Writer James Bryan Smith tells the story of how author and speaker Brennan Manning came to better understand the deep love of God. Brennan had a best friend named Ray. They hung around, double-dated, and even bought a car together. In time they enlisted and served in the same military unit.
One day the two friends were in a foxhole talking when a hand grenade landed in their midst. Ray looked at Brennan and quickly jumped on top of the bomb. It exploded and killed him instantly. Sometime later, Brennan went to visit Ray’s mother. He asked her, “Do you think that Ray loved me?” She replied by saying something to the effect of, “What more could he have done for you, Brennan?”
Ray had shown he loved his friend more than he loved his own life. And his actions helped Brennan realize just how deeply Jesus loved him. John wrote, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us” (1 John 3:16).
Yes, Jesus laid down His life for His disciples, for the world, and for everyone (John 10:1-18, see also John 3:16-17). Prior to His death, He said, “Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13). He was a living example of this teaching in not only giving up His physical life, but in how He routinely laid down His life by humbly, compassionately serving the disciples and others with whom He came into contact (Philippians 2:3-5).
Empowered by God working within us, we’re called to lay down our lives for others. This includes sacrificially giving of ourselves—our time, possessions, plans—out of love for God and for them. May we humbly lay down our lives for Jesus’ sake today.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 29:14-30
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 and consider how Paul laid down his life to share the gospel with others.
What sometimes holds you back from laying down your life for others? How can thinking about Jesus’ act of supreme sacrifice help you do so?