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September 19, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."—1 John 3:16 (NIV)
In 1984, the band Foreigner released a song in which singer Mick Jones declares, “I want to know what love is; I want you to show me. I want to feel what love is; I know you can show me.” Underneath the cheesiness of early 80s pop rock and unfortunate hairstyles, this song expresses a real, universal need humanity faces every day . . . the need to know (ginóskó)—to understand intimately, especially through personal, first-hand experience—what love is and to feel what love is.
Sadly, there are many out there who spend their lives searching to fill this need, to find answers for what love is, only to come up empty. We waste so much time searching for love in all the wrong places. Even in our human relationships, we may get glimpses of what love is, but the problem with looking for this all-important answer in human love is that we will always be disappointed. Expectations will be dashed. Why? Because people have the tendency to fail us, hurt us, leave us, and forsake us.
There is only One who can show us what love is: Jesus Christ! Our verse today makes that very clear. In fact, it not only tells us what love is, but shows us what it looks like: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
This is the answer to one of life’s biggest mysteries: the divine love that God loves us with led Him to redeem us with His own blood! Jesus gave Himself up for us. He laid down His beautiful, perfect, sinless life for you and me. He came “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28 NIV).
Jesus is the answer to what love is (1 John 4:8), and He shows us what it looks like. It’s sacrificial, it’s committed, it’s a beautiful servanthood towards one another. And His love will never disappoint us, hurt us, leave us, or forsake us! Likewise, as He shows us what love is, He commands us to “love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12 NIV). He expects us to love others consistently, selflessly, and sacrificially (John 15:13).
Just like He did in John 13, He expects those who know Him, and thus know what love is, to wash one another’s feet. How are you showing love?
DIG: Read 1 John 3–4, John 13–15, and Philippians 2:1–8.
DISCOVER: How do you define love?
DISPLAY: Wash someone’s feet today . . . not physically, but spiritually. Serve a fellow brother or sister in Christ. Show them the love of Christ in a tangible, meaningful way.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.