Love Series, Part 3: No Greater Love
April 23, 2006
This sermon was presented before the Load, Kentucky, Church of Christ, on April 23, 2006. There is no greater love than this; that a man lays down his life for his friends. Jesus proved His love for us by going to the cross and dying for us. Bernie Parsons
Love Series, Part 3: No Greater Love
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Load, KY, church of Christ on 04-23-2006
In our first lesson on love, we examined the love of God for His creation, mankind. In the second, we looked at the love that God has for His holy son, Jesus. In this third, we investigate the love that Christ has for us.
John 15:9: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10: If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14: Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15: Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
With the same love that God has for Jesus, Jesus loves His disciples. Jesus proved His love for the Father by keeping the commandments that God set forth for Him to follow.
Hebrews 5:8: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;”
In the same way, Jesus tells us that we prove our love for Him by following Him, and keeping His commandments. He stated that there is no greater love than that love which moves a man to lay down his for friends. The followers of Jesus did not choose Jesus to lead them—rather, He chose them to follow Him.
Romans 5:6: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7: For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.”
Thus is the great love of Jesus manifested. Our first instinct is to preserve our own lives, even if it means choosing our own life over that of a truly righteous person. For instance, remember how that Peter, to save his own skin, denied our Lord three times before morning. His own life meant more to him than the life of the Savior of the world. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die.
Yet, we might rationalize thusly: If a man is a man of honor, or a man of purity, we might reason that it makes sense to give up our own life, which we might not consider to be as pure or honorable as that of the good man in question, in order that he might live. After all, might not such a good man do much good in his life, and thereby be more worthy of life?
Jesus loved us so much that He died for us while we were yet sinners.
Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”
Not only did Christ die for us while we were yet sinners, He knew that most of mankind would go to the grave as such sinners, never repenting, and never turning their hearts to God.
Mathew 7:13: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Yet, He died to take away the sin of the world.
John 1:29: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
1 John 2:1: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
2: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
It was not without personal sacrifice that Jesus went to the cross to take away the world’s sins. Observe the emotion and the dread that He suffered in Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:36: “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37: And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38: Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39: And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40: And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42: He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43: And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44: And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45: Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46: Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”
From the three earnest petitions to His heavenly father, we see the agony of Jesus. In fact, Luke provides us with some words that drive home the intense emotion of the hour.
Luke 22:44: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
I have heard many preachers proclaim that Jesus perspired blood. However, the scriptures say that His sweat was like great drops of blood. Normally, when one perspires, the sweat just beads up, and runs down the face, or the body, in little rivulets. In this case, the effort was so intense, the agony so terrible, that the sweat welled up in great, heavy drops that plunged to the ground, much as thick blood drips from a wound.
The apostle Paul wrote of this great love of Christ, which passes knowledge.
Ephesians 3:14: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15: Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16: That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18: May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
We must attempt, in our short lives here upon the earth, to comprehend the love of Christ. How wide is that love, how long is that love, how low does it extend, and how high does it reach? What kind of love is it that causes a man to lay down his life for his friends? Or, what kind of love causes a man to give his life that his enemies might have a chance to be saved from their own disgusting and destructive way of life?
Revelation 1:5: “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”
Ephesians 5:1: “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
God loved us, and gave the life of His only begotten, Jesus. Jesus loved us, and gave Himself, in our place, as an acceptable and favorable sacrifice to God. He died that we might live.
Hebrews 10:9: “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
10: By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11: And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;”
There is no greater sacrifice than this. There is no greater love than this.
1 John 3:16: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
We see, we touch, we know, we comprehend the love of Christ Jesus, in that He willingly laid down His life for us. Nothing can keep us from the love of Christ. Nothing.
John 10:17: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18: No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”
We sometimes mistakenly say that the Roman soldiers took the life of Jesus. Jesus said that it could not be taken from Him, because he willingly gave it. It was His wonderful gift to a decaying world full of sinners. It was His choice to become the ultimate sacrifice of all time, for all time.
Romans 8:34: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36: As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37: Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39: Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing that this world can throw at us can cut us off from the love of Christ. There is trouble in this life, and there are trials and temptations. They cannot separate us from the love of Christ. If we suffer for His sake, we know that He first suffered for us. And, if we are lined up like sheep for the slaughter, and killed, one after another, for His name’s sake, then we know that He first died for us. As He was a conqueror in death, so shall we be conquerors in death.
Leaders of nations may wipe us from the face of the earth, but they cannot separate us from our Lord. Nothing in the present time, or anything in the future, can cut us off from the love of Christ. No high power, or no low force, can lessen the love that our Lord has for us. There is no mountain high enough, nor is there a valley low enough, to separate us from the love of God, and His Christ.
This is the love of Christ for us. He laid down His life for us, that we might live.