Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One Life for Another

What would it take for you to give up your life for someone else?
If you’re a parent, you probably would do anything necessary to save the life of a child, even at the risk of your own. A husband or wife might also perform a heroic deed if their spouse were in dire straits.

We have heard stories of soldiers undertaking extraordinary steps of courage to protect or save fallen comrades. Police officers and firefighters frequently are called to put their lives on the line for the sake of others.

But what would it take for you to offer your life on behalf of a stranger?

Occasionally we hear a news account of a individual putting their own life in harm’s way to assist someone they’ve never met – perhaps a person drowning, in a car accident, or similar calamity. But more often we hear about people choosing to stand passively by, watching while a person’s life is in jeopardy, perhaps being beaten or attacked. “Why get involved? It’s none of my business.”

That by far is the more common course.

Perhaps this is one reason Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Self-sacrifice is not the natural order of things. Rather, we ask, “What’s in it for me?” and if the answer is not enough, we defer.

But that’s not what Jesus did. His great love, far beyond anything we can comprehend, motivated Him to carry out the greatest act of self-sacrifice ever recorded . As the apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Jesus’ death on the cross was not because we deserved it, as if we were worthy of His atonement. He did it out of love, offering His mercy and grace. By definition, mercy means not receiving what we do deserve, and grace means receiving what we do not deserve.

Thankfully, as we will observe this Friday, He gave His life for each of us, rag-tag sinners and self-absorbed hypocrites, so that we might receive forgiveness, new life, and the promise of life after death.

If it were not for what we call Good Friday, there would have been no Easter. And without Easter, there would be no cause for celebrating Christmas.

But this weekend we do mark both Good Friday and Easter, all because Jesus chose to give His life for someone else – for you and for me. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Happy Easter!

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