Thursday, November 03, 2016

"Jesus Fell on a Grenade for Me"

James 2. 12-13 NASB

“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Mercy is expensive and requires sacrifice. Judgment is cheap and easy to give. Like most things of value, mercy is rare. You can find judgment everywhere. Merciful people set themselves apart from the crowd. Any fool can pass judgment. Cowards judge. It takes courage to show mercy.

I saw a TV show when I was a kid that I have never forgotten. I think the role of the unlikely hero was played by Sammy Davis Jr., but I’m not certain. It was probably over 50 years ago when the program first aired.

A new soldier joined the regiment and quickly became the butt of everyone’s bad humor. He was picked on relentlessly by the other men in the barracks and was generally considered to be a wimp. The bullies thought up a joke that would further humiliate the new guy. They found a deactivated hand grenade and planned to toss it at the new recruit’s feet during the next gathering of the troops. The soldiers figured he’d run for his life in terror and everyone would have a good laugh at his expense.

On the day of the big gag the tormenters quietly rolled the unloaded grenade toward their victim and shouted, “Grenade! Run!” What happened next was a real bombshell. The so-called wimp fell on the grenade in an effort to save the men of his unit commanding them with what he thought was his last breath, “Run! Save yourselves!” The silence that followed was deafening. The entire platoon was choked with shame. That day real cowardice and real courage were exposed. [1]

Every time I think of the TV program, I well up with tears. I’m fighting to hold them back right now. The hero in this television show reminds me of Jesus. I’m glad Jesus showed me mercy, instead of the judgment I deserved. Jesus fell on the grenade for me.


The incredible picture at top is by former Green Beret and internationally renowned photojournalist Michael Yon who describes the scene in his book Moment of Truth in Iraq (Richard Vigilante Books, 2008, p. 85). Despite the valiant attempts of soldiers Sergeant Walt Gaya and Major Mark Bieger (shown above carrying the child), the little Iraqi girl named Farah died from a senseless suicide terrorist bombing on May 5, 2005. Check out Michael Yon's online magazine at

[1] There are real soldiers who have given their lives by falling on real grenades to save their comrades. They are real heroes. The theme of today's blog entry is based on a story which has been repeated in other television and movie accounts of war. I think the original show was called "The Patsy" and aired on GE Theater. Apparently, all copies of this film have been lost. In an episode of M*A*S*H for example, Maxwell Klinger plays a joke on the haughty Charles Winchester by dropping a rubber grenade on the floor. Much to Klinger’s surprise, Winchester promptly falls on the grenade.


Anonymous said...

Wow, all I can think of is whether I would have the courage to fall on the same grenade if put into the same circumstances. Would I be a wimp or a hero under the same situation.

In regards to James chapter 2, I imagine entire books have been written on it. I have always considered this chapter to be one of the most power packed in the bible.

The first issue that comes to mind is this issue of favoritism. How do I really treat people in the church. In other words, am I automatically attracted to people who are considered by worldly standards to be more attractive, successful and popular? Do I consider some people more desireable to know than others? Ouch, the truth might hurt if I were to delve deeply into this issue.

Then there is the old faith vs works issue as described here in James. I have always considered this to be the great chicken or the egg spiritual issue. Paul asks a very simple question: "If a man claims to have faith but has no deeds, can such a faith save him?" (James 2, vs 14) Is it enough to simply believe, or does faith by it's very definition demand action? And if this is so, why do we not see more changed lives in the church? James uses two old testament examples (Abraham and Rahab) to prove his point. (Dave, I would be very interested to hear your take on this. What do you say to a brother who claims to be saved but who apparently has or is living by completely worldly standards?) Certainly there have been times in my life when there weren't alot of deeds to go with my faith.

James goes one step further in verse 24. He actually says that "a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." I actually have trouble with this as it seems to be a complete contradiction to what Paul teaches in the entire book of Romans. On the surface this seems to be a biblical contradiction that I have never been able to completely resolve. Would be very interested to hear your thoughts on same.

---Jim Murphy AKA, Cedar Mill Madness

Dave's Bible Blog said...

Great questions, Jim.

I guess they go together. You can't expect your works to save you (Paul's take) nor can you expect a false confession of faith to get you into heaven (James' take).

James is trying to expose the 'easy believe-ism' of those whose walk does not match their talk. Bonhoeffer called this "cheap grace" in his book "The Cost of Discipleship". That is a great book, Jim. I recommend it.

Paul is denouncing the 'Pharisee-ism' that expects to merit God's favor by its own effort.

That's how I balance Paul and James. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

That is also how I would read it. Thanks for the reply. Will have to check out that book.


JT said...

Great post. May God Bless You.

Dave Scriven said...

thanks JT.