Truth, Understanding, Insight

The Greatest Love, John 15:13

17th April 2013, hej


1) The Greatest Love, John 15:13

This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:12-14)

The only quote which speaks of the great love in relationship to the crucifixion is actually a command to Jesus' followers (Rom 5:8 is God's love to sinners). Many may take this passage to mean that Jesus showed such great love in giving his life. He did, but would Jesus praise himself in this way?

The context indicates it is a command, or a direction to his disciples, his followers. They must love one another, they must be willing to go to the extent of laying down their life for each other.

To break the command down:

Command 1. you love another

as I love you


greatest love = “laying down ones life for”

therefore in Command 1:

  1. you lay down life for another

If love is that a man 'lay down his life for his friends, and Jesus is a friend,


You must lay down your life for Jesus.

This understanding is supported by direct statements as to what is required to be a follower.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25-26, cp Mark 8:38)

There is no doubt at all that much is asked of the true follower of Christ.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsakes not all that he has, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-33)

In other words “who has such great love for me as to give up this life?” Later in Luke he returns to the idea,

Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33)

Peter understood what was asked, but had not the courage to live it then,

Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13:37-38)

Also directly in the context of facing his death at the hand of those who hated him,

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:24-26)

The only verse in the Bible with both 'love' and 'cross' in it is,

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing you lack: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross (stake), and follow me. (Mark 10:21)

Most hope that he did not really mean all these words and commands literally, fully, for them. Most would prefer that they may admire the great love of a man who gave his life for them, but in that very passage the great love that is commanded is that his followers give their lives to him and for each other.

For more on the great love shown by Jesus and what it mean to us today For righteousness sake : The obedient Son

Tags: exegesis