“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
– John 15:12-13 (Jesus speaking)
I have shown you before that, as the end of His life approached, Jesus said:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
– John 13:34
That same night He repeated the point in the passage at the top of this post.
Only as the end of His earthly life approached, would any of Jesus’ disciples have understood what He was saying. Even that night, they could not believe that He would be crucified within twenty-four hours. After all, they had just entered Jerusalem with Him a few days before, surrounded by crowds hailing Him with “hosanna’s” as they proclaimed Him the rightful heir of King David.
Yet crucified He would be. And thus “He laid down His life for His friends.” As Abraham Lincoln, in Gettysburg style, would phrase it, Jesus “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Before we decide to die for others, however, we should first learn to live for them. This is what Jesus had done. For long before He died for humanity, Jesus had been living for humanity – serving them with healing, bread, and teaching as their various needs manifested. You and I may not be able to do miracles, but we can give what we have.
As Paul put it to his co-worker Titus:
Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
– Titus 3:14
Jesus’ life was fruitful because He “engaged in good deeds to meet pressing needs.” That He had divine resources at His disposal does not excuse us from using the earthly resources at our disposal.
What made Jesus’ sacrificial death so exquisitely beautiful in the sight of heaven is that His sacrificial life had been so attractive for so long. Likewise, we should begin with living for God and others. It starts with our motives. And our motives are one of the things we seek to examine every morning when we re-think our lives in the fresh light of the Lord.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, how have I been seeking my own purposes instead of Yours? Don’t spare me the truth…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)