My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)
On His way to the cross, Jesus demonstrated the Father’s love and offered gifts along the way—gifts that keep on giving like forgiveness.
Affirming her gratitude for forgiveness, a sinful woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She also anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. Although her actions disturbed those present, they pleased Jesus. He said she had prepared Him for His burial and her deed would be told as a memorial to her for all time. Jesus gave the gift of forgiveness to us as well. We affirm our gratitude by forgiving others. It’s a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of obedience.
Obedience isn’t always easy, especially when it seems to lead to a difficult situation. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He knew the road lead to His crucifixion. But He marched into the city with victory on His shoulders in obedience to the Father. Obedience is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of authority.
Jesus exhibited His authority over sin and injustice the day He cleansed the temple. He also verified His authority over death a week later. He gave the gift of authority to His disciples and sent them out to spread the word of His appearing and to cast out demons. In turn, that gift has been passed down to every believer. Authority is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of prayer.
Through prayer, Jesus knew and carried out the Father’s will. The Messiah encouraged His followers to pray often, especially on the night of His arrest. Jesus knew His fate. He needed time with the Father. He knew the fate of His disciples and their need for strength as the horrific events took place. He gave them the gift of prayer to help sustain them. And He offers the gift of prayer to each of us. Prayer is a gift that keeps on giving like the gift of surrender.
Surrender often implies defeat. But Jesus showed us it denotes love and can lead to victory. Had He not surrendered to the Roman soldiers that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the prophecies concerning Him would not have been fulfilled. Jesus’ surrender was His greatest act of love. He had told His disciples that no man would take His life. Rather He laid down His life willingly in obedience to the Father who had given Jesus the authority to take it up again.
Jesus also said, “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down his life for a friend.” He called His followers His friends and gave us the ultimate gift of love—His life.
Love is a gift that keeps giving.
How about you? How can you offer the gift of love to someone today?
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of defeat. Prepare by reading and meditating on John 11:1-14.
See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks