Verse: John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I remember reading this verse as a kid thinking there’s NO WAY I’m going to die for any of my friends, none of them are worth it. I don’t know why, but this verse was always isolated from the rest of the chapter. I think my church at the time was trying to elevate martyrdom on a pedestal. I do think it’s a valid interpretation of this verse, but I think it’s also kind of a cop-out. Here’s why:

Nothing against martyrs, but look at everything Jesus talks about around this verse: obedience, following his commands, giving up your own ideas of how you think your life should go, and abiding in what Jesus wants you to do instead. For some people that may mean literally dying, but honestly it’s pretty tough to follow Jesus’s commands on Earth after you’re dead, so I’m confident that the common case he had in mind was about “doing the things”: being obedient, going forth, bearing fruit, and loving others. Jesus also is literal in the chapter that he is our friend, and we are his friends.

He’s laying it on pretty thick:
1. Jesus says he’s your friend if you obey his commands.
2. Jesus says he loves us and laid down his life for us.
3. Jesus then commands us to show him the same level of love.

I think saying that you’re going to set aside your own dreams, preferences, desires, and aims for your life is way harder too. It’s not a one-time death, it’s a daily death to your self and choosing to lay down your life for your friend, Jesus. That sounds like love in action to me!

Jesus, I choose to show you great love today by obeying your commands.

Author: Jordan Ambra