Devotional – “The Ultimate Sacrifice” (29 April 2018)

This week the morning light gathered to the strains of Reveille on another ANZAC Day, as we gathered to remember the fallen and honour their sacrifice for our peace and freedom.

I’ve experienced Remembrance Day events in South Africa and England, but there is something quite unique about the sense of identity and solidarity that accompanies the Australian commemorations of ANZAC Day. This year is a special year, as it marks one hundred years since the end of the Great War in which the original Anzacs served.

Often in ANZAC Day services, the following verses from the Bible will be read:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13 (ESV)

It’s true that giving your life for those you love is the ultimate sacrifice. There is no more that someone can give. Australia’s birth as a nation is largely built on the sacrifices of those who gave their lives in the spirit of courage, endurance, mateship, and indeed, sacrifice.

These words of Jesus are broadly true of men and women, and they are appropriate for an occasion like ANZAC Day.

But in John 15, Jesus is using this maxim to make a more profound point. See John 15:13 in context:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. – John 15:12–14 (ESV)

Jesus has laid down his life, making the ultimate sacrifice, for us. And he calls us friends whom he loves.

Of course, the sacrifice of Jesus is more than simply a physical, temporal event. It purchased for us peace, but peace with our Creator; it purchased for us freedom, but freedom from the destructive powers of sin and death. And this greater love for us must motivate the way we love others.

In a popular YouTube video, Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski quotes another rabbi’s teaching on love: “The people make a serious mistake in thinking that you give to those whom you love, the real answer is, you love those to whom you give.”

And knowing what Jesus has given for us, we are called to give like Jesus.

On ANZAC Day, we recognise the love of servicemen and women who have given sacrificially for our temporal and physical peace and freedom.

But having experienced, and received the benefit of, a far greater sacrifice, do the people around us recognise our love?

Live it: Do those around you recognise a great sacrificial love in you, which shows that you have personally experienced the greater sacrificial love of Jesus?


– Clint Lombard