Our passage this morning is John 15:13 and is very fitting for this Sunday. In this verse our Lord spoke of the greatest expression of love: sacrificial love. He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Let us discuss three examples of sacrificial love.
Sacrificial Love: The United States Soldier
The last Monday in May has been designated by our country as “Memorial Day” in order to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the United States military. It is on this solemn day that we as a church pause to give thanks to God for the brave men and women who have sacrificed greatly for us. We honor them by remembering their sacrifice. An all volunteer force, the military of the United States of America has a long history of fighting for and defending freedom and liberty. When a person has enlisted in the Armed Forces they repeat the following oath:
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
These men and women volunteer to leave home and family to protect the freedoms we treasure. Our freedom of religion, speech, and the right to keep and bear arms (and many more) are defended and protected by our military. Former Senator Fred Thompson once said, “This wouldn’t be the land of the free if it were not the home of the brave.” It is good and proper for us to thank God for the men and women who have sacrificially loved each of us through military service.
Sacrificial Love: Moore, OK
Fred Rogers is quoted to have said concerning tragedies: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Do not focus on the devastation, but focus on those who are sacrificing themselves in order to help. The courage shown by the teachers in the schools during the most recent tornado in Moore, OK is inspiring. Second-grade teacher Tammy Glasgow got her children into bathrooms and a closet before taking shelter for herself. Waynel Mayes, a first-grade teacher, distracted her students with songs and games. Suzanne Haley was impaled by the leg of a desk protecting her children. Another teacher, Cindy Lowe, had a wall fall on her back causing her to suffer a concussion. Her taking the hit saved the lives of the children in her care. These brave teachers and others risked their own lives to protect the lives of the students under their care and demonstrated sacrificial love.
Sacrificial Love: Jesus Christ
Look again at our verse this morning, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” We have seen two examples of sacrificial love and now we reflect on the greatest act of sacrificial love provided by God on our behalf. God has laid down His life for His friends and sacrificed Himself for us.
John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” God the Son “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). This love is sacrificial and undeserved. Paul writes in Romans 5:7-8, “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.” 1 Peter 1:18- 19 says: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” The greatest act of sacrificial love was when Jesus willingly (John 10:18) sacrificed His life to free us from our bondage to sin “so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6). Jesus laid down His life for you and calls you friend. Consider that for a moment, we who are Christians are friends with the Creator of this world. Jesus said in verse 15 of chapter 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 hat I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
There is no greater expression of love than sacrificial love. We rightly honor those who sacrifice themselves for their friends and their country. Let us also love, serve, and honor our God who sacrificed His own Son so that all who “believe in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
No greater love than this that you should lay down your life. For someone such as me I’d spend a life time wondering why the beauty of heaven is here in my heart and I know there can be no greater love than this. –Rachel Lampa “No Greater Love”