John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (NASV)
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to bring about redemption and reconciliation for those whom He and His Father created. He recognized the death on the cross was not for His own life, but for the life of His friends. How awesome is it that our God, our savior, referred to us as His friends. It was not a sacrifice for His disciples and only His disciples; it was a sacrifice for all mankind.
Just prior to the words found in verse 13 He shared “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (v.12, NASV) and after verse 13 he said “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (v.14, NASV). These words are valuable and should resonate with all of us, but for some reason, I think it is lost. What does it mean to lay down one’s life for their friends? I have heard people say “Man, I would take a bullet for you!” My response normally is “Really? I hope that never comes up, mainly because I don’t want you to take that statement back at the last minute.”
I think there is much more being said in these words by Jesus. As I shared earlier, He made the ultimate sacrifice and no other can offer that, but when we make sacrifices of our own we are responding to His commandment. Our own time is precious, but when we can step back and step in to someone’s life of pain and struggle we are following the commandment set before us. When we have a friend dealing with a lost loved one, a failed marriage, a break-up, or (fill in the blank) and we take the time to be involved we are laying down our life for our friend.
If we love each other with reckless abandon maybe life would look a bit different. I would submit that if we truly loved each other enough to lay down our lives (i.e. time, energy, sleep, etc.) possibly our lives would feel fulfilled and our friend’s would know that they are loved. So many people feel like they have no one who cares and that could be because no one takes the time to spend with them. A text message is great, but voices are soothing. A phone call is great, but if you are close enough, a face to face visit is empowering.
Christians are called to lay down our lives for our friends, that standard was set up by our savior. We are called to love people like He loved us, willing to help without question or expecting anything in return. We were created by God to care for each other. We were created to be in community with each other and support our neighbors with love and kindness. To walk with someone in a time of need; to sacrifice our lives, is Christian, but to ignore the pain of others and go on with no concern is inhumane. We need to love each other, we need to support each other, and we need to serve each other the way our savior exemplified for us. Maybe, just maybe, this world will become a better place due to the followers of Christ living out His words.