All Love is Substitutionary Sacrifice

“It bears repeating: All love, all real, life-changing love, is substitutionary sacrifice. You have never loved a broken person, you have never loved a guilty person, you have never loved a hurting person except through substitutionary sacrifice…

…I read some years ago in National Geographic that after a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, some forest rangers began a trek up a mountain to survey the damage. One ranger found a bird of which nothing was left but the carbonized, petrified shell, covered in ashes, huddled at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by this eerie sight, the ranger knocked the bird over with a stick – and three tiny chicks scurried out from under their dead mother’s wings. When the blaze had arrived, the mother had remained steadfast instead of running. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings survived. And Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Luke 13:34). He did indeed gather Jerusalem’s children under his wings – and he was consumed. All real, life-changing love is costly, substitutionary sacrifice.”

[Tim Keller, King’s Cross, p168-169]


      1. I know, I know. But I’m sure Tim Keller knows better than anyone the risks of preaching to a highly savvy audience, including having them fact-check your anecdotes on the internet!

        Dr. Keller often employs illustrations of “nature, red in tooth and claw” in his apologetic approach, so maybe it’s also a little peculiar to see him tell a story which points in the opposite direction. Of course, that’s only so because it’s presented as a story from nature, rather than from another mind inspired by the truths of the Gospel.


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