For God so loved the world
that He gave His one and only Son,
that whosoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have eternal life.
The Gift of Life
By Patricia Knight
His weakness was overwhelming; his lack of stamina discouraging; his mental acuity often diminished. He was advised by his physicians that his one previously functioning kidney was presently the size of a half dollar. For nearly two years, kidney dialysis has maintained his physical life, albeit not one of high quality.
Those of us with healthy kidneys have the benefit of constant filtration of toxins from our blood. The maximum filtration his body received was a grand total of twelve hours during three days of kidney dialysis each week. The dialysis saved his life; an imperfect system at best, though heretofore there had been no alternative.
Just as my brother began to wonder how much longer he could plod along, enduring the ravages of kidney dialysis, a distant relative offered his healthy, compatible organ. It would save my brother’s life. The donor confided his sole purpose for sacrificing his healthy kidney: “to make you happy.”
What a hero! His gift did not come without risks: months of compatibility testing, surgical pain and recovery, and his own unpredictable future health. How do you adequately thank an organ donor for the gift of life? I posed that question to my brother. He admitted that he is incapable of expressing the gratitude he feels for every new day of life his donor has so unpretentiously and magnanimously provided. To willingly give up a part of one’s body so that another person can live is an incredible, incomparable gift.
Immediately upon awakening from anesthesia after the donor’s kidney was successfully transplanted by a team of surgeons, my brother related that he felt well for the first time in several years. His thought processes were instantly clear; mind and body seemed connected once again. He felt like a healed person even though he knew there would be a period of recovery necessary and a future of taking sophisticated drugs to prevent rejection of another person’s organ now residing in his body.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
We were lost in sin, wading in selfishness, powerless to help ourselves, when Jesus offered His one unblemished life to cleanse us from all sin and to empower us for life eternal. It wasn’t easy. Jesus was required to temporarily give up His life in glory to be incarnated a man on earth; to feel all our pain, rejection, and hatred. Though still God, He became man and gave up His heavenly life so that we can live abundantly on earth and victoriously forevermore. “Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
Jesus Christ’s death on the cross wasn’t a capitulation to the Roman authorities, who forcefully dragged him from an evening of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked, “‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?’” Jesus was soon tried on a trumped-up charge, heckled, beaten, and abused. The ultimate cruelty occurred when he was hanged with common criminals to die a heinous death; His innocent flesh nailed to a crudely-hewn, wooden cross, itself a means of torture. He suffered willingly, and joyfully gave His life, fulfilling His purpose for coming to earth. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Following His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended to rejoin His Father in His glorious heavenly home, sitting at His Lord’s right hand for eternity.
Jesus breathes new life into ours when He lives within our heart. No longer must we lead a fickle, feckless, fearful life. When we gain access to the heavenly Father, our weakness is converted to His strength; we have the capacity to experience peace and joy amidst life’s trials. “Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
We are transformed, enlivened, and empowered by the supreme life-giving, life-altering sacrifice of Jesus Christ, our Lord. My brother’s voluntary organ donor exemplifies a marvelous humanitarian giver. He expected nothing in return for his magnanimous act. His unselfish gift has enabled another to live. Jesus set the example nearly two thousand years ago when He sacrificed His perfect life for all the sinners of the world. “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:24).
What higher calling is known among men than to offer part or all of one’s own life for another? It is unparalleled generosity. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13).
Christ’s love for us was not only manifested in His words, but also in His willingness to sacrificially die for us.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9).
It is the ultimate love gift of all time!