"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" – John 15:13
Merry Christmas! Today is a joyous day of celebration for Christians around the world. For us, Christmas is far more than a winter festival fit for exchanging gifts, feasting together, and enjoying the company of friends and family. Certainly these are blessed aspects of our celebration, but we have something far deeper and more eternity-shaping to rejoice in this morning.
This Advent morning, let's reflect on the love of Jesus for his people. There is a striking truth about Christ's first coming found in John 15:13: "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends". At first glance it would seem that this verse has little to do with Jesus' first coming, but that is far from the truth. The very truth of Christ's payment of sin (atonement) through His death necessitates His first coming. For how can one die who is not first born?
In order to show the " greater love", which is truly the greatest love, Christ had to be born and come to die. As I ponder this truth about Jesus's love for his people, I am reminded of a very powerful reality of Jesus’s first coming: Jesus came to die. He knew that if he would show the greatest love the universe has ever seen he would have to take on human flesh and give His life on behalf of sinful people.
Who could show such love? "No one". While the example he gave seems to point to the noble act of a person giving their life for another, even this is no comparison to the work of Jesus in the salvation of sinners. I can give my life to physically rescue my friend from death and still do it from a sense of pride or another false motive. Even with the right motive, I can give my life for a friend, but I can never ransom his life from the wages of sin (Romans 6:23, Psalm 49:7). Jesus's death for sinners is on another level.
He calls us his "friends”. There is nothing in us deserving of friendship with Jesus. In fact, while I was Jesus’s enemy, He died for us—ungodly, wretched sinners deserving of death (Romans 5:8,10). Yet, he calls us His friends, and that’s exactly who we are as children of the Most High God and Heavenly Father. All of this is through Jesus Christ. We have received life and adoption because He came and died for us. But to come and die, He first came in the flesh.
This Advent morning we don’t just celebrate a man who was born. We celebrate God in the flesh—Jesus who “will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
1. Ask for grace to reflect the love of Christ by sacrificing your comforts and preferences for others.
2. Ask the Lord to teach you to rest in the love and work of Jesus for your eternal hope and joy (John 15:11).
3. Rejoice in the grace and love of God for sinners like you and me.
This article was first published at dwellwithchrist.com.