(Jesus said) "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Matthew 20:28
Just about every culture, every nation has its heroes.
If you go to Switzerland, they will tell you the story of Arnold von Winkelried who, at the Battle of Sempach, grabbed a host of Austrian spears, pulled them into his chest, and allowed his comrades to break the enemy lines and win the battle.
Winkelried died for his country.
If you speak to a member of the Native American tribe, the Cheyenne, they will tell you of a 15-year-old Dog Soldier named Little Hawk. On July 11, 1869, at Summit Springs, Colorado, his village was attacked. Little Hawk had a chance to escape. Instead of saving himself, Little Hawk stood fast, and through his bravery, allowed the escape of many women and children. Remembering his death, someone said, he threw "his life away for the people, as a brave man should."
Little Hawk died protecting those who were helpless.
If there's an opportunity to escape the deadly blast of a grenade, the Army trains soldiers to take it. On December 4, 2006, a grenade landed in the Humvee where PFC Ross McGinnis was manning a machine gun. McGinnis could have jumped. He didn't. Instead, he used his back to smother the explosive. The president of the United States gave a posthumous Medal of Honor to the private's parents. At that ceremony he said, "America will always honor the name of this brave soldier who gave his all for his country ...."
These three men have shown what they would die for; to win a battle; to save some children; to protect your comrades. These are noble causes.
But Jesus is unique. He was born in a world that didn't want Him -- where the king of the country where He lived tried to kill Him. Members of His boyhood home tried to murder Him; religious leaders plotted against Him; one of His best friends betrayed Him; another denied Him; the rest deserted Him.
He was unfairly arrested, lied about by perjured witnesses, declared "guilty" by a kangaroo court where the verdict had been predetermined. He was beaten, laughed at, spit upon, whipped and condemned to die by a man who knew He was innocent. When He was crucified, another criminal challenged Him, and passersby mocked Him. It can honestly be said, with only the rarest of exceptions, from the beginning of His life, until the moment He breathed His last, Jesus Christ was misunderstood, misinterpreted and maligned. He was seldom respected and often rejected.
Still, it is for the very people who didn't want Him, who hated Him, who detested and despised Him that Jesus was born. Search the annals of history and you will not stumble upon anyone like the Savior. In Jesus, the Innocent is traded for the guilty, the Perfect for the flawed, and the Eternal for the temporal, the King for the commoner.
It is unimaginable and unthinkable, but it is nevertheless the truth. Scripture declares it. God has shown His love for us in this: Jesus Christ died and, just as importantly, He rose for sinners. And now, because of what He has done we have been given a cause to live and die for. That cause? To thank, praise, serve and obey Him.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, how can I express my gratitude for a Savior who sacrificed His all so I might be forgiven and saved? Any gift I have is too small, too poor. Grant that I may say "thank You" with each day of my life. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries