True Courage

Thirteen years ago last week our nation was rocked on September 11, 2001.  Mass chaos ensued with the collapse of the World Trade Center as thousands lost their lives in the rubble.  New York citizens frantically ran from the ashes that spread over Manhattan; however, many courageous firefighters and policemen, some of New York’s finest, chose not to run away from the disaster.  They ran right INTO the chaos that surrounded downtown Manhattan, risking their lives without a second thought.  They were selfless, courageous, and inspiring to watch, and they refused to balk at the fear that may have overwhelmed them.  These men and women pushed fear aside in favor of saving lives, and their sacrifice is sealed in a legacy that will be shouted for all eternity.  It’s message is found in the timeless credo that they could simply not leave a fallen man behind.

When I think of sacrifices like those of the men and women of 9-11, I wonder where they get it.  Having a selfless, courageous attitude like that isn’t in the common man.  It certainly takes a special person to do what they did, and for the firefighters and policemen that lost their lives on that tragic day, their sacrifice for the good of their country is all that is left behind.

Sacrifice.  Courage.  Selflessness.  When I think of these words, I think of another man.  This man lived long, long ago, and His legacy actually trumps the heroes of 9-11.  It was about 2,000 years ago that a certain Messiah was becoming quite the story of His time.  Jesus Christ had come to save us from sin, but before this ever happened, He had the road to the cross ultimately laid out before Him.  Did He want this?  If you look at Christ’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He actually prayed in Luke 22: 42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  Yet Christ readily accepted His father’s will.  Rewind the clock a week earlier and look at the details.

The Pharisees wanted Christ dead.  Jesus knew that.  He knew they were lurking in the shadows of Jerusalem before His triumphant entry on what we now know as Palm Sunday.  Jesus didn’t even flinch.  The scriptures say He was the one walking ahead of His disciples on that day.  Jesus, much like those heroes of 9-11, was walking straight into the hornets nest that awaited Him in Jerusalem.  He could have stayed back.  I bet His disciples would have gladly agreed to hang back a day or two before building up enough guts to make that inevitable trek into enemy territory.  But not Jesus.  Not the son of man.  Christ rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, savoring every minute of those shouting His praises.  He knew this was His last hurrah.  He knew His ultimate destiny was to end up on the cross.  Any common man would be hesitating at this moment!

Some people of this world may see Christ as meek, mild, and peaceful.  Not a man’s man.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Jesus Christ epitomizes the essence of true courage.  If you look at the amount of physical pain he endured on the long road to Calvary where He was brutally crucified and likewise take into effect the mental agony of people cursing Him and every single one of His disciples abandoning him in the heat of the moment, there is no man on earth that could endure this torture.  But Christ does!  And do you know who He does it for?  He does it for me.  He does it for you.  He does it even for those that refuse to believe.  Christ died for all of us.  That in itself is courageous.

So, where does that leave us?  What do we owe to Him?  We owe Him our lives.  Jesus isn’t asking for just some of our hearts.  He wants all of us.  He doesn’t want just a couple hours of your time on Sunday.  He wants every second of your life.  He is drawing a line in the sand right now asking us all if we are in our out.  There is no grey area here.  No halfway in halfway out.  It is all or nothing.  If you are on the side of being lukewarm, He will spit you right out.  But if you give to Him your life and let the Holy Spirit guide your every step, that my friends is beyond admirable.  Don’t shut out the son of man.  Shout His name for all eternity!  Take a stance.  Be bold.  Be courageous.

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