Here is the last of these seven meditations on believers in the world.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Jn 15:12–13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
People often focus on verse twelve and the commandment to “love one another.” But what is that love? It is not a self-fulfilling love. It is not a love from which we draw self-pleasure. It is, in other words, not this world’s love.
Christ laid down his life for those he loved and through the taking of his life and his resurrection, we might have eternal life. The ancient world was full of heroic stories of those who died defending friends. Many skeptics of the faith point to those stories and say that is all John was doing here. He was talking old stories of the Greek mythologies and placing them on Jesus.
But see what has happened here. This is the love of Christ — it was not a love willing to die to protect or defend a friend. It was a death to die in the place of a friend entirely. It is a unique love in human history. It is a love out of which new stories grew. It is the love of a sacrifice and death wholly removing the stain of sin on those whom he loved.
The Lord Jesus, when he died on that cross, was not stepping in front of the arrows blocking them from us. We often think that, but the image is wrong. Instead, it was Christ stepping away and saying, “Shoot here, aim at me instead.”
Christ our Lord loves us and wants us to love sacrificially. When the song “They will know we are Christians by our love” is sung, think of that. It is not the love of this world. It is a Christ reflected love. It is a love of patience, of humility, of forgiveness, and of sacrifice. It is a love that says, “I want you to live with me eternally.” And that love demands we go into the world and share the Gospel, calling on all to repent and be saved.