Greater love has no one than this, that one would lay his life down for his friends. Have you ever truly examined the implications of this beautiful passage? The ultimate love, the ultimate way of showing love, is to lay down your own life for another. In other words, self-sacrificial love is the greatest love of all. Doesn't sound like the love we learn of in this world. Television, movies, books, music, they all tell us that love is about getting something. It's not about self-sacrifice but self-pleasure. Where's the self-pleasure in dying for a friend?
I have many acquaintances, few friends. Regarding the friends that I have, do I love them enough to lay down my life for them? Talk about a conversation ice breaker. I love my best friend dearly but would I really die for her? I know her, truly a good person, but is that enough for me to lay my life down for her? I would. However, that isn't really significant because I've already said that I know her and love her. She was already a good person before I met her, so it isn't much is it? Christ, however, died for His friends. Again not exactly special or significant is it? What's the difference in me dying for Kate and Christ dying for us? Huge difference! In my eyes, Kate is a righteous child of God. When Christ died for us, we were NOT righteous children of God and that my friend is where the difference lies. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:7-8). Jesus laid down His life because of the love He had for His friends, even when His friends despised Him. Now that is unbelievable, truly self-sacrificial, truly love.
So Christ died for His friends, His friends. What a special word, one used far too loosely in my opinion. A friendship is a binding relationship between two partners. It's a self-sacrificial love that says, "you you you", rather than "me me me". These two partners are equal. And yet Christ, the very Son of God, calls us friend? Personally, I don't count myself worthy to be a friend of Christ. Rather, I feel like John when he says, "...He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry." Christ sees me differently though. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15). Christ called me friend, Christ called you friend. That makes me want to jump from my chair and shout unending praises to God. I hated Him, I cursed Him, I crucified Him, and He calls me friend? Not only did He call me friend, but He laid down His life for me, and for you.
To be called a friend of Christ is baffling beyond belief, but He doesn't stop by merely calling us friends, but by dying for us when we didn't count Him as friend. I said earlier that this was a two-party system. Christ did His part. Now it is our turn. I love Christ, but am I willing to lay down my life for Him? Are you willing to lay down your life for Him? In all likelihood, we will not be martyrs for the sake of Christ, but are we willing to be just the same? So forget dying for Him. Are we willing to be disliked for Him, made fun of for Him, mistreated for Him, persecuted for Him? Are we willing to not only die for Him, but to live for Him? He has called us friends. Greater love has no one than this, that one would lay down his life for His friends. We must be willing to die for Christ but also to live for Christ because He lived and died for us.