On Friday the 23rd of March, exactly a week to Good Friday, Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame heroically did that which significantly identifies with Good Friday. He gave his life in exchange for another. Lt. Beltrame swapped his life for one of the hostages at the supermarket in Trèbes, Southern France.
A 25-year old Islamic extremist terrorised a supermarket in a shooting spree. Both shoppers and staff were in his firing line. Altogether, he killed four people and wounded a dozen more. Earlier that day, he shot the driver of the car he stole in the head! As he carried out this mayhem, he repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” and announced his affiliation with a well-known terrorist group.
As France mourns the death of Lt. Colonel Arnaud Beltrame and the world deeply sympathizes with the family and the people of France, there are some reflections that are worth sharing.
Arnaud Beltrame gave his life in exchange for one. Jesus Christ gave his life in exchange for all.
Unquestionably, as his brother Cedric mentioned in a radio interview, Arnaud knew he was walking into a very dangerous and life-threatening situation. Jesus, the all-knowing and only-wise God, knew that coming to earth to die for mankind will involve threats, torture and an excruciating painful death. Both of them still proceeded! Why? They concluded that the blessing is greater than the pain – Hebrews 12:2.
The Ultimate Goal
The primary objective for Lt. Col. Beltrame swapping his life for that of a member of staff who was taken hostage was to peacefully end the standoff, set the hostages free and reconcile the supermarket’s shoppers and personnel with their families. The ultimate goal for Jesus Christ giving up His life on the Cross was to peacefully end the burden of the Law upon humanity, set us free from the bondage of sin and reconcile mankind with God. For the Law was given through Moses; Grace and Truth was given through Jesus Christ – John 1:17.
Mary and Marielle
Moments before his death, whilst on his hospital bed, Arnaud remembered the woman he loves and got married to Marielle. They had planned to have their wedding in June! On the Cross, moments before His death, Christ remembered the woman He loved, His mother Mary and asked one of His disciples to take care of her. Additionally, Jesus told the thief who had been hung on the cross alongside him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise”. This statement illustrates the “marriage” Jesus (the Groom) has with the Body of Christ (the Bride) and all who believe in Him (Jeremiah 2:2, Galatians 5:25- 27).
Despite the hostile and dangerous circumstances, Arnaud Beltrame left his phone line on so as to grant his fellow police officers access to what was going on inside the supermarket. With the aid of this open phone line, officers of the Gendarmerie realized that Lt. Col. Beltrame suffered a gunshot to the neck at 2:59pm. At 3:00pm, while Jesus was on the Cross of Calvary, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:38), thereby symbolizing the access our Heavenly Father has granted to all who believe in Him.
In the words of French President Emmanuel Macron, “we have paid the price”. Apostle Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 6:20 that we were “bought at a price”. While sitting in the choir loft, Elvina Hall reflected on the price Jesus paid for our salvation and composed the great hymn “Jesus Paid It All”.
Tributes and condolence messages have been pouring in by the minute. From the offices of world leaders to the homes of neighbours and friends, everyone describes Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame as a “Hero” and rightfully so. Jesus reminded us that there is no greater sacrifice than a man laying down his life for his friends (John 15:13). In this case, Arnaud laid down his life for strangers! He truly is a hero.
As we mourn the death of Arnaud and approach Good Friday, we are reminded of the priceless need to cherish that which Christ did on the Cross. We must never forget. France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said “Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame has left us. France will never forget his heroism, his bravery, his sacrifice”. In her message of condolence and solidarity, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May stated “His sacrifice and courage will never be forgotten”. Our Lord Jesus exchanged His life for the lives of all mankind, including our unborn children. Yet, in some countries and cultures, Jesus has been forgotten! To put it in modern terms, “God is no longer trending”.
Even though salvation is not necessarily found in the building itself, church attendance especially in the UK is at an all-time low. Ironically, on the same day we mourn the loss of Lt. Col. Beltrame, the March 25th edition of The Telegraph has an article headlined “Christianity In Britain Is Only Decades Away From Vanishing”.
We all have a significant role in reminding others about the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation. He came so that we will have life (on earth) and have eternal life (even when we are no longer on earth). Salvation is found in no one else – Acts 4:12. Let us not make the mistake of presuming everybody knows and understands what Good Friday means. Tell someone.
Rest in peace Arnaud Beltrame.