“This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13.
On the night of His arrest, Christ spoke these words to His disciples. Though they did not yet know what Christ meant by these words, they would soon witness them in action.
Many people usually gloss over this passage in John’s gospel. They trivialize it, and Christ’s ministry, by focusing on the fact that Christ commands us to “love one another.” Yes, Christ does want us love others, and He desires for us to “treat others as we wish to be treated,” but to focus only on that as the main point of this passage is a gross misreading of the text– and the rest of Christ’s ministry. It is not a matter of treating everyone fairly or as equals. It is something much more important.
Christ wants us to love another as He loved us. How much does Christ love us? Enough to leave His throne in Heaven and come to Earth, to overcome temptation and live a sinless life, and to endure torture, humiliation, to be mocked, and killed for crimes He did not commit. He loves us so much that he died–he willingly laid down His life–for us, so that we can have life eternal in Heaven. He gave up His life for us because He loves us, and Christ says that there is no greater love than that in the world.
What we need to realize in this text is that Christ is commanding us to do the same. We are to be selfless. We are not to love ourselves more than anything else. We are to always put others ahead of ourselves, and to be more concerned about their well-being than our own. When we are able to put ourselves last, we then are able to learn how to love the way Christ commanded us to. No other love will ever enable us to care enough about someone else that we would put our lives on the line for them; only the love of Christ can do that. But that same love is the greatest love in the world, and unless we exhibit that love for our fellow believers, then we are doing them a great disservice. Though we cannot bring salvation to anyone by laying our lives down for someone else, we can demonstrate our love, and Christ’s love, for them. Christ willingly gave up his life for us because He loves us, and He has commanded us to have that same love for one another. We can do nothing less than what our Lord has commanded us to do.
Lord, fill us up with Your love. Enable us to be selfless. Allow us to love others as much as You have loved us, even if that requires us to lay down our lives. Should we be required to do so, let us walk in your footsteps with rejoicing in our hearts.