What is the ultimate expression of love?
To an audience bogged down under the load of several hundred commandments, Jesus announced, “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” And then He continued, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:12-13).
Three chapters later, after praying fervently on behalf of His friends, Jesus literally lays His life down in a history-altering demonstration of love.
It is profoundly interesting that all of Christ’s disciples, save John who was exiled, are martyred for their faith. Since that time, hundreds of thousands have died in the advancement of the Gospel. In fact, there were more followers of Jesus killed in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined!
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay his life down for his friends.”
In all likelihood, I will not be asked to die for my faith or my friend. And honestly, there is nothing in Scripture saying that I must physically die for my faith or my friend in order to advance the Gospel.
However, Jesus plainly states, “Love one another,” and the clear implication is that laying our lives down for each other demonstrates love more profoundly than anything else we do or say. Even if we shower hugs, kisses, and declarations of love upon those within our sphere, laying down our lives speaks the loudest.
What does this sacrifice look like? That's in part 2.