When Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.John 13:1
Jesus chose for Himself twelve disciples “that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach” (Mark 3:13-14). Convinced that He was the Messiah, they gave up everything to follow Him, and for three years they travelled with Him, watching Him, listening to Him, and learning from Him. Authorised and empowered by Him, they were sent out as His representatives and “went out and preached that people should repent” (Mark 6:12-13, NIV).
Yet they hadn’t fully understood His central mission. When He began to teach them that He needed to suffer and be rejected by the religious authorities and be killed (Mark 8:31), they couldn’t get their heads around it. In fact, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him” (v. 32).
But Jesus understood His mission, and plainly told the disciples “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). So, “when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He knew that the hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, but He also knew that His departure would come violently through death on the cross. But motivated by love for His Father and love for “His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Scholars differ on the meaning of the expression “He loved them to the end”. It could mean that He loved them to the end of His life, or it could mean “He now showed them the full extent of His love” (NIV). How would He do that? In the first instance, by washing their feet. But there was so much more than that. Surely, the full extent of His love must include the cross where He gives His life a ransom for many! He explained to them through an agricultural parable that He was like a seed and that if He didn’t die, He would remain alone; but through His death, He would produce much grain (John 12:24). He gave His life to produce a harvest of souls, a harvest of life (v. 25). And not only of these disciples, but of all who will believe through their testimony (John 17:20). And if you believe their testimony about Christ and repent of your sin, you too can claim His promise: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).