“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  

Isaiah 53:5

Recently, our high school youth group watched To Save a Life.  The movie is a true to life story of the day to to day issues and challenges that American teenagers face: school violence, bullying, partying, broken families, non-marital sex and it’s consequences, cutting, desiring to be valued by others, and friendship.

Subsequently our youth leader team has really enjoyed the conversations the teenagers have been sharing about their heart for reaching out to and caring for their peers.  We are very proud of them!

In watching “To Save a Life” and considering the overwhelming brokenness of the people we interact with every day, we may have a response like “I need to get out there and help these people.  If I do not, I just do not know what will happen to them!”   This tendency, while seemingly heroic, has roots in narcissism (“I am the best”) and a “savior mentality” (“The world is lost without my helping it”).

What about Jesus?

Consider the prophecy of Isaiah about Jesus: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus became our propitiation for sins. (Propitiation means he took our sins on himself because he was qualified to do so.)  Jesus’ sacrifice was a substitute for our sins so that we could be made right before God.  1 Jn 2:2 says,  “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“By his wounds we are healed.”  Jesus was wounded (which caused physical death) and overcame death (therefore overcoming sickness, the cause of death).  Jesus’ atonement reversed the curse of sickness (physical and emotional) while we are on earth.  We can now ask for Christ’s healing in our earthly bodies because he conquered sickness through his resurrection.  Even better, we are promised freedom from death and our sickness in eternal life.

Summary: Jesus’ atonement was for both our earthly (sickness and hurting) and eternal lives (salvation).

What does that have to do with helping people (To Save a Life)?
First, we cannot save people on our own merit.  People always ultimately fail, no matter how great our advice or therapeutic technique.  We can only give them a short-term hope

Second, Jesus has a proven track-record through overcoming death on the cross.  He offers the possibility of healing while on earth, and complete healing in resurrection.

Therefore, as Christ-followers, we have the important mission of being available to all people to show them compassion, mercy, empathy, encouragement and support.  Through the love that we show, we are always onMission to point people to Jesus.  In doing so, we must bring them to The Great Physician to get help.  He alone heals.

Daniel Riemenschneider is the High School Youth Pastor at Bloomingdale Church. He enjoys hanging out with students and their families, finding adventures outside, and lots of quality time with his wife.  Contact him at: youth@bloomingdalechurch.org | danielriem.com


To Save a Life website


Questions After Watching the Movie

Which character of To Save A Life are you the most like? Why?

At Roger’s funeral, the pastor said sometimes we have to choose to trust God, even in the midst of pain. Give an example from your life when you’ve made the choice to trust God even in the midst of pain.
(Psalm 77:1-12)

Have you ever been in Jake’s situation, i.e., given a choice between friendship and the chance to be popular? Have you been on the other side of this situation—someone ignored or abused you to protect their popularity? Have you been in Amy’s position where you encouraged someone to ignore someone else?

(Pastor) Chris said that “God gets blamed for a lot of things these days.” Do you agree with this?
Is it okay to be mad at God?

Christ-followers can sometimes appear judgmental and act like they’re better than everyone else. But when Jake calls Andrea “perfect,” Andrea reminds him that there are “different kinds of dirt.”
How can you be “real” to your friends without coming off judgmental, yet also backing down on calling sin what it is?
(1 Corinthians 9:21-22)

Chris told Jake to “ask yourself what you want your life to be about,” and at one point, Jake asks the youth group,
“What’s the point of all this if you’re not going to let this change you?”
Name some qualities of a Christ-follower that signify they are changed? (Think beyond the Sunday school responses!)
(Ephesians 4:22-32)

Jake slowly realized sex, drinking and having fun wouldn’t give his life the meaning and purpose he craved.
What things, people or activities in your life may be preventing you from finding your purpose?
(Romans 13:12-14)