Main Point: Rescuing others usually involves risk. But since Jesus risked and sacrificed so much rescuing us, we should be willing to do the same for others.
Hacksaw Ridge is a World War II era film that reveals the courageous actions of Private Desmond Doss on behalf of his Army company during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.
“Hacksaw Ridge” was the nickname given to an area on the battlefield where the American soldiers were constantly being beaten back by the Japanese military. During the carnage, American soldiers suffered lots of casualties and even more injuries. Adding to their misery was the fact that many of the injured were left on the battlefield as the Americans retreated.
Fortunately for our guys, Private Doss evacuated 75 of them from the Hacksaw Ridge…all while under enemy fire.
Oh yeah, and he did it without ever carrying a weapon….
Private Doss was raised in a Seventh Day Adventist home where the Bible’s teachings buried convictions in his heart against killing. Thus, when he joined the Army, he did so without firing or even carrying a weapon! “Dez,” as he was called by his brothers-in-arms, functioned as the squad’s medic.
For his heroic and selfless efforts, he was awarded our nation’s most prestigious citation, The Congressional Medal of Honor.
The film, directed by Mel Gibson, definitely earns its PG-13 rating for continued scenes of wartime violence.
Introducing the Clip:
I want to show you a scene from