« PreviousContinue »
JOHN XIII. 1-12.
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was
come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him ; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments ; and took a towel and girded himself. After that, he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter : and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now ; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt nerer wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Knou ye
what I have done to you? Every thing connected with the earthly sojourn of the “ Lord from Heaven," is fraught with the deepest interest to the child of God. Whether Jesus is led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, or stands in the midst of thousands in the Temple at Jerusalem-whether he is in the villages
of Galilee, or the country of the Samaritans—whether the voice of the celestial choir is heard announcing his arrival, or the same glorious beings attend to solemnize his departure from this world to the bosom of the Fatherwhether we wait with tenderest emotion among his faithful followers, to listen to his private admonitions, and to the expressions of his tender love towards “his own," or hang with wonder on the wisdom and power with which He who spake as never man spake, addressed at one time the assembled thousands of Israel, and at another the compact and malicious band of his deadly foes : -in all these places, and at all these times, there is indeed rich and copious matter for “doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness," into which the child of God may well “ desire to look," and, like the humble and submissive Mary, endeavour meekly to “keep all these sayings, and ponder them in his heart.”
But I think we do not err in saying, that towards the evening of Christ's earthly day the brightness of his glory becomes brighter still, the excellence and grace and loveliness of his character comes more wonderfully forth, and the heart is won by the unutterable fulness of his love. There is indeed an intensity of interest which gathers round the soul as we approach the termination of his life of sorrow, where the simple narrative of the inspired Evangelist brings us to the "holy ground” of the Saviour's cross and passion, where the astonished soul beholds Him, “by whom are all things,” suspended on the fatal tree between heaven and earth, apparently as much forsaken by the one as he was certainly rejected by the other. But while the external circumstances of his last days rivet the attention, the wondrous glory and beauty of his character, the graciousness of his spirit, captivate the heart.
The inspired Evangelist John has left this rich inheritance to the Church. While the others have necessarily dwelt more upon the facts at the close of our Lord's history, he has described to us His heart,—not indeed in his own words, glowing as these might have been with the fire of a heaven-taught spirit, and tinged as they might have been with the colours of the skies, but in the language of our Lord himself. He has gathered the flowers of sweet fragance from the very lips of Jesus, and thus leaves God's people to extract from the words of the sufferer the fervency, the beauty, the mightiness of his love.
It is this circumstance which has ever made the Gospel of St. John so unctional, so delightful, so profitable to the saint. The historical framework is most necessary to build up his faith, and to confirm his confidence; but the rich treasure of his Redeemer's heart, unveiled before him, is that which especially opens his own soul, and causes his faith to glow with the ardour of devoted love, and his confidence to be gilded with the joy of hope. Just as of old, while the people in the temple were engaged in earnest contemplation on the sacrifice consuming on the altar, the High Priest within the veil was irradiated with the Shekinah over the mercy-seat; so under the Gospel economy, while we must pass through the outer temple with holy awe, and deep emotion, and fervent interest, yet it is when in the Holy of Holies; when, as it were, “hid with Christ in God,” that the soul becomes full of light, the heart touched with ethereal fire, and the whole being exults with a "joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
And much as St. John presents to us throughout his Gospel, of the inmost thoughts and feelings of our Lord, in the last few days of his ministry there seems
trated an eternity of interest. When the mind follows this inspired record, into the last discourses of our Lord with his beloved disciples, it is like entering upon the regions of space, peopled as they are with myriads of glorious shining worlds. On
On every side the soul may take eternal wing, and sun itself in the endless glories of its way, and the higher, the deeper, and the wider the research, the more expanded does the view become, the more transcendant the everlasting glory; and yet whereever it is led, whatever new beauty it discovers, whatever gem of grace sparkles in its way, the deep consciousness is never lost of the great centre of the system-the “fulness of Him who filleth all in all."
How glorious is the setting sun, as he lights up the clouds of heaven, and sheds the rich but mellowed light of evening on the world beneath. Even so it is with the Sun of Righteousness, as the inspired Apostle exhibits him to the enraptured gaze in his setting glory ; with this great difference, that while He paints the firmament of grace with varied and celestial glory, his beams are those which shall never sink beneath the hills, or be extinguished in the ocean; the colouring is eternal, the splendour for ever; there is no declining radiance; but ever as the eye of the believer is attracted towards the glories which shine forth from Him who is all his salvation and all his desire, he rejoices in the strong conviction, that the brightness which has opened before his soul is none other than "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”
How beautifully, and yet with what artless simplicity, does the Evangelist introduce, in the commencement of his 13th chapter, the interesting incidents and discourses which he intends to relate, connected with the closing part of our Lord's history. "Now before the Feast of the