“Greater love has no one than this that a person lay down their life for their friends.” John 15:13
During WW1 a soldier asked his commanding officer if he could go into no-man’s-land and bring back his comrade who lay wounded. The officer told him he could go but don’t expect your friend to be alive. The soldier went and managed to bring his friend back. The officer admired the soldier’s courage but commented, “I told you it wouldn’t be worth it. Your friend is dead and you are wounded.” To which the soldier replied, “But it was worth it, because when I got to my friend he was still alive and he said to me, ‘Jim, I knew you’d come.’”
Friends are so special. They help us make it through the day so we can keep our dignity. Friends help us cope with the stresses in life. Friends help us get it all together in a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams. When human kind was caught in a spiritual no-man’s-land our friend Jesus left the shelter of heaven to come and rescue us. He freely gave His life on the cross. Jesus lay down His life of His own accord. His sacrifice on the cross is all the answer we need. Everything we need to know about life we can discover at the foot of the cross. For at the cross we discover how much we are loved.
Have you ever played the game “Shmily” with another? Here’s how you play it. You leave little notes around the house for one another. George would stuff little notes with the word “Shmily” in Grace’s sock drawer. Grace would trace the word “Shmily” in the steam on the bathroom mirror so George would see it when he took his morning shower. Over the years, they competed to see who could find the most creative way to leave a “Shmily” note for the other. And when Grace lost her ten-year fight against cancer, her casket was wreathed with a huge bouquet of flowers. And on the yellow ribbon around the bouquet was that one word, “Shmily.” The thing that held her marriage together, the thing that nourished them in life and sustained them in death: Shmily. What does Shmily mean? S-h-m-i-l-y: See how much I love you.
That’s the message of hope that sustains us. It’s the caption we see attached to every cross: See how much I love you. As a pastor I found great joy in being there for people – when I stood beside a grave with a grieving family – when I led a group into a better understanding of the faith – when I’d lie awake in the night struggling with what it means to be in ministry. But I learned early on that really as a pastor all I could do was take a person to the foot of the cross and say to them; everything you need to know is here. See how much God loves you.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus I thank you for being the One who loves me. I thank you for being my friend and freeing me from guilt and sin. I thank you for being the answer to the riddle call life. This is my prayer and I pray it in the Name that is above all names – Jesus. Amen
In memory of my brother who died January 12, 2011 Walter Lyman Roberts