Stephen A. Peterson
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
--John 15:13 (NIV)
David O’Connor was one of the really good person and soldier. As my classmate at Scecina Memorial High School and later as a medic in the United States Army, he saw his work as service to his country for the greater good of humanity, and especially to the more than 200 men and women of his military unit. David was fully committed to service at all costs and was willing to give his life in service to his country. Evidence of David O’Connor’s commitment was observed on his desk. He had, in a picture frame, a picture of the crucified Christ and to the right side these words: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Christ’s words were not merely words to Sergeant David O’Connor. They expressed his commitment to his duty as an Army leader. A commitment he knew he might someday demand the ultimate—his life. That day did, in fact, occurred in Vietnam.
As every Christian knows, Jesus submitted himself to his words shortly after He stated them. Unlike any person who ever lived, Jesus knew exactly what He was to experience. It is impossible for anyone then or today to fully grasp the totality of His agony and suffering. In recent years, biological and medical scientists have been able to reconstruct physiological information with regards to His roughly 20 years of relentless torture without sleep, food, water or relief.
As God, Jesus could have spared Himself of the suffering, humiliation, torture. He was without sin. His death was the greatest example of human injustice ever recorded in the annals of humankind. To this day, even some Christians cannot understand Jesus’ sacrifice and death. They ask “why”. They believe there had to be another less painful, humiliating way. Others have referred to His death as “altruistic suicide”, “hari-kari”, or the result of Him having humiliated the government and religious leaders of His day.
A love humankind cannot understand drove Christ to His death on the cross. It is only through humility, faith, trust in Him, and acceptance of our human imperfections do we come to even recognize His sacrifice. Any other approach or explanation defies reason and logic in the human mind.
O Lord, Almighty God, we pray You make us grow closer to one another in love and respect. Remind us, Father, that Jesus is our best friend and example of loyalty and love. These things we pray. Amen.
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