This Week’s Focus Passage: John 17:23 ‘That the world may know that thou didst send me, and lovedst
This Week’s Focus Passage: John 17:23
‘That the world may know that thou didst send me,
and lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me.’
Is this God’s truth? Is it really so; that Jehovah would, and could, love His creatures, as much as He loves His darling Son, our blessed Lord Jesus Christ? But is this not precisely what is here written? What is here clearly stated; how may it ever be rendered in another manner? Does not, and lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me? We are reminded of the former captain of a slave-sing, having some time after his wonderful conversion, written what may arguably be considered the best-known Christian hymn of all time. Yes, we speak of John Newton, and his ‘Amazing Grace.’ ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.’ “But now I see,” is only one of many biographies written about this hymn-writing trophy of God’s marvelous grace. He, almost certainly, mde himself familiar with the many passages of the Word of God that speak of the love of God toward lost, hell-deserving sinners. While he has used the concept of ‘Amazing Grace’ for his own lovely hymn of thanksgiving, another well-known English hymn-writer of the relatively same time frame, Newton’s dates are 1725-1807, while Charles Wesley’s dates are 1707-1788; but Wesley’s famous counterpart, we might legitimately say, to ‘Amazing Grace,’ embraces the concept of God’s ‘Amazing Love,’ while not in the title, nevertheless is in the versification, as well as in the repeat found in most copies.
Surely, both of these men, who were preachers as well as writers of hymns, were familiar with the many passages of Scripture that deal with both the amazing love of God, as well as the amazing grace of God, which grace flows from that love. We cannot help but wonder which portions of the Word of God influenced each of them the most. Newton’s, ‘Amazing love, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me,’ or, ‘amazing love’ which Charles Wesley’s hymn, has caused many to sing about the love of God, ‘religiously,’ if we may put it that way. We would, nonetheless, from our own historical perspective, imagine that the both of these hymn-writers had, hidden, or not so hidden, in the channels of their minds and hearts, the extremely well-known John 3:16, where we are reminded that, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. We remind our readers that this well known, and wonderful verse, rightfully ‘famous,’ because of its grand expression of the love of for sinners, is nevertheless, not the gospel in a nutshell. Indeed, the gospel was earlier expressed in the third and fifth verses of this third chapter, when Jesus informed the incredulous Pharisee, Nicodemus, that, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Yea, the gospel is that, Ye must be born again; Ye must be born from above; or as an old friend from the state of Kentucky (now with the Lord), used to remind me; ya’ must be born’d agin,’ and the cause given in the pericope, that, The wind bloweth where it will, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not from whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Notwithstanding, it remains to be true, that behind the Father sending His Son; behind the Son sending the Holy Spirit, to provide the blood of remission, and to apply that blood through regeneration to the sinner, that he (or she) might be ‘made willing in the day of God’s power’ to come to the Father, through the Son, in repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Behind the amazing grace of God, is the amazing love of God.
There are verses, of the Word of God; verses both pointing us to the infinity in time of the love of God, as well as the infinitude of the measure of that love. Our minds and our hearts echo back and forth to one another of these things, pronounced in our focus passage from the evangelist John’s blessed work on the live and activity of the Christ. William Hendriksen, in his commentary upon “The Gospel of John,” provides his readers with something of a brief outline of chapter 17, freely, and frankly, admits, that the “ideas mentioned in one subdivision frequently recur in the next.” He then goes on to divide this ‘Prayer of the High Priest,’ by three. (1) For Himself [verses 1-5], (2) For His immediate disciples [verses 6-19] and, (3) For the church at large (verses 20-26). This, obviously, put our passage, this week, in his category ascribed, For the church at large, including those of whom He has spoken, in verse 20, saying, Neither for these only [His disciples] do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; the church at large. That the world may know that thou didst send me, the Christ, the Son of God, the Crucified One. That, through the church’s continuing propagation of the Gospel, that this One is the One sent by God. This is the church’s witness, to make known that He was sent by the Father. He goes further, when He prays, that the world may also know, that the Father, loves them, even as He loves His Son.
Is this not the ‘amazing love’ of Wesley’s hymn. Died He for me? this old hymn-writer inquires. And can it be? He left His Father’s throne above. Wesley very likely had Proverbs eight in mind, where we may read the inspired Words, “When he marked out the foundations of the earth; then I [pre-incarnate Savior] was by him, as a master workman; And I was daily his delight. But how could He deign to leave Him? How could He say, in Psalm 40, Lo, I come, in the roll of the book, it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God. How, we must ask, could our Lord leave His Father; giving up that special Presence together? Where, rejoicing always before him, nonetheless, He gave it up. And can it be? How can it be? The answer follows; And my delight was with the sons of men. In a mystery, He left the rejoicing always before Him, for the delight He had with the sons of men. ‘Tis mystery all, for sure. Is this not wonderfully captured in these words of Wesley’s hymn; In vain the first-born seraph tries to sound the depths of love divine. Amazing love, indeed! And in the justly agreeable language of Newton, ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. Yea, Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! Grace and Love; Love and Grace, joined together in our glorious Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Surely, these are the riches spoken through the prophet, Jeremiah; where we may see in 31:3; Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. And can it be? Praise God.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
More in This Week's Focus Passage
January 8, 2022This Week’s Focus Passage: Psalm 15:4 ‘In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, but who honoreth them
January 1, 2022This Week’s Focus Passage: Genesis 4:5 ‘But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.’
December 25, 2021This Week’s Focus Passage: The Second Psalm ‘Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’