In a cold, dark place, one night, where corruption and ruthlessness seemed to reign supreme, one man radiated light that withstood the darkness.
It was July 1941. The dark place was a concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland, during World War Two. After one man disappeared from the barracks, the deputy camp commander decided to select ten men to starve to death, in order to deter further escape attempts. One such man was Franciszek Gajowniczek.
In a desperate attempt he cried out an utter plea to save his life. He had hopes of one day being reunited with his family.
This man’s cry did stir the soul of one man: Maximilian Kolbe.
He sympathized with Franciszek, and out of compassion, volunteered to go in this man’s place. During his time in the cell, he led the men out in songs and prayer. Three weeks later, after Kolbe and the others had been starved and dehydrated, he was one of the few to remain alive. He was then injected with carbolic acid, which put an end to his life.
Kolbe’s courage and compassion led him to act as a substitute for a complete stranger. Such a sacrifice is so noble, that it goes beyond words.
This story reminds me of another one. I know a man who acted as our Substitute, to save us from the utter depths of darkness and despair, and His sacrifice came at a greater cost.
This man I know gave up His superior Kingdom, to save a fallen race. We as a people were deserving of death because of the very nature of our sins. We did nothing worthy to deserve another chance; we were not even worth a second glance. Yet, love and abundant mercy was promised to us, and so much more…
Jesus Christ willingly stooped down to our lowly planet and gave Himself up for the human race. He would suffer for us, and it would take place by the cruelest form – The Cross.
Not only did He give Himself up, but He did it for a people that would not even receive Him. It says in Isaiah 53:3 that He was “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” We turned away from the very One, who gave us more than we could ever ask. We spurned the One who “poured out His soul unto death” (verse 12), and gave us something greater than we could ever know: The gift of eternal life and salvation.
Yet, there are many who did not want what Jesus had to offer, and still there are many of us turning away from His gift today. We are trading in His offer, for a cookie-cutter image of love that will never satisfy.
We may think we know what love is, but we really have no idea. We cannot even begin to know what love is until we look at the cross. Love sent Christ to die on the cross for our sins. We were the guilty Ones, but Christ took upon Himself the punishment that we so rightly deserved. He is our Intercessor, and by the merits of His redeeming blood, we are saved.
What would you do if you were asked to give up everything you had ever known? How would it feel to be separated from your mother, brother, sister or brother? Or, God forbid, to be told that they would have to suffer immensely to the point of death? Such a thought is unbearable.
Yet, this is what God the Father did for us. He sent His only Son for us. What kind of love do you know that can top this? I cannot even begin to comprehend a love like that.
Our understanding of love is actually quite limited and shallow when you think about it. Every February, we celebrate a version of what we think is love, and all year long, we fantasize and entertain disillusioned ideas of the kind of love we are seeking for our own pleasure. Yet, there is a most beautiful, sacrificial love that was offered freely, without any cost to us.
You see, this story ends well. In verse 5, The Bible says that “with His stripes we are healed.” That is, because of His great sacrifice, we now have a chance to be completely healed from the sin malady and from a life of hopelessness. If we will accept His gift, we can finally have the privilege of experiencing true healing in all of our lives.
You may have walked away from this offer the first time. But guess what? It is not too late. Jesus is still holding out His hand for you today and giving you the chance of a lifetime: The opportunity to live a life fully rooted in Him, both here and now, and in the life to come. It is up to you what you will decide. To say it plainly, you can either take it or leave it. What will be your final choice?
I pray you will choose His love and more: His offer of eternal life. When you choose Him, may you rejoice and celebrate in His love and what it will mean for us all, both now and forevermore.
Copyright: weerapat / 123RF Stock Photo
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