Loving Father, may I have the power to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
Feel the passion and longing of Jesus, almost excitement as He enters the Upper Room on His last night. In Luke’s Gospel we hear Him explain to His disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). John was with Jesus on that night and wants readers to understand that this night revolves around “the festival of the Passover.” As John writes he likely remembers that incredible day three years earlier when John the Baptist pointed to Jesus saying, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Throughout the Scriptures Jesus is known as God’s Passover Lamb sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). The shadow of the cross looms large over this night, as Jesus knows that “his hour had come.”
It is important to know that Jesus operates on His Father’s time. The theme of His “hour” is critical to understanding John’s Gospel, as Jesus listens to the Father and obeys His Father’s will. In the opening chapters of John’s Gospel Jesus repeats His awareness that His “hour” had not yet come (2:4; 7:30; 8:20). But tonight, on this particular Passover, Jesus knows: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:23-24).
As Jesus thinks about this hour, He thinks of His impending death on the cross as glory. From a human perspective the cross was only suffering and shame, but from God’s perspective it was glory, the full blaze of His glory shining through. More than the heavens declare the glory of God, and even more than angel choirs declared it at Jesus’ birth, the cross declares the full extent, the telos, of God’s love for us, all the way to the end. “But God proves his love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). That’s how much God loves you right now, just as you are! Let Him love you, to the uttermost, all the way to the end!
As a teenager Samuel Trevor Francis stood on London’s Hungerford Bridge peering into the deep, dark waters of the Thames, ready to end his life. But then he remembered Jesus’ love for him just as he was. Later Francis reflected back on the transforming power of Jesus’ love, and wrote the now famous hymn, “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!” Let the hymn’s words sweep over you:
“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love.”
- Why did Jesus think of His death on the cross as glory?
- In what ways do I see Jesus’ death on the cross as glory?
- How did Jesus prove His love for me?
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)