When Jesus had tasted it, he uttered another loud cry, “It is finished! Father I entrust my spirit into your hands!” With these words he bowed his head and breathed his last, releasing his spirit. – Luke 23:46; John 19:30
A man had a son who was the commander of a tank artillery division. The son was so anti-religious that he would even complain about a photograph of his grandfather praying over a meal that hung in his father’s house. “That man was an idiot! Take that embarrassing picture down!” he would shout.
But one day, he converted! When asked what happened, he related the following story:
During a battle, his tanks were all spread out when, and as Murphy’s Law dictates, the worst thing occurred. A group of enemy tanks approached his tank before he could regroup. The commander spun his tank around and tried to race back to his other tanks. Unfortunately, the fastest way was straight across an open stretch.
Suddenly, he saw an old man kneeling in the desert sand right in his path. “Doesn’t the idiot have any better place to pray than in the middle of a desert battle,” he screamed. “I’m going to run him over.” But at the last minute he swerved aside. The enemy behind him had no such compunctions. But as it ran over the old man, the enemy’s tank exploded into a fiery inferno as it tripped a landmine.
The commander finished his story by saying that he realized that the old man had been praying for him while laying that landmine. He came to understand true holiness by that act of mesirus nefesh (self-sacrifice) and decided he needed to be like that old man.
Two thousand years ago, another man knelt in prayer in a garden called Gethsemane. He didn’t want to suffer. He asked if there was any other way to accomplish what needed to be done. But when he determined that the only way justice could be served was for someone to die, he selflessly made that sacrifice. He bore in his body all of God’s furious wrath - the consequence of our foolish decisions.
We separated ourselves from the safety of God’s presence and the devil was waiting to pick us off one by one. But Jesus stepped in the way and if we will simply accept his selfless act as the free gift of love that it is and quit depending on our own works to save us, he will cause the enemy to die in a fiery inferno.
Then, we must try to become like him. We too must pray to ask who God would have us save. And we too must be willing to do whatever it takes. To be a Christian is to dedicate oneself to worshipping God and loving one’s neighbors regardless of the cost. We must never allow ourselves to forget the holy sacrifice that is at the very heart of our salvation.
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