Loved To The End

It took sitting beside a swollen river in far north Queensland, hearing a brother with skin far darker than mine, for my ears to hear the soothing words of a God whose love is persistent and indomitable.

I had been asked to serve the church in a small, isolated community in the Gulf Country of Queensland, Australia—so, this white preacher took his Bible and set off into the sunset with a swag of sermons under his belt. Yet, as it has been so often, those to whom I was to minister to, became the means by which God would speak to me.

The morning I heard God speak, sitting quietly by the banks of the beautiful Nicholson River, it came through the humble mouth of a brother named Chris Toby. Chris' testimony would make you weep, it did for me. Chris' story is filled with heartache and failure, victory and defeat. But Chris' story is founded securely on the grace of God in Christ. Chris is a testimony to the power of the gospel, no matter your skin colour or place in society.

Sitting there that morning, with flies doing their best to burrow into my ears, Chris shared a simple devotion for the crowd that gathered that started with these words from John 13:1

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Above the drone of the flies around my face, above the sound of the water rushing past, the dogs fighting in the dirt, or the kids playing with a stick, came the resounding truth of God's persistent love.

...having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Having loved them. He loved them to the end.

Now I was so familiar with the picture John portrays of the servant king who stoops to wash the grime from our feet, so familiar with the exchange between Jesus and the impetuous Peter, that I must admit that I have hurried past this opening, but vital, insight into the heart of our Lord.

The love of Jesus is great and deep, wide and encompassing. Yet, as great as this love is, John chooses to add the phrase, "he loved them to the end."

In the shadow of the cross—on the eve of his suffering—he loved them to the end.

I needed to hear this. As my brother, Chris Toby, recounted the well known story of Jesus moving methodically around that circle of his disciples, all I could hear was the persistent, indomitable love of Christ. All I could hear on that banks of the river that morning was the sweet whispering of a loving Saviour who reminded me that I am loved to the very end.

...having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.