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13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

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13. Greater love hath no one than this. Christ sometimes proclaims the greatness of his love to us, that he may more fully confirm our confidence in our salvation; but now he proceeds further, in order to inflame us, by his example, to love the brethren. Yet he joins both together; for he means that we should taste by faith how inestimably delightful his goodness is, and next he allures us, in this way, to cultivate brotherly love. Thus Paul writes:

Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savor, (Ephesians 5:2.)

God might have redeemed us by a single word, or by a mere act of his will, if he had not thought it better to do otherwise for our own benefit, that, by not sparing his own well-beloved Son, he might testify in his person how much he cares for our salvation. But now our hearts, if they are not softened by the inestimable sweetness of Divine love, must be harder than stone or iron.

But a question is put. How did Christ die for friends, since

we were enemies, before he reconciled us, (Romans 5:10;)

for, by expiating our sins through the sacrifice of his death, he destroyed the enmity that was between God and us? The answer to this question will be found under the third chapter, where we said that, in reference to us, there is a state of variance between us and God, till our sins are blotted out by the death of Christ; but that the cause of this grace, which has been manifested in Christ, was the 8484     See volume 1. In this way, too, Christ laid down his life for those who were strangers, but whom, even while they were strangers, he loved, otherwise he would not have died for them.




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