Updated: June 2, 2019
In the Bible, Jesus suggests that the greatest act of love is sacrificial—if you love others as you love yourself, then you should be willing to go the distance for them.
How Jesus Modeled Love
In Christ’s case, he showed the depth of his love by literally giving up his physical life. Jesus did this so that others would be able to enjoy the full breadth of spiritual union with the Eternal God.
As the popular Bible passage states in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Then John 3:17 adds: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus states in the Bible that there is “eternal life”—that humans don’t simply die and drift away into oblivion.
For example, he used the reward of eternal life to encourage his disciples when he sent them out for the first time to do ministry on their own. Jesus wanted to prepare them for the severe challenges they would face, including death. Christ told them: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
To spare us from this hell, Jesus carried out the ultimate act of love—he allowed himself to be crucified. Jesus did this, standing in as the final sacrifice for mankind’s offenses against God. Besides being totally holy and without sin, Jesus took on the entire sins of the world.
An Attitude of Love
Christ called on his followers to walk in this attitude of love.
In fact, he commanded them to “love each other as I have loved you.” Christ then immediately added: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” He assured them that he loved them and, as their friend (and not just as their teacher/master), this would be his ultimate sacrifice for them. Now, if they consider him their friend (much more intimately than just their teacher), they should obey him. After all, would someone who was willing to allow himself to be killed for them, lead them astray?
Not only did Jesus model humility, grace, and confidence in the Father’s love for him by exhibiting his power, he also modeled obedience to the Father. He submitted himself to God the Father’s will because he knew their relationship was secure in love and that God is trustworthy. Note: Jesus as the second person of the Holy Trinity didn’t need to prove the Father in this sense; but Jesus living an earthly life in front of other humans wanted to model his confidence in God’s love by submission and humility.
So Jesus says: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
This love exemplified by obedience has its benefits: “whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” No, Jesus was not saying that literally every single thing they (or we) ask God for in his name would be granted. Instead, Jesus suggests here that he chose his disciples and gave them this work of proclaiming the Kingdom so that good, long-lasting things would come from it and that God would give them whatever they needed to make this happen.
But back to love.
In these examples, the Bible shows us that Jesus taught his followers that love is sacrificial; love is obedient; and that love transcends fear.
Bible Verses About Love
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” – Proverbs 3:3-4
“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
“No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” – 1 John 4:12