John 15.12-14 cont.
12 This is My commandment: that you should love one another, even as I love you.
13 No one has greater love than this that anyone should lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
The words of verse 13 are often used in services in memory of those who have been killed in wars. At times it may be the actions of love, but perhaps their deaths may be seen as brave and heroic, especially if one soldier deliberately gets himself killed to save one or more of his colleagues.
We also know that there have been those times when a parent has died in order to save the life of their child.
Dying in order to save somebody else is not a normal occurrence.
Paul wrote these words to the church in Rome:
Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good – chapter 5.7 (NLT).
He then makes the contrast with what Jesus has done for us by saying in verse 8:
But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners – (NLT).
We might possibly die for a good person, or for someone whom we love, but it is very unlikely that we would die for a bad person.
There are a number of countries in the world who still have the death penalty. Imagine a judge sentencing someone to death and then saying that he, the judge, was going to die in the place of the criminal.
Perhaps such an incident has never been known.
Yet this is exactly what Jesus has done for all of us.
We are all under the sentence of death, but Jesus came and died in our place.
He being totally righteous, whilst we are unrighteous.
Jesus makes the point that dying in order to save our friends is to display to them the highest form of love. This Jesus has done.
In this Jesus was indicating to His disciples that He was about to die for them, and in dying for them He also died for us who receive Him as our Lord and Saviour.
This is the height of friendship.