This Tuesday (ANZAC Day) the following words will be heard: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”. However, many won’t know that these are the words of Jesus speaking at the Last Supper (John 15:13).
- Firstly, Jesus’ words ARE true in general: choosing to die for others IS the greatest love you can show them. Thus, every ANZAC Day our neighbours, colleagues etc. hear about ultimate love and sacrifice (& this is a great thing!), because people hear that love isn’t just a feeling or about ‘what I get’ but about what I can GIVE, for the benefit of others. Our self-focused society and neighbours need to hear this (& so do our hearts).
- Secondly, there are many who’ve fought in wars and their death has been for the ‘general’ benefit of others— they should have our admiration, thanks and praise. There are also numerous people who have died following a deliberate choice to perform some specific heroic act to save specific people— these should have our even greater admiration, thanks and praise. These are people who sometimes receive medals (such as the Victoria Cross, Australia’s “pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and Australia’s highest military honour”. It is right and good that we recognise ALL those who fought in a war, whether they received medals or not.
- Thirdly, ANZAC Day and the words of John 15:13 can be a good lead-in to the gospel: many will listen to a brief explanation of why Jesus died: why it was necessary and what it can bring about in their life. Prayerfully try to use this gospel opportunity this week.
- Fourthly, John 15:13 tells you that Jesus showed the greatest type of love at the cross (the cross is clearly what he had in mind). However, his love was for undeserving people. Whilst citizens deserve to be protected by their fellow citizens and Government, all the Apostles (the “friends” Jesus meant in the verse) were about to desert Jesus; he died for (temporarily) faithless friends.
- Fifthly, you and I were never Jesus’ friends, we were his enemies (Romans 5:10). So, what Jesus did was more like an Australian soldier dying to save Osama Bin Laden! It’s shocking … and meant to be. Grace scandalises the fallen human mind, but grace is the only hope for the enemies of God.
So … this week, be thankful for many, but especially for the one who laid down his life for your sins to be forgiven so you can be a friend of God!