Living in Response to Christ's Sacrifice

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks portrays an Army captain (Captain Miller) whose unit is assigned to find a private named Ryan in the dangerous aftermath of the D-Day Invasion. Ryan's brothers have both been killed in combat, and, unbeknown to him, he is his mother's only surviving son.

The mission involves the captain's unit in brutal battles with the Germans. But Private Ryan is located and his life is saved by his captain who dies in the process.

As Private Ryan attends to his mortally wounded rescuer, the captain speaks his last words in a hoarse whisper - "Earn this." - in other words, “Live a life which deserves me dying for you.” The camera merges from the young private's face to the face of an old man, standing by a white cross in the cemetery at Normandy.

It is Ryan many years later, near the end of his life. He kneels by his captain's grave and says: "Every day of my life, I've thought about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I've done my best. I hope at least in your eyes that I've lived up to all you gave for me." Here was a man, now the old Private Ryan, who had tried to live his life in the light of what was sacrificed for him.

I wonder if people really understood the implications of this part of the movie - to live in response to what someone else had done for them. But I hope you do, because it has important implications for your life. You and I were paid for with the blood of God's only begotten Son Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for every wrong thing we've done.

Like the chorus says, "He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay - I needed someone to wash my sins away.” And because of what our Lord has done for me (and I trust for you also), I sing a brand new song, ‘Amazing grace - Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.’

Now Jesus will never say of His death for us, "Earn this". We couldn't. That's why He died. There is nothing we could ever do that could pay our sin-bill with God. He did it all. But the Bible does talk about living a life that's worthy of our Saviour.

In the Bible in Colossians 1, beginning with verse 10, it says, "We pray...that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God." Can you say your life is bearing spiritual fruit or are you bogged down in earthly stuff, hardly giving your Saviour (and what He has done for you) a thought? Are you really growing in your knowledge of God - or are you pretty much where you've been for quite a while - knowing the bare basics, and the Bible remaining a closed book somewhere on a shelf in your house?

Verse 13 in Colossians 1, reminds us of the rescue mission for which Jesus came - "He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves." If you're still messing around with the dark stuff, you're embracing the very junk (and it is junk, because it is of no eternal use) Jesus died to liberate you from.

You can never earn what Jesus sacrificed for you. But you can live each day of your life in light of it. Which means you live to please only the One who gave His life for you. It means not limiting God to a very distant acquaintance, but making Him the most important Person in your life, surrendering yourself and all you have, absolutely to Him.

No cross should be too heavy for you to bear for Him. No demand He makes could possibly be too much. No sacrifice you make for Him can be too great. Not after what He sacrificed for you.

Your life wasn't paid for at a discount price. Jesus deserves better from you than a discounted discipleship or commitment. You don't have to visit a grave to remember what you owe Him - He's not there anyway.

But each new day, in your heart, remember John 3:16: “For God so loved the world (that means you), that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not die, but have everlasting life.” And then, with a heart full of love and gratitude, live that day for Him. As He gave Himself for you, out of love for Him, give yourself to the Lord Jesus.

Remember everything belongs to Him - your body, your time, your money, your possessions, your money, your abilities. How have you used them for the Lord today? How will you use them for the Lord tomorrow? Let me conclude with Paul’s words again: "We pray...that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God." Grace and peace.....

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