Sunday, May 5, 2019
This is Love: No Greater Love
Most of all let us remember the One who sacrificed His life for our eternal freedom. Just hours before He died on that Cross, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
1. This Greater Love can change everything in your life!
So, remember this greatest love because it brings a change to your life that provides clarity of what is important.
Think about the importance of relationships in life. As Rick Warren once wrote: “I have been at the bedside of many people in their final moments, when they stand on the edge of eternity, and I have never heard anyone say, ‘Bring me my diplomas! I want to look at them one more time. Show me my awards, my medals, that gold watch I was given.’
When life on earth is ending, people don’t surround themselves with objects. What we want around us is people – people we love and have relationships with. In our final moments we all realize that relationships are what life is all about.”
Now think about what Jesus said in vs. 9, “As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you.” Can you imagine how close God the Father is to God the Son? No relationship could possibly be closer.
In John 10:30, Jesus said: "I and My Father are one.’’
And in John14:7-9, Jesus told His disciples: If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
The Father and Son are one. No love could be stronger, no relationship closer. But guess what, God wants to be that close to you! God Himself wants to be your Father and Best Friend!
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. . .”
What can we say about this great love, the greatest love? It is supremely attractive. It should draw us closer and closer to God. And it will be a lifetime supply of love for you. You can never get to the end of God’s love.
But what should we do with the greatest love? In vs. 9, Jesus said, “abide in My love.” And in vs. 10, He said, "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.”
The love of Jesus Christ is best experienced through obedience to Him. Obedience is the key.
Does this mean that Jesus will stop loving us if we don’t keep His commandments? As Ken Gehrels asked, “Do those words mean that Jesus . . . is standing back with his arms folded over his chest, calling out, ‘I’m watching. If you blow it I won’t love you anymore!’ No!! No!! No!!”
Romans 5 tells us that Christ loves the ungodly and sinners, even His enemies. Jesus is not going to stop loving you! If we keep His commandments, we will continue to make further discoveries of His love and see more clearly how much He loves us. We will “abide” or “remain” or “continue” or “dwell” in His love.
This word “abide” is very important. The original Greek word is “meno.” It is found 120 times in the New Testament, and Jesus used it 12 times in this chapter alone. Like in vs. 4&5, where Jesus said: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
One of the translations of this word is “dwell,” and that helps us understand what the Lord is talking about here. To abide in His love is to make our home in His love.
Home is where your heart is; it is where you want to be.
Home is the place to which you return, the place to which you are eager to get back to as when you’ve been on vacation.
Home is where you feel comfortable and can really be yourself.
Home is a place of safety and security.
Home is where you bring your friends when you wish to have fellowship with them.
Home is our base of operations; it is at the center of what we do.
Home is where you find your strength for life; it is where you eat and sleep.
Home is where the people and the things we love the most are found.
Isn’t this what Jesus Christ should be for the Christian?
Shouldn’t He be our place of refuge and security?
Should He not be the source of our life and strength?
Shouldn’t He be the reason for our fellowship with others?
Shouldn’t He be where our heart is?” (5)
Yes, but we have to live in His love. What good would home be if you never went home? But Christ’s love for us is so great that we should live in it every day of our lives. His great love compels us to have intentional, on-going contact with Christ.
Do you give yourself time to experience and soak up that flow of love from Jesus, your friend?
Do you have a daily quiet time with him? Are you daily letting Him speak to you thru His Word?
Do you take the time on a regular basis to gather with other believers and celebrate his love in worship?
2. This Greater Love gives us incomparable joy.
But also, because it gives on-going and overflowing joy.
There is a lot of heartache in the world, and sometimes we seem to get more than our share, but Jesus wants to give you on-going, overflowing joy.
In vs. 11 Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you. . .” It’s an on-going joy. “These things I have spoken to you . . . that your joy may be full.” It’s an overflowing joy.
All of this means that God’s church should be a joyful place.
ILL: Bulletin Bloopers: We’ve had some mistakes in our bulletins at times, but nothing like these bulletin bloopers:
“Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”
“Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Bill’s sermons.”
It’s O.K. to laugh in church! An unknown author said: “Love may make the world go ‘round, but laughter keeps us from getting dizzy.”
Prov 17:22, God said, “A merry or cheerful heart does good, like medicine. . .” God’s church should be a joyful place, because Jesus wants to give you on-going, overflowing joy.
ILL: One Christian author wrote,
The joy of the Lord was at the tomb of the resurrected Lazarus . . .
Joy was there when the leper returned to thank Jesus.
Joy was there when a woman caught in the very act of adultery was forgiven and released from her sin.
Joy was there when the deaf heard, the blind saw, and the lame walked.
Joy was there on the mountainside as the multitudes listened to the profound teachings of Jesus.
Joy was there when the little children flocked to Jesus!
Joy was there when the boy gave Jesus his lunch so that He could work a miracle and feed the thousands. . .
Joy was there when Jesus stood up in the boat and stopped the storm.
Joy was there when dawn broke and the women knew that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.
Everywhere Jesus went, there was joy!
And He wants you to have it. Listen to Him again in vs. 11, "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The Lord pointed us to His example in vs. 12, when He said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
What a standard! What a challenge! What an example!
How are we going to follow His example? We cannot do it in our own strength. We must abide in Him. We must abide in His love.
The more we abide in Him, the more we will be like Him. That is the only way we will ever be able to love like Him. And this is extremely important, because the Lord has commanded us to follow His example. Jesus said, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
3. This Greater Love made the supreme sacrifice.
In vs. 13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
ILL: The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States. It is presented to a member of our armed forces who distinguishes himself or herself " conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Marine Corporal Jason Dunham from Scio, NY was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq. On 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they responded to the ambush of a nearby convoy.
As they approached on foot, they discovered seven Iraqi vehicles in a column trying to depart. Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons, but as they began the search, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade.
Jason immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Jason covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines.
We must not forget his supreme sacrifice that he was willing to lay down his life.
This love was never seen more clearly than on the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not have to die, but He willingly laid down His life to save all who will trust in Him. We must not forget his supreme sacrifice.
4. This Greater Love transforms lives.
The greatest love transforms us and takes us to a whole new dimension in living.
The Lord tells us this in vs. 14&15, where Jesus said: "You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 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.”
It is a great honor to be known as a servant of the Almighty God. In their New Testament letters Peter, James and Paul all gladly called themselves servants of Jesus Christ. But through His great love, Jesus takes us to a higher plane of living.
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and begin to follow Him, we truly become the friends of God! And we must always remember the price that Jesus paid to take us there.
ILL: Pastor William Stidger told the story of a man in his church who served in the Navy during World War II. One night, this man was running his transport across the Atlantic, when he noticed the white trail of a torpedo coming toward him.
His ship was manned by hundreds of soldiers; the potential loss of life would have been devastating.
Nearby, another smaller ship had also seen the torpedo coming. The captain of this smaller vessel guided his ship between the transport and the torpedo. The explosion destroyed the smaller ship, and all those aboard died.
The veteran who told this story ended it by saying, "Dr. Stidger, the skipper of that other ship was my best friend."
Then he added, "You know, there is a verse in the Bible which has special meaning for me now. It is this: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’"
Remember the One who sacrificed His life for our eternal freedom and displayed “No Greater Love”
Let the love of Jesus Christ change your life today.