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by Brent Nidiffer and Jamie Shell


    Tom Allen, a minister and former Army Ranger, tells this story:

When I finally saw the movie Saving Private Ryan, I was extremely proud... until the last minute of the movie.

As the movie began, I was proud watching the Rangers take Omaha Beach. Then the story begins when they receive a mission to go deep into enemy territory to save Private Ryan. They hit skirmish after skirmish, and some of them are killed along the way. They finally get to where Private Ryan is holed up, and they say, “Come with us. We’ve come to save you.”

He says, “I’m not going. I have to stay here because there’s a big battle coming up, and if I leave my men they’re all going to die.”

What do the Rangers say? “We’ll stay here and fight with you.” They all stay and fight, and it’s gory and hard, and almost everyone dies except Private Ryan. At the end, one of the main characters — Tom Hanks — is sitting on the ground. He’s been shot and he’s dying. The battle has been won.

Private Ryan leans over to him, and Tom Hanks whispers something to him. Everyone in the theater is crying because Tom Hanks was shot; I was crying because of what he said — it was so terrible. Private Ryan bent down and Tom Hanks said, “Earn this.”

The reason this made me angry is because no Ranger would ever say, “Earn this.” Why? Because the Ranger motto for the past 200 years has not been “Earn this.” The Ranger motto for the past 200 years has been Sua sponte, “I chose this.” I volunteered for this.

So, when Private Ryan bent down, if Tom Hanks was really a Ranger he would have said, "Sua sponte, I chose this. This is free. You don’t pay anything for this. I give up my life for you. That’s my job.”

    And so when you look at the cross and see Jesus hanging there, what you do hear? It is certainly NOT “Earn this.” You never hear Jesus say, “Earn this.” He doesn’t say, “I’ve given everything for you. Now you need to gut it out for me. I’ve sacrificed for you, now make it worth my agony.”

    No, What Jesus says is “Sua sponte! I volunteered for this. You don’t have to pay anything for it. Your debt is payed. Your gift is given. It is finished!” Sua sponte! That’s what Jesus says to us in the Cross so that we can know God’s grace.

      Copyright (c) 2001, Timely Truths Ministries. Used by permission.
      Title: ""
      Author: Jamie Shell
      Publication Date: August 31, 2001


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