But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
It was summer and the door to the Ragenbach, Germany, inn was open to let in a breeze, as well as the lunchtime clientele.
The open door also provided an easy means of entry for a snarling dog, a mad dog. Sitting near the entrance, the village blacksmith quickly grabbed the dog. "Get out while I hold him," the smithy shouted. The dog's teeth tore the arms and thighs of the smith, but he refused to loosen his hold.
When all the people had escaped, he flung the half-strangled beast from him against the wall, left the room, and locked the door. The dog was shot, but what about the man? To his crying friends and family the blacksmith said, "Be quiet, don't weep. I've only done my duty. When I am dead, think of me with love. Before then, pray that I will not suffer long or too much. I know I shall become mad, but I will take care that no harm comes to you."
The blacksmith went to his shop, took a strong chain, and riveted one end around his body; the other end he fastened around the anvil. Turning to his friends, he said, "It's done! You are safe. I can't hurt you. Bring me food while I am well, and keep out of my reach when I am mad. The rest I leave with God."
In nine days he was dead; he had died to save his friends. That was love.
That is the kind of love Jesus had -- and showed -- to the world, except Jesus showed that kind of love for His enemies.
When we were threatened by a painful, eternal death, the Savior grabbed hold of it, reached out to it, and throttled it. Sin, Satan and death snapped and tore at Him. But He offered Himself so we might be saved.
We say it so easily, but the truth is such an action was done not without cost.
Jesus had to suffer, so we might be saved. He was crucified, so we might be cleared from the curse of sin. He did all this so that we -- the damned -- might be delivered, and those who once had been destined for hell would be given heaven.
He gave Himself to save others. And now, not because we have to, but because we are free to, Jesus encourages us to do the same.
He encourages us to love others as He has loved us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, what overwhelming love You have shown to us in Your sacrificial life and death. May we who have been saved by Your selfless act try to reflect a similar spirit to those around us. This courage we ask in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries