For Teens

The Firing Squad
            Set in 1739, a large wooden ship, sails bellowing in the icy wind, battling against the raging sea, has its sights set on hope. Aboard is a crew of 48 men, all veterans of the sea. This time however they are making a dangerous voyage across the ocean in unfamiliar seas, and just maybe they’ll find a new country.

            Days grow into weeks, and weeks into months, as the weary men carry on their mission, sanctioned by the king himself! Supplies beginning to grow scarce; each man is given a daily ration of food. However, each man is careful not to get into any skirmish, as they need to work as a team if they are to succeed. The floors have to be scrubbed, the sails kept in good shape. Every man has his assigned task.

            A year and nine days have gone by, and still no sight of land. The captain calls over his lead men and says, “We must break into the emergency stock; we have no food left. At least that should give us another month, but we must find land!”

            One of the lead men summons one of the deckhands, “Go down, Ben, and get us some food; we’re all starved!” As Ben opens the floor hatch, he enters the dark stairwell. Using a lamp he carefully searches for the correct cargo. At last, there in the corner! Stumbling over, he carefully removes its cover. Empty! How could it be! Rushing back up the stairs, lamp still in hand, he cries out to those nearest by, “We’ve been robbed; there is nothing, nothing left at all!”

            Dumbfounded, several men hurry with Ben back down below to see if it’s all just a hoax!  As they’re staring into the empty cargo container in disbelief, a woman leaps at them, knife in hand! Lunging, she stabs Ben in the back. Staggering, he falls face first to the floor. Quickly, several men grab the woman and binding her hand and foot, they drag her up the stairs to meet the captain. Meanwhile, down below, they work rapidly to stop Ben’s bleeding. Thankfully, Ben is not dead, but his situation is dire. Being so far out at sea, and with no land in sight, it will be a miracle should he live. 

            Back on deck, the captain is enraged! “Who is this woman, and how did she get on board?!” Yelling at the unnamed woman, he hollers, “Don’t you know there’s no food, and now we’re all gonna die?!” “I don’t care,” she responds. “I’ve no one that’s ever cared for me anyway, so why should I care about you?” “When we find land, you’re going to die!” screams the captain, "now take her and fasten her to the mast. Let her suffer and die for all she’s done.”

            As the sun dawns the following day, an excited voice says, “I think I might be seeing land!” With careful observation, it is confirmed; there is land ahead! With adrenaline high, all crew is on high alert. Soundings are made regularly. A careful eye is kept for a good harbour. Finally a selection is made. With anchors set in deeper water, smaller vessels are lowered, and men begin to make their way to this strange land. Finally, this unnamed woman is also lowered, and brought ashore.

            Once all are on shore, this unnamed woman is once again tied to a tree. Ben is still in a lot of pain, but is surviving. The crew is busy trying to find something that resembles food. An unorganized shore-lunch is had. After a night’s sleep, the crew is ready for the captain’s orders. “All right boys, of first order is some justice. This woman here must die. I want six men in the firing squad, and I want you to be one of them, Ben.” 

            As the six men are getting their guns ready, Ben is doing a lot of thinking about what this woman has done; how what she did was deserving of death. Yet he can’t help but feel compassion for her. The six men rise and take their stand before this disheveled woman. She just stares blankly at them, completely exhausted and famished. Suddenly, the captain yells, “Raise your guns! Let her die for her stupidity!”

            As the six men raise their guns, Ben suddenly blurts out, “Stop!” Everybody turns to stare at Ben. The captain exclaims, “What, are you mad?! Shoot that dog already! Look at all she’s done to you and us! Let her die!”

            “No,” Ben says firmly, “I have pity on her; I’ll take her place – let her go.”

            Despite her condition, the woman is now fully alert and staring at Ben. In disgust the captain orders the woman to be released. As Ben walks to take her place, she spits in his face. In turn Ben is tied to the tree. Once again the guns are raised, and black gun-powder fills the air. Ben slumps over and dies.

            One of the men goes to dig a pit in order to bury Ben’s body. Another, Anton, begins to move his body toward the makeshift burial plot. As he is doing this, he notices a paper sticking out of Ben’s pocket. Pulling it out, he reads, “I love you, Adeline. I know you don’t recognize me anymore, but I’m your dad. I know you should have died for your crimes, but you’re still my child, and I love you deeply… Dad.” Quickly, taking the note to the woman, he gives it to her with hands trembling. Saying, “I found this in Ben’s pocket just now.” Being rather indifferent she takes it without a word.

            Opening it she reads each word. I can’t believe it. For the first time in years her emotions break through, and she begins to weep uncontrollably. Rushing over to her now dead dad, she sobs with raw emotion, “Why did you love me so? I don’t deserve this, but thank you so much. I now know that you really do love me.” The rest of the crew being bewildered as to what’s going on, begin to ask what’s happening. Anton then walks over, and explains the note. In shock the crew marvels at the incredible love of Ben for his wayward daughter.

            Of course the above was a fictional story, but it does prove the point I want to make.

            Many of us have grown up in a religious home of some kind. Most of us have read part of a Bible, or at least heard of one. We are familiar with prayer, church, preachers, praise and worship music, and someone called Jesus. 

            Even more likely is the possibility that you yourself are religious, and call yourself a Christian. Now as to how staunch a Christian you are may be a different story altogether. But nonetheless, you have some sort of a testimony in which you say that you became a Christian, and that one day you will go to Heaven. That’s saying it pretty simply, but likely summarizes the core of your beliefs.

            I’m sure you like to have your way of thinking, but I’d like to take the time and effort to challenge your way of thinking. Maybe and maybe not, when no one’s around, you are a little uncertain as to if you will actually end up in Heaven or not. I know, you may teach Sunday School, and maybe even go on missions trips, but do you really know what you believe and why? Do you understand the seriousness of all this? After all, we are talking about where you will spend eternity! That’s right; will it be Heaven or Hell? Why then, I ask, should God let you into His Heaven? Stop, and give it some real serious thought.

            Think about the story we just finished reading. With all that Adeline did, did she deserve to be pardoned and go completely free? No, there should have been justice. Now the proper justice would have been capital punishment. As we saw, her dad took her place and was executed.

            Stand tall, and let me challenge you. If you’re completely honest, you will readily admit that you have sinned many times. Jesus diagnoses this situation by saying, “Everyone practicing sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34) Again, we read, “That the one practicing such things [sin] will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal.5:21b) Simply said, you are guilty sinner, and as such are condemned to death and Hell. I know that that is not what you want to hear. It is not a motivational pat on the back, but it is reality. Nobody wants to hear the doctor tell them bad news about their prognosis, but it is necessary to try and save one’s life. Now I’m telling you that your situation is terminal. God is very straightforward, hiding nothing from us. He says simply, “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom.6:23) That is what you and I deserve for our sins. Yes, to say it bluntly, but truthfully, you deserve death and the torments of Hell. In fact, you are already condemned, and sentenced to go there. It is as if you are sitting on death-row, awaiting capital punishment right now!

            I ask you then, is there any hope for you at all? Again, I would encourage you to stop and think about it for a while.

            Now that you’ve stopped to think about it a bit, I want to remind you that God says, “Without shedding of blood [death], is no remission [pardon of sin].” (Heb.9:22) Simply put, inviting Jesus into your heart, saying the sinner’s prayer, and so on, will not make a good substitute for you. No, either you must die and go to Hell, or someone innocent must die in your place for your sins. 

            Jesus Christ is the innocent One who took your place. He loved you enough to have compassion on you, and be executed instead of you! Isn’t that simply amazing? Imagine God the Son leaving the glory of Heaven, to take on the form of a man in order to be executed for wicked, Hell-deserving people like you and me?! Just think of it. Would you be willing to die for someone who hated you, smeared you, and did so much against you your whole life? Oh just maybe you would do it for a close friend, or relative, but more than likely you would secretly be happy that your enemy was dead! Yet listen to this: “But God commends His love to us in this, that we being yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom.5:8) Simply amazing isn’t it?!

            I ask then, do you believe that Jesus took your place when He was executed? Do you believe that Jesus was executed because He was being judged for your sins? Do you believe that Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God that died in your place?

            “For God so loved the world [including you] that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone [including you] believing into Him should not perish [die], but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Remember how Ben died in the place of his daughter? So Jesus died in your place.

            Do you now see that inviting Jesus into your heart, or saying the sinner’s prayer is useless? Those can’t die as a substitute for you, but Jesus was your substitute! By simply believing this to be true for you, is what gives you everlasting life! 

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