Suggested further reading: Deuteronomy 4:5-8
In verse 9 our Lord begins that part of his prayer which is
specially intercessory and proceeds to name things which he asks for
his disciples, from this point down to the end of the chapter. It may
be convenient to remember that the things he asks may be
divided under four heads. He prays that his disciples may be kept,
sanctified, united and be with him in glory. Four more important things
cannot be desired for believers.
The Lord Jesus does things for his believing people which
he does not do for the wicked and unbelieving. He helps their souls
by special intercession. He says, `I pray for them: I pray not for
the world, but for them which thou hast given me.'
The doctrine before us is one which is specially hated by
the world. Nothing gives such offence and stirs up such bitter
feeling among the wicked as the idea of God making any distinction
between man and man and loving one person more than another.
Yet the world's objections to the doctrine are, as usual, weak and
unreasonable. Surely a little reflection might show us that a God
who regarded good and bad, holy and unholy, righteous and
unrighteous, with equal complacency and favour would be a very strange
kind of God!
Of course, like every other gospel truth, the doctrine before
us needs careful statement and scriptural guarding. On the one
hand, we must not narrow the love of Christ to sinners, and on the
other, we must not make it too broad. It is true that Christ loves all
sinners and invites all to be saved, but it is also true that he specially
loves the `blessed company of all faithful people' whom he
sanctifies and glorifies. It is true that he has wrought out a redemption
sufficient for all mankind and offers it freely to all, but it is also true that
his redemption is effectual only to them that believe.
For meditation: As the husband has a special love reserved
exclusively for his wife, so Christ has a special love for his people.