Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.

 

In Focus

Jesus the dying saviour

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”  As I continue to reintroduce Jesus Christ to our thinking, I wonder if you knew that this is something Jesus Christ said. I wonder if you know that this is what Jesus Christ did. In fact he went one very big step further. One man who was prepared to take an honest look at himself in the aftermath of Jesus Christ’s death admitted, “that while we were in the activity of sin, rebellion against God, Jesus Christ died for us.” People may consider dying for a good person but to die for a bad person is quite something else. This requires a heart that will love beyond the deservedness of the person. Indeed that’s what real love, God’s love does.

Jesus statement is most commonly used when Anzac Day or Remembrance Day comes around. It is an appropriate statement when we consider those who would pay the ultimate sacrifice in war. It’s a declaration of appreciation, it’s an acknowledgement of courageous commitment and it speaks of a selfless service and love for others.

I am not sure how you as a reader respond to Jesus Christ but in a battle for the souls of people He was prepared to lose His life to spare ours. That’s to be appreciated. Without wavering in his devotion to a needy world He received the death sentence from a court of perjurers under judges who encouraged their lies. That’s courage. Crucified on the cruellest weapons of a world’s enmity He expressed in love a prayer for the sinful to be forgiven. That is love.  

Jesus Christ understood the most deadly virus known to humanity is sin. He knew the sin virus was a killer. Like all viruses it takes up residence and eats away its host. For the virus to survive its host must die.

Thankfully in a war against such a virus you won’t find Jesus Christ rushing for the toilet paper. You won’t find Him in a toilet paper brawl in Bass Hill or in a Coles or Woolworths near you. But you will find him nailed to a cross, suffering on your behalf, offering a cure for the sin virus that has been destroying us from our beginnings. It’s the same sin virus that has people fighting over toilet paper instead of considering how we might care for one another in a time of crisis.

The Bible makes clear that the most dangerous place we can get in society is anarchy, where everyone does what is right in their own eyes. This is the heart of sin, to act like you are God when you are not. We will reap the carnage of this and the virus of sin will destroy us all. In that moment COVID19 will be irrelevant as the judgement of God has the final word.

Immediately before Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  he said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Indeed after loving God the second most important commandment of God is to love our neighbour as ourselves. The COVID19 pandemic has created a time of great fear, insecurity and uncertainty. Fear, insecurity and uncertainty cannot be overcome by toilet paper wars that only highlight the viral effects of sin.  The only hope in these days of heightened anxiety is to look to God for His mercy and to so love our neighbours that we lay down our lives in the service of each other.

Let’s put a stop to the snatching, grasping, taking, panic of a world devoid of hope by receiving the hope God offers in Jesus Christ. In that hope let’s sacrifice, give generously and love one another as Christ loved the world that crucified Him.

There will of course be people affected by the sin virus so irreversibly that they will fight you for that which only has flushing value. They may go home with something to flush but dead in their sin.  Jesus words, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” are not words to be flushed but cherished.

Rick Lewers