“My cousin Mike Harter posts: ‘Only two defining FORCEs have ever offered to die for you: Jesus Christ and the American soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.’ [If I may interject here… Jesus died for both!] Thank you Mike and to ALL who serve… May THE FORCEs be with you!” … my Facebook
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NLT
I have read this Scripture countless times in the past but as of recent I have stumbled across to a new understanding of it. At first glance it is hard not to interpret this in the physical sense. Laying down one’s life… to die for another. But after further review, the area of service appears more encompassing. And because I am seeing a directional here, let me go further to rank… God first, Family second, Country third [I know there is some debate on the order here, but this is my blog].
I believe God first and all others fall under His subjection. When it comes to the greatest Humanitarian of all time, the award goes to Jesus. So I think first of Him, and then the others: our military, our law enforcement, our fire fighters and disaster relief friends, etc… and how they risk their lives, and sometimes lose them, at the front lines of their chosen duties.
Now, are all of us going to have to lay down in the physical, our life? Probably not. But, are we all called to lay down our lives to and for others? Probably so. Let me explain by definition…
To lay… “To put or place, cause to settle or subside, to give importance to, to bring forth from the body and deposit, to construct; build, as a foundation, to make (a table) ready for a meal…”
Down… “to, at, or in lower place or state, on or to ground, in descending direction.”
To lay down… “to give up (one’s life), to state or proclaim, to lay down the law.” [NI Webster’s Dictionary]
Let me say, first and foremost, I am completely indebted to Jesus Christ for everything… everything I have and everything I am. What I would like to highlight here [“to give importance to, to bring forth from the body and deposit, to construct; build, as a foundation, to make (a table) ready for a meal…“] is His walk of service, His experiential teachings, His life of sacrifice for us. I can think of no other who gave so much, and received so little in return. He is the ultimate role-model of sacrifice, service, and love… God, Country, and Family. He lead by example and we as student’s [aka. disciples], need to follow His.
If Jesus, having come from on High, having descended to us [“to… lower place or state, on or to ground, in descending direction“], can lay down; give us so freely His Life… from beginning to end, shouldn’t we try… to ‘follow His example’ and live accordingly? No one took His life from Him, He gave it up and out… for us.
I am very thankful for those who give so much; in their service and by their sacrifice. THANK YOU! GOD BLESS YOU, INDEED! I do see here, however, a bigger picture that includes what all of us can do… to lay down our lives, our testimonies, our walk of faith… to all we call ‘friends’. That they may see too; the bigger picture. And also the vision… to see the forest beyond the trees, the future beyond the present… Hope.
I would also like to thank Job [Job 1-42], David, and the countless others, who laid down and presented their lives before us that we may be strong and have good courage, because the battle is not ours, but God’s. Even when others come against us and take issue with our walk of faith, we have ammunition through prayer.
By example, let us lay down our ‘living testimony’ for the greater good. May we all race with endurance the race set before us and when one stumbles, may those running aside; lend a hand upward.
[ Jesus, the Example ] Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3: 17-18
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Dr. Charles Stanley’s Daily Devotional Scriptures [entered below FYI] for February 17, 2011 were from Luke 24. I saw from the beginning an illustration of the message I spoke on above… The women who found an empty tomb witnessed [laid down] what they heard and saw at the risk of rejection. Their testimony fell on deaf ears at first glance, but with divine intervention, Peter was led to investigate…
8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
The rest of Luke 24 further highlights ‘the witness’. I will leave this to your discernment…
He Is Risen
1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’” 8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.
The Road to Emmaus
13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
The Disciples’ Eyes Opened
28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them. 30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any food here?” 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
The Scriptures Opened
44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.