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 who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)
We return to our study of the Gospel of John by beginning to examine what is referred to as the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). Chapter 13 marks the beginning of John the Apostle’s final events of the life of Jesus Christ while He was here on this earth. These final events include the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the crucifixion, the burial and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. John 13:1 sets the stage for what is to immediately follow.
To begin with, the occasion is before the Feast of the Passover. Jesus will become the fulfillment of the Passover Sacrifice (Exodus 12; I Corinthians 5:6-8). This reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36).
Secondly, the text says that “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father.” The hour has finally arrived for Jesus to offer Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for those who God the Father will call unto salvation (Romans 8:29-30). This atoning sacrifice will be the basis for the sinner’s justification by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 3:21-26).
Dr. Burk Parsons says, “Here we have reference to Jesus’ sovereignty over His own death and the timing of His crucifixion. Although Jesus allows Himself to be killed by a conspiracy of Roman and Jewish authorities, He is not at the mercy of those who want Him dead. They have power to put Him to death only insofar as it has been granted to them according to the divine plan and the divine schedule. Jesus lays down His life of His own accord; no one takes it from Him” (John 10:18).
Finally, in referring to Jesus John writes, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” The word “loved” is from the Greek word ἀγαπάω (agapao). This is the verb form of agape meaning a self-sacrificial love of the will. It is an active love and also a total love involving not only Jesus’ will but also His intellect, or mind, and also His emotions. Agape also refers to highest expression or example of love. Jesus says in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Dr. Parsons adds that, “‘End’ here can mean that Jesus loved His disciples until the end of His life or that He loved them to the fullest extent possible. It is probably best to see the verse as indicating both. Jesus loved His disciples until the crucifixion, and in the crucifixion we see the very depths of the love that Jesus had for them. Jesus willingly laid down His life—no one took it from Him by force—because He was the willing sacrifice for sin. He submitted to death because He loved us enough to pay the ultimate price to atone for our transgressions and reconcile us to God.”
John Calvin writes, “Though we think that we are at a distance from Christ, yet we ought to know that he is looking at us; for he loveth his own, who are in the world; for we, have no reason to doubt that he still bears the same affection which he retained at the very moment of his death.”
Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Soli deo Gloria!