Study Guide

Gospel of John Sacrifice

Sacrifice

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away — and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. (NRSV 10:11-12)

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. (KJV 10:11-12)

Jesus has a lot at stake with these sheep—they're his, after all, and he's willing to sacrifice himself to save them. Is this parental love in action? Or is it something different?

"For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again." (NRSV 10:17)

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. (KJV 10:17)

Because Jesus willingly goes to his death, he'll also be able to overcome it. Sound like the end of any other books you've read lately?

"Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (NRSV 12:25)

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (KJV 12:25)

According to Jesus, if you're willing to sacrifice everything you have in this life and turn your back on the ways of the world, you can have a better life with God. For some people, this is a tough pill to swallow.

"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." (NRSV 12:27-28)

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. (KJV 12:27-28)

Jesus never really doubts God's whole plan for his death. These words are about as close as he comes and it's still just a rhetorical question that he quickly brushes aside. The other gospels dwell on this point a bit more. But, really, is it unreasonable to think that Jesus might have been a little nervous about being nailed to a cross to die?

Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." (NRSV 13:36-37)

Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. (KJV 13:36-37)

Peter's right. About thirty years later, he too would be executed by Rome for following the path God laid out for him. Not the best fortune to see for yourself.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (NRSV 15:13)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (KJV John 15:13, KJV)

Bon Jovi and pretty much every other singer/songwriter ever agree with Jesus—laying down your life is the greatest love of all.

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