The French author Victor Hugo worked on his book, Les Misérables, for 33 years before it was finally published in 1862. His work, set in the tumultuous time period of mid-19th century France, tells the story of an ex-convict turned adoptive father who breaks parole and is being hunted by a ruthless police officer. Against the terrible backdrop of poverty and the French Revolution, he finally finds redemption and grace. The book was so successful that it was eventually turned into the world's longest running musical as well as several movies. Near the middle of the story, a young man, Marius, is sitting at a table with several of his friends, discussing plans for a revolution. The battle that ensues takes the lives of each of those friends and accomplishes nothing. After his recovery, Marius goes back to that table which, but days before, was surrounded by young men full of hopes and dreams. At this point in the musical he sings the song "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" and there is one line that gets me every time I hear it. Looking around he sings, "Oh my friends, my friends, don't ask me what your sacrifice was for."

2,000 years ago, a cross stood on a hill outside of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus, pale, beaten, and bloody was hanging on it by his outstretched arms. He sacrificed his life and died the second death so you don't have to. The Bible says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). God Himself became sin, the most vile substance in the entire universe, so that you could become the righteousness of God. What a sacrifice! But my friend, there is nothing more heart wrenching than a sacrifice accomplishing nothing. Have you accepted the sacrifice so freely made? Or looking at your life, would somebody be forced to say to God, "Don't ask me what Your sacrifice was for?" Don't let Christ's sacrifice be in vain!

Choosing to accept the sacrifice,

Pastor Sutherland

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