This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John 3:16
Horrified by his students’ poor writing habits, renowned author and college professor David Foster Wallace considered how he might improve their skills. That’s when a startling question confronted him. The professor had to ask himself why a student would listen to someone “as smug, narrow, self-righteous, [and] condescending” as he was. He knew he had a problem with pride.
That professor could and did change, but he could never become one of his students. Yet when Jesus came to Earth, He showed us what humility looks like by becoming one of us. Stepping across all kinds of boundaries, Jesus made Himself at home everywhere by serving, teaching, and doing the will of His Father.
Even as He was being crucified, Jesus prayed for forgiveness for His executioners (Luke 23:34). Straining for every anguished breath, He still granted eternal life to a criminal dying with Him (vv. 42–43).
Why would Jesus do that? Why would He serve people like us to the very end? The apostle John gets to the point. Out of love! He writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Then he drives that point home. “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).
Jesus showed us that His love eradicates our pride, our smugness, our condescension. And He did it in the most powerful way possible. He gave His life.
Father, we are so prone to look down on each other. Please forgive us. Give us the heart of love Your Son showed to us.
Jesus loved us by serving.
In today’s reading, John uses the word love six times. He begins his teaching on love by stating the disastrous consequences of not loving each other. It is interesting that John correlates death with hate. His argument seems to go like this: If you don’t love, you hate (and here John means continuing to hate, not just an angry response); if you hate, you’re a murderer; no murderers have eternal life; therefore, if you love, you have life.
What does love look like? Verse 16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” But it’s the practical examples that drive the point home: If we don’t take care of those in need, love is not in us.
People around us have many needs—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. How can you show Christ’s love by serving someone today?
For more on the topic of love read Compassion: Learning to Love Like Jesus at discoveryseries.org/q0208. J.R. Hudberg