Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

What is this Greater Love?


John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”


February 14 is Valentine’s Day.  It is the one day in the year when we tell our significant others that we love them.  And then that is supposed to carry them through another year.  I had a friend who went further than that.  He said that when he got married, he told his wife that he loved her;  and if it ever changed, he would let her know.  My limited observations seem to indicate that men are generally not as good at vocalizing their love as women.  Of course, maybe it is just me that has trouble with this.  


So likely your significant other told you not to spend any money on her, that she knew you loved her.  However, I would suspect that if you were wise you did not take her at her word.  I considered what to do this year. While we have plans to do some fine dining, we weren’t going to be able to do it on the actual date and maybe not on the actual weekend because both of us have the “creeping crud” which is either a cold or the flu.  So I was trying to figure out how to make my wife feel special without spending a lot of money.  I didn’t really pray about it but sometimes God answers prayers that we haven’t really vocalized yet.  He does know our needs.  So while sitting at McDonald’s, an enterprising young girl came along and tried to sell me Girl Scout cookies.  At first I told her no.  I knew my wife would say that they were not on her diet.  Then I realized that this girl was an answer to an unspoken prayer.  I bought a box of “thin” mints and put a bow on them and took them to my wife.  She got chocolate that she would have told me not to buy but that she seemed to enjoy.   I got appreciated, and I didn’t spend a wad of money.  What could be better?  Our fine dining is still on hold.


Greater or Best or Chief Love

With the Lord, Valentine’s Day was a dark day on an old rugged cross.  But why, in this passage, does He say that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends?   The Good News Bible translates this, “The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.”  Most more literal translations seem to leave us with the idea that laying down your life for your friends is the greatest love that there is  This love is not just the greatest love you can have for your friends even though that is also true..  Why would laying down your life for your friends be a greater love than laying down your life for your enemies which is what the Lord did?   It would seem to me that there is a sense in which the greatest love was laying down His life for those who rejected Him, who envied His popularity, who hated Him without a cause.    But the word greater may mean most valuable or most important.  For example it seems to me that in Matthew 23:17, the temple is more important or valuable than the gold of the temple.  The passage says, “Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?”


This is the greatest love that the Lord could provide for his friends and that may be all that the Lord is saying.  But I think He is going further and is saying that this is the greatest love because it is a love that is appreciated.  We know that love often has to do with duty and action.  But friends are people who love each other in an intimate way.  The Lord is talking to friends in this passage.  They have responded to His love and that is what makes the love here greater or intrinsically more valuable than the same love found in John 3:16. The love shown for His friends will motivate them to keep His commandments.  They will talk about and remember that love.  The same love shown to the unbeliever will be mocked and forgotten.


When you bring home a box of chocolates for your wife on Valentine’s Day and when you say, “ I love you,” I suspect you are hoping for a reciprocating response.  If she throws the gift in the trash and says that you shouldn’t have been so foolish as to have bought the gift she would certainly be diminishing the value of the love behind the gift.  The love therefore in this passage, is “greater” or more valuable or more appreciated than the love offered to everyone at the cross because many are foolishly rejecting that love.



God doesn’t just love, He is love. But for His love to be meaningful and valuable it has to be accepted and appreciated.  God has provided a love with infinite value because His love is undeserved and saves for eternity.  The Lord put Himself between us and the judgment of God.  He took the bullet that could have destroyed us. He could do no more for anyone, believer or unbeliever alike.  But what value have we placed on that love?


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of February 15, 2015

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