Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" - John 15:13 (NASB)
The above-titled recent headline comes to us from the Vatican Insider, which brings us the startling and encouraging report of a Muslim who "offered himself as a hostage because he would not leave his Christian friend to die alone." Who is the man? Jamal Rahman.
According to the story, Jamal "was among the 28 Ethiopians killed (by decapitation) by ISIS in Libya and shown in the latest terror video by Al Furqan, the caliphate's propaganda machine."
Jamal "was not spared, despite belonging to a Muslim family."
Why was he not spared?
Because "[h]e offered himself as a hostage because he would not leave his Christian friend to die alone."
It is a "great love" which causes us to give our lives for another.
Ultimately, Jamal was killed with all the Christians in the group.
While there is some haziness over why this was the case, it appears to be a sacrificial act of love.
According to reports given to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) -- by a member of Al-Shabab, of all people -- a certain "online newspaper of Somaliland" reports that Jamal "converted to Christianity on the road" and was killed for this reason.
Yet PIME regards as "much more plausible" the alternate explanation, which is "that amidst the jihadists, the Muslim Jamal 'foolishly' and willingly offered himself as a hostage to the jihadists, out of solidarity for a Christian friend he was travelling with." For "[p]erhaps he believed the presence of a Muslim in the group might even have saved the lives of the others."
Ultimately, "[t]his was not the case: Jamal was murdered alongside the Christians 'as an apostate'."
Jamal's loyalty to his friend, loyalty to the point of death, is humbling, rare and beautiful. His act will undoubtedly serve as an example to others.
Most importantly, it is a model of our Lord Jesus himself, who laid down his life for us -- his friends. If we are to be imitators of Christ, we must do likewise. Let us take this moment to reflect on this act of grace on the part of a Muslim to remember that Jesus himself told us:
"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" Matthew 16:24-25 (NASB).
Only by His grace can we do that. But let us ask God for that grace. It will be needed, for God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4), even members of ISIS.
Until his truth comes to them, and He comes again, let us be thankful for reminders of his grace in men like Jamal.en like Jamal.