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Lesson 7: Sacrificial Love

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Devotion: Read John 15:12-17. In just a few verses we hear Jesus twice command us to “love each other.” He ties together love and our ability to bear fruit. Who in your life is most consistently obedient to Jesus’ command to love? Are they also the people who bear the other spiritual fruit discussed in Galatians 5:22-23? Is it possible to bear the other fruit without love for others present?What does that teach us about our desire for joy, peace, and self-control? What does it take to be a friend of God? If a servant is someone who is motivated by fear to serve, and a friend is motivated by love to serve, which are you? What helps someone move from being a servant to being a friend?

Personal Worship Option: Write Jesus a letter. You do not have to mail it, but writing forces us to make choices about our thoughts. It is an important spiritual practice. Tell Jesus anything you want. Complain, argue… If you will not write him a letter, take time to explain in prayer why you will not.

Dig A Little Deeper:

15:12 “As I have loved you” is the modifier for the command “love one another” (Jn 13:14-17). How does that phrase change how we hear Jesus’ directive? Jesus’ words in 15:16 also suggests the love of Christ gives his followers the ability to love to this degree.  

15:13 Sacrificial love in general, but specifically Jesus’ embodiment of love, becomes the measuring stick for all other loving actions.

15:14 How does this verse inform or change how we define what it means to be a Christian?

15:15 A servant does not have intimate knowledge of why the Master acts. Friends tell each other what and why they act as they do. How does this simple idea work in conjunction with the statement about friendship with Jesus we read in 15:14? What is the connection between obedience and intimacy with Jesus?

15:16 The verb translated “chose you” (Greek, “tithenai”) has the same linguistic root as in the 15:13 phrase “to lay down one’s life.” This means the early readers would have seen a connection between the example of love Jesus gave and their own commissioning.  

Notice there are two uses of the phrase “so that.” There is a link between the call to bear fruit and being aligned with Jesus to the degree that our prayers can be offered in the name and spirit of Jesus (“whatever you ask in my name…”).  

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