“NO GREATER LOVE”                                By Pastor YAU

Text: John 15:9-17                                          January 11, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A visible memorial: Melbourne, Australia, is the home of the Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial honoring those who died for their country. Built after World War I, it has since been expanded to honor all who served in uniform and died in subsequent conflicts. It is a beautiful place with reminders of courage, devotion and sacrifice. The highlight of the shrine is a hall with a carved stone that simply reads, “Greater Love Hath No Man.” Every year on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 a.m. a mirror reflects the sun’s light on the stone to spotlight the word Love. It is a poignant tribute to those who gave their lives so others may live.

2)   An invisible memorial: In ancient Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago, one day before Jesus was betrayed and eventually put to death on the cross, He delivered a series of teaching to His disciples on His immediate departure and death. He predicted His death for all the people of the world, saying, “Greater love has no one than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) He continued to say, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (15:14) Although there is no visible memorial building, carved stone or shrine of any kind anywhere in the world to commemorate His death, the sacrificial love of Jesus stays in the hearts and souls of countless millions all around the world.

 

LOVE IN THE BIBLE:

1)    The theme of the Bible: If we want to choose one word as the theme of the Bible, the word must be “LOVE”. This word, love, with different applications, appears more than 380 times in the Bible. It covers all dimensions of relationship from God to man to people to things to almost all aspects of this world and life. It won’t be too dogmatic to say that Christian faith is built on love. From glimpses of other major religions, Christianity is much superior in terms of love.

2)    The attribute of God: “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) Even though theologians call our attention that we should not equal God with love and call love as God, the most overarching attribute of God is love. In all God is and what God has done and will do, love is certainly higher than most other attributes such as his power, knowledge, presence and even righteousness. The only one attribute that may be higher than love is God’s holiness. His holiness cannot and will not be compromised because of His love. All other attributes will become secondary or meaningless if God is not a loving God.

3)    The supreme of all laws: In answering a question posted by a scribe: which is the most important commandment, Jesus quoted Deut. 6:4, 5 saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) This can and should be the supreme principle of Christian life: love God and love people. Apostle Paul echoed this theme when he encouraged Christians, then and now, “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16: 14)

4)    The greatest of all gifts: Paul wrote a whole chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians, to teach us the usefulness of spiritual gifts in comparison to the greatest of all gifts, love. In his conclusion of the chapter, he said, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (13:13)Coveting spiritual gifts is a noble desire, be it for personal growth or for service to God and people. But no gift is better or higher than one supreme gift which is love. If we are eager in seeking spiritual gift for growth or service to God and to man, we should ask for the best gift of all, love.

 

THE WONDERS OF LOVE:

1)    Love leads to salvation: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)This most popular verse of the Bible tells the truth of salvation of men because of the love of God. If it were not the love of God, His holiness and righteousness would leave the world in hopelessness of being saved.

2)    Love leads to forgiveness: In encouraging forgiveness among people in the church, Peter gave us practical and effective means to achieve the seemingly impossible goal. In his first letter to the early Christians, he said, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” All we need to see is the unlimited forgiveness parents have for their children because of their deep love to their children.

3)    Love leads to obedience: “Jesus replied: If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.” (John 14:23)In the discourse to His disciples, Jesus laid out a foundational prerequisite of obeying His teaching: love. Love produces commitment and respect which leads to obedience and faithfulness. We find this to be true in everyday life in education, religion, politics and in personal relationship.

4)    Love leads to service: “Jesus said to Simon Peter: Simon, son of Jonah, do you truly love me more than these? Yes, Lord, he replied, you know that I love you. Jesus said, Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)If you love someone, one of the desires you have is to serve him/her, to do things for him/her and to make him/her happy. That’s exactly what Jesus wanted to know and what Peter wanted to show it to Jesus. The results? A command to serve Him by feeding His lambs, His people. Many of us can identify with this that when we love someone we want to serve that person. If you love the Lord, you want to serve Him.

 

 

THE RICHES OF HIS LOVE: (John 15:9-17)

1)   Love comes from the Lord: “The Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” (15:9) Jesus gave us a formula of love: from the Father to the Son to the disciples. John echoed this idea more clearly when he said, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)God is the origin of love. His love is unconditional and everlasting.

2)   Love is meant to last: “Now, remain in my love.” (15:9)Jesus intended to love His disciples forever and He demanded we are to stay in His love forever. His love to us will never change and our love to Him should be likewise.

3)   Love shown in action: “If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed the commands of my Father and remain in His love.” (15:10)James demanded that faith must be shown in action, so must love be shown the same way. If you love God, do what He says.

4)   Love brings complete joy: “I have told you this so my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (15:11) Nothing may bring complete joy than the kind of joy love may bring. Joy brought by love is both everlasting and complete.

5)   Love extended to people: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (15:12) Most of us have little problem loving God but have lots of problem loving people, particularly some people. The command of Jesus is more than just love God but also love one another regardless.

6)   Love beyond your family: “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” (15:13)Love those in our inner circle like family is much easier than love those on the outside of our circle. This is that greatest love God asked of us.

7)   Love is the lasting fruit: “You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will last.” (15:16)We are chosen to bear fruits for God and the fruit that will last is that from love. The fruits of love will remain in the heart of God and man forever.

8)   Love is a two-way street: “This is my command: Love each other.” (15:17) Even God’s love to us is unconditional He still desires that we love him back. Jesus wanted to see that we love one another, love and be loved. No one is entitled to receive love from others if he doesn’t love others. When love is give and take, it is not about fairness but about lasting. No one-sided love will last except that of God’s love.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)     A New Year resolution: It is more than just a ritual to have resolutions at some special dates like New Year. But it is a special time to make that special resolution to change our mindset and life for the better and higher. No resolution is better or higher than the desire to grow and show love to God and to men starting from those in our inner circle, family and friends and expand to friends and others. Make decisions or choices to show love to someone each day.

2)     A New Year demonstration: Show your love in ways others may feel and see, in tangible ways that may benefit someone and his life. Show your love in actions that may cost you time or money. Go for the extra mile to touch life. Do more than just having a resolution or decision. Put your intention to work for God and others.

3)     A New Year acceptance: The biggest gift of love is from God in His Son, Jesus Christ. God has sent His best gift to you many years ago. This is the time you may want to accept that gift: to invite Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior so you may become a child of God today.