THE HERO AMONG US
During marine basic training a drill instructor wanted to perform a bravery test among the recruits. He took a pine cone, threw it in the midst of them and yelled, “Grenade!” Every single one of the trainees immediately turned away from the grenade and hit the ground. In response to the actions of the marines, the drill instructor said “Just as I suspected, not a hero among you. Didn’t anyone want to jump on that grenade to save the others?”
As time passed the drill instructor performed this test again. He threw another pine cone among them and yelled “Grenade!” This time all the recruits but one selflessly jumped on the ‘grenade’ to save the rest. The drill instructor then turned to the ‘lone survivor’ and asked him “Why are you still standing there?” The man replied, “Sir, someone had to live to tell about it.”
One could easily question the attitude of the man who refused to jump on the grenade. He could be described as a coward who was only concerned with himself. He could be described as a rebel who refused ‘join the crowd.’ He could be described as selfish, a man who failed to sacrifice himself for others. But what about the other recruits? These things could be said about each and every one of them as well as not a single one of them jumped on the ‘deadly explosive’ the first time. Didn’t all these recruits act cowardly, rebelliously, and selfishly the first time around? When the opportunity to protect and save others first presented itself, they all refused to do so. What the drill instructor said was true of them all, “Not a hero among you.” So why did all but one jump on the fake explosive the second time around? Perhaps it was the result of guilt. All acted selfishly the first time around so when the opportunity presented itself, they would be innocent of such guilt. Perhaps they desired to prove their toughness. The first test had them all coming out looking like cowards, and when they had the chance a second time, they would prove how tough they really were. Perhaps it was simply a lesson learned. They failed to pass the drill instructor’s first test, they were made aware of why they failed, and so they knew the proper response the second time in order to pass.
But what if that first thrown pine cone had been an actual grenade? What if it wasn’t a test, and the enemy had thrown a real explosive in their midst? The reality is they would likely all be dead. Even if one of them had been brave enough to attempt to save the others, it would have been nothing more than that, an attempt. Being made of flesh and blood, the one who sacrificed themselves might be able to absorb most of the blast’s energy and fragmentation, but some of the grenade’s shrapnel is likely to still made it through. The one who made the sacrifice could find themselves becoming part of the shrapnel as well. The point is such a sacrifice is not guaranteed to do what the ‘hero’ intended, save the lives of those around him…unless that hero is Jesus.
Christ is the only one who is able to jump on the grenade and save the world. Not just those in the time in which He walked the earth, not just those in our time today, but all people throughout all time.
24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
A grenade was in our midst, one that came in the form of sin. One that was thrown by the enemy in front of us specifically to end our lives. Grenades that not only had the potential but were guaranteed to kill us all. Death was a certainty and no matter who among us was brave enough to jump on it, we were and are all unable to ourselves or others. But the death that was to come had and has the ability to be avoided because of our Lord’s sacrifice. The penalty for sin is death and Christ died so that we might live. The difference between man jumping on that sin grenade and the Son of Man doing so, is the Son of Man in not only man, but God as well. And as God He is able to absorb the blast’s energy entirely. He is able to take all the shrapnel, all the fragmentation from the explosion upon Himself, and He still has the scars in His hands, feet, and side to prove it. There is one Hero among us, one who is able to save us all. Why jump on our own grenade and lose our lives when Christ already died so that we might live? Jumping on our own grenade is foolish, it is prideful, and it has eternal consequences. Jesus wants us to live, but it is only by our obedience and our visible appreciation for His sacrifice by our willing submission that we will be able to. We can live to tell about Christ’s sacrifice, but that sacrifice means nothing to the one who does not properly acknowledge it.