Löhe on 1 John 3:16a

Svetanics, Miltone F Jr (2)This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  (1Jo 3:16 NIV)

Love is exemplified in the sacrifice of ones life for those loved. Jesus Christ did this as example and model for all. His love for all is demonstrated in his death for all. If you want to know love, get to know the sacrificial and self-offering love of Jesus. The Christians of early times depicted Jesus symbolically as a pelican, who nourishes his young with his own blood by tearing open his chest. This is a fitting analogy especially if we consider the high and holy altar from which he offers us his very own body and blood to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of our sins and for the eternal nourishment and salvation of our lives and souls. Even though it is quite a telling picture the pelican’s imagery is not exhaustive at all, because it does not show how Christ offered himself totally – even unto death. There is no bigger love than that of our Lord for his people. He the King of kings and only begotten Son of the heavenly Father, very God of very God reconciles his enemies with himself and makes them friends, family and next-of-kin. He gives his holy life for sinners, so that they would become holy and sanctified like himself. This love is publically declared and made manifest to all on Golgotha on the holy cross. There he calls us to follow his example and that we too should live and die, work and suffer in loving discipleship. Countless examples – more than have been recorded in the Church – reflect our Lord’s love and life in this world. They give their life in the service for others in this world just as a candle burns itself as it dispels the darkness with its light.

When I survey the wondrous cross On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet, Sorrow and love flow mingled down! Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe, Spreads o’er His body on the tree; Then I am dead to all the globe, And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. (Isaac Watts, 1674-1748)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Thursday after the second Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 233 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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