For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed. Romans 3:2225 NRSV
LAST JULY, when a gunman opened fire in a crowded Colorado theater, people reacted instinctively. Some fled via the exits; others dove under seats; and three men covered their girlfriends with their own bodies. All three died in the hail of bullets, but their loved ones survived. Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves were all in their twenties. Say what you will about the immaturity of twenty-something adults; these men knew instantly that the situation required sacrifice. Speaking on Meet the Press a few days later, Colorados governor said, Heroism isnt strong enough a word to describe what they did.
Ironically, they were there to watch the newest movie about Batman, a legendary Dark Knight who roves the streets of a great metropolis to thwart villains and rescue innocent victims from evil. But the story on the screen was nothing compared to the true-life drama that took place amid candy wrappers and empty popcorn drums that evening.
So do we call these men heroes? Knights? Try sacrifices, blood sacrifices. Or, to use an archaic word of the King James Version, each man made himself a propitiation for his loved one. The word literally means to put oneself forward on behalf of another, to die in that persons place. Jon just took a bullet for me, Blunks dazed girlfriend said afterward. He offered to take what was coming her way without a moments hesitation. So the gunman shot him but passed her by. Jesus became that kind of sacrifice, the ultimate expression of Gods extreme love for us.
Lord, how can we thank you for sending your Son to die in our place? How can we describe the love youve shown us in Jesus? Words fail us. But help us demonstrate that kind of sacrificial love toward others, we pray.
-Joe Allison, Coordinator of Publishing and Creative Services, Church of God Ministries, Anderson, Indiana