St. Paul's Lutheran Church

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Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. – John 15:13-14

Jesus speaks with the utmost of kindness and compassion here in order to convince His disciples of the high importance of this command. He draws their attention to His own example, that in everything He had done for them and will do for them, especially at the crucifixion, it was because of highest love.

It takes great love for a person to give, with no string attached, a thousand dollars to a friend, or even a few bucks, and greater love still to pay off a friend’s entire debt. Imagine if the president of the United States gave an entire state to a poor person (as if that was something he could do). The whole world would see this as a great act of love…or call the president crazy. Yet even if one had the authority to give the whole world away, it would be nothing compared to the Christ giving His body and life for you. There is no greater demonstration of love on this earth.

You can love and serve others, serve the church, with our money, property, time and talents, and even your own life, but most of us would much rather give our money, property, time and talents, than to die for another person, especially someone who wrongs us in some way. Even so, it would be nothing compared to God sending His only Son from heaven, sending His only Son to take your place, willingly and joyfully suffering the pain and agony of shedding His own blood for you, even though you were His enemy and condemned because of your sin. This demonstration of God’s love is greater than heaven and earth and anything else you could name.

In return, then, what will you do for your Lord Christ? Will you give your own life? Even if you did, it would still be of little worth compared to what He has done for you. And Jesus doesn’t ask this of you — unless there’s an emergency in which case, we should all risk our lives to save others. But in day-to-day life, Jesus asks that you show love to your neighbor in a tangible way. You can be kind, generous, selfless, humble, truthful, patient, and all the other attributes of love toward your neighbor because you have the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, what good is God’s love toward you if you are unwilling to exhibit it toward others?

Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me though I deserve it not. Help me to love others similarly through my words and deeds. In Jesus’ name, amen.