1996-05-06 - Divine Love
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you." John 15:13,14
It is a true statement that love and self-denial for the object loved go hand in hand. If I confess my love to a certain person, and yet will give no financial aid when this person is in trouble, and will in no way deny myself comfort or ease for their sake, such a confession of love is contemptible; it wears the name love, but lacks the reality of love. True love must be measured by the degree to which the person loving will be willing to subject himself to crosses and losses, to sufferings and self-denials. Greater love for friends has no man than this, that he lay down his life for them.
Even Satan acknowledges the reality of the virtue which would lead a man to die, when he spoke concerning Job. Satan made little of Job losing his sheep, and his cattle, and his children. He says, "skin for skin, yes all that a man has will he give for his life, but put forth your hand, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face." So if love could give up its cattle and its land, its outward treasures and possessions, it would be a strong love, but it would fail if it could not go further and endure personal suffering, and this to the point of laying down its life for the one loved.
There was no such failure in our Redeemer's love. Our savior stripped himself of all his glories, and by a thousand self-denials proved his love. The most convincing evidence was given when he gave up his life for us. With this He could go no further, self-denial had achieved its utmost. He could deny himself no more, when He denied Himself His right to live. The great hymn by J. Wilbur Chapman says this well:
Jesus! What a friend for sinners! Jesus! Lover of my soul; friends may fail me, foes assail me, he, my Savior, makes me whole. Hallelujah! What a Savior! Hallelujah! What a Friend! Saving, helping, keeping, loving, he is with me to the end. (Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners! Chapman, Public Domain)
A practical implication: It is not uncommon that I hear Christians refer to Christ as their buddy, or pal. I find this usage disturbing. Christ is our friend, our truest friend, but it is flippant and irreverent to call Him our bud. Lets say we were all worshiping together and the father of the Reformation (Martin Luther) walked in, we would likely stand and rise up to meet him out of respect. Lets say Christ walked in, our proper response would be to fall down and kiss the hem of His garment. Sometimes I think the "buddy" mentality would respond to Christ entering the room by putting our arm around Him and saying, Hey Jesus, we have just been talking about you, sit down, how's it goin'. This lacks the proper reverence that Christ is due because of His atonement. He lay down His life for us, He is our friend, our truest friend, but He is not our "Bud".