"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.John 15:13(NASB)
In those final hours just prior to His crucifixion on a cruel Roman cross, the Lord Jesus was with those that were his dearest and closest friends. Friends that had given up all to walk with Him; friends that had eaten, slept, and marched with Him for three and a half years; friends that had been given apostolic power to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.
And yet these same friends would abandon Him, deny Him, or betray Him in a few brief hours so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled which was spoken of by the prophets: "Even my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me," for it is written: "I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered."
Christ was made an offering for SIN, the sin of the whole world, but He willingly went to the Cross as a FREEWILL offering of love for his friends who are His Body, the Church. And Christ loved and cherished the Church so dearly that He gave Himself for it: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends."
We are to abide in Him, reflect His love, and to love others in the same way that He loved us. It is only as we experience a deepening love for Jesus and all that He has done for us, that we can begin to allow His love to flow into us and through us to others. And then, in His power and strength, we too may lay down our lives in service to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, in Jesus' name.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the greatest of all examples of love that Christ demonstrated toward me, in that while I was still a sinner, He died for me. He has called me to be a member of His Church and to love others as He has loved me. May I love others in His strength and power, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.