, I can just
point out these seven features of that love of Christ.
loved them unto the uttermost." And I think in
that statement, there is the most wonderful thing that
ever came into this world. Jesus had had a lot of trouble
with those men. They had often misunderstood Him. They
had often disappointed Him. They were really a very poor
lot of men. He knew their history during the past three
years. But He also knew what was going to happen after
this night. He said to Peter, "Before the cock crow,
thou shalt deny Me thrice" (Matt. 26:33b-35; ASV).
He knew that Peter would deny Him three times, saying,
"I know not the Man." He said about them all,
'All of you will be offended because of Me this night.
You will all run away and leave Me, and I shall be alone,
yet I am not alone, because the Father will be with Me.'
He knew what a poor lot of men they were, but He loved
them unto the uttermost.
the first thing about this love. It is not offended by
our failures. He does not withdraw His love because we
make mistakes. We may often disappoint Him, we may often
fail Him, we may often grieve His heart, but He goes on
loving us. He loves us unto the uttermost, right to the
end. He is not offended by our failures. That is a very
different kind of love from our love. This is God's love
second thing about this love is how condescending it is.
You notice in verse three, the first statement in the
chapter, "Knowing that the Father had given all
things into His hands." The Father had given all
things into His hands. How great He is. Greater than all
others. That could never be said of anyone else. God has
given Him everything. But it did not make Him too proud
to love these men. He was not superior to them, He came
right down to them. Great as He is, He loved such men as
these. With all His greatness, He came down to their
level. How condescending is the love of God. It is great
enough to come down to the smallest and to the weakest.
we think of God's greatness in terms of power, in terms
of the wonderful things He can do. When we think of men
being great, we think of their greatness in terms of the
big things they can do. The greatness of God is this,
that while He has the whole universe to look after, all
the big things of the nations, He can look after the
smallest things. Sometimes we say, 'Oh, that is too small
to ask the Lord for it. The Lord is so great, He
cannot be bothered with our little things.' But, that is
the greatness of God, to be able to do that. A really
great man is one who can come to small things and make a
lot of small things. The Father had given all things into
His hands, and then He came to these men, and loved them
unto the uttermost. How great is His love!
number three: Then look again at the chapter, and see
that this love makes no distinction in classes of people.
You heard it read this evening, "You call
Me Lord, and you are right. I am your Lord. If I then,
your Lord and Master, have washed your feet...." You
see, He had taken the place of the servant that no
one else would take. Just outside the door of every guest
room, there was a basin and a pot of water and a towel.
If it was a wealthy house, there was also a servant. And
when the guests had sat down, the servant came, took off
their sandals and washed their feet. But this was not a
wealthy house. Jesus was poor. The disciples were poor.
Now, can you see them going into that room? Perhaps Peter
is leading the way, he usually did lead the way. Peter
saw that basin and that water, he knew it was there, but
he really was not seeing it. He walked past, and all the
others followed. They all knew that that basin and that
water and that towel were there, but no one was going to
be the servant. They all went and sat down.
took the towel, poured the water into the basin, and went
straight to Peter, the man so important in his own eyes,
too important to be a servant. The Lord and Master was
the servant. They were making distinctions between
classes of people superior and inferior. Perhaps Peter
said, 'Now, I am superior to this other man, let him do
the job.' And perhaps they were all feeling superior. But
Jesus knew nothing of that spirit. Love knows no
distinction between classes of people. Love knows no
distinction between nationalities. The Love of God in
Christ Jesus looks upon us all just the same as needing
His love. His love is above all earthly distinctions.
number four: You know, it is so easy to talk about love,
to pretend to love, to use the language of love, to sing
hymns about love, and it can all be sentimental; perhaps
we all know people who have told us that they love us,
but very often they are the very people who have hurt us
most. Now, the love of Jesus was not sentimental, it was
practical. He did not go in with His disciples and say,
'Brothers, I do love you very much.' He showed that He
loved them by what He did for them. It was not
sentimental love, it was practical love. And this is the
love with which He loved them unto the uttermost.
got to point number five now. What was the meaning of
this washing of their feet? Our dear brother, Watchman
Nee, used to speak about the earth touch, he used to say,
'If you touch this earth, you touch evil, you touch
death.' These men had walked along the dusty dirty roads.
Their feet were literally covered in the dust of this
earth. But in this symbolic act, Jesus was saying, 'You
have to live in this world, but you must be kept clean
from the world.' And this washing of their feet was His
way of saying, 'Love, My love, will keep you free from
the evil that is in this world.' The love of Christ is a
cleansing love. It is not just words, but it helps us to
live on a higher level of life.
number six: This love is full of spiritual instruction.
He said to them, "What I do now, you do not
understand, but you shall understand afterwards." This
love is going to instruct us as to what God loves and
what God does not love. Up to this point, these disciples
loved the world. Their hearts were set upon a kingdom in
this world. They wanted the chief places in the Kingdom.
They wanted to be important people in Christ's Kingdom.
And their idea was that He was going to set up a kingdom
in which they would be important. It was the spirit of
the world. They loved the world. See what the love of God
did in their hearts! It took all love for this world out
of their hearts. They went out into the world, and
suffered from the world, because of His love in their
hearts. They lost all interest in being important people
in this world. After all it did not matter whether they
were important people in the Church. They had no ambition
to be the teachers and the preachers. They had no
ambition to be the elders of the Church. The love of
Christ had done away with all that kind of thing. They
went out to suffer and to die for Him. To lay down their
lives for Christ. It was a tremendous thing that His love
did in them.
come to point seven, which is not in this chapter, but do
you notice that all this came just before Jesus began to
speak to them about the Holy Spirit. Jesus is going to
give them that wonderful teaching about the coming of the
Holy Spirit. "The Spirit, Whom the Father will
send in My name, He shall guide you into all the truth.
He shall not speak of Himself, He shall take the things
which are Mine, and show them unto you." What
did that mean? The Spirit Who was coming would be the
Spirit of love. And the Holy Spirit would work in them to
produce this same love for others as Christ had for them.
friends, if we have the Holy Spirit, these things at
least ought to be found in us. These things which
characterize the love of Christ for His own ought to
characterize us in love for others. That is why the Holy
Spirit has come. So that as He loved us to the uttermost,
so ought we to love one another. Forgive me, I have gone
four minutes over my time. But, if only we learn this
great lesson of His Love, it would be worth staying here