Anne Graham Lotz: Thanking Jesus for His sacrifice

One morning when I went to a coffee shop for my triple-shot espresso, I couldn’t help but notice the young man in front of me who was ordering his drink. He was tall, athletic, wearing a baseball cap, sweatshirt, shorts—and a prosthetic leg from the thigh down.

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As we waited for the barista to complete our orders, I asked him if he was a veteran. He said, “Yes, ma’am.” I asked him where he had served, and he said, “Afghan.” I thanked him for his service and his sacrifice, and regretted that I had not been a few moments earlier in line so I could have purchased his drink as a small token of appreciation. We talked about peace, and I shared that the Bible promises that Jesus will bring peace when the governments of this world, and all of our lives, are on His shoulders.

As I drove away, I reflected on the fact that this young man had left the security of his home to serve in a hostile environment, risking his life and sacrificing his limb, for a war that seems to have no real victory in sight. A war where the forces that are lined up against peace seem to prevail again and again. Then I thought … Jesus understands! He, too, left the security and safety of His heavenly home, came into a hostile environment, then didn’t just lose a limb, but laid down His life in a war against sin and death and Satan. While ultimate victory has been declared, the battle seems to go on and on, with forces lined up against the Prince of Peace.

The brief encounter with the young wounded warrior left me with this question on my mind: Was his sacrifice in vain? And I answered, Only time will reveal the truth. Then I thought, What about Jesus? Was His sacrifice in vain? And I answered, No! A thousand times no! Eternal time has revealed that His death has saved my life! So … how do I say thank You for such a sacrifice?  

Read John 15:9-17

By Loving Him More, John 15:9-11

Through Abiding

  • What does abide or remain mean as Jesus uses the word in John 15:9? Give the dictionary definition that seems most appropriate.
  • What does Jesus command us to remain in?
  • Describe the relationship Jesus has with His Father in John 15:9, John 5:20; John 10:17; Matthew 3:17; Mark 9:7; John 14:31; John 17:24-26.
  • Which of the following best describes your relationship with the Father: a working association, business acquaintance, brotherly friendship, mandatory fellowship, obligatory servitude or a love relationship?
  • How do you develop a deeper love relationship with another person? Give practical ways you can develop a deeper love relationship with God.

Through Obeying

  • What does it mean to obey? Give the dictionary definition and apply it to your relationship with God.
  • How did Jesus say we were to love Him? See John 15:10; John 14:23-24; John 21:15-17.
  • What two commands did Jesus say summarized all of the rest? See Matthew 22:34-40.
  • Read through John 13-16, underlining every command that Jesus gives. Which ones have you ignored? Disobeyed? 
  • Would you choose to love Him more by reading His Word daily and living out in obedience what He has said?

Through Rejoicing 

  • What is the result of abiding in God’s love and obeying His Word? See John 15:11.
  • How does 1 John 1:3-4 confirm this?
  • Give the dictionary definition of joy.
  • How does the Apostle Peter describe joy that’s independent of circumstances? Read 1 Peter 1:3-9.
  • What gives you joy?
  • What is wrong with looking to friendships, relationships, possessions, position, reputation, education or health as sources of joy?
  • Who does the Apostle Paul say should be the source of our joy? Read Philippians 4:4.  

By Loving Them More, John 15:12-17

  • How many times does Jesus command us to love each other in John 15:12-17? 
  • Why do you think He repeated Himself ?
  • What else do you learn about this command from Paul in Romans 13:8-10? 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:9-10; 5:12-13? 2 Thessalonians 1:3? 1 Peter 4:8? 

Love That Is Sacrificial

  • What standard did Jesus set for our love for each other? See John 15:12-13.
  • What are some of the reasons you and I love others? What are some reasons we don’t? How does this contradict what Jesus is saying?
  • Why did Jesus say we are to love others we don’t even like? Read John 15:14.
  • How can you love someone you don’t like, who hates you or has hurt you? Substitute that person’s name for “one another” and for “brother” in 1 John 4:7-21. Write out the lessons you learn about loving your “enemy.”
  • Are we only to love others sacrificially if they love us? Read Romans 5:8.
  • While you and I most likely will not have to die for someone else, what are some other ways we can sacrificially love those who don’t love us?

Love That Is Essential

  • Loving others is essential in order for us to receive from God what three things from John 15:15-16?  
  • Loving others is essential also for what else in John 15:8? John 13:34-35?
  • If you were put on trial for being a disciple of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
  • If you lack answers to prayer, if you can’t seem to discern God’s will, if you are ineffective in your witness, could it be that you have overlooked the essentials?

During this month of Valentines, will you thank God for His sacrifice by loving Him … and them … more?  ©2020 Anne Graham Lotz

This article is adapted from a study originally published in February 2012.

Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers