Several years ago, I had a very real dream. I was married to a quadriplegic, and I took care of this man in a wheelchair every day. I got him out of bed, I fed him meals, I dressed him, helped him use the bathroom, took him shopping, drove him to work, etc. And in the dream I very much loved this man. I loved the opportunity to serve him with my life, and he loved me in very real and tangible ways too. I remember waking up from this dream and having the Lord just speak over me this idea of sacrifice. I had to show this (very attractive and muscular, may I add) man physical love every day. I had to show this man love that involved very much sacrifice. I had to daily go beyond my own comforts in taking care of this beloved husband of mine. And through this picture of love, God reminded me that He does the same for me every day.
Experiencing this very real dream changed the way I view God’s love, and changed the way I view loving others in my life. This type of sacrificial love is what God requires of us. He asks us to love Him, but also to love the people around us in this way as well. He asks to look past ourselves every moment that we possibly can, and to genuinely love despite our personal discomfort or time constraints. He asks us to love beyond our daily routines and personal desires and very “urgent” to-do lists.
Although this vision of the quadriplegic husband brought new life to my view of love, the ultimate illustration of this real self-sacrificing love is found in the story of the Gospel. But I love Hebrews 2:10 when it says,
God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.
This verse reminds us that God has made everything. Not one thing that exists was created by any other hands but the hands of God. And as His children, uniquely carved in His own image, He has chosen for many of us to know Him. But we need a leader; we need a role model to show us what it means to live in the glory of God and shine His light onto the world. This is where Jesus and the Gospel come in: God made Jesus the perfect example for us as to what this sacrificial love looks like — dying so that we could experience life, choosing to be beaten and ridiculed when he could have easily proved himself then and there to be God’s Son. He took the abuse and the pain so that we could know God as intimately as He does. He bore our sin so that His love could penetrate our hearts and shine out of every part of our lives.
Last week I FaceTimed with my dad in the morning before I left for work. Even though my family only lives about an hour and a half from me, and I see them much more frequently now than I have been able to in years, I still just like to see their faces sometimes. This particular day though, I really needed to see Dad’s smile and be reminded that he was still alive and well. I woke up that morning from a dream where my father took a bullet for me. In the dream I saw a shooter walking towards us, and in the moment there was no question in my mind, I just wanted to save my dad. I wanted to protect the man that had protected me all his life. But he wouldn’t let me! I tried to run in front of Dad, but just as the shooter pulled the trigger, he jumped in front of me and took the bullet upon himself instead.
In the dream Dad had done nothing to deserve getting shot at. He was innocent, and these neighborhood teenagers were just having some target practice, I guess, although I don’t really know. (Hey, it was a fictional dream, I don’t know the backstory to each character.) But that’s how it was for Jesus too. He was innocent. He had no real sentence brought against him. He had been performing miracles and loving people and saving lives, but for whatever reason, he still had some enemies. And he could have proved them all wrong without choosing to die on the cross. He could have performed miracle after miracle of escaping each torturous situation he faced. He could have skipped all of those shenanigans and removed himself from the cross in glorious form. But he loved us more than he loved his life on this earth.
Jesus made the choice to be an enemy to the world, just so that he could die in our place. We were the ones who deserved it, not him. We had done the wrong things, committed the sins, and made our bodies unclean and unworthy to be in the Lord’s presence. But even still, Jesus took all of it for us and chose to die in our place; He jumped in front of the bullet that was meant for us.
We have a very good and loving Heavenly Father. Our amazing Daddio gave his life for us and didn’t think twice about it. And this is NOT a dream. It isn’t fictional; it happened, and it’s amazing, and it’s our example of true, amazing, sacrificial love.