|Guest post by Hicham, a Christian from France.|
Today marks the 3rd anniversary of the heroic act of the 44-year-old Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame. On March 23rd 2018 Arnaud undertook one of the ultimate acts of bravery when he offered up his own life to save a hostage in a supermarket terror attack in southwest France, the gendarme dying as he had lived, serving his country.
Her name is Julie, she is forty, has a husband and a little girl. Because she couldn’t find a job in line with her qualifications, she worked as a cashier in a supermarket for over a year. This is the lady with whom the 44-year-old Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame voluntarily exchanges place.
He knows that the terrorist’s intention is to “kill people in uniform”. The terrorist has already killed three people, and his morbid, suicidal determination does not suggest anything good. Arnaud is almost certainly doomed. But he doesn’t hesitate. The rest is history. Julie, keeping her cool, remained a long time under the threat of a weapon held at the back of her neck.
Julie said, “He (Mr. Beltrame) gave his life for me, he was killed so that I could live.”
One word has been heard repeatedly since the announcement of Beltrame’s death: sacrifice. Tributes include terms such as hero, admiration, respect, example, generosity, commitment, service… His gesture astonishes and challenges. It drives us to consider the most fundamental questions of life and death.
For Christians, Beltrame’s sacrifice recalls that of Christ, the mediator between God and men. For millions, Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame is a hero, but to the female survivor he willingly swapped places with, he is much more. He is a saviour.
This is also what every Christian feels about Jesus. He gave his life so that we could live – we who were his enemies. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13). Jesus suffered the punishment of death in our place. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8).
What an extraordinary source of hope in the midst of darkness! And how wonderful that the Lord is using for good what others intended only for evil. At this time when France, once again, pays tribute to the heroic gesture of Arnaud Beltrame, and as Easter draws near, we must also remember that this sad event, in which violence and nobility mingle, speaks to us of the One who has also voluntarily exchanged places with condemned men and women in order to save them, except that his was a planned death. “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Let us never forget the price of our salvation!
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