“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Now we come to the perfect example of true love – the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of taking a life as Cain did (v. 12), He deliberately gave His life to save others.
By this we know love,
The Greek gives this idea: “By this [what I am about to state] we have come to know love.” We came to experience genuine love in the greatest act of love, the death of Jesus for our sins.
because He laid down His life for us.
The characteristic of Christ’s love is sacrifice. Love was the motivation for His coming to earth. He demonstrated His love in sacrificing Himself for others.
Mt 20:28, “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jn 10:11, 15, 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep… 15 “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Jn 10:17-18, 17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
The pronoun “He” bears heavy emphasis. John puts prominence on the One who paid for our sins. He is the great unlike, the One of special character. Jesus came to die of His own volition. No one forced Him to die for our sins. Jesus planned, deliberated, and premeditated His death for our sins.
We identify genuine love by sacrifice.
We understand the love of a husband for his wife not by his words but by how much he gives himself to her. His sacrifice for her indicates to her how much he cherishes her.
Christian love requires sacrifice and service to others. We see this as the sacrifice of Christ for us. Christ’s love seeks the welfare of others. This puts a moral obligation on believers. Jesus did it to save; we do it to serve.
Mk 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”