On Memorial Day, I think of many military veterans but especially my dad and uncles, who served in the military during World War II. They made it home, but in that war hundreds of thousands of families tragically lost loved ones in service to their country. Yet, when asked, my dad and most soldiers from that era would say they were willing to give up their lives to protect their loved ones and stand for what they believed to be right.
When someone dies in defense of their country, John 15:13—“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”—is often recited during the funeral service to honor their sacrifice. But what were the circumstances behind this verse?
When Jesus spoke those words to His disciples during the Last Supper, He was about to die. And, in fact, one of His small group of disciples, Judas, had already left to betray Him (13:18–30). Yet Christ knew all of this and still chose to sacrifice His life for His friends and enemies.
Jesus was willing and ready to die for those who’d one day believe in Him, even for those who were still His enemies (Romans 5:10). In return, He asks His disciples (then and now) to “love each other” as He has loved them (John 15:12). His great love compels us to sacrificially love others—friend and foe alike.
John’s gospel has a discernible outline. Between the prologue (1:1–18) and the epilogue (ch. 21), John focuses on Jesus’ ministry in word and deed to the masses (1:19–12:50). In the five chapters known as the Upper Room Discourse (chs. 13–17), Jesus specifically addresses His disciples. These chapters comprise roughly 20 percent of the book and cover a very short amount of time. In this section, we discover core truths for believers in Jesus: lessons regarding servanthood and humility (ch. 13); Jesus as the way to the Father (14:6); the promise, ministry, and work of the Holy Spirit (14:15–31; 16:4–15); the command to love (13:31–35); and the need to abide in the Father’s love (15:9–17). In chapters 18–20 John focuses on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
For a visual overview to the book of John, visit bit.ly/2MqOeOR.