Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.John 15:13
On Memorial Day, I think of many military veterans but especially my dad and uncles, who served in the military during World War II. They made it home, but in that war hundreds of thousands of families tragically lost loved ones in service to their country. Yet, when asked, my dad and most soldiers from that era would say they were willing to give up their lives to protect their loved ones and stand for what they believed to be right.
When someone dies in defense of their country, John 15:13—“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”—is often recited during the funeral service to honor their sacrifice. But what were the circumstances behind this verse?
When Jesus spoke those words to His disciples during the Last Supper, He was about to die. And, in fact, one of His small group of disciples, Judas, had already left to betray Him (13:18–30). Yet Christ knew all of this and still chose to sacrifice His life for His friends and enemies.
Jesus was willing and ready to die for those who’d one day believe in Him, even for those who were still His enemies (Romans 5:10). In return, He asks His disciples (then and now) to “love each other” as He has loved them (John 15:12).His great love compels us to sacrificially love others—friend and foe alike.
9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14You are my friends if you do what I command.15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.17This is my command: Love each other.
Before we believed in Jesus, we were His enemies. Yet Jesus died for us. How can you honor and remember Jesus for His death on the cross for you?
How can you sacrificially love others?
John’s gospel has a discernible outline. Between the prologue (1:1–18) and the epilogue (ch. 21), John focuses on Jesus’ ministry in word and deed to the masses (1:19–12:50). In the five chapters known as the Upper Room Discourse(chs. 13–17), Jesus specifically addresses His disciples. These chapters comprise roughly 20 percent of the book and cover a very short amount of time.
In this section, we discover core truths for believers in Jesus: lessons regarding servanthood and humility (ch. 13); Jesus as the way to the Father (14:6); the promise, ministry, and work of the Holy Spirit (14:15–31; 16:4–15); the command to love (13:31–35); and the need to abide in the Father’s love (15:9–17). In chapters 18–20John focuses on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus, we’re so thankful that You were willing to die for us! In your holy name, I pray and believe. Amen!!