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Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

These words– “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” — are found in the record of a conversation Jesus had with his disciples near the end of his prophetic ministry. (John 15:13) It is generally believed that this meeting took place at the conclusion of the last supper–after the foot washing and the institution of the Lord’s Holy Supper. This discourse places before the disciples an appropriate message for the Savior’s approaching sad farewell. Jesus had told his disciples that he would be put to death in Jerusalem . It is apparent that they were not able to reconcile these statements predicting his death with his mission to establish an everlasting kingdom . How could this be? A king dies in order to establish his kingdom? It is as though they had never heard what He said concerning his resurrection on the third day.

It was to be in the light of the resurrection that they would come to understand the nature of his kingdom . They did not seem to remember that He had repeatedly told them: “My kingdom is not of this world:” (John 18:36) Apostle Peter rejoiced triumphantly in the new life that he and the other disciples gained as a result of the resurrection. This is Peter’s testimony : “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1:3). Now they were able to embrace Jesus not only as their Lord and Master, but also as their Savior from sin and its dreadful penalty.

Let us pause here for a moment and reflect upon what had taken place in the hearts of the disciples during the long hours between the Last Supper and the resurrection. It is evident from Scripture that the way to new birth does not go directly from one mountain top experience to another. It does not go from the Mount of Transfiguration to the morning of the resurrection. It goes by way of Gethsemane and Calvary. This means that we must come to the knowledge of our sin before we can possibly experience the blessing of God’s grace. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”(Isaiah 53:6) “Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation ” (II Cor. 7:10)

In this lesson, Jesus also cited human love as an example. The Creator has instilled a measure of love in our hearts so that we are willing to sacrifice our lives in order to save others. This is often evident in family circles, and especially in parental love. Many fathers and mothers have shared the experience of King David when he said: “0, my son, Absalom, my son, my son, would God that I had died for thee.” (II Samuel 18:33). Let us thank God that this love remains active in our hearts — and not only for our friends and those we love, but for the stranger as well. We witnessed this truth very vividly during the tragic hours that followed last year’s terrorist attacks on our citizens.

Jesus often spoke much of love. God’s love is personified in Him. Jesus said: Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again (John 10:17). Let us contemplate the love of Jesus. His love not only equaled human love: it exceeded every other evidence of love. To what extent did God love us in Christ? “God commended his love to us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. –For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled we shall be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:8.10). There is a remarkable pattern in God’s love. As the Father has loved his Son, so Christ has loved us. As the Father loved him who was most worthy, He has also loved them who were the most unworthy. The Father loved him as his Son, and through him He has loved us; even made us his children. As the Father continues to be well pleased in his Son, He remains well pleased with us through him.

Friend of the weary, O refresh us,
And tum to us Thy loving face.
With Thy sweet peace and pardon bless us,
That sin may be destroyed by grace;
0 come, Thy sweet compassion showing,
On our poor souls Thy grace bestowing.
Ludwig Andreas Gotter (1681-1725)  

From the archives of the late Pastor A.C. Holmgren February 2002

Submitted by Pastor Stan

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