Laying Your Life Down for Your Friends


By Dr. Ken Matto


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)


One of the greatest teachings in scripture is found in John 15:13 where Jesus states that the greatest love that a person can have is when a person lays down their life for their friends.  This verse directly applies to the Lord Jesus Christ who gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice for the Elect of God and granting them everlasting salvation. 


As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:15)


Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (John 10:17)


In John 10:15 & 17 Jesus tells us that he lays his life down for the sheep which are the true believers.  In John 10:15 Jesus tells us about the relationship he has with his Father as the Father knows that he will soon lay his life down for all the Elect of God. 


Then in John 10:17 Jesus is stating that His Father loves Him because He is going to lay down His life and because of that, the will of the Father will be fulfilled and this means that through Christ, millions of people will become saved. Then the next phrase teaches us that right after He gives His life for the sheep on Calvary, the third day He will be resurrected from the physically dead and will live again. And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4) Romans 1:4 is not stating that Jesus was not the Son of God before but it is basically teaching that by being resurrected, it was a declaration confirming His eternal and divine Sonship. Jesus also points to the fact that not only is he laying down His life for the sheep but He is also going to resurrect Himself. Keep in mind that when Jesus died on the cross, He committed His spirit unto the Father who is in Heaven, and then He died. Now when the spirit leaves the body, the physical body dies. On the third day, Jesus’ returned from Heaven to His body thus giving the body life once again. Then in Galatians 1:1 we read that God the Father raised Jesus. Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (Galatians 1:1) So now we see that both Jesus and the Father raised Jesus in concert. This is exactly how the ministry of Jesus was performed on earth by doing the will of the Father. Everything Jesus did was in concert with the Father’s will, even the resurrection.


Let us return to our theme verse.


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)


Jesus is stating that the giving of one’s life for their friends is the ultimate act of love. Jesus came from Heaven and is about to give His life for His people. Now we may not be called upon to physically give our lives in death for someone. Building upon the principle of sacrificial living, when we lay down our lives in service, we are, in essence, showing an ultimate act of Christian love. Giving our lives in service does not only mean that we give someone a ride or help put a roof on their house, it also means that we are sacrificing the time we have on earth to send forth the Gospel instead of enjoying the comforts of this life. For example, your friends call you up and ask you if you want to go to the beach, instead you had a plan to go hand out tracts in the middle of town. So if you do the evangelism instead of going to the beach, you are laying down your life for the purpose of the Gospel. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:25) This is what the Lord meant when He said that if you lose your life for His sake you will find it. You are losing your life in the manner that instead of focusing on yourself and enjoying the beach, you are using the time for the sake of the Gospel. You are using your time on earth for eternal things.


This is not to say that you are disallowed from enjoying the things the LORD gave us such as the beach or the mountains but those things are put in their rightful place.  As Christians our responsibility in this world is to get the gospel out and to teach all nations. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:19)  We must focus on the task before us which is the spreading of the gospel.  With so many people to reach and to teach, does it irk you when you hear Christians say “I don’t have anything to do?”  I am in partnership with a 76 year old man who puts together gospel literature packets and hangs them on doors in the town closest to him.  So far his efforts have been in the thousands he has reached with the gospel.  Every Christian can do something according to their physical condition and their desire.  You can evangelize in two basic ways: 1) Go yourself, and 2) send support!  Never say as a Christian that you have nothing to do.  You show great love to an unsaved person when you give them the gospel and your responsibility is to get it to them, if they are to be saved, then God, not you, will save them.


Laying down one’s life means full dedication.  The Lord Jesus Christ was not partially dead but completely dead when he was placed in the tomb.  As Christians we are to be completely dedicated to Christ by getting out the gospel which means we are laying our life down for the sake of Christ just as he laid down his life for us.  You cannot make a decision for salvation but you can make a decision to conquer laziness.  Christ didn’t save you to stare at your phone or send text messages to the person 5 feet from you.  You were saved for a divine purpose and that purpose is to flood this present world with the true gospel. 


The word “lay down” in John 15:13 is one word in the Greek and it is in the Aorist tense.   The Aorist tense is the tense which denotes an action with no specific time frame involved.  There is no time frame denoting “duration, repetition, or completeness.”  In other words, there is no time frame given as to when or how often a person lays down their life and engages in gospel distribution.  You can do it full time or you can do weekends but the bottom line is you must do something.  Our ministry is completed when the LORD takes us home but until then we are to be fully engaged and that is not an option.