from Pastor Ralph J. Mineo
“The Bridge Over the River Kwai” is the story of ten English prisoners of war in a prison camp in Thailand. These English POWS went out every day into the jungles of Thailand, with shovels, digging roads and building bridges. They were closely guarded.
When the prisoners come back to the camp in the early evening, they put their shovels against the guardhouse. One night, at inspection time, the guard counting the shovels, became furious and shouted in anger, “A shovel is missing! Who sold it to get some extra money for contraband? Who stole the shovel?”
All the men stood at attention and remained silent. The guard became more and more hostile, even fanatical, swearing at them and demanding, “Who took the shovel?” The ten men did not move. Finally, the guard then took his rifle, put the barrel against the forehead of the man who was first in line. He said, “I’m going to pull the trigger and blow this man’s brains out unless one of you tells me who took the shovel.”
A man in the middle of the line stepped forward. He didn’t say a word. He stood there in silence, at attention. The guard took his gun and, in a violent rage, beat the soldier to death. The nine soldiers were ordered to pick up their fallen comrade. They carried him to their barracks for burial, each one to take a shovel. But there was one left over. There were ten shovels after all. The guard had miscounted. One soldier had stepped forward and died, so that one of his friends would not have to.
One man, Jesus Christ, stepped up, and suffered and died FOR US. One man, Jesus Christ, “descended into hell” FOR US. One man, Jesus Christ, “descended to the dead.” FOR US. Jesus did this so that his friends (you and me) would not have to die an eternal death.
Sacrificial deaths seem senseless death, in one way. It didn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have happened. But it did, that others would live!
It’s the season, these days of Lent, to focus on the sacrifice of Jesus FOR US. It’s a season for making sacrifices for the sake of God’s kingdom. It’s a season to give thanks to God for the gift of salvation. It’s a season to remember and return to God’s love.