In Fullmetal Alchemist, we see the tragic death of Lieutenant Colonel Maes Hughes. After seeing him and his family, really getting to know the character – his death is a powerful part of the plot. When our main characters, the Elric brothers discover he’s dead they also discover another truth – he died because he was trying to help them; he died trying to help them find answers.
Upon this realization in the manga, the brothers go and visit Hughes’ widow and daughter, as well as their friend Winry who had grown close to the Hughes family. They apologize saying he died because he had helped them. That’s when his widow, Gracia Hughes smiles at them and says, “He gave his life trying to save someone else…that’s so typical of him. He’s always stuck his neck out trying to help others.” Maes Hughes laid his life down for his friend and, as his wife said, that was typical Maes.
In John 15:13, Christ says, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” And this is true. It is a form of sacrificial love which we do not always see. It is a giving your all kind of love, to the point where it hurts. It is a giving every single ounce of your being, even when it could kill you. It is a willingness to go beyond where you are comfortable to where you are needed far beyond that. It’s a kind of love we as people are afraid to give, afraid and sometimes unwilling to give.
Maes Hughes, on the other hand, was willing to pay this ultimate sacrifice. His friends needed help and so he literally laid down his life at the hands of their enemies to help them. It was a sacrificial love and it should be praised. It is a Christian kind of love which does not always get recognized.
As Good Friday approaches, we are reminded of an even greater love. It takes great love to lay down ones life for a friend, but can you imagine laying down your life for an enemy. Christ did that very thing at Golgotha on Good Friday. In Romans 5:6-11, Paul reminds us of that fact:
For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.
We are reconciled to our creator through the sacrifice of Christ. Paul reminds us, though, that we are enemies of God. We are all sinners, as he points out in Romans 3:23. We are all imperfect, flawed creations who give in to our basal urges and desires. We do not always love sacrificially. But Christ did. He lived a sacrificial life and died a sacrificial death. He died for His friends, but also for His enemies. During Andy Mineo’s verse of the song One Sixteen by Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, and KB, he says, “When you hear the story about the hero dying for the villain.” This is that story. Christ is that hero and He died for us, the villain. If there is no greater love than to lay down ones life for a friend, how much more must one love in order to also lay down life for an enemy. It flies in the face of human logic. It flies in the face of everything we as humans strive to do. Of course, many of us would lay down our lives for our family – but for our enemy? Never. Jesus did.
Let us remember the example of Maes Hughes and sacrificially love our friends. But, let us never forget that Christ called us to love our enemies too. He called us to give our all for our enemies; He gave us the example as He died for us, His enemies.