No Greater Love - A Reflection on John 18:1—19:42
(Today’s is another long reading - two entire chapters - so we just gonna reflect on John 19:17-30)
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). So said Jesus, but it wasn’t his friends he laid his life down for; it was his enemies. Us. Paul expounds: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).
Why did he do this? So that we could understand the tremendous love he has for us, and become his friends. And once we are his friends, we will want to do what he asks us to do. And what is that? Jesus said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 14:34).
Have you heard the song: “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love”? Love is the only real sign that we are followers of Christ. Paul says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
Nothing we sing, proclaim, achieve, accomplish, or sacrifice that has any meaning without love. As we reflect on Jesus’ great sacrifice, let us ponder this truth, and see if we have love in our hearts for the people around us. Not just for the nicely dressed, sweet smelling folks who are good to us, but for those in the world who might be the opposite. And if we don’t have this love, let us open our hearts to God and ask him to fill us with it, because truly, without love we are nothing.
And what is this thing called love, anyway? Paul has the answer. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Let us learn to love like that. And who knows, one day we might be able to lay down our life for our friends.