“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.” John 15.13-17
How tremendous to read these words in the city in which they were spoken. That doesn’t happen very often. Let that settle in for a moment. I am sitting on a rooftop hotel in Jerusalem. I’m overlooking the city. I can see the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the town of Bethany and the whole of the Old City. It is in this place that Jesus spoke these words above. In the scope of my view, the living Word walked, lived and ministered to those he met.
This teaching of Jesus is perhaps his greatest because in it he addresses us not as servants, but friends. He who is God equates himself with humans. He who would be sacrificed in this city in the coming days is showing love to a people who don’t have a clue what it means.
Jesus tells us though what love is – to lay down one’s life for his friends. We are his friends IF (my emphasis) we do what he commands. He doesn’t calls us servants but friends. And everything he’s learned from his dad, he’s made known to us.
Jesus then tells us about his choosing, his selection process. It’s us he’s choosing. His instigation and not ours. He not only chose us but appointed us to “go and bear fruit” — fruit that will last. Are we, who gaze upon this scene twenty centuries later- the lasting fruit of which he spoke? Consider his message. It went out, was recorded, passed down, taught to children, and now resides within us, his committed servants. Remarkable. And lastly, Jesus command to us to not only bear fruit but seemingly more importantly — to love one another.
In this city, as at home, I feel his love. As I empty myself of nothing, I take up my cross, deny myself, and learn from him. I seek to please him and to fulfill his commands of bearing fruit, reflecting his glory and taking his message to the ends of the earth — to love one another.
Is there anything better than knowing God? Anything better than looking upon the Holy City Jerusalem and remembering the Christ who did not remain in the grave? He suffered and bled for our behalf so we might have life today and life eternal. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
“O Lord God, it’s our first day in Jerusalem and I am blessed. I pray for enlightenment today, love from your hand, love for my fellow pilgrims. I pray for the peace of Jerusalem that we might know your truth and your truth will set us free. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and might. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen