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“The Chief's Sacrifice"

Pastor Roger Richards
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000

Pastor Roger Richards has had several hundred columns published both here and in South Korea in various publications ranging from The Korea Herald and Korea Times to The Far Eastern Economic Review and the Adirondack Journal.  He is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Warrensburg, NY where he lives with his wife Naomi and their seven children.  Both Roger and Naomi are 1984 graduates of Liberty University.  He is a previous Amy Writing Award winner

There is something about the Easter account of God’s only Son dying for our sins that catches us up short and takes our breath away when we come to grips with it personally.  Why do it that way?  John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but has everlasting life.”  But we need to understand “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 and that “The wages of sin are death…”  Romans 6:23.  Mankind was in dire straights. 


In his commentary on Romans, John MacArthur tells the gripping story of when tribes roamed Russia, much as the Indian tribes roamed the Americas. “The tribes which controlled the best hunting and the choicest natural resources were the tribes which had the strongest and wisest leaders. The single tribe which controlled the very best of the territory was the tribe with the most powerful and the most wise leader. 


One particular tribe maintained its control of the choice land because its leader was not only the most physically powerful but the most wise of all. And the success of the tribe was due to the fairness and the equity and the wisdom of the laws this great leader gave and enforced upon his people. His word was law and among his greatest laws were that parents must be loved and honored. He also said that murder was punishable by death and stealing was to be severely punished.


The tribe was prospering greatly when suddenly a disturbing thing began to happen. Someone in the tribe was stealing. It was reported to the great leader that this was going on and he sent out the proclamation that if the thief was caught he would receive that severe punishment, ten lashes from the tribal whip master. Stealing continued despite the warnings, so he raised it to 20 lashes. It went on so he raised it to 30 lashes. And finally he raised it to 40 lashes and knew there was only one person in the whole tribe that could survive that lashing and that was him because he was superior in strength.


Finally the thief was caught. To the horror of everyone it was his own mother. The tribe was in shock. What was the leader going to do? His law was that in everything parents were to be loved and honored. But thieves were to be whipped. Great arguments arose on the day of judgment. Was he going to satisfy his love and save his mother or was he going to satisfy his law and have her die under the whip because she could never endure that?


Soon tribal members were divided and even making wages on what he would do. And finally the judgment day came. The tribe was gathered around the great compound in the center of which a large post was driven into the ground. The leader's great throne sat in the place of prominence and with great pomp and ceremony the leader entered, took his place on the throne.  The silence was deafening.


Soon his frail little mother was brought in between towering warriors. They tied her to the post. The crowd murmured in debate, will he satisfy his love at the expense of law? Or his law at the expense of his love? The tribal whip master entered, a powerful man with bulging muscles, a great leather whip in his hand and as he approached the little lady, the warriors ripped her shirt off, exposing her frail little back to the cruelty of the lash. Everyone gasped. Was the leader really going to let her die?


He sat staring without moving. Every eye was darting from him to the whip master and back again. The whip master took his stance, his great arm cracked the whip in the air as he prepared to bring the first lash upon her. In every heart was the question, would he allow his love to be violated or his law?


Just as the whip master started to bring his powerful arm forward with the first cutting stroke on that frail little back, the leader held up his hand to halt the punishment. A great sigh went up from the tribe. His love was going to be satisfied. But what about his law? They watched him rise from his throne and he strode toward his mother. As he walked he was removing his own shirt. He threw it aside and proceeded to wrap his great arms around his little mother, exposing that huge muscular back to the whip master. And then breaking the heavy silence he commanded, "Proceed with the punishment." Thus both his law and his love were satisfied.


In the supreme sacrifice, Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, stretched out His arms to be scourged, beaten and crucified in our place to pay for our sins of breaking His laws.  He did it because of His great love for us.  As He promised, He rose again, conquering death.  For while ‘the wages of sin are death’, the ‘gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord”.  What will you do with His gift this Easter?

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