By Lydia Teh

Dying for strangers

In early July the world watched with tenterhooks an extremely difficult and dangerous cave rescue mission. A team of 12 boys and their coach had been trapped in the complex Tham Luang Cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand for more than two weeks before the rescue operation was successfully executed.

However, there was one casualty. Saman Kunan, a former Thai navy Seal, lost his life while carrying oxygen tanks into the caves. He was one of nearly 100 volunteer divers who plunged into the mission despite not knowing the lost boys.

Dying for a friend

American author and priest, Brennan Manning wrote about his strong friendship with another soldier, Ray when they were enlisted in the Korean War. He described one night in 1952 when they were both huddled in the bunkers not far from the enemy lines:

“We were passing a chocolate bar back and forth. Ray took the last bite when a grenade lobbed by an undetected North Korean landed squarely in the centre of the bunker. Ray was the first one to spot it. Almost nonchalantly he flipped the candy wrapper aside and fell on the grenade. It detonated instantly. His stomach smothered the explosion. I was completely unharmed, untouched. He looked up at me, winked, and rolled over dead.”

Wow. That was literally John 15:13 in action: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Dying for you and me

About 2,000 years ago, Christ came to earth as a man so he could teach and save the lost. He knew what lay ahead of him – the persecution and rejection from His people and an excruciating death on the cross. But He was obedient to God the Father till the very end.

“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done,” Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:42).

Before Christ was crucified, he was scourged, then forced to carry His cross to Golgotha. He further endured six hours of agonising pain on the cross before giving up His spirit.

Do we take His death lightly or are we so profoundly moved that we take up our cross daily and follow Him?

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” Lk 9:23-25.