"God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
- Romans 5:8
Three brothers were dead, but one still remained alive. These three brothers died in battle with the Germans, and the US President was now determined to bring the remaining brother, Private Ryan, home from the war!
If you are familiar with this amazing story from World War II, it is gut wrenching account of heroism, sacrifice, and honor on the field of battle. An entire squad of men from the 2nd Ranger battalion risked their lives in order to retrieve one specific man, and to bring him back home to his family. Before it was all over, all of these men died in the fighting, ultimately sacrificing themselves for Private Ryan.
As the Lieutenant lay dying of his wounds, moments before his death, he told Ryan something that I'm sure he'd never forget. He simply told him:
"Make it count!"
The astounding last words of a dying soldier to the one whom he and his men died to save, were to remember their sacrifice, to never let it be in vain, and to make his life count for something!
As Christians, we see this beautiful sacrifice and heroism in the life of our great Captain and Commander, Jesus Christ. We are told of his heroic sacrifice in 1 John 2:2 where we read:
"And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."
This word "propitiation" is a beautiful and powerful word in the ancient Greek of the New Testament. This word is "helasmos" and carries the meaning of "absorbing wrath and punishment." It is the same word used for the Mercy Seat in the Old Testament Tabernacle, upon which the blood of sacrifices was sprinkled. God saw the blood on the Mercy Seat, and that the wrath and payment for sin had been satisfied, and he could then be in fellowship with his people. Jesus is here declared to be OUR wrath-absorber; the One who took in all the punishment for our sin and evil...and paid for it!
We have a similar truth declared in 1 John 4:10, where we are told:
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins."
Here we see what the motivating power was behind Christ coming and being our "helasmos" to absorb the infinite wrath for sin: God's love...for us!!
So great is the love of God for mankind, that Christ not only laid down his physical life for us in excruciating pain and torture, but that He also was willing become the payment for our sin-debt that we have before God. He alone completely paid for and absorbed all the wrath for our wickedness. Paul describes this great event in 2 Corinthians 5:21 like this:
"For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Amazing love!! The God-Man loved so much that He was willing to be made like a sinner on the Cross, in order to make full payment for our failures, and absorb the infinite fury of God's wrath over sin?!?
If the human captain, who spoke those dying words to Private Ryan, could say such a bold statement to honor his sacrifice, can the same thing not be said to us by our great Commander and Captain, Jesus Christ?
Does He not look at us through the gaze of His Spirit and speak to us in the pages of Scripture and tell us the same thing: "Don't let my sacrifice be in vain, make it count! Live that life I've given you in a worthy manner...make it count for the Kingdom!"
I encourage you today, to do as Paul commanded in Ephesians 4:1 and live a life that is worthy of the Lord Jesus. Give your life to Christ again today as a "living sacrifice" (Read Rom 12:1,2) to honor His sacrifice on your behalf! Honor your King today, in a fresh way, by putting His Kingdom 1st in your life, and the number one priority in your heart! (Read Matt 6:33)
Christ sacrificed much for you and me....let's "make it count" for Him!