Published April 19, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"Who Would You Die For?"

Who would you die for? Literally. No, that's not an easy question to answer. Would you be willing to die for a family member? Your spouse? Someone else very special to you? How about a total stranger?

Truth be told, it's probably impossible to answer that question fully until circumstances present themselves that might require an answer.

You'll recall that back in January, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot through the head by a malcontent gunman during a public appearance in Tucson, Arizona. You've probably marveled at her amazing recovery since then.

But you might not have heard much about Judge John Roll. Judge Roll was the chief federal judge for the District of Arizona. On that fateful Saturday, he turned out for the event because Rep. Giffords was a friend. When the shooting started, Judge Roll was hit by gunfire and died. But a review of store security videotapes of the scene showed something most interesting. When the gunfire erupted, Judge Roll instinctively pushed another man to the ground and shielded that man's body with his own. Both men were hit by gunfire. Judge Roll died. The man he shielded did not. An investigator concluded, "It's very clear to me that the judge was thinking of his fellow human more than himself."

Would you do that? Would you die for someone who you might not even know?

Would you die for the cause of Christ? Last Friday I came across a news story about a Christian named Mussie Eyob. For sharing his Christian testimony with a Muslim, he is facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. A source close to the situation said, "[Mussie] is ready to die for his belief [in Christ]."

If someone were to tell you you'd die if you claimed to be a Christian, would you stand up for Christ anyway? Would you die for the cause of Christ? Some years ago, during the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, a student named Cassie Bernall was confronted by a gunman who demanded to know if she believed in God. With a gun pointed at her head she undoubtedly knew what was involved. But she said something to this effect: "Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ." She was immediately shot dead.

Would you die for Christ? Not many of us – at least in our culture (yet) – are called upon to physically die for our profession of faith in Christ. But the question may be more relevant than you might at first think. Christians are called upon to "die to self" every day. 1st Peter 2:24 tells us we have "died to sins" so that we might "live for righteousness" since Jesus paid the price – "by whose stripes you were healed."

Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me... [for] whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24-25). What cross? The cross was a means of execution – it meant death. We are to die for Christ by taking the "me first" out of our lives and replacing it with "Christ first." That's how we deny ourselves. That's how we die for Christ.

But let's talk about physical death once again. Paul wrote, "scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8). We might not want to die for just anyone. Maybe we'd be willing for someone very special to us. But Jesus died on the cross for – not good people – but sinners, even the very worst of sinners. Even the Apostle Paul said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Tim. 1:15). Each and every one of us, by default, falls into that category.

If somehow you could take a time machine back to the time when Christ walked the earth, you'd be able to ask him the question we've been considering: "Who would you die for?"

He would look you directly in the eyes – and, with such overwhelming love that can be experienced from no one else – He would, without hesitation, say... "YOU! I would die for YOU!"

How do I know He would have said that? Because that's exactly what He did. He willingly died for you and He died for me – so that our sin debt would be paid. And, if fact, this was the whole reason He came into the world. He was the sinless One "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). This was God's plan to redeem a sinful race. What amazing love and grace, far beyond all human understanding!

I love these lyrics from the late Rusty Goodman's song, "Who Am I?"

When I think of how He came so far from glory
Came and dwelt among the lowly such as I
To suffer shame and such disgrace
On Mount Calvary take my place
Then I ask myself a question,
Who am I?

Who am I that a King would bleed and die for?
Who am I that He would pray
"Not My will, Thine" for...
The answer I may never know
Why He ever loved me so,
That to an old rugged cross He'd go
For who am I?

Who am I? Who are you? Just someone so loved that the Lord of the entire universe would "bleed and die for."

As we approach Easter, thank the Lord for what He did for you at Calvary. Thank Him for willingly taking upon Himself the sins of the world — and the unimaginable pain and gruesome suffering that went with it on the cross. And if you haven't accepted Him yet as your Savior, make today the day. Right now!  Then this Resurrection Day celebration of renewed life will also be a celebration of your new life in Christ!

- Paul

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