There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13 (NLT)
“Is it possible to love someone more than yourself?” It was a question I was asked not too long ago. The concept was this: If we’re called to love ourselves, and love others, how can we do both? By loving ourselves, won’t we, by contrast, love others less? I thought for a moment and then responded with a simple “Yes.” The person looked a little puzzled and responded with, “Give me an example of loving someone more than yourself.” I quoted John 15:13, our verse today, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Love, by its very nature is self-sacrificing. Love puts our own wants, our own desires, secondary to others. Love must be lived, not just spoken. Love means we serve, rather than be served. Love means life is not about us at all. It’s about others.
The life of Jesus demonstrated this in spectacular fashion. He lived a life of servitude. He went seeking out those who needed salvation (the woman at the well, the demoniac in Decapolis, etc.). He never turned His back on those who needed healing (blind man, lame man, woman who suffered from over a decade of bleeding, etc.). He even raised the dead back to life! Every act that Jesus did was an act of love – self-sacrificing love.
Of course, His greatest demonstration of love happened on a Friday, nearly 2,000 years ago. The King of the Universe allowed Himself to be tortured and murdered in our place. He didn’t just come to this earth to serve, but to die. He took the penalty that you and I deserve for our sins – death. Our God chose to die so that our sins could be eternally forgiven. That’s love!
Even more than that, Jesus chose to die in complete faith that He would be raised to life, conquering the grave. As He hung on the cross, He could not see beyond the grave. He could not see the future, His future. In other words, as He was dying, He had the promise of a resurrection, but nothing more. And, in His judgment, He decided that even if He wasn’t raised to life, if His death saved us, it would be worth it. Even if there was no tomorrow for Jesus, He decided to willingly trade His life for each one of us. That, my friends, is true love.
As we reflect on His sacrifice, marinate on the power of God’s love, His self-sacrificing love. There is none greater in all of creation.