Abiding Love

by James Smith, 1861

"Having loved his own who were in the world he loved them unto the end." John 13:1

It is always pleasant to be loved, especially by the wise and good; but when love cools, or turns to hatred, it is sad indeed. It seems better never to have been loved than for those who loved us once, to turn and hate us. Yet this is no uncommon thing among men, for man is a poor changeable thing, and cannot be depended upon. How sweet, when such thoughts exercise the mind, or when we are passing through the painful experience of them to turn from the changeable creature, to the unchangeable God to turn from the fitful changeable love of man, to the changeless love of Jesus, remembering the sweet testimony of John, "Having loved his own who were in the world he loved them unto the end."

The Relation. "His own." Not merely his own creatures, or his own property, for all creatures and things are his own in this sense. But his own in a particular sense, which implies great love, and high valuation. There are those whom Jesus calls and claims as his own.

His own sheep, which his Father gave him, and for which he laid down his life.

His own inheritance, which be bought with his own most precious blood.

His own brethren, of the same family, and of the same flesh and blood with himself.

His own bride, whom he loves above all creatures, and has espoused to himself, to be his special companion forever.

His own body, of which he is the head, and of which every one of his people are members.

He calls his people his jewels, his portion, his special treasure. His own in the highest and most endearing sense. His own for whom he was willing to live, labor, and suffer. His own which he would rather die than part with. O how blessed to be among those whom Jesus considers to be peculiarly his own, whom he loves to the end, and with whom he will never, never part!

Their Situation. "In the world." They are in the world, as the lily among thorns as sheep in the midst of wolves. They were once among his foes, who hated and persecuted them. They were bearing his cross, and suffering for his sake. They were doing his will, and serving their generation, in order that he may be glorified. They were journeying as strangers and pilgrims, through the world, to his house and home above. They especially needed his care, and the encouraging manifestations of his love. They were in the world for its good, for the trial and exercise of their own graces, and in order to be fitted and trained up for glory. Placed in the world by Jesus, kept in the world for the honor of Jesus, raised above the world by the grace of Jesus they are the only objects that attract and fix the love of Jesus.

His Affection. "He loved his own in the world." His love was set upon them before they were in the world, for he loved them from everlasting; and having loved them from everlasting, he will love them to everlasting.

He loved them, and therefore he sought them, and distinguished them from all around them.

He loved them, and therefore he bought them, laying down his life as the ransom price for them.

He loved them, and therefore he taught them, giving them line upon line, precept upon precept, just as they were able to bear it.

He loved them, and therefore he honored them, calling them, not servants but friends, and treating them with confidence and love.

He loved them, and therefore he employed them, and employed them for the most high and honorable purposes. No tongue can tell, no pen can describe, no heart can conceive, how much Jesus loves his people who are in the world.

The Duration of His Love. "He loved them unto the end." A phrase, importing that nothing could divert, or turn his love away but that he loved them forever. He continued to love them though they tried him, grieved him, and in various ways dishonored him. He continued to love them though they were unworthy of his love, and appeared to become more unworthy of it the longer they lived. He continued to love them though he corrected them, and his corrections sometimes appeared severe. Amidst all the changes that took place within and without them he contiued to love them, and therefore, he preached comfort to them; he poured out his whole heart in prayer for them; he excused their drowsiness in Gethsemane, stipulated for their liberty when the soldiers came to arrest him, died for them on the cross; arose from the dead for them; appeared to them; spoke peace to their troubled minds; bid them not fear though they had acted so cowardly, so basely toward him; promised them the abiding Comforter, and sent that Comforter to them on the day of Pentecost. Yes, "having loved his own who were in the world he loved them unto the end," and as in the case of his first disciples, so in the case of all the rest.

Jesus is unchangeable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As unchangeable as his Divine nature is his love. Having loved, he loves, he ever will love, for he is in one mind, and none can turn him.

Jesus is the true friend. The same in adversity, as in prosperity; the same in Heaven, as when on earth; the same in life, in death, and forever.

Jesus is the faithful lover. Many waters cannot quench his love, neither can the floods drown it. He fixed his love upon us with the full knowledge of all that we would be, or do; and having once loved, he loves forever. There is nothing fickle or changeable about him his love is not like the floating thistledown but like the granite rock; worthy of his nature, and worthy of his name. Jesus is the trustworthy Savior. With him is no variableness, neither shadow of a turning. The soul once committed to him is safe. Whatever you entrust to him he will keep. He will never give up his charge, betray his trust, change his mind, or falter in his love. When once he loves, ho loves to the end.