Summary: A inductive exploration of the reasons why individuals sacrifice for others leading to the exposure of the reason Jesus died for us and how we must respond.
Introduction: Have you ever heard a story and wondered why did they do that?
Beauty and the Beast, a Walt Disney animated movie, tells the story of a beautiful French girl, Belle, who finds the love of Beast, a prince condemned long ago to live a life of shame and ugliness because he was rude and self-centered.
One night, Belle’s father, Maurice, gets lost in a forest and is thrown from his horse. When the horse returns without Maurice the next day, Belle sets off to find him. She follows her father’s horse to an imposing castle, set deep within the forest. The castle looms over Belle, its twisted, hulking form inspiring fear. When she finds her father’s hat lying inside the gate, she cautiously enters, despite her fright.
Once inside, a talking candlestick leads Belle to a dungeon where she finds her father huddled in a cell—alone, cold, and sick. Maurice, having seen the monstrous beast, who put him there, pleads with Belle to leave. Belle refuses and tries to free him.
Suddenly, a booming voice growls from the darkness. "What are you doing here?" Beast challenges Belle from the shadows.
Belle learns that her father is being held for trespassing and that there is no escape from the punishment for his offense. As her father gasps and wheezes, Belle offers, "Take me instead!"
Beast is momentarily startled and asks, "You would take his place?"
"If I did, would you let him go?" Belle bargains.
"Yes, but you must promise to stay here forever," answers Beast.
"You have my word," Belle vows.
"Done!" Though puzzled by her sacrifice, Beast makes the trade and frees Belle’s father.
Citation: Beauty and the Beast (Walt Disney Productions, 1991), rated G, written by Roger Allers and Linda Woolverton, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise; submitted by Jennifer Tatum
Why would she do it? The Beast wonders all through the movie until Belle’s love changes him and then he understands.
In A Book of Saints, Anne Gordon tells the story of Father Maximilian Kolbe, who was a prisoner at Auschwitz in August 1941. A prisoner escaped from the camp, and in reprisal, the Nazis ordered that ten prisoners had to die by starvation. Father Kolbe offered to take the place of one of the condemned men. The Nazis kept Kolbe in the starvation bunker for two weeks and then put him to death by lethal injection on August 14, 1941.
Thirty years later a survivor of Auschwitz described the effect of Kolbe’s action: "It was an enormous shock to the whole camp. We became aware that someone among us in this spiritual dark night of the soul was raising the standard of love on high. Someone unknown, like everyone else, tortured and bereft of name and social standing, went to a horrible death for the sake of someone not even related to him.
"Therefore it is not true, we cried, that humanity is cast down and trampled in the mud, overcome by oppressors, and overwhelmed by hopelessness. Thousands of prisoners were convinced the true world continued to exist and that our torturers would not be able to destroy it.
"To say that Father Kolbe died for us or for that person’s family is too great a simplification. His death was the salvation of thousands. ... We were stunned by his act, which became for us a mighty explosion of light in the dark camp."
Citation: Bill Norman, Markham, Ontario. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 2.
Why did he do it? What motivated Father Kolbe to volunteer for starvation?
Author and pastor Leith Anderson writes:
Several years ago I was visiting Manila and was taken, of all places, to the Manila garbage dump and saw something beyond belief. Tens of thousands of people make their homes on that dumpsite. They’ve constructed shacks out of the things other people have thrown away. And they send their children out early every morning to scavenge for food out of other people’s garbage, so they can have family meals. People have been born and grown up there on the garbage dump. They have had their families, their children, their shacks, their garbage to eat, finished out their lives, and died there without ever going anywhere else, even in the city of Manila. It is an astonishing thing.
But Americans also live on the garbage dump. They are missionaries; Christians who have chosen to leave their own country and communicate the love of Jesus Christ to people who otherwise would never hear it. That is amazing to me. People would leave what we have to go and live on a garbage dump. Amazing, but not as amazing as the journey from heaven to earth.
The Son of God made that journey, and he knew what he was doing. He knew where he was going. He knew what the sacrifice would be. He journeyed from heaven to earth on a mission to save the human race.