31 October 2009

We honour other heroes – why not Jesus?

'An out of control Rottweiler headed for a baby, but Sally Ann Sutton threw herself into the vicious dog's path, sustaining terrible injuries in the process. Sally Ann put herself in extreme danger to save someone else.'

So ran the judge's comments last month as Sally Ann Sutton received a winner's award at the Pride of Britain 2009. And it's hard not to be deeply moved by the stories at the awards ceremony, especially those where individuals endured terrible suffering for the sake of others, with no thought to their own safety or well-being.

Well, this month, I'd like to recognise the selfless courage of another hero, who suffered the most appalling injuries in order to save each one of us, His name is Jesus.

As Jesus hung on the executioner's cross, we're told that some of the onlookers sneered at him, He saved others, let him now save himself if he is the Christ of God?' And another man said, 'Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!' (Luke 23 v 35-39)

They missed the point. Jesus could not save others if he saved himself. He was subjecting himself to the most terrible death in order to save us from the most terrible death.

In this case, 'death' is the final, just judgment of God on all our wrongdoing – and it's headed straight for all of us. As defenceless as a baby in the face of a Rottweiler, there's no escaping death's grip on us, unless someone comes between death and us.

And that's what Jesus did on the cross – he let God inflict the appalling effects of his judgment on him instead of on us.

He could have saved himself and let us suffer what was coming to us. But out of his great love for us, with no thought to himself or his own safety, he suffered our death in our place instead of us.

We honour other heroes, why not Jesus?

We're moved to tears by the heroic acts of Britain's best, why not Jesus?

Did anyone ever do so much for us, at such great personal cost and pain?

Since God raised Jesus from death, and appointed him to the highest place of honour, living and ruling all heaven and earth, let us also give him our 'top award': our love and thanks.

Should not we give our all for him who gave his all for us?

Simon Smallwood

Vicar, St George's Church