9 As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. 10 If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 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. 14 Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his LORD doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Let me say the words that often become a mere memory after we cross a stranger’s path. Words that would, could, and often, mean nothing to the untrained ear. But in the end, these words might change the outlook of a single man’s life. Words that have been bellowed for thousands of years, introduced to hundreds of generations, yet gone unheeded by so many. Words so obscure to the normal and unaware, but profound to he who would hear that blessed message:
The Christ of God was born; lived among us; healed; preached; saved; was rejected; was crucified; did die; was buried; arose from the dead on the third day; walked again among us; ascended into heaven where He took His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father; and, will return one day to claim His bride, the Christian Church.
You can have no greater Friend than Jesus of Nazareth. He is the same Jesus who left His Holy Spirit to guide, convict, consol, pray for, teach, commission, restrain, intercede, fill, and protect you in your hour of need. He is the same Jesus Who would beg His Father for the salvation of your soul. He is the same Jesus who would die to provide propitiation to His father, thus justifying your meager existence. JESUS!
I had a friend. Well, let me say that I still have a friend, huh? We grew up together; played; ran; kept secrets. Did all of the things "friends" would do. Even got in trouble together. But one day, my friend, in order to save himself from a sure-fire whippin’, gave me up! My friend gave me up! He ratted me out; told on me; blew the whistle. Some kind of friend. And, after I had received my just punishment, I looked at my friend and he couldn’t bear to look me in the face. Others around us asked my friend why he gave me up, and he denied the whole thing. Even got a little indignant with the crowd. Told them where they could go. You ever have a friend like that? Someone who left you holding the bag? Yeah, I know you have.
Jesus had a "friend" like that. His name was Peter. Seems as though Peter – you remember the story in Matthew 26 and verse 33 – Peter tells Jesus, "Hey, you know what, Jesus? I don’t care what anyone else does. I’m gonna always be there for you, my man. You and me, Jesus. Always together. I got your back!" Jesus, tells Peter, "Nah, Peter. Before the cock crows this night, you will deny me three times." Now check out Peter’s reply. "Hey, hey, HEY, hey, hey! Now, wait a minute, Jesus! Man, even if I have to die with you, die for you, or die because of you, I will never deny you. Jesus, man, you hurt my feelings. You know me and you tight."
"Tight" they were. Because Jesus knew – even before the beginning of time – that He would have to lay down His life for His friends. Jesus knew – I am getting ahead of my self.
Let’s look at our text, brothers and sisters. In the 9th through the 17th verses of John, chapter 15, we find our Christ talking to His disciples about love. He talks about God’s love for Jesus; Jesus’ love for His disciples; the disciples’ love for Christ; and, the disciples love for each other. And, if we were to talk about all of those different types of love, we’d be here all afternoon. Let’s just concentrate on Christ’s love for His disciples.
First, you’ve got to understand that Christ leaves His disciples. He knew He’d have to leave. But, leaving someone doesn’t mean that you hate him or her. Loving them might be the best reason for your departure. Write this down: There was a "pattern" of this love that Christ exhibited. Look at what Christ says: As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Get this. God loved Jesus, Who was most worthy; Jesus loved His disciples – and us – who are most unworthy. What? Is Jesus wrong in His analogy?
No! He’s telling us Christians that even though we are foul, disgraceful, putrid, stone-cold hearted sinners, He will love us – in spite of ourselves – just like God loves Him! God loves Jesus as His Son, and Jesus loves us as His children. Can you love someone who hasn’t been right with you, Church? Christ can. Can you ask for their forgiveness after they’ve spat in your face? Christ can. Can you keep your mouth closed when they shove thorns down your head? Christ can. Can you provide a healing stare after they have whipped your back into shreds? Christ can. Can you lay down your life for the world’s sake? Christ did!
Now wait a minute, Church! There is no Friend like the lowly Jesus. This man-god gave it all up; took a beating (Isa 52:14 said that Christ’s… "visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men;" meaning that Christ was beaten to within an inch of His life. They couldn’t recognize Him because of His battered face and body.). My God! They tried to kill Him before they nailed Him to the cross. And, all the time, He was doing it to give us a chance at salvation. Now, ain’t that a "FRIEND?" Come on, tell me: Is Jesus your "FRIEND?"
Next, you’ve got to understand the proofs and products of Christ’s love. What we’re talking about here is that old law of Physics: To every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.
1. Christ loved His disciples, and us, because He laid down His life for them. Look at verse 13. Greater proof of love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. And, this is the love wherewith Christ hath loved us. The product is that we are now willing to die for, and because of, Him He said, "If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me." Christ knew that He must die in order to have the world come to Him in awe and reverence. He knew that the only chance we’d have would be through His earthly death.
2. Christ loved His disciples, and us, because He chose and ordained them to be the prime instru8ments of His glory and honor in the world. Verse 16 says, "I have chosen you, and ordained you." His love was evident in their election and in their ordination. Christ has chosen us. Our names have been written in the Book of Life. Even before we drew our first breath, He had chosen us to be members of the elect. Heirs to the throne of God! Not only were we chosen, He also ordained us to carry on His work.
Mt 28:19-20 tells it all: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." " Hey, you’re my friends. I give you what no one else can give you. I give you life on earth as a minister of God. And, I give you life eternal, as a child of God. I do this for you because you are My friends. You are My brothers and sisters. And, I love you!"
You see, Church, you have to pay a price for love. Sometimes, you’ve got to feel a little pain; sometimes, a lot. Seems a though Jesus felt a lot. Sometimes, you lose the one you love. We lost Jesus. Sometimes, love causes fear. Peter was afraid. Sometimes, love makes you show compassion. Simon the Cyrene, as he helped Christ Jesus with His cross, and Martha, the sister of Lazarus, as she washed Jesus’ feet, showed compassion.
And, guess what, brothers and sisters? There is no friendship without love.
Look at the text. 9 As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved
you: continue ye in My love. 17 These things I command you,
that ye love one another. And, in between those verses, Christ says that
a true friend lays down his life for another friend…13 Greater
love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus is the "friend" we’ve always needed. He has never let us down. Even before we drew our first breath, He had sacrificed His life for our salvation.
Do you have another friend that would take a beating for you? Do you have another friend who would stand up before God and beg for your pitiful life? Do you have another friend who would allow the soldiers to beat his face raw, instead of you? Do you have another friend who would allow the soldiers to shove a spear up his chest in order to save you the pain? Do you have another friend who would die so that you might live? I tell you, Church, THERE IS NO FRIEND LIKE JESUS!
Say it: Jesus! Jesus! JESUS! Oh, how sweet the name. Jesus! Every day the same. Jesus! Let all saints proclaim. It’s worthy praise forever. Amen.
Rev. Dr. S. Stewart PoullardTh.D., is pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Mermentau, Louisiana. Pastor Poullard holds a Masters in Theology [Th.M.] from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, Camilla, Georgia, 1999 and a Doctorate in Theology [Th.D.] from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, 2000. New Hope’s Motto: "We Teach and Preach Christ."
Opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission. 2003 BlackandChristian.com