“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
This past week, courtesy of our daughter-in-law Sharra’s gracious invitation to accompany her to a doctor’s appointment, we got a first glimpse of our newest grandchild via sonogram. Only sixteen weeks in the womb, yet through the miracle of modern medical technology we were able to see two little arms and two little legs, count ten fingers and ten toes, view both hemispheres of its brain, and four ventricles of its tiny heart through which blood was pumping, all the while wiggling around like its three-year-old older sister. What a sight! We fell in love, as if we hadn’t already.
What does it mean to lay down one’s life for someone else? For the longest time I thought it literally meant martyrdom, such as a soldier falling on a grenade to save his or her comrades, or jumping in front of a bus to prevent someone else from getting run over. Few of us, though – thankfully!! – are placed in such circumstances. But does that mean that the only people able to express such “greater” radical love are those who physically die in place of another? The answer is that it is not so much about dying as it is how we choose to live. Do we choose to live for all we can get out of life, or do we choose to live for all we can give?
According to Jesus, “. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seed.” (John 12:24) Again, this raises the issue that it is not so much about death as we think of it; rather it is about how we choose to live. Do we want our lives to remain a single seed, or do we live for the purpose of producing many seeds?
My heart skipped a beat last week when I witnessed our new grandbaby squirming around in its mommy’s tummy, just as it does every time I hear “grandpa” from the older two. And I realized my only hope for producing many seeds depends on my choosing to be a positive influence on my grandchildren, as well as others – to die to self in order to live for others. “Greater love has no one than this.” . . . . . And by the way, it’s a girl.