Greatest Kind of Love

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John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Love comes easily when it comes at no cost. I think Jesus would say that love at no cost to you is really not love at all. How often do we continue to love others when the rubber meets the road? As these words come out of Jesus’ mouth he knows where he is going and what it is he is going to do. He is headed to Jerusalem to lay down his life for his friends. Jesus understood that love is only love when we are willing to let it cost us something.In John 15 Jesus mentions love for our friends. But when you observe the love of Jesus on the cross and listen to his words, he was willing to love at a cost for even his enemies – “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).” In Acts 2 Peter delivers what many call the “First Gospel Sermon.” His words to the people connect them with the death of Jesus and put on their shoulders responsibility for his crucifixion – “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross (Acts 2:23).” In 2:36, Peter says that Jesus was Lord and Christ. The next verse says that when they heard what they had done they were “cut to the heart.” Normally we think they were cut to the heart because of what they had done to Jesus and the responsibility they had for his death. I wonder if there wasn’t a second component to their being “cut to the heart.” What made Jesus’ death even more amazing was his extension of forgiveness to those who crucified him. Peter says these people along with wicked men crucified him. In essence, Jesus’ forgiveness from the cross of those crucifying him was also spoken to these people who Peter now addresses. They were cut to the heart by what they had done to Jesus but also by what Jesus had done for them in showing his love even to those who were responsible for his death.

How does this apply to us? I think we learn from the words and example of Jesus that love is a tough thing. Love is a battle, a struggle. It doesn’t come easy. If it came easy it wouldn’t be love. The words and actions of Jesus should cut us to the heart and convict us to be loving people who love even the difficult people who surround us on a daily basis.

I went to High School with a guy named Carrie. He was pretty hard to get along with and was pretty awkward. He really stood out and didn’t really have any friends. I decided I would try extra hard to be nice to him because he had such a rough time socially. People thought it was kind of odd for me to be his friend and it didn’t always go over well. Being with Carrie came with a social price at times. But I stuck with it. Then one day he came to me in homeroom and handed me a book. He said, “I want you to have this because you remind me of him.” Then he walked off. I opened the book and it was about Jesus. Don’t you know that made it all worth it! Loving Carrie came at a price but the rewards were beyond measure.

We do it for others because Jesus did it for us. He didn’t do it for us when we were nice and clean and spotless. He did it for us when we were sick and naked and diseased with sin. He took the piercing glances from the authorities as he spent time with “sinners” and outcasts. He took the piercing nails that were the result of our sin. Yet he still loves us! Can’t we do some of that for those God puts in our lives. You will never find a better friend than when you love someone that the world says you don’t have to. That person will never forget it. Many “love” others for what’s in it for them – what social connections, etc. But when you love someone who won’t advance you socially, monetarily, etc you have really made a friend because they realize you only love them for no other reason then because they are who they are. God bless.

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