At the end of each day the tools were collected from the work party. On one occasion a Japanese guard shouted that a shovel was missing and demanded to know which man had taken it. He began to rant and rave, working himself up into a paranoid fury and ordered whoever was guilty to step forward. No one moved. “All die! All die!” he shrieked, cocking and aiming his rifle at the prisoners. At that moment one man stepped forward and the guard clubbed him to death with his rifle while he stood silently to attention. When they returned to the camp, the tools were counted again and no shovel was missing.
What an incredible story of putting others before yourself in spite of the incredible cost! Instead of everyone dying, an innocent man stepped forward and offered himself in their place.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.(John 15:13)
Imagine what all the other men in the work party must have thought when they returned to the camp, only to find there was no shovel missing. I wonder what the guard that clubbed him to death thought? As incredible as this story is for demonstrating selfless love for others, there is another story even more remarkable, because it involves the sinless Savior who went to a cross to save sinners from their sin.
You see, the justice of God demanded payment for sin, and Jesus stepped forward for sinners, took our place, and paid the penalty in full. The POW stood silently at attention while the guard clubbed him to death; Jesus stood silently before His accusers and executioners as He received the penalty that you and I fully deserved. He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf and died a death reserved for the most vile of criminals. He did it so that all those who place their trust in His atoning death will never feel the sting of death and never be punished for their sins.
So . . . have you experienced this amazing grace? Have you acknowledged your sin and need of a Savior? And does the love of Christ now compel you to love others—all others—even to the point of demonstrating this “no greater love,” regardless of cost or circumstance? The more we look to the Savior, the more we are seized and strengthened by this “lay-your-life-down-for-others” love.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . .