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The Agony of the Cross Part I

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."1

He was in a work detail on the railroad. The day's work had ended and the tools had been counted. When the party was about to be dismissed, the Japanese guard declared that a shovel was missing. He insisted that someone had stolen it to sell it to the Thais. He strode up and down the front of the men ranting and denouncing them for their wickedness, their stupidity and most unforgivable ingratitude to the Emperor.

"Screaming in broken English he demanded that the guilty one step forward to take his punishment. No one moved. The guard's rage reached new heights of violence. 'All die, all die,' he shrieked!

"To show that he meant what he said he pulled back the bolt, put the rifle to his shoulder, and looked down the sights ready to fire at the first man he saw at the end of them.

"At that moment the Argyle stepped forward and stood stiffly to attention and said calmly, 'I did it.'

"The guard unleashed all his whipped up hatred. He kicked the hapless prisoner and beat him with his fists and still the Argyle (prisoner) stood rigidly at attention. The blood was streaming down his face but he made no sound. The guard seized his rifle by the barrel and lifted it high over his head and with a final howl brought the butt down on the skull of the Argyle who sank limply to the ground and did not move. Although it was perfectly evident that he was dead, the guard continued to beat him and stopped only when exhausted.

"The men of the work detail picked up their comrade's body, shouldered their tools and marched back to camp. When the tools were counted again at the guardhouse, no shovel was missing.2

To be continued

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, how true it is that we live in a world of injustice, evil, and cruelty. Please help me to so live that my life will be a channel of Your love and, even if only in a small way, help make my world a better place in which to live. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. John 15:13  (NIV).
2. Taken from The Bridge Over the River Kwai as read by David Stoop.

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Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.