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Obeying and Loving
John 15.9-17
John for Everyone Part 2

Like an innocent child wandering by itself into a kitchen and pressing the switches that will set the house on fire, some biblical texts have been taken out of their original setting and used in ways that would have horrified the original speaker or writer. Here in this passage we have one with exactly that history.

‘No one’, said Jesus, ‘has a love greater than this, to lay down your life for your friends’ (verse 13). That is true, gloriously true. Indeed, Jesus was on his way to his own execution as the most dramatic example of the point (see 10.11; 13.1). The cross is clearly in view here, when Jesus says that laying down your life for your friends is the highest form of love, and then says ‘and you, of course, are my friends’ (verse 14). But during the First World War (1914–18), this text was used again and again, in sermons and lectures, set to music and sung by great choirs, with one single meaning: therefore you, young man – they were mostly young men – must go off to the front line, do what you’re told and if necessary die for your country...

Taken from John for Everyone Part 2 – by Tom Wright

Publisher: SPCK - view more
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