(Jesus said) "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends." John 15:12-13
You probably don't know John Baca.
Even so, he is our poster boy this Valentine's Day.
Born in January of 1949, Baca grew up in San Diego. I would love to say he was always a good kid, but the truth is he was in and out of juvenile hall numerous times. Eventually, he fulfilled the conditions of his parole and was drafted into the military.
On February 10, 1970, Baca led his unit through intense fire to rescue a platoon, which was pinned down. Successful in setting up a protected firing position, Baca and his pals started to fight back. That was when a fragmentation grenade was thrown into the middle of him and his pals. Without hesitation, Baca covered the grenade with his helmet and covered his helmet with his body.
On top of his helmet -- that's where Baca was when the grenade exploded.
That was love. No, I know that's not the smoochy-smoochy kind of love most people celebrate today. It's not the candy or the flowers or the candlelight dinner kind of love most will share today.
It's the kind of love, which on June 15, 1971, had the Medal of Honor bestowed on John Baca.
It is also the kind of love the Lord spoke about in today's devotion's text -- the kind of love that is willing to die for a friend.
That's the kind of love John Baca had. It's certainly the love that Jesus has.
No, that's not quite right. Jesus has a love that is far greater than that of John Baca. You see, while Baca was ready to die for his friends, he was also willing to shoot at his enemies. Jesus was crucified for those who loved Him, but also for those who hated Him, who mocked Him, spit on Him, whipped Him and beat Him.
He also died to save sinners like you and me.
This is why even as we celebrate God's blessed gift of earthly love, we also give thanks for the fact God so loved the sinful world He gave His only Son.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, today I give thanks for the many people who have loved me. I also wish to express gratitude for the opportunity of showing love to others. Most of all I am moved by the love of the Savior who gave His life so I might be forgiven and live forever. May I reflect such a selfless, giving love to others. In Jesus' Name I pray it. Amen.
THE REST OF THE STORY: John Baca survived that day and is alive and currently involved in helping the homeless and Vietnam veterans.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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