No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. - John 15:13
The Season of Lent is a gift the liturgical calendar gives us. We need the time to prepare ourselves to grapple with the greatest gift of love we will ever receive. In this verse in the gospel of John, Jesus’ disciple reminds us that Jesus’ Passion, his death on the cross, and his resurrection are all testament to the love that Jesus has for us.
Now, there is both promise and problem in that opening paragraph. The promise is that it is possible to discover ever more deeply the love that God has for us. The problem is that most of us think about it in one of two ways. Either we think we already know and therefore don’t bother to truly discover its ever greater depths. Or we think that John is talking about Jesus’ love for someone else. Our own shame, guilt, or lack of self-worth keep us from believing that Jesus’ testimony of love is fully and truly for us.
To answer the first way, I will simply point you toward the sermon series we will be walking through together through the Season of Lent. To answer the second, let me point you to the apostle Paul’s take on our John verse. In Romans 5:7-8, Paul writes, “Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Did you read that? While we were still sinners, Jesus testified to his love for us in the greatest way possible. No amount of shame or guilt or lack of self-worth can disqualify us from this. Jesus loves you even at your worst. Still does. Nothing has changed. Nothing can change that. It may take Lent done right for you to receive that.
Gracious Lord, we are thankful for your love for us. We are also pretty poor receivers of that love. We ask that you work in us to unearth our defenses and overwhelm our doubts so that we might become people rooted and grounded in your love. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.