Devotional Readings

A Love That Goes the Distance

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21.

On December 31, 1995, John Clancy, a veteran New York City firefighter, led his crew into a burning vacant apartment building in a lower Manhattan drug district. As the fire raged out of control the firefighters were concerned that someone might still be in the apartment building, although the only ones who used it were vagrants, drug addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes. Nevertheless, Clancy and his colleagues decided to enter the inferno to conduct a search and rescue operation. Smoke reduced visibility to almost zero.

Suddenly the second-floor ceiling collapsed, trapping Clancy. His colleagues worked feverishly to deliver him, but when they finally pulled him out, it was too late. His body was burned beyond recognition. The last day of 1995 was the last day of this courageous firefighter’s life. He left behind a wife who was six months pregnant and the future they were planning together.

John Clancy believed that all life was valuable, and was willing to risk his own to save whoever might be in the building. He left the safety of his own home for the danger of a raging fire. He entered the flames to save lives and lost his own. His devotion to duty cost him his life. He could not stand idly by when he knew others were dying.

Investigators discovered that the fire had been deliberately set. Edwin Smith, one of the “down and outers” who was reportedly in the building, set the fire. John Clancy was attempting to save the one who burned the building down. He gave his life for an arsonist.

Two thousand years ago another walked into the fires of death itself to save us. He delivered us from the blazing inferno of hell’s fires. When Christ died, He voluntarily took death’s curse upon Himself. Today’s text declares, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus never sinned, but He became sin for us. He voluntarily took upon Himself all of the shame and guilt for our sins.

He died the death we deserved so we could live the life He deserved. When Jesus suffered the excruciating death of the cross, He felt the separation from His Father. In the words “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) Jesus expresses His sense of utter lostness. He could not see through the doors of the tomb. Sin shut out the Father’s face. Our Savior experienced the death that sinners will die.

Jesus’ love went the distance. He experienced the agonies of hell itself to save us. In the light of such love all we can do is fall at His feet and worship Him forever. He is worthy of our highest praise.

from On Solid Ground
Mark Finley | Review & Herald (2003)
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