I often pray for our service men and women. They sacrifice limbs, organs, abilities, faculties and their lives for us. They risk it all for American liberty. The recent outrage over the dispute between a Gold Star family and a presidential candidate has left many Americans ashamed. Ashamed that someone would disparage the family of a man who gave his life for his military friends just because of his religious beliefs. But this is not new. The current presidential candidate is no innovator. He is not the first person who ever made light of the death of one who gave his life to save his friends for their beliefs.
For millenniums, One man's death has been made light of by millions upon millions. Some say He didn't really die like that. Some say His death meant nothing. Some say that they just don't care. No matter what you think about it or believe about it, His death was unlike any other. He gave His life for His friends. And in so doing, made the way for His friends to live forever.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13-14 NIV)
Jesus said that the greatest show of love is for a person to lay down their life for his friends. Think about that for a minute. The reason we recognize service members like fallen U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan is because he made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. What more does any of us have to give than our lives? The fact remains that most people would save themselves first. Most people would never purposely die so that someone else could live. Or would you? Would you give your life for anyone? Your family? Maybe. Your Friends? Perhaps. What about people who are not your friends? What about people who have not even been born yet? What about your enemies?
If you answered, "yes" to any of those questions, let me ask you, would you volunteer to die for them? I mean, if they were in immanent danger, you might make the instantaneous decision to jump in front of a bullet for your family, but what if the danger was a lurking, slow moving danger? What if it was not immediately obvious to anyone that this danger was killing people, would you still choose to die? If so, by what means? Wouldn't you choose a quick death? Maybe you would "catch a grenade", like Bruno Mars. As dire as that seems, I have to say that death by bullet or grenade, though painful, is, I suppose, a quick, instantaneous death. What if a sacrificial death was chosen for you? What if it was a slow, agonizing, suffocation from the diaphragm up? What if this sacrificial death included sharp projectiles penetrating through your scalp, with large workman's tool-sized nails driven through your hands and feet? What if those nails were the only things used to hold you up on an unfinished, raw wooden, crudely made crucifix? What if you had to hang there, on the the wooden cross, suspended in hot, middle eastern sun with temperatures in the triple digits and eye-stinging dust, dirt and sand drifts? What if the pain in your head, eyes, hands, feet, back, chest and gut, as you hang there dying for your friends parched from the heat and sun, each swallow is marked by the pain of a burning throat that hurts worst that the most unbearable cold you have ever experienced? What if while you hang there you struggle to stay still so as to not further agitate the raw wooden cross that is cutting into the oozing sores on your back where your skin was ripped open from the whipping you just received? The whipping that is ten-times worst than any big momma ever gave when you were a child, because big momma loved you. She beat you to make you better, to correct you, not out of pure hate. There was no venom in her strikes. There were no pieces of bone in her leather belt. And what if, with all of this, your are spit on, stripped of your clothing, ridiculed, called unmentionable names, and laughed at? What if your death is made light of, not only after you died, but while you are dying, hanging, struggling, suffering, straining and listening.
Would you still give your life for your friends, foes and future neighbors if they did this to you? Would you still "catch a grenade" if the death were like this? Would you give your life if your death would be minimized for generations? What if you knew that your death would be forgotten by the very people you died for?
I am not in any way belittling the sacrifice of our military men and women. There are our heroes, but as heroic as there stories are, and as humiliating and terrible as some of their deaths have been, not one of their deaths has had the power to save as many lives as the death described. This is not a made up story. It is true. And what you believe about this story and the One who purposely and knowingly suffered this horrendous death could save your life forever. Not just to live freely in America. Not even just to live peacefully on earth. Your belief in the One who sacrificed His life, in this death, for His friends could mean that you will live freely in this life, in America, on earth, until you physically die, and after.
The One who died this horrific death, the Lord Jesus Christ, did so with full knowledge of what His death would mean for Him personally and for you spiritually and eternally. He did it knowing that He would be treated worst that Captain Khan's family. He knew He would be humiliated. He did it with one stipulation: that you believe in Him. Why? Because, if you believe that He died for you, that He did it in order to save you from your sin, then He now says to you, "You are my friend."
Be Well, Be Blessed, Trust the Savior,
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