I watched a part of a ceremony on the television news the other evening that caused tears to spring to my eyes. The President was awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously to a 22-year old soldier, Jason Dunham. In an atmosphere heavy with sorrow but also laced with pride, the family listened as the President told of their son's heroics in saving some of his men. '"He was the guy who signed on for an extra two months in Iraq so he could stay with his squad. As he explained it, he wanted to `make sure that everyone makes it home alive,' " the president said. "Corporal Dunham took that promise seriously and would give his own life to make it good."
During a battle with insurgents, the young man covered a grenade with his helmet and his body to save some of his men from the explosion. We talk about selfishness among today's youth and shake our heads wondering if they would make the sacrifices required to defend the country. If this 22-year old was any indication of what the young are like, maybe we should worry more about ourselves than them.
Jumping on grenades. I've seen it occasionally in life. That mom who protected her kids from the knowledge of how their father was, to spare them the hurt. Sometimes the criticisms rained unfairly on her but she took it for them. Once I watched a mother bird flopping along the ground to draw a predator away from her nest, where her young waited, unaware of the danger. She risked her life to save them from the claws of the hungry prowler.
Jumping on grenades. I've seen pastors take blows that should have rained on the church. I've seen fathers work like slaves so that their children could have the necessities in life. Recently I heard the story of a lady who had worked incessantly to raise her son alone. It wasn't easy but she nearly burst with pride to see him walk across the stage to receive his college diploma. She watched as he returned to his classmates”¦no, actually he didn't go sit with them immediately. He marched over to where his mother sat in the crowd and handed her the diploma! She had earned it as much or more than he had, and the son knew it. She could have had a much easier life if she hadn't insisted on helping finance his studies but ”¦
Jumping on grenades. Most grenade-jumpers don't get a Medal of Honor. Some of them are reviled and most all of them are under appreciated, at least in the short term. They are willing to take pain that belongs to someone else. All of them give us a glimpse of the most wonderful 'Grenade Jumper” of all.
'Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, NIV)
For sure the greatest example of this was at the Cross, but Jesus had lived a 'grenade-jumping” life his whole time on earth. When He told His disciples that he didn't come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many, not one of them flinched. It was true. They saw His way of living every day. Later, when the mob came to drag Him away in the garden his mind was on his brothers' need and not his own.
At the Cross, He thought to make sure His mother was taken care of. After the Cross, He went looking for those who denied Him. And at the Cross He took the full explosion of divine judgment that should have fallen on our sins. It fell on Him.
Grenade jumpers. It's a way of life for those who know the Greatest 'grenade-jumper” and imitate Him by sacrificing their lives for others.