John 15:13 … “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
This Scripture is so often read in the light of Christ giving His life for us on the cross of atonement and perhaps rightly so, but perhaps Christ is telling us something far different than we have been led to understand!
I wonder, when reading the entire passage if perhaps we have missed the GREATER MEANING of what our Lord has said unto us! For read in its entirety we find Jesus saying … “This is my commandment, ‘That ye love one another, as I have loved you’. Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
That Jesus was near to laying down His life for these – and us – is a certainty that was soon played out in history. But have we seen the greater implication, the greater meaning of these words of Christ?
Actually, in the original language of this passage, the phrase “lay down” does not mean to die! The phrase translated “lay down” comes from the word “tithēmi” (Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary) which literally means to place plus settle; sink down; with the idea of prostrating, bowing down or committing!
So, considering the above, what Christ actually said was that no greater love has a man than this to commit or place his life down for the benefit of the friend!
Or to say it this way: No greater love has a man than this, than to place his life aside in order to live for the benefit of his friends!”
So, if we are indeed His friends, are we willing to lay down our lives for Him? Do we have the love that cannot be surpassed for Him? Certainly we say, “of course I would die for Him rather than to deny Him or denounce my faith in Him” but as we have just seen, this is not what was meant or for that matter even said by Jesus!
So now I let to ponder, am I Christ’s friend and is He my friend? That He is my friend there can be no doubt for He has once for all showed that He totally laid down His life for me and beyond that He has proven to be my greatest friend in all of life never leaving nor forsaking me, always faithful to speak truth to me, even when I want something more comfortable in the moment!
So this leaves the question, am I the friend of Christ Jesus? There is a recently popular Christian song that contains the lyrics “I am the friend of God” … but is this the truth?
If we say that we are the friend of Christ, are we willing to lay down our lives for Him? I don’t mean just to die if faith requires it, but are we truly willing to lay down our lives in order that His life is manifested in ours?
Are we willing to lay down our ambitions?
Are we willing to lay down our aspirations?
Are we willing to lay down our own life plan and goals in order for His to be brought about?
Laying down our lives means something far greater than just “to die for Him”! Laying down our lives means to live after abandoning our own desires and gratifications, to live in the knowledge that our lives could have been so much different but for our choice to set aside our wants for His purposes! (Consider the implications this has in our marriages, families, and with those we consider as true friends!)
Do we dare call ourselves Christ’s friends if we insist on invoking His authority to serve our purposes remaining intent on living out our plans and earthbound purposes? Do we dare to even sing such lyrics if our lives are only self-serving?
A close look at our lives may reveal a most disturbing fact … that our friendship is not with Christ at all but with the world instead! We may find that our love is for this world rather than for Christ, or for the world first and for Christ second … which is the same as not loving Christ at all for we are told that to love the world, to be friends with the world is to be enmity with God, to be aligned with the enemies of God!
Have we been seduced into believing the deception that God desires for us to have all the wealth and comforts which the world has made to be admirable goals and that God lends His power and authority to us that we may accomplish these for our own lives? If examining our lives shows that we most often call upon God to help us accomplish our career goals, our social aspirations or our material ambitions; if we hear ourselves stating that God wants to bring wealth to our lives so that we may bless others but in the meantime we are exhausting all our efforts on achieving this wealth and waiting on its achievement to in fact be a blessing to others … the conclusion can only be that our friendship lies not in Christ but in the world!
The declaration of Christ in John 15 is truly a test of evidence! First of all, if we are indeed the friends of Christ and if indeed we truly love Him in the greatest degree possible, then we will choose to live for His benefit and not our own! Secondly, and not so obvious but just as accurate is that your life is evidence of your true friendship and true love … either in Christ or in this present world! There is no combining the two! It is either one or the other and cannot be both!
Remember also that Jesus judged that we cannot love two masters! We serve who we love and we cannot serve two simultaneously and equally! It is an all or nothing proposition! Either we will love the one and hate the other or else we will hate the one and love the other!
And who we love we will lay down our lives for! If we love Christ, we will lay down our worldly lives to live for His benefit! If we love the world, we will lay down our spiritual lives to live for the world’s benefit!
So we are faced with this: Choose you this day whom you will love! As for me and my house, we will love the Lord Jesus Christ!
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Very thought provoking article! Makes one take a good look at themself to see if they've misplaced their love or if they are truly pleasing God. Well written article! Thanks for writing the truth so one can assess their own relationship and stay the course.