10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 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. – John 15:10-13
I was reading this and an interesting thought popped into my head. We tend to read verse 13 in the context of someone dying for someone else, just as Jesus died for us. Certainly, that connotation is there in this verse, but I think we should not overlook something much more subtle in this statement. Jesus says that whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake will keep it. He makes many statements of that same type throughout the Gospels and the other NT writers make some similar statements as well. However, this isn’t just about sacrificing yourself for another by dying physically.
We are called to “die to self” daily. This means giving up our wants and desires and putting someone else ahead of ourselves. This is what the rich young ruler of Mark 10 was called to do and he couldn’t do it. There was too much to lose in this life and he instead lost the life to come. If you want to display “greater love” of the kind that Jesus is talking about, you don’t have to die physically to do it. You will have to put your own selfishness to death however. There may be some other things that have to “die” for the sake of others around you. But seeing how much love He lavished on us, it isn’t that much to ask; and Jesus promised that this would make our joy full. Need fuller joy today? Go out and lay down your life for someone else out of love.