“The passage we have now read begins one of the most interesting portions of St. John’s Gospel. For five consecutive chapters we find the Evangelist recording matters which are not mentioned by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
We can never be thankful enough that the Holy Ghost has caused them to be written for our learning! In every age the contents of these chapters have been justly regarded as one of the most precious parts of the Bible.
They have been the meat and drink, the strength and comfort of all true-hearted Christians. Let us ever approach them with peculiar reverence. The place whereon we stand is holy ground.
We learn, for one thing, from these verses, what patient and continuing love there is in Christ’s heart towards His people. It is written that “having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1)
Knowing perfectly well that they were about to forsake Him shamefully in a very few hours, in full view of their approaching display of weakness and infirmity, our blessed Master did not cease to have loving thoughts of His disciples.
He was not weary of them: He loved them to the last.
The love of Christ to sinners is the very essence and marrow of the Gospel.
That He should love us at all, and care for our souls,—that He should love us before we love Him, or even know anything about Him,—that He should love us so much as to come into the world to save us, take our nature on Him, bear our sins, and die for us on the cross,—all this is wonderful indeed!
It is a kind of love to which there is nothing like among men. The narrow selfishness of human nature cannot fully comprehend it.
It is one of those things which even the angels of God “desire to look into”. (1 Peter 1:12) It is a truth which Christian preachers and teachers should proclaim incessantly, and never be weary of proclaiming.
But the love of Christ to saints is no less wonderful, in its way, than His love to sinners, though far less considered.
That He should bear with all their countless infirmities from grace to glory,—that He should never be tired of their endless inconsistencies and petty provocations,—that He should go on forgiving and forgetting incessantly, and never be provoked to cast them off and give them up,—all this is marvellous indeed!
No mother watching over the waywardness of her feeble babe, in the days of its infancy, has her patience so thoroughly tried, as the patience of Christ is tried by Christians.
Yet His longsuffering is infinite. His compassions are a well that is never exhausted. His love is “a love that passeth knowledge”.
Let no man be afraid of beginning with Christ, if he desires to be saved. The chief of sinners may come to Him with boldness, and trust Him for pardon with confidence. This loving Saviour is One who delights to “receive sinners.” (Luke 15:2)
Let no man be afraid of going on with Christ after he has once come to Him and believed.
Let him not fancy that Christ will cast him off because of failures, and dismiss him into his former hopelessness on account of infirmities. Such thoughts are entirely unwarranted by anything in the Scriptures.
Jesus will never reject any servant because of feeble service and weak performance. Those whom He receives He always keeps.
Those whom He loves at first He loves at last. His promise shall never be broken, and it is for saints as well as sinners: ‘Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.’ (John 6:37)”
–J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, vol. 3 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1879/2012), 3: 1-2. Ryle is commenting on John 13:1-5.