Shortly before Jesus' arrest and crucifixion he sat with his disciples and seemed to be giving them words of warning and comfort that would prepare them for the days and years ahead. In the middle of that conversation were these words, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
That is not all that Jesus said to them. I believe those words were not meant just for that time and that place. He was not only giving them instruction, preparing them for what was to come, but he was also preparing us.
Jesus told us that if we remain in him, and he in us, we would bear much fruit, but apart from him, we can do nothing. In that message he told us that he chose us and appointed us to bear fruit, fruit that will last. In addition, in John 15:15 he said, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." Do we realize how powerful that is? Think of your closest friend versus a casual acquaintance, the depth of that relationship, the things you share with them. Jesus, the creator of the universe, has intentionally changed our relationship with him. We were once thought of as servants, but now He calls us friend!
Jesus goes deeper; he bears his soul as you would to a friend and tries to prepare them for the persecution that lies ahead. John 15:18-19: "If the world hates you, keep in mind, that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. If the persecuted me, they will persecute you also." This was not just a message for the disciples sitting at his feet; it is a message for us today. The hate we see today towards those who love God and proclaim His truth, is not new, nor is it unexpected. Furthermore, Jesus tells us "...they hate without reason." Jesus immediately tells his disciples how they will be able to deal with this hate. He will send an Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, and that Advocate will testify of Jesus! In addition, "...you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning."
This Easter season as we think of the price our savior paid for our freedom, and look with concern at what is going on in our culture and across the world, remember how Jesus said to handle it. Testify, bear much fruit, and abide in the vine.
"He is not here; he has risen!..." Luke 24:6