Summary: Jesus was the perfect example of self-scrifice, courage and love.
One day, near a sleepy little west Texas town, there was a tremendous explosion as one of the nearby oil wells blew and caught on fire. The blaze became so intense they set barriers around the fire, beyond which nothing was supposed to pass. They called in all the surrounding fire departments, and even special teams to fight the fire, but to no avail. The fire was out of control, and they could not get close enough to fight it. Someone in the crowd was heard to say, “Where’s our volunteer fire department?” Just then the local department’s only engine came bursting over the top of the hill. Bells were clanging, sirens were screaming, and men were hanging all over that little truck. Everyone was sure they would stop at the safety perimeter like all the other trucks, but down toward the blaze they went. Past the crowd they flew to the hottest part of the fire. There was a mad scramble by the men, and in a short time they had the fire out. The town was so grateful they had a fund raising dinner for them. At the banquet, the Mayor presented the fire chief with a sizable check as an expression of the town’s gratitude. Then the mayor asked the chief how they planned to use the money. The chief said, “Well, the first thing we are going to do is fix those sorry brakes on the fire engine.”
As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a small donkey, there were no brakes. He had made a purposeful choice that he would not turn back, but ride directly into the fire. It was no accident; he meant to do it. He had set his face steadfastly toward Jerusalem knowing what was before him. Knowing the risks involved, he willingly headed into the danger to save the human race, and become a sacrifice for their sins.
What a wonderful Savior we have! The Bible says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). He went into the most dangerous place to rescue those who were being held captive. This is why it says: “‘When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.’ What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (Ephesians 4:8-10).
Jesus is our divine example. We are to be like him and imitate his life. He said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15). How has Jesus Christ become an example for us? There are countless ways, but today we will consider three. The first one is: Jesus is the perfect example of self-sacrifice. Many of the firemen who rushed into the burning World Trade Center understood that they were not only risking their lives, but would probably die in this one trying to rescue the innocent victims. It was the ultimate sacrifice. But Jesus died not only for the deserving, but the undeserving as well. He died for those who loved him, and he died for those who hated him. He willingly gave his life for those who took his life. The Bible puts it like this: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). He sacrificed himself for those who cared and for those who could care less.
For those of you who watch “The West Wing” on television, you will remember when the character Mrs. Landingham, the president’s secretary in the show, was killed in a car accident. The next day, a California State Assemblyman named Kevin Shelley mourned the character in open session, noting that Mrs. Landingham was “a great American” whose “contributions to the nation were too numerous to count.” All of this when the woman wasn’t even real. She had not made any contribution to the nation, because she was a fictional character. Other legislators were confused. “Nobody could tell if she really died,” as one aide said, or if it was just a way of taking her out of the show. Actress Kathryn Joosten, who played the role, was actually alive and well. Shelley, the politician from California, found out about the fictional death from his wife, saying, “It was tragic. [My wife] was crying. I was upset. It was terrible.” On that same day, nearly 7,000 real Americans died real deaths from various causes, yet none of them came to his attention.