What is the most generous thing a friend, family member, or even a total stranger has ever done for you? How did it make you feel?
Growing up walking a financial tightrope, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I truly realized what my parents sacrificed so that my brother and I never wanted for anything. When I finally understood the depths of their selfless and sacrificial love for us, I had never felt so much gratitude toward them. I had also never felt more worthy and cherished than I did in that moment of revelation. I saw my value through the eyes of my parents—that they were willing to go without, because I mattered to them so much. As did my brother, of course. But one thing that struck me was that, even if it had just been me, as an only child, they would have given up those things for my wellbeing.
Jesus Endured for YOU
I remember sitting in a sharing once where the teacher unabashedly delved into the medical side of the horrific physical agony Jesus endured before and during his time on the cross. If you’ve never heard this account with all of the gritty medical details included…trust me on this, the Gospel records are going easy on you. By the end of that teaching, I was a crying mess, just imagining anyone enduring so much pain—much less the only person in the history of the world who deserved it the least.
And for all of that, the part of the teaching that truly stood out the most to me was when the teacher, after all of that graphic description, looked over his captivated audience and said, “And you know what? Jesus endured that for you.”
He started to point to some of us as individuals and fill in our names in the blank: “He endured all of that for you, Steve. He endured that for you, Karen. He endured that for you, Renee.”
What a powerful, personal, life-changing message. I think the band Kutless sums this concept up perfectly in a lyric from their song Sea of Faces: “If only my one heart was all you’d gain from all it cost, well, I know you would have still been a man with a reason to willingly offer your life.”
Jesus Died For You – Now Live For Him!
I ask you to reflect again on what you felt at the time when someone did something special and meaningful for you. Was the entire occasion forgettable, or were you inspired by it? If you’re like many people, maybe you felt the urge to give back to the other person in some equally-important way, as a show of gratitude and appreciation.
I can only speak for myself, but that is the kind of response I want to have toward my Savior’s sacrifice. Living for him shouldn’t be a chore for me, but a joyous opportunity to serve the one who gave it all for me. Not that he died to accrue favors with any of us, so that we would feel compelled to serve him…no more than a truly loving family member or friend would do something for us with the sole purpose of indebting us to them.
But we must recognize that we have been given the ultimate gift, through the ultimate sacrifice. No one will ever do more for us than our brother Jesus did—he gave his life for us. And now he lives again, which means that we have been granted the opportunity, even the privilege, to serve in his Body with the gifts he imparted to us the moment we accepted that selfless sacrifice as the covering for our sins.
Jesus died for you, [YOUR NAME HERE]. Now it’s your turn to live for him!