Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
I must have heard or read these words of Jesus hundreds of times over the last 34 years.
And they are good words. They are God’s Word and that makes them of the utmost importance. It makes them the Truth.
But reading these words in a Bible or hearing them in a sermon is one thing.
To hear about them being lived out in real life is something else, something powerful.
Welles Crowther had been out of college for about two years and was working as an equities trader in New York City. He was at his desk on the 104th floor in 2 World Trade Center when the second plane of the September 11th attacks struck the building below him.
Having been a junior volunteer fireman before college, Crowther sprang into action. He made his way down to the devastated floors and found survivors and carried and led as many as he could down to street level. He then turned around and when back up for more.
Crowther always carried a red bandana with him and put this on to shield from the smoke in the stairwell. This is what survivors remember of him – a “man in a red bandana” that had saved him.
His body was found among the debris six months later. Welles Crowther literally laid down his life for “friends” – in this case, co-workers from the same building on one of the most tragic days in U.S. history.
Just a few days ago, there were others who laid down their lives for their friends – and strangers – in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sonny Melton was a registered nurse and his wife is an orthopedic surgeon. They were attending a concert in Las Vegas on October 1.
Sonny covered his wife with his own body when the gunfire began. He took bullets that would have taken his wife’s life. He gave up his own life to save hers.
These are tragic stories. These are heroic stories. And they remind me of the most tragic and heroic story of all time.
The story of Jesus Christ.
Humans are lost in sin from the day they are conceived. “Since the fall of Adam, all who are naturally born are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin” (Augsburg Confession, Article II Original Sin, quoted from Concordia The Lutheran Confessions, © 2005, 2006 Concordia Publishing House, p 31).
But God loves all of us, so much so, that he didn’t want us to be condemned forever. So God sent Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ lived perfectly for us, walked among us for a little over 30 years, then took on our sin and paid the penalty on the cross. He truly – and literally – laid down his life for us, his friends.
Because Jesus did this for us, we can also do it for others.
I don’t mean literally lay down our lives for others – although some certainly do that!
But we could befriend someone else. We can support someone who’s going through a rough time in their lives. We can comfort someone who is grieving. We can stand up and speak up for those who are being bullied.
With Jesus as our friend, we can befriend others.
Heavenly Father, as you sent Jesus to be our friend who laid down his life for us, help us to befriend others. Especially those who do not know Jesus as their Savior. Give us your Holy Spirit so that we can be friends to them and encourage them to know Jesus, the greatest friend of sinners. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2017 True Men Ministries