13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:13-14).
When I was a high school student, my teacher in Christian Living Education asked us to choose a bible passage from the four gospels and make it as a slogan. As I searched for some beautiful bible passages from the gospel through Google, I was captivated by the message of John 15: 13-14. Actually, when I was a high school student, I don’t exactly know the meaning of it. My attention was just spellbound on its message and so I chose it as my bible passage for the slogan. Sixteen years ago, I encountered that bible passage from the Gospel of John for the first time.
Last Thursday of our discussion before the finals for the first semester in Johannine Writings, I encountered it again for the second time and it was a special encounter because our excellent and kind-hearted professor in Johannine Writings Fr. Jun Lingad, SDB explained to us the real meaning and gist of John 15: 13-14. I am really inspired, amazed, and mesmerized by his explanation about the passage. According to him, it is the core of the Last Supper account of Jesus in the Gospel of John. It gives the theme for the entire account of the Last Supper in John which is Last Supper: A Commandment of Love. It is in doing the commandment of God with faith that we may be able to love the Lord with all of our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our strength. It is in doing with believing that we may be able to feel and recognize that we are no longer slaves but friends of God. One of the concrete examples of being a true friend for others is what Jesus did for all of us who consider us as friends, i.e. he laid down his life for us for the sake of loving us as friends. What a beautiful manifestation of love that is deeply rooted in faith!
The Bible passage does not only inspire us, but it also challenges us and invites us to do the same. Laying down one’s life for one’s friends could also be manifested in our day to day lives like sacrificing our own self-interest and comfort zones for the sake of loving those who are not being loved and also those who does not love us. However, it is easy to say than to do it. It takes courage and faith in doing this noble and worthy expression of love rooted in faith for our friends; not just only for those whom we know and those who loved us, but also for those who does not love us and persecute us. I was not able to know this things when I first met this passage sixteen years ago. What I just knew about it was it talks about unconditional love God has for all of us. But last Thursday, that first impression on the passage which I encountered when I was a high school student was nurtured and cherished; thanks to Fr. Jun for giving a wonderful explanation about the passage, and it really enthused me to see and consider that bible passage as the main theme or main perspective for my life.
Now, as I always encounter this passage as I flip the scripture especially the Gospel of John, I have now this kind of understanding about it; 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:13-14)-it means God invites me and challenges me to be a genuine Christ for others in different walks of life. God loved each and every one of us despite our differences, shortcomings, and beliefs. God’s love is universal. This should be my way of understanding about love. This should be my conviction why I must believe in the power of love which rooted on God who is love. At the end of the day, in everything that I do and encounter in life, it must be overruled by a moving and motivating principle in life, i.e. LOVE rooted in FAITH; and the best example for this is Christ who laid his life for me for the sake of loving the “I am” in me. This should be me, and this should be my identity as a creature of God who created me out of love and mercy.