1During World War II, the British soldiers in a Japanese prisoner of war camp were treated very badly. The guards forced them to work hard every day, under the burning heat of the sun.
After each day’s work, the guards counted the tools to make sure nothing had been stolen. One day a guard found a shovel was missing. The guard lined all the prisoners up. He started screaming at them and pointing his rifle in their faces. He said he would kill all of them if the shovel wasn’t returned.
Then, one of the prisoners stepped forward and said quietly, “I did it.”
The guard beat him to death in front of the other prisoners, while the rest of the guards watched. But when the tools were counted again, the guard realised he had miscounted. No shovels were missing after all.
The prisoner who had been beaten to death was innocent. He had stepped forward to save the lives of the others. That man showed amazing bravery to give up his life for his friends.
Jesus also allowed himself to be executed, even though he was innocent too. He was hung on a cross of wood for several hours until he breathed his last.
Jesus didn’t die for ‘good’ people, or for his friends, like that prisoner did. He died for anyone who has messed up their life. He even died for people who hate him.
“Even if we were good, we really wouldn’t expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” —Romans 5:7-8
“Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s [standards]; yet now God declares us ‘not guilty’ of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. For God sent Christ Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to end all God’s anger against us.” —Romans 3:23-25
Everything we’ve done wrong deserves God’s punishment. But, a bit like that brave prisoner, Jesus stands in our place and says, “I did it.”
Because of Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of meeting God after we die. Jesus took all our punishment on himself when he died on the cross. There is nothing left for us to face! This is how much God loves us!
When Jesus came back to life three days after being killed, he said “There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me” (Luke 24:47). It’s up to each of us if we will accept his offer or not.
— Mark, an Our Daily Bread reader