Ultimate Sacrifice

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan had just given a speech at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Something presidents have done regularly and without incident since 1972. Following his speech, the President walked out of the hotel surrounded by his Secret Service agents, one in front, one on each side and one behind him. As he approached his limousine, shots rang out. Six of them.

Instantly and instinctively, the agents did what they were trained to do: protect the President at all costs and get him out of danger as quickly as possible. Jerry Parr, agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division pushed the President into the car while another agent, Timothy McCarthy, spread out his arms as a human shield. Both President Reagan and Agent Parr fell into the limo. Agent Ray Shaddick pushed their legs in and slammed the door behind them as the vehicle pulled away from the curb.

Looking back, Agent Parr saw three people down on the sidewalk outside the hotel. He would later learn that one of them was White House Press Secretary, James Brady, who had been hit in the head. The second was District of Columbia police officer, Thomas Delahanty, who was hit in the neck as he had moved to protect the President. Finally, Agent Timothy McCarthy, who had stretched himself out as a human shield to protect the President, had been struck in the abdomen.

President Reagan survived the assassination attempt by John Hinckley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was released from a mental hospital in September 2016. All the others survived their wounds although their lives would forever be changed by the events of that day. Agent Parr tells of helping the President into George Washington University Hospital and that he collapsed once he’d stepped inside. He was unconscious and pale as workers rushed him into the ER. Agent Parr said he prayed silently, “Lord, let him live! Lord, let him live!” over and over again.

In a USA TODAY article (March 30, 2011), Agent Jerry Parr said, “Thirty years later, I look back on that historic day and know for certain that his life was saved by dedicated agents, excellent training, good equipment, outstanding medical care, President Reagan’s robust constitution – and the grace of God.” Agent Parr retired in 1985.
As great a sacrifice as that was in 1981, there was an even greater sacrifice made over 2,000 years ago.

This time, instead of being outside of a Washington, D.C. hotel, the scene took place outside the city of Jerusalem … on a hillside overlooking the city. Once again, an amazing man stretched out His arms as a human shield. But this time it wasn’t to protect a president. This time it was to protect you … and me. The name of this amazing man?

The Bible says, “He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Paul said, “For our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Somehow, saying, “thank you!” seems woefully inadequate for what Jesus did back then and what He’s still doing for all of us today. Somehow, even calling the day “Good Friday,” as we will remember again next week, the price He paid when He spread out His arms and died in our place, doesn’t seem good enough.

Maybe it should be called, “AWESOME Friday” or “INCREDIBLE Friday.” Somehow, “Good Friday,” doesn’t adequately express what’s in my heart … for all He did for us on the cross.

How about you?

Pastor David

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