Greater Love

April 14, 2017 – Good Friday
greater love
Read:  John 15:9 – 17, NIV
Focus:  v. 13, NIV

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

In the midst of preparing these devotionals for this Lenten season, I remarked to our pastor that these devotionals are getting deeper and deeper theologically. He agreed with me. The one I was thinking of was this particular portion of Scripture where Jesus is directly speaking to the soon to be enacted events that took place during the Passover. This is so pointed and poignant; filled with meaning and pathos. I love Christmas and the stories from the Bible about it because that is sort of where it all started but Easter and the event leading up to it are at the top of my list because this is the culmination of why Jesus came as that tiny infant.

Love, real love, is at the center of this. This is love that is totally based on the Source of love – even more than that, it is based on LOVE, Itself! I did not use the word “Itself” lightly. Love is a person, a being. This is the Being – God – who created us and who has interacted with us down through the ages to show His love, His being, to us. Love, and the proof of that love, is preeminent throughout this portion. In here Jesus speaks of His relationship with His Father – God and His Father’s relationship with Him as being that of love. He brings it home to each of His disciples, including us, just how much that love is really at the center of everything we are and do and of who he is and what He does.

Twice in this short passage Jesus emphasizes what our relationship with each other is to be (see vv. 12 and 17). He even puts it as a command to emphasize its tremendous importance. I wonder sometimes how well we fulfill that command. I suspect you wonder also. This is of such importance that the beloved disciple, John, also reiterates it in his short letters. Is it any wonder that John’s writings are so beloved by most believers? I am struggling not to write a complete series of sermons right here and right now! Isn’t love at the center of God’s Word to us? John 3:16 puts it quite succinctly for all of us. So much so, that I don’t even have the need to quote it here. You are already remembering that verse in your own heart and mind.

It is time now to focus on our focus verse, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:13, NIV). Jesus is making a statement here that he reiterates in succeeding verses about friendship rather than servanthood. Friends are privy to much more of the personal life of another friend. Things are shared back and forth between friends that would not be shared with a co-worker or servant or employee. They have their function or place in our life but do not have the same privileges with us that a friend has. Jesus appears to be inviting them into His inner circle, a place previously reserved only for His relationship with His Father, God. The statement made is indicating the importance of His relationship with them. He is willing, and will, die for them. They really do not understand this yet but later on they will grasp the depth of this whole conversation. John is writing this after nearly 60 years of pondering under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit. The depth here is amazing.

Even more for us is the fact that this is not meant just for the initial group of disciples but is applicable to all who believe and thus become not servants but Friends of Jesus. My landlord, while attending Roberts Wesleyan College, was a Free Methodist evangelist who ministered for many years in Kansas and throughout the Midwest. His name was Rev. Warren Chase, and he had tremendous impact on my life during the almost 3 years I had the privilege of being around him. His favorite hymn was, “Friendship with Jesus.” It is an old one that is not often found in hymnals of today. Some lines from the chorus are: “Friendship with Jesus, Fellowship divine; O what wondrous sweet communion, Jesus is a Friend of Mine!” Aren’t you glad that Jesus is a Friend to you? If you do not yet know Him as your friend then it is my prayer that you would have that relationship with Him.

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Filled with His Living Love

12-23

13 “We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit, 14 and we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God, 16 and so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love, whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

“Living in Love”!  Love!   This word is so overused in our society today that it has lost its true meaning.  We say we “love our car,” “our house,” “our clothes,” “our new ______,”  you fill in the blank.  Do we truly “love” these things, or is it really just a strong feeling of liking them?  To truly love there must be a reciprocating love, something inanimate objects cannot give.  A one sided love always creates problems, for when love is given but not returned an empty void is created in that relationship and feelings get hurt.

Myrna and I pledged our love for each other over 59 years ago, and that pledge with a reciprocating love has helped hold us together over these years.  You ask “has it been easy and a bed of roses?”  Easy, not always. Marriage always takes work and work is not easy.  A bed of roses, YES!  For roses have thorns and thorns bring hurts and I must confess that over these years I have undoubtedly caused some hurts in Myrna’s life, not purposely nor intentionally and when I realized what had happened I always tried to correct that hurt, but our love has held us together and brought us through to a place of greater strength and affection.  We have a greater love for each other today than we did those 59+ years ago.  Love is a wonderful thing that can soften even the hardest places.

The Love of God for mankind is even a greater love than that of two humans for each other.  God, in His love for us, sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth, to take on the form of man, to live and die a horrible death by crucifixion, to be buried and then rise again so we might have eternal life.  This is the love we live in as we walk with Christ today.  This is the living love of God.  John tells us that “whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him.” (vs. 16b).

In this season of celebrating Christ’s birth, be sure to thank God for the love that comes from God so that you might truly know what living in love is all about.  Ask Him to fill you with His living love today.