“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die (Romans 5:7).”
After carjacking a vehicle and shooting a police officer, an ISIS terrorist barricaded himself inside a grocery store and took hostages in Trebes, France. (1) That’s when Arnaud Beltrame, a French police officer, went into action. He offered himself up in exchange for a female hostage to which the terrorist agreed. Arnaud put himself in great danger, his life in exchange for saving a complete stranger’s life. Heroically, Beltrame opened a link to the outside through his cell phone so that police could hear what was going on. Shots rang out and police stormed the building killing the terrorist. But that only after Beltrame had been fatally shot himself. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb tweeted that Beltrame “died for his country.” For that one woman who was freed by his willingness to take her place, his sacrifice will always be very personal and likely will alter how she lives out her days.
Law enforcement officers have all agreed to such an exchange for the public safety, to put their lives in harm’s way in order to protect others. But rarely do circumstances play out as they did in Beltrame’s determined exchange. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13).” Jesus knew this well as He was prepared to do that very thing and did for all of us. His life was offered in exchange for the lives of His friends. The penalty for sin is death (Genesis 2:17, Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23). But He came and knowingly offered His life (2 Corinthians 5:15) to spare us a from a ruthless terrorist (John 8:44) who has taken countless hostages (2 Timothy 2:26). Jesus laid His life down for us (John 10:15).
Knowing of His sacrifice so that we have been spared from death should alter how we live out our days on earth. The beloved Apostle wrote, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).” This is the exchange we willingly agree to, although circumstances rarely demand that we should have to make that sacrifice literally. However, following Him does require us to sacrifice our lives in His service. Considering God’s mercies towards we are to present our bodies as “living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).” Very rarely must we make that exchange of our own life for another but we can live sacrificially for the benefit of others, especially for fellow Christians. Paul admonished, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (Philippians 2:3).” In that spirit of a living sacrifice we read, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:16).”
What a beautiful exchange we have received. Christ took our place and spared us from death so that we will live forever. Such knowledge transforms how we think about living out our days and when you think of the service we are called on to render, it really is no sacrifice at all.
“Nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish (John 11:50).”