The Independence Day celebration on July 4th in Prescott, Arizona, served a dual purpose: people celebrated the freedoms that are enjoyed in this country, but they also honored 19 fallen firefighters.
The nineteen firefighters were members of the “Hotshots” firefighting team. The Hotshots crew had deployed on the previous Sunday to what was thought to be a manageable lightning-caused forest fire near the small town of Yarnell, about 35 miles from Prescott. Violent winds fueled the blaze and trapped the team. The Hotshots deployed their emergency fire shelters to no avail. They died while trying to put out the raging fire that threatened the town of Yarnell, a fire that as of the night of
Independence Day has destroyed more than 100 homes and burned about 13 square miles.
Some of the bereaved family members of the deceased firefighters spoke about their loved ones. Coleen Turbyfill, mother of 27-year-old Travis Turbyfill, recalled that she had misgivings when her son’s elite “Hotshot” firefighting crew set out for a fire burning so close she could see the flames, but he comforted her and told her, “This is what I love.”
When we were doomed because of our sins and headed for the “everlasting fire” of punishment, God sent Jesus to our rescue so that we would not perish in the flames (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus went “into the fire” and suffered the punishment for our sins. He “endured hell” so that we wouldn’t have to. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree [i.e., the cross], so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). He died for us so that we might live (1 Thessalonians 5:10).
Jesus will save and give eternal life to those who accept His offer of salvation on His terms: placing their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse those who strive to continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Why would Jesus go “into the fire” for us? He did it because it was His Father’s will (John 6:38) and because of His great love for us.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” – John 15:13
Won’t YOU respond to His great love by accepting His gift of salvation and life on His terms?