Remember the Greatest Love
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - May 26, 2013
*On this Memorial Day, hopefully you will get to spend some time with family and friends. -- But as we do, we should remember the over 40 million Americans who have served in the military to help keep us free. We should also remember that over one million of those men and women have died to defend our liberty.
*Many of those fallen heroes were buried far away from home. Edward Chinn tells us that: "In India there is a cemetery where the bodies of American soldiers are buried. Over the entrance to this cemetery these words are written: ’Tell Them We Gave Our Todays for Their Tomorrows.’" (1)
*This is what we remember on Memorial Day. And their sacrifice is a picture of the one who gave His life so that we could live forever. Just a few hours before the Son of God died on the cross for us, Jesus said: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." This greatest love can change everything in our lives! So today, let me urge you to remember the greatest love.
1. Remember the greatest love, first because it can bind us together with God.
*The greatest love can bind us together with God in a close personal relationship. Think for a moment about the relationships in your life. Think how important your family and friends are to you.
*Rick Warren once explained this importance by saying: "I have been at the bedside of many people in their final moments, when they stand on the edge of eternity. And I have never heard anyone say, ’Bring me my diplomas! I want to look at them one more time. Show me my awards, my medals, and that gold watch I was given.’
*When life on earth is ending, people don’t surround themselves with objects. What we want around us is people, – people we love and have relationships with. In our final moments we all realize that relationships are what life is all about." (2)
*Bearing that in mind, think about what Jesus said to His followers in vs. 9, "As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. . ." Can you imagine how close God the Father is to God the Son? -- No relationship could possibly be closer.
-In John 10:30, Jesus said: "I and My Father are one.’’
-And in John 14:6-9, Jesus said:
6. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
7. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.’’
8. Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’’
9. Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. . ."
*The Father and Son are one. No love could be stronger. No relationship could be closer. But wonder of wonders, God wants to be that close to us! God Himself wants to be our Father and Best Friend! Jesus said, "As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you. . ."
 The greatest love can bind us together with God! How? -- Through faith in Jesus Christ.
*As the Lord said in John 3:16-18:
16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
*And in Romans 10:9-13, the Apostle Paul explained:
9. that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.
11. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’’
12. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
13. For "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’’
*The greatest love can bind us together with God through faith in Jesus Christ.
 But then, after we believe, what should we do?
*Jesus tells us in vs. 9, where He said: "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." We must "abide in His love." Then in vs. 10, the Lord said, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love."
*This word "abide" means to "stay, continue, remain or dwell." And this word is very important in the Bible. The original Greek word is "meno." It is found 120 times in the New Testament. And Jesus used it 12 times in this chapter alone.
*For example, in vs. 4&5, Jesus said:
4. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
*One of the translations of this word is "dwell," and that helps us understand what the Lord is talking about here.
*Bob Deffinbaugh explained that "when we dwell in a place, we make that place our home. So to abide in Jesus as the True Vine is to make our home in Him, just as He also makes His home in us. And to abide in Jesus’ love is to make our home in His love.
*Think about what ’home’ means to us:
-Home is where the heart is.
-It is where we want to be, especially during holidays.
-Home is the place to which we return.
-The place we are eager to get back to when we’ve been on vacation.
*Home is where we feel comfortable, and can really be ourselves.
-Home is a place of safety and security.
-Home is our base of operations. It is at the center of what we do.
-Home is where we bring our friends when we want to have fellowship with them.
-Home is where the people and the things we love the most are found."
*And Bob Deffinbaugh asks: "Isn’t this what Jesus Christ should be for the Christian? Shouldn’t He be our place of refuge and security? Shouldn’t He be the source of our life and strength? Shouldn’t He be where our heart is?" The answer, of course, is yes. (3)
*But we have to abide or remain, continue and dwell in His love. What good would home be if you never went home? Jesus’ love for us is so great that we should abide in it every day of our lives. And we must remember His greatest love, because it can bind us together with God.
2. But also remember His greatest love, because it can bring us great joy.
*God’s great love can give us on-going, overflowing joy! And the Lord wants us to have this joy.
*Jesus made this clear to us in vs. 11, where He said: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
*We must not think that the Lord has no joy. We must not think that Jesus walked around all the time with a stern and sour expression. Do you think Jesus looked that way when He hugged and held those little children in Mark 10:16? -- Of course not. That would have scared them to death.
*Yes, Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." But Jesus also smiled; He laughed; He had great joy. Speaking of the second coming of Christ, Zephaniah 3:17 says: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." And even on the night before the cross, Jesus was able to talk about His joy: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you. . ."
*Jesus has joy, and He wants us to have His joy too. Yes, there is a lot of heartache in the world. And sometimes we seem to get more than our share. But Jesus wants to give us on-going, overflowing joy!
*God’s church should frequently be a joyful place. It’s O.K. to laugh in church. We’ve had some mistakes in our bulletins, but nothing like these bulletin bloopers from Randall Deal. Like this one: "Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help."
*And this one: "Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Bill’s sermons." (4)
*It’s O.K. to laugh in church. In Proverbs 17:22, God said, "A merry or cheerful heart does good, like medicine. . ." God’s church should be a joyful place, because Jesus wants to give us on-going, overflowing joy.
*Michael MacIntosh gave this insight:
-"The joy of the Lord was at the tomb when Lazarus came back to life.
-Joy was there when the leper returned to thank Jesus.
-Joy was there when a woman caught in the very act of adultery was forgiven and released from her sin.
-Joy was there when the deaf heard, the blind saw, and the lame walked.
