Dear Fellow Children of God,
Have you ever read Charles Dickens’ book, “The Tale of Two Cities”? In this book, set during the French Revolution, Charles Darnay has a loving marriage with Lucie Manette. But, Darnay is wrongly arrested in the fervor of the revolution and faces execution by the guillotine. Sydney Carton has loved Lucie from afar for years and looks somewhat like Darnay. In order to help Lucie, Carton secretly trades places with Darnay. Carton is executed and Darnay escapes execution. So, in Dickens’ book Sydney Carton sacrifices his life for Charles Darnay, but Carton loses everything and gains nothing, except that he helps the woman he loves. Dickens’ story is an example of the ultimate sacrifice, offered as an act of love.
Do you love anyone enough to give your life for them? If so, whom do you love enough so that you would die for them? Is there anyone you love, but maybe not enough to be willing to give your life on their behalf? Are there people for whom you would not be willing to sacrifice your life in order to save them?
There are some verses of Scripture so clear in sharing God’s message of love in Jesus that to read them brings wonder and awe each time they are read. One of my favorite parables of Jesus is that of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11 and ff. And, one of my favorite passages that clearly speaks of God’s love in Paul’s letters is found in Romans 5. This verse examines the depth of God’s love in that He was willing to sacrifice the life of Jesus to save people who have sinned against Him.
In Romans 5:6-8, God tells us of His self-giving, sacrificial love. “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Paul points out that to sacrifice one’s own life is rare. However, perhaps some would give their life for that special person they love, sort of like Carton gave his life for Darnay in order to help Lucie. But, who would give their life for someone who had hurt them? Who would give their life for someone who had sinned against them? It would be hard to find such selfless love anywhere on the earth.
Yet, that is the depth of God’s love for us. We have rebelled and sinned against God. Instead of keeping His law we have broken it. Instead of loving God and loving others, we have often lived selfishly. Nevertheless, knowing our sin, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
This Sunday begins Holy Week, a yearly remembrance of Jesus’ last week of life on this earth before He was crucified. On Sunday we will celebrate Palm Sunday, and remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey to the praises of people in Jerusalem. On Thursday we will remember Jesus’ last supper, last Passover Meal. It is not lost that Jesus is “our Passover lamb” “who takes away the sins of the world.” On Good Friday we will watch with wonder as the righteous Son of God is willingly nailed to a cross to die for the sins of a rebellious world. But, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
A Tale of Two Cities is amazing story of sacrificial love. But, it is just a story. However, the reality of God’s love is that Jesus did die a painful, sacrificial death, in order that we might live eternally through faith in Jesus. Such love is truly amazing. God’s love is worth remembering and celebrating. Such sacrifice calls me to worship and serve my Lord, who died for me.
I pray that you take time to remember Jesus’ amazing, sacrificial love in worship this week.
A Child of God, Standing in Awe of the Sacrifice of Jesus,
P.S. Here are pictures from the 2015 St. John Marriage Retreat, Alaska Sunset View Lodge, Big Lake, AK. https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/6131098183490662017?banner=pwa
P.P.S. Here are pictures from the Shane Woods Ice Fishing Outing, March 22, 2015. https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/6129475920620274049?banner=pwa
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . .