In 2011 an earthquake and tsunami caused a catastrophic meltdown of three nuclear reactors in Japan. A massive evacuation ensued, displacing thousands, with a 20 kilometer radius marked as an “exclusion zone”.
The cleanup process commenced 5 months later, and 45,000 workers joined the efforts. In 2014 Japanese officials reported that they were dealing with their first case of a worker contracting cancer (in this case, leukemia) due to exposure to radiation. Though the health ministry recognized that workers were encountering intense radiation levels, they believed there were “no discernible health effects…to be expected”. They were wrong. The workers unknowingly risked their own lives to alleviate the hazards facing others.
Jesus knew that the shedding of His blood on the cross was required as “a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:28). He held nothing back from us, refusing to cling to His own life or rights and privileges as the King and the Son of God. Rather, “Jesus gave up his life for us” (1 John 3:16). He wasn’t coerced into this perilous act, but gave Himself freely, saying, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily” (John 10:18). Jesus gave Himself all the way to the bitter end, for this is the heart of God: to give, to rescue, to love.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection provide more than the assurance of God’s sacrificial action towards us. They also serve as our example of how He intends each of us to lay down our lives for one another. “Let’s not merely say that we love each other,” John says, “let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18). May we always pursue the good of others, even as our good God has pursued and loved us.
365-day plan: Luke 16:1-18