Because the Hunger Games books were being read so widely by the students I worked with as a sub I decided to read them myself and then I saw the movie when it came out. I didn't expect the movie to be as good as the book and it probably wasn't but there were some scenes that were simply more powerful than the book. One of those scenes was when Prim, a little girl of 12, has her name drawn to compete to the death in the Hunger Games and her sister Katniss, frightened beyond measure, volunteers as tribute to take her place. Katniss knows that she is likely to die, but cannot bear to see her little sister marched off to her death. So Katniss takes her place.
The scene was a very vivid picture for me of how Jesus laid his life down for us, taking our place and dying our death, so that we might be saved. Jesus volunteered as tribute for us that we might escape the terrors of the arena. Unlike Prim, though, we were not innocent and unworthy of death. We had earned the appropriate consequences for our decision to live life on our own terms, ignoring the commands of God and yet "God proved His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" (Romans 5:8, HCSB).
But saving us from the arena of death was not enough for Jesus because he left behind instructions for us to follow along with his example, instructing us to love each other like he loved us and specifically adding, "No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, HCSB). Jesus gave us these words and then he lived them out so that we might have the courage to do the same.
God has called each of us to lay down our lives for our friends. We may not be required to die. But we are all called to give up our lives, to set aside fulfilling our own wants and desires in order to ensure that those around us might live. We are each called to step in and offer those about to die the respite from death that Jesus offers us through his own.
Jesus volunteered to die in our place and he wants us to lay down our lives so that others may live. Are you willing to volunteer as a tribute to Jesus' love for you? The greatest love that we can demonstrate is laying down our own lives for our friends.