Even if you didn't grow up going to church two, three or even more times every week - you know this verse. You've heard this idea. This notion of a friend - loving their friends so much that'd they'd willingly give up their lives for them - just gets us - right there.
But here's the thing - the men Jesus called to follow Him and become His disciples - weren't made into the sorts of men we think of them as now - just by His death.
To be sure, His death had a huge impact on them. We read about it - both in the Bible - and in extrabiblical history.
But the only reason His death had the impact that it did - was because He'd been so fully alive with them for all that time before He died. It was because they saw His love for them, for His father, for His calling, for His people, for the world - day in and day out - that when they saw they were losing that - Him - they were "like sheep without a shepherd. It was also because He didn't half-heartedly live. He was fully alive and into life - He walked, He boated, He fished, He went to parties, He went to feasts, He argued, He healed.
And doing that for them - was just as much a choice. Living as fully as He could was a gift too.
If He'd spent His precious time on earth just waiting to be crucified - even sacrificially - we would've never heard of Him. If He'd passed those days - grumpily, torn with indecision ... He'd have remained as nameless as the rest of those people the Romans crucified.
No. He lived the very abundant life He offers us. How else could He know what He's talking about?
In fact, I kind of think choosing to live with us day in and day out was just the sort of rigorous, demanding, daily-commitment testing training you'd have to really embrace in order to be able to even really properly think about dying for us in such a way as to open our eyes and launch a globe-rocking movement.