This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
This is a very powerful line from Jesus that I think commonly gets overlooked or misunderstood. I think for most people the whole part of “laying down one’s life” is immediately corresponded to that of Christ. How He laid down His life for us on the cross. However, is that the only meaning of this particular passage?
While the point of Jesus laying down His own life does fit what is being said here, I think Christ was also pointing to us. Think about in Matthew when Christ says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
The reference to “laying down one’s life” doesn’t only mean Christ laying His life down for us, but us also denying ourselves and laying down our lives for Christ. It doesn’t necessarily imply that we physically die (although there are still many martyrs out there), but to give up our own self will and choose to allow His will to lead our lives. By following His commands, we are His friends, and as friends we lay down our lives for one another to signify the true love we have for each other.
So I ask, if you claim to be a friend of Christ, are you laying down your life for Him? Or are you simply focusing solely on Him laying down His life for you?