-Joy was there when the little children flocked to Jesus.
-Joy was there when dawn came, and the women realized that Jesus was risen from the dead!" (5)
*Joy was there, and Jesus wants His joy to be here too: Here in our church, and here in our hearts. Listen to the Lord again in vs. 11: "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
*We must remember His greatest love, because it can bring us great joy.
3. But also remember His greatest love, because it has blazed a trail for us to follow.
*In vs. 12, we see the path Jesus laid out for us to follow: It is the path of faithful, sacrificial love. Jesus made this clear to us in vs. 12, when He said: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
*What was on the Lord’s mind on the night before the cross? -- Nothing stands out more than God’s kind of agape love.
*John 13:1 says: "Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
*Then in John 13:34-35, Jesus told His followers:
34. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’’
*In John 14:15, Jesus said: "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
*In John 14:21-24, Jesus said:
21. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.’’
22. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’’
23. Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
24. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me."
*And listen for the focus on love here in John 15:9-12. Again, Jesus said:
9. "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
*Jesus blazed the trail of love for us when He came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross for our sins.
*Now He wants us to follow His example. How are we going to do that? We cannot do it in our own strength. We must abide in Him. We must abide in His love.
*James McCullen heard a story of a family cleaning their attic. They found a very old book that had not been opened for a long time. In the front of the book a picture of the author and a picture of Jesus had been printed on opposite pages. And over the years, the ink of the two pictures had mixed together, so that the face of Jesus blended together with the author’s picture. The two pictures had "abided" with each other, and had just about become one. (6)
*The more we abide in Him, the more we will be like Him. And the more we abide in His love, the more we will love like He loves. This is the Lord’s commandment for our lives. And we must remember His greatest love, because it blazed a trail for us to follow.
4. But we must also remember the greatest love, because it bled for us.
*The greatest love bled for us. As Jesus said in vs. 13: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
*This kind of love is why we have Memorial Day every year. And this love was never seen more clearly than on the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not have to die, but He willingly laid down His life to save all who will trust in Him. We must not forget his supreme sacrifice.
*James Moore gave a testimony that captures the spirit of the greatest love, and how we should respond to it. It was about two elderly men who sat next to James on a Southwest flight to Nashville.
*Here’s part of what James Moore said: "Shortly after we took off, the man by the window had a dramatic seizure. He was convulsing, and trembling terribly. His friend held onto him, talking reassuringly to him. Somehow he was able to get some medicine into his mouth. I called for the flight attendant. She brought water, blankets and pillows. Soon, the seizure subsided and the man fell asleep.
*The friend then turned to me and said: "I’m so sorry. I had hoped this would not happen on the plane. He has these seizures once or twice a month and he had one just a few days ago. We did not expect another one this soon.
*"It’s O.K.," I said to him. "I just wish I could have been more helpful. And I have to tell you, I was touched by the tender way you helped him. Are you brothers?"
*"Well," he said with a smile. "We are not blood brothers, but he is like a brother to me. He saved my life during World War II. We were Army buddies. He is from Texas and I grew up in Ohio. We met at boot camp and we were in the Normandy Invasion together.
*We were both wounded. I was hit in the leg, and I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get up, and he came back for me. He had shrapnel wounds all across his arms and chest and head. The head wounds, -- that’s why he has the seizures."
*The man paused for a moment and then he said: "I don’t know how in the world he did it, but somehow he stayed on his feet, and came back and dragged me to safety. Every stop was so painful for him. Every step he would cry out in agony.
*I kept telling him to leave me behind and go on and save himself, but he told me, ’No way. -- No way I’m leaving you behind’ And finally, he got us to a medic station."
*Then the old soldier looked over at his sleeping buddy, and said: "A year ago, I found out, that he has this condition, and was having these seizures. And that his wife had died. I had lost my wife, too, three years before. So, I sold my house in Ohio. I quit my job. It was way past time for me to retire anyway. And I came down here to Texas to take care of my friend, because now he needs care around the clock. It’s all right now because I am with him, and I can help him and take care of him as long as he needs me."
*"That’s an amazing story," James told the man. "What an incredible friend you are!" But the man replied: "It’s the least I can do. He laid his life on the line for me. He saved my life! Listen! -- After what he did for me, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. I owe him everything!" (7)
*And we owe everything to the Lord Jesus Christ.
*So, on this Memorial Day remember with deep gratitude all those who laid their lives on the line for our freedom. But most of all, remember the One who sacrificed His life for our eternal freedom. Remember the love of Jesus Christ, and let it change your life forever.
*Would you please bow for prayer.
(1) The Rev. Edward Chinn, D. Min., "Why Do We Remember Our War Dead?" Religion in Daily Life, May 24, 2001 - EdwardChinn@earthlink.net
(2) "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren - Source: SermonCentral sermon "Memorial Day - 2006" by Steve Shepherd - 2 Timothy 1:3-5
(3) SermonCentral sermon "Abiding in Christ" by Bob Deffinbaugh - John 15:1-17
(4) SermonCentral sermon "The Joyful Jesus" by Randall Deal - John 15:11 - 09/01/2002
(5) "The Tender Touch of God" by Dr. Michael MacIntosh - Source: SermonCentral sermon "The Joyful Jesus" by Randall Deal - John 15:11 - 09/01/2002
(6) Cross & Crown sermon "Christ the Instructing One - Abiding" by James McCullen - John 15:1-11
(7) Sermons.com sermon "There’s Nothing in the World I Wouldn’t Do for Him" by James W. Moore - Mark 14:1-11