The Sacrificial Love of Jesus
"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
This love Jesus speaks of is a sacrificial, steadfast, commitment and work for the good of another. This is the love men commit to in marriage vows. This is the love those in our armed forces live out as they live and die in service of our country. This is the love mothers and fathers have for their children. Most importantly this is the love God has for us through Jesus who died for our sins so that we might have forgiveness and life in his name.
Due to Nike advertising, "sacrifice" has recently become more popularized as a buzzword. Did Colin Kaepernick sacrifice? Many people sacrifice. Fewer sacrifice for their friends. The studious youth who stays home to study for a test when all of her friends are going out is sacrificing. She is willingly (or not) paying a cost - she is sacrificing the night out with her friends. While her sacrifice is commendable, it is not necessarily made for the benefit of others. The benefit of her study is her own. It is one thing to sacrifice because you want something and quite another to lay down your life for your friends. It is one thing to pay a cost, however steep, in a cause, and another to do so for your friends.
The sacrifices Jesus speaks of when he says, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends," are the sacrifices made for the good of others. The husband who stays home from a fishing trip to help his wife sacrifices in this way. The sacrifice may not seem glorious, but if it is helps his wife and is done in faith, then even this small sacrifice pleases God. The parents who put off their dream vacation to clothe their children sacrifice in a God pleasing way. The men and women who set aside their own goals and dreams to serve their country sacrifice in this way too.
Jesus made the greatest sacrifice of all when he died for us. His sacrifice is purely for our good. The "for us" is the key. Jesus’ sacrifice was done purely for our benefit. His sacrifice was made to save us from sin, death, and hell. His means life and salvation for us. We, along with many others, may make many sacrifices for various gains. When we sacrifice our own comfort and convenience we may achieve great things or win great rewards. But the "greater love" Jesus speaks of is not simply an exhortation to hard work or sacrifice in general. The greater love he speaks of is "to lay one's life down for his friends." Jesus is speaking of sacrificial love, of love that is motivated purely for the good of another. This is what Jesus has done for us.
In fact, Jesus laid down his life for us even before we were his friends. The Bible says, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). According to Romans 5:10, Jesus did this for us "while we were enemies." Hold on! You might say. Jesus talked about laying down one's life for his friends. What is this enemy talk? While we were God's enemies, God, in the person of Jesus, acted as our friend. He did the work to reconcile us to God. Through his word, Jesus, along with the Holy Spirit is even now transforming us into his own image. So now, if you are trusting in Jesus, you do not stand in the presence of God as a rebel. Instead, because of Jesus’ sacrificial love for us, you are a child of God. You are purified, cleansed and robed in his righteousness. To God be the glory.