Written by Jake Hannon, assistant coach at Liberty University.
1 John 3:16 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Any good role guy knows the key to a good penalty kill – being sold out to block shots. When a team blocks shots, they not only accomplish their mission to keep the puck out of their net, but they also generate crazy momentum for their team in the process. More often than not, blocking a shot is accomplished by completely abandoning all well-being and lying down on the ice ready to take the impact of a 90+ mile per hour puck to the body. Blocking shots is a practice not geared for the faint of heart. Accordingly, most penalty killers are either really selfless or really crazy!
We know that Jesus was only crazy by the world’s standards, but we can certainly identify His selflessness in the gospel. Even though Jesus was God – all sufficient in Himself and owing the world nothing – He came to earth to save us from ourselves. The apostle John writes in 1 John 3:16 that Jesus “laid down his life” for us. Jesus was the only person on earth that was actually born to die. And, as John writes, His death on the cross has not just given us some insight as to the essence of love, but that death has actually defined love for all mankind.
From a practical standpoint, it is important to understand the meaning of the word “life” in the verse we are studying. The Greek word used by John for “His life” is “psuchen”, which has two meanings: “breath” and “the soul”. “Breath” relates to the physical self and “the soul” relates to the neurological self. We can see that Jesus was willing to lay down his physical body (“breath”) and literally cease to be alive on earth so that He could save us. This death is the greatest sacrifice of all – He died so that we could be free (John 11:25, 1 John 2:2, John 3:16-17). But what about the second definition of life contained in the word “psuchen” – “the soul”? The soul is comprised of our mind, will, and emotions. In other words, our decisions, our agendas, our feelings, our hopes, our dreams, our desires, our plans, our success, and our overall state of being are all components of our soul. Jesus not only laid his physical self down for our redemption, but He also laid down all of these components of the soul so that we could be lifted up. In putting His own glory aside He was able to give the world a picture of true love.
Can you imagine the amount of humility it took for Jesus to get up on the cross and die for those that put Him there unjustly? Jesus came to earth to save His own people – the Jewish nation – and it was their unfair trial that convicted Him as a murderer and sentenced Him to the death only reserved for the most heinous and cursed criminals! He could have blown all their socks off and obliterated everything – He certainly had the right to do so – but He chose instead to lay everything that He was down so that He could become nothing and we could gain everything. What an amazing Savior we have and what an indescribable feeling it is to know this humble and gentle Jesus!
I can’t imagine what it would be like to die a martyr’s death, but, as petty as it sounds, I will be the first to admit the difficulty in laying down my agenda so that others may thrive. If you have ever been on a team with other people, you are not oblivious to selfishness and strife amongst teammates. We have all been pushed aside or cut down by others. We have all experienced a time when someone took advantage of us or we were wronged. Yet, the Bible calls us to lay down our walls and lay down our lives in following Jesus’ example of laying down self even through the most unjust circumstances. As John writes, “we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters”. That is where real life and real love exist. And as we lay down our lives for others, God will raise up our life in Him (Philippians 2:1-11). I want to encourage you to continue blocking shots for your teammates, your coworkers, your family members, and all those around you even when they don’t deserve it! Because we have inherited the mind and Spirit of Christ, we too can lay down our physical and emotional selves (by God’s power) to show others the same picture of love. We are victorious conquerors in Christ, destined to be a radiant beacon of love and humility to all we are in contact with – on our teams and in our communities. May God’s love shine through us every day!
1. What part of Jesus’ humility impacts you most?
2. Have you ever let your agenda, your dreams, or your pursuit of success get in the way of loving others?
3. Why do you feel the need to hold on to your life when Jesus gave His so freely?
4. What practical things can we be aware of as we seek to walk in humility and love?
Posted on Tue, January 27, 2015
by Jake Hannon