No Greater Love
John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
How many of you saw the Disney blockbuster, Frozen a year and a half ago? Those songs, “Let it go” and “Love is an Open Door” have a way of sticking with you. The story is the tale of two sisters. The oldest sister, Elsa is born with a special power. She is born with an ability to create ice and snow. The power, however, really turns out to be a kind of curse because as she grows the power within her does too. It takes over. It dominates her life. It is destructive. It hurts the people she loves including her younger sister, Anna.
Recognizing her propensity for harming others, Elsa isolates herself from the rest of the world inside the palace walls. She is ashamed of who she is and what she has become. When she can no longer keep her destructive powers at bay she flees from Arendelle and isolates herself further in an ice castle that she creates which means she gives up her role as Queen of Arendelle. She also alienates herself from her sister, the one person she probably loves the most. In the process, as the curse inside her grows more and more out of control she also throws the entire Kingdom into a deep freeze.
It isn’t hard to draw a biblical parallel between Elsa’s condition and ours. Each one of us is born with a kind of power, a propensity for destruction. It is called “sin.” It’s a curse or is the result of the curse on our lives because of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Romans 5:12 explains this sin problem we are all born with. Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—Just like Elsa was unable to hide or contain or eliminate the destructive power she was born with, we too are unable to deal with our sin problem.
It takes a Power greater than the power of sin to break the curse of sin in our lives. That Power is God Himself. Christianity is the only religion in the world that helps us deal with our sin problem through and by the power of God. Sin can’t be hidden or managed or overcome through effort, education, enlightenment, or meditation. It grows stronger and more dominating over time. Because of sin in our lives we wind up hurting people we love and often find ourselves trying to isolate ourselves from others to cover up the shame, guilt, and condemnation we feel just like Elsa did by trying to hide in the palace and later by constructing an ice castle to live in alone. Our sin causes us to build walls, often walls of fear. “What would people think if they really knew the truth about who we are?” “No one could ever love me in this condition, so I will put up walls to keep people out.” Good news! God knows exactly who we are. He knows what we are capable of as a result of this deadly curse that we are born with. He knows every sinful thing we have ever done. And yet, the Bible says He loves us completely and unconditionally. He loves us “as is.” He accepts our broken state. He comes toward us. He makes the first move. He reaches out to us.
Our sin isn’t just our problem, but it impacts people we love. God made us for relationship with other people. He not only wants us to be able to live in relationship with Him, but He also wants us to enjoy relationships with others in this life as well. Living as sinners will make a mess of our earthly relationships in a hurry.
One of the biggest problems with sin is that it disconnects us from our destiny. Elsa relinquished her role as Queen because she was afraid to assume the role. She walked away from being able to impact her entire Kingdom out of fear. When God created you, He had special plans in mind. He created you to rule and reign and have dominion over some part of this existence we call the human experience, but sin disconnects us from God which means we get disconnected from the Source of those plans.
The plans for our lives aren’t just handed to us when we turn thirteen or sixteen or twenty-one. They are whispered to us and are planted in our hearts as we walk with God in relationship with Him. They unfold over time. They don’t come through a one-time lecture, but the process of discovering our destiny is revealed through a loving relationship with God. To live disconnected from God is to live disconnected or dislocated from our destiny!
In the movie’s hit song, “Let It Go,” Elsa decides to quit trying to hide her destructive power. She decides to “be who she is.” One line in the song even says she is just going to do what comes naturally. It says, “It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through. No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!” Without knowing it the creators of “Frozen” were displaying the progression of sin in a person’s life. When we realize we can’t hide or control our propensity to sin our natural inclination is just to “let it go” and roll with it, to allow it to lead us and to follow its desires to see what will happen. Not a good strategy. It wasn’t a good strategy for Elsa either. She even wound up getting so out of control that she struck her sister Anna, in the heart, making it “frozen.” If someone didn’t intervene, Anna was going to die. Elsa didn’t know at the time what she had done to her sister. The same is true for us as we allow to sin to progress in our lives. We often don’t realize who we are hurting.
Sin makes us slaves. I don’t know if you have ever thought about it before, but sin is spiritual slavery. You may bristle at that thought. You may try to refute it by saying that no one or nothing is making you do something you don’t want to do and that you are the one in control of what is happening in your life. If that was true you would never know the feeling of regret. If that was true you would never have any experience with guilt. Regret and guilt arrest us when we wish we would have done something else. If we wish we would have done something else then something other than what we should have done or wanted to do led us in a direction that we now regret. That thing is the slave master of sin. Many of you have heard the expression, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” A truer statement has never been spoken.
What God wants us to understand this morning is that sin produces nothing positive in our lives. When we live as sinners rather than let God deal with our sin problem, things in our lives will go from bad to worse and worse yet. James 1:13-15 says: When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Sin is a part of who we are at the core when we are born, and you can see what these verses say about how we are tempted by our own evil desires and then we are dragged away by our sin and sin creates death in our lives.
So, in the movie Elsa goes from bad to worse in this movie and in an out of control moment she curses her sister with a frozen heart which was a condition that could only be remedied by an act of “true love.” Now you know, every Disney movie winds up being a love story, so as viewers we are sitting there thinking that the man who has been kind and helpful to Anna, Kristoff, is going to kiss her and reverse her curse. Anna is close to death as she sees Kristoff and starts walking towards him. She believes he is her only hope for survival. He will kiss her in an act of true love. The music is swelling. Kristoff is running to her when all of the sudden, Anna sees something else. She sees her big sister, the one who cursed her heart. Elsa is in trouble. Another character in the movie is going to kill her. What Anna, the younger sister with the frozen heart does next is remarkable.
