Walking In His Shoes Part 4: Willingly Laying Down His Life
On Sunday 17th July at our morning service, we finished our series Walking In His Shoes with the topic 'Willingly Laying Down His Life'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
We started our service with a Youtube clip from Captain America. You can wat this by clicking here.
Have you ever thought what kind of a person it takes to sacrifice everything for another? After all, this is the ultimate expression of love, and love always involves a choice. And if someone did that for you, how would you react? Would you, in turn, be prepared to make sacrifices for them?
The American evangelist Tony Campolo tells a true story about two soldiers who were severely injured in the Vietnam War. One of the soldiers rescues the other and saves his life. Following the war they drift apart, until one day the man that was rescued learns that his friend, who rescued him, is ill and needs someone to be constantly with him. On hearing this news, he sells his apartment in New York and moves to be with his friend. He says that after what his friend did for him (saved his life), there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his friend in return.
I think most of us would agree that if someone saved our life, which is perhaps the ultimate expression of love, then we would sacrifice something for that person, whether we are a follower of Jesus or not - wouldn’t we?
Of course Jesus talked a lot about love and about sacrifice, and it is very instructive to read some verses from John’s account of Jesus’ life to understand the sacrificial nature of the love that Jesus is talking about. John was a close follower of Jesus, one of the twelve disciples, and an eyewitness. You can read this by clicking here.
The context for these verses is that Jesus is talking to his disciples, and he knows that when he’s finished what he wants to say to them, he will be arrested and the next day crucified. He uses a metaphor to explain to his disciples that they need to stay close and attached to him, like the braches of a vine, and of course Jesus is the vine.
John, Chapter 15 verses 9 to 13:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Jesus is saying that his followers must love each other and be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice if they want to follow him. This is quite a challenge because sacrifice is not easy, that’s why it’s called sacrifice! Nor is it popular in our culture. We’re constantly told, “It’s all about you; you deserve it” and many of us believe that’s true.
So how do you walk in Jesus’ shoes and choose to demonstrate sacrificial love? It doesn’t have to be a life-changing thing, and of course it will be different for each one of us.
Time. Could you give some of your precious time to help further the Kingdom of God? There are many opportunities to do this, not least at EBC. Could you help with the children’s work, Refresh Café, serving tea and coffee on a Sunday morning?
All in response to what Jesus has done for you.
Finance. Many of us are already giving money to help fund church ministries, but are you giving sacrificially as Jesus did? Are you, really?
Relationships. Are you willing to sacrifice your pride and reach out to someone with whom you have a broken relationship?
Sharing and inviting. Are you ready to tell people about Jesus’ love for them, and invite them to church?
Whatever you choose to do, allow God to stretch you beyond what is comfortable and easy. Be willing to venture outside the range of what is “normal” for you. Each step of sacrificial love will expand your capacity to take on even bigger challenges for the kingdom of God.
The Christian, the follower of Jesus, the one who would walk in his shoes, is someone who recognises what Jesus did for them on the cross, and chooses to respond by saying, “After what you did for me, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you.” That of course, involves doing what Jesus would do if Jesus were in your place, walking in your shoes. May we learn to give as Jesus gave, holding nothing back.
Questions and Reflections (to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. How would you respond to someone if they saved your life?
2. What did Jesus mean when he said that he was the vine?
3. Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”. What is he getting at?
4. Would you be prepared to literally give up your life for someone else?
5. Do you believe that Jesus died for you, personally?
6. In response to what Jesus did for you, what sacrifice are you making or are you prepared to make for him in response?
7. In your Christian life, would you say that you are comfortable or stretched right now?
8. In response to what Jesus said and did, what changes are you going to make in your life if any?