John Robert Fox was a first lieutenant during the second world war. He was directing artillery fire in Italy when a large German force moved on his position. Fox called a final artillery strike on himself. His body was found next to hundreds of dead German troops.
Arland Williams was a passenger on Air Florida Flight 90 when it smashed into a frozen lake. Twenty minutes later a helicopter arrived to rescue survivors. After getting one man to safety, Arland gave the life ring to the passenger next to him.
The helicopter came back a third time, and again Arland gave the ring to someone else. When the helicopter came back again, Arland was dead.
When Ryan Arnold’s brother Chad needed a liver transplant, Ryan immediately checked to see if he was a compatible donor. Ryan died following the procedure but the transplant was a success ensuring that his brother Chad would live.
Gianna Molla was pregnant with her fourth child when doctors discovered a cancerous tumor that needed to be removed.
The surgery would mean her unborn child would not survive. She wanted her baby to live. Gianna died seven days after her baby girl was born.
Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest who was arrested and imprisoned during the German occupation of Poland. When ten prisoners escaped, ten more were randomly chosen to starve to death. Father Kolbe volunteered to die at Auschwitz in the place of a stranger.
When the floods ravaged the Philippians in 2009, 18 year old Muelmar Magallanes decided that if nature was going to kill people, it would have to get through him. He tied a rope to his waist and rescued his entire family. Then he rescued his neighbors and then his other neighbors.
Exhausted after rescuing as many as two dozen people, Muelmar saw a mother and baby being dragged by the current. With no regard for danger he lept once more into the water to rescue the mother and child before finally succumbing to the current.
Their lives were just as precious as yours and mine. Their lives were cut short by a decision to love. They were all ordinary folks testifying to the extraordinary power of love.
Not the “I love pizza” or “I love ice cream” or “I love New York” kind of love. Nope. The “Jesus” kind of love. The “I would give my life for you” kind of love. The “God” kind of love. The love that gives without counting the cost.
Saint John says, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God.”
Love that gives without counting the cost is of God.
Love that sacrifices itself for another is of God.
Jesus loves us so much that he sacrifices himself for us.
Jesus calls down artillery upon himself to save us. Jesus hands us the life ring every time. Jesus ties a rope around his waist and rescues us from the ravaging flood.
Jesus dies is Auschwitz again and again in someone’s place. Jesus doesn’t just give part of his liver; Jesus gives us his very body and blood.
Jesus calls us to love with this kind of love, a love that sacrifices itself for another. This I command you: love one another.