"For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."1
Ron Clarke of Tasmania tells the following story about the devastating Irish famine (1845-1849) that wiped out a million people some 150 years ago when many thousands left Ireland for the New World, or Australia and New Zealand searching for a new life.
"One of these was a penniless boy who hid as a stowaway on an immigrant ship bound for America. In the mid-Atlantic the ship began to sink, but there was enough time to get everybody into life-boats. Deep down in the bowels of the ship the boy wondered why the ship had stopped and as he emerged from his hiding place there was no-one around. He came up on deck just as the captain was about to step into the last seat of the last life-boat. In the highest tradition of the sea, the captain stepped back and put the boy in his place, and as the life-boat was pushed off, he said to the lad: 'Never forget what has been done for you.'
"As the life-boat pulled away, the lad could see the captain standing on the deck, and that vision never left him. He became a successful businessman in the New World, and when people asked him about the secret of his achievement, he always told the story of the captain giving his life for him, and how he was urged to never forget what had been done for him. 'Whenever I get discouraged and feel negatively about myself,' he said, 'I recall the vision of what has been done for me, and it gives me new courage to keep on keeping on to be worthy of such a price.'"2
To sacrifice one's own life for that of another is without doubt the supreme sacrifice. But that is exactly what Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Creator of the universe, did for you and me when he left the ivory palaces of Heaven, laying aside his external robes of deity, and came to earth as a man to pay the just penalty for your sins and mine through his death by crucifixion on the insufferably cruel Roman cross. As today's Scripture reminds us: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."1
May we never forget the overwhelming sacrifice that Jesus paid for you and me! And because Christ gave his life to die in our place, with God's help, may we give our life to live for him always in all ways.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how can I ever thank you enough for dying in my place on the cross at Calvary to pay the just penalty for all my sins, so that I can be freely forgiven and receive your gift of eternal life in your Heaven? Help me always to live a life that is well-pleasing and honoring to you. And help me to be 'as Jesus' in some way to every life I touch, and grant that they, seeing Jesus in me, will want you to be in their life too. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."
Note: If you have never thanked God for dying for you and received his gift of forgiveness you can do that today. For help read the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian" online at: www.actsweb.org/christian.
1. Romans 5:6-8 (NKJV).
2. Ron Clarke, firstname.lastname@example.org.