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No Greater Love
If you compared the Bible to the OT temple, then John's gospel would be the Holy Place, and chapters 13-17 would be the Holy of Holies, the Most Holy Place, the 'inner sanctum'. All of these words were spoken by Jesus the night before He died. And so in just a few hours, He's going to be crucified and pay for our sins, and these are His last words.
The recurring theme in these chapters is love.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
The two distinguishing birthmarks of a true believer:
1. A love for God, demonstrated in the way we obey Him.
2. A love for one another, demonstrated in the way we treat each other.
The word love is hard to define today because we use it so loosely. We say, "I love ice cream." Does it love you back? Or, "I love Wheel of Fortune." Love what? The wheel, the fortune? The model on social security? We know what we mean. But is that really love?
The confusion is compounded by Hollywood who spells love LUST. That isn't love. Physical attraction that drives you to jump in bed with someone doesn't mean you are 'in love', it means you are 'in heat.'
What is real love? God is love. And the best way to understand true love is to get to know the God of love.
ill.--one of the most famous explorers of all time was Balboa, who was credited as the first European to see the Pacific Ocean. He fell to his knees and raised his hands to heaven, thanking God for creating such an amazing thing, and for allowing him to discover it.
When you come to know true love it should drive us to our knees in gratitude for such an amazing creation of God...and for allowing us to discover it!
And we will never make a greater discovery than uncovering the depth of how God loves us! It is oceanic in its scope ... far beyond anything we can measure or comprehend.
Love is not a suggestion, it is a command.
v. 12 Our military men know the difference between a suggestion and a command. Your commanding officer doesn't give you ideas, options, or suggestions, he gives you orders, and they are to be followed strictly!
ill.--the military wanted to train an assassin for covert operations. They narrowed it down, using psychological profiling, to two men and a woman.
They brought in the first man to see if he would obey commands without question. They gave him a gun, and ordered him to go thru a door and shoot a woman sitting in a metal chair with no hesitation, and come back out. He entered, and came right back out saying, I can't shoot her, that's my wife you've got in there! They said, thank you, at least we know you're not the right man for the job.
Later, they sent the second man in with the same instructions, and again, with tears he ran out, unable to shoot his wife.
Later, they sent the woman in with instructions to kill on sight a man sitting in a metal chair in the room. She entered. They heard bang bang bang. Then they heard a terrible commotion which went on for several minutes. She came out, sweaty and out of breath. "What happened?" "First of all, that was my husband in there. Secondly, the gun you gave me was full of blanks. But I beat him to death with the chair."
She understood the difference between a suggestion and a command. [we can trust our commander's orders are not grievous!]
"Love one another" is a command. [husbands, love your wives!] This tells me that love isn't something that we feel or say...it is something that we do. Love is action. Sometimes we have no control over our feelings. God is not commanding us to feel love, but to show it.
ill.--I counsel couples who say they are splitting up because they don't feel love anymore. This proves that they don't understand true love. Biblical love is something we practice regardless of how we feel. Sometimes love involves sacrifice, difficulty, and pain. And always, it involves commitment!