John 13 begins a long conversation Jesus had with His disciples during His last Passover meal on earth; a meal Christians call the Last Supper. I am starting a new class on chapters 13-18 so you can look forward to many blog postings from these powerful last-minute instructions Jesus gave His disciples in the Upper Room.
Many, if not all, of us can look back at an event in our lives and realize it was the last time we did something significant. We might say things like, “That was the last Christmas I spent with my dad.” Or, “I didn’t know that would be the last time I would see my hometown.” Often, wishes of things we could still say to that person or do in that place accompany those comments. That’s not the case for our All-knowing Savior during this meal. Jesus knew everything was about to change. He would be hanging on a cross within hours and He had some important words to speak before it happened.
Jesus knew His time had come. Earlier in the book of John, Jesus time had not yet come. (See John 2:4, 7:30, and 8:20.) Now, it had. John 12:23-27 shows us the purpose for this hour. He had come to this hour to be lifted up, to die, and by so doing to be glorified. This process would also lead to Him leaving the world and returning to the Father, a key theme throughout these chapters.
The second half of the verse says, “Having loved His own…” Thayer's Lexicon says of the phrase His own, “pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self” as opposed to another, and, in this usage, it means one’s household, family, or company. (See also Acts 4:23, Acts 24:23, and 1 Timothy 5:8 where it is translated his people, friends, and relatives, respectively.) This phrase also has the idea of privacy or being set apart. In just those four little words, “having loved His own,” we see that we are His, part of His family, we are set apart, and He loves us.
The problem of our story comes in the next phrase. We, His Beloved, are in the world. He was leaving the world to go to the Father but we were staying here. Because of that great love, He couldn’t just leave that situation alone. He had to fix it. He did so by dying on the cross, enabling us to join Him with the Father in Heaven and thereby experience “the full extent of His love.”