1 John 3:16 - This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Not long ago, I got a glimpse of the living hope we have in knowing Christ as our Savior after reading about the aftermath of a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park. One park ranger who was assessing the damage found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, the ranger knocked over the bird with a stick.
When he gently tapped it, three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother's ashen wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings, sensing the approaching danger. She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze arrived, and the heat scorched her small body. Through this, the mother remained steadfast; she had been willing to die so those under the cover of her wings would live.
When I read about this little bird that saved her babies, I thought of Psalm 91:4a. Here the Bible reminds us: "He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge." The wings of God were the gift of His Son, the power of His cross, and the glory of His resurrection.
All of us are caught up in the conflagration of sin, death, and the power of the devil. Our death is assured if we are left to our own power to try to escape these destructive powers. It is for this reason that God so loved each of us that He sent His own Son to gather us under His protective wings. On Calvary the blazing fire of evil and all our sins struck our Savior. He died with us gathered under His wings so that we, too, might live. The apostle Paul says it this way: "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The dead body of Christ was not a pillar of ash that was knocked over and forgotten, as it was with the mother bird's body. Rather, on the third day, He arose from the dead giving us a true and living hope now and throughout eternity.
The apostle John is reminding us that there is no greater definition of love than one who is willing to lay down his or her life for someone else. How thankful we can be for those who have sacrificed their lives—in any way—so that someone else might live. These acts of love continue to remind us that the greatest act of love is found in Jesus who willing gave His life for ours.
Thanks be to God who gives us victory in our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, overwhelm us with Your love so that we can love others the way You love us. Amen.
From "Overwhelming Love Breeds a Living Hope for Life," a message excerpt from Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Have you ever seen animals protect their young or help other animals?
2. What does "He made Him to be sin who knew no sin" mean to you?
3. Is there anyone you know you would lay your life down for?
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