SHOW VIDEO CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vEtoVXJsgA
When the younger sister saw the movie’s villain was ready to kill her sister, Elsa, she made her way towards him to take the sword on behalf of her sister. Rather than save her own life by receiving a kiss from her true love, she performed an act of true love by giving her life for her sister’s life. In an instant, Anna turned to ice completely, and Elsa was spared. This is one of the reason I loved this movie. I loved it not just because Anna gave her life for her sister, but because so many times fairy tales lift up the power of romantic love. Some “Knight in Shining Armor” comes to the aid of some damsel in distress and makes things all better. This time it wasn’t romantic love, but sacrificial love that was promoted, and I was so glad!
Listen, romantic love can only take you so far. Romantic love can’t promise a “Happily Ever After” with full guarantees, but sacrificial love, the love of Jesus displayed on the cross as He gave His life for our lives, will absolutely guarantee a “Happily Ever After” to anyone who is willing to receive His love. It isn’t Prince Charming who will save you. It is the Prince of Peace! His name is Jesus! Has He changed your heart yet with His love?
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Love is sacrifice. You may be willing to sacrifice for someone or something you view is a worthy cause. You may be able to find a good reason to “go the extra mile” in some situations, but listen, you and I had nothing to our credit when Jesus died on the cross. We hadn’t been good people who had just gone bad. No, the Bible says we were sinners at birth. There was nothing good in us that would compel someone to sacrifice for us. It was simply the love of God and nothing on our part that caused Jesus to lay down His life for ours.
We weren’t God’s friends when Jesus gave His life for us. Jesus was talking to His friends, His disciples, in our text today, but we weren’t God’s friends when Jesus died. No! We were enemies with God! Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” God sacrificed His only Son for His enemies! It might be understandable to sacrifice something for a friend, but to give your life for an enemy? That is what God has done for us! Another verse says it well. It is Romans 5:8. It says, “But God demonstrated His love for us in this; that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
In the movie, Anna literally put herself between her sister and the enemy that was trying to destroy her. That is what Jesus has done for us. On the cross He willingly placed Himself between us and the devil, between us and our sin, and between us and what the Bible calls the “last” enemy which is death.
Notice something that is perhaps a bit subtle in the clip you just saw. It must not be overlooked. When Anna saved Elsa, she turned to ice. She literally became what Elsa had been. That destructive nature that Elsa had inside her, literally consumed Anna as she completely turned frozen solid. Jesus experienced the same thing. II Corinthians 5:21 says that Jesus, though He didn’t have the sin condition, though He was perfect, He willingly took on our sin on the cross. He became sin. He took on our curse so that when we received what He did on our behalf, we could be rid of our sin problem forever.
Why do we cherish the “Old Rugged Cross?” Because it was there that Jesus revealed how deep the love of God is for us each of us. It was there that He got in the middle of our mess. It was on the cross that He got in the got in the middle of everything that seeks to destroy us, and He destroyed it on our behalf so we could go free! Do you hear this Good News this morning? Oh yes, “Calvary covers it all, my past with its sin and stain. My guilt and despair Jesus took on Him there, and Calvary covers it all!”
The movie also hints at the power of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead as after that act of true love, Anna, who had turned to ice, gets de-frosted! In the process, her sister was also completely transformed. No longer did Elsa have to live with the destructive power with which she had been born. No longer would she have to live in shame and isolation. No longer would she be disconnected from her destiny to rule as the Queen of Arendelle.
And notice when Queen Elsa became free of her issues the entire Kingdom was impacted as the deep freeze began to quickly melt. God wants to do a work in our hearts and lives because He wants to impact other people through us. Did you know a Disney movie had such good Bible truth in it?
Are you a slave to sin this morning? Have you ever thought about letting Jesus take care of your sin problem? Have you accepted His sacrificial love for you that He poured out through blood, sweat and tears as He was nailed to a cross in your place? Why live as a spiritual slave when you can be free?
There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit the target.
Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner. As he was walking back he saw Grandma’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head, and killed it. He was shocked and grieved. In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his sister watching! Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing . . . at that moment.
After lunch the next day Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally looked and Johnny and smiled and said, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.” Then she whispered to him, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny did the dishes.
Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, “I’m sorry but I need Sally to help make supper.” Sally looked at Johnny and again and just smiled and said, “Well that’s all right because Johnny told me he wanted to help.” She whispered again, “Remember the duck?” So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed to help.
After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s he finally couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.
Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
Why be a slave to sin? Why live in isolation and fear? Are you tired of the toll sin takes? Are you tired of hurting those you love because of the way sin demands we live for ourselves rather than to love and serve others? Why live disconnected from your destiny? Why not confess the secrets God already knows everything about? We won’t be rescued by romance. We need to stop chasing earthly relationships to try to take care of spiritual problems and needs. We don’t need a Romancer to take care of our sin problem. We need a Redeemer. He has already come and paid the price for us. He did because He can’t just “let us go.” He sees our need. He knows how desperately we need a solution. Are you frozen this morning in your sin? Accept the heartwarming, life transforming of the “greatest love of all,” the love of God that was demonstrated in the sacrificial act of the greatest Hero ever, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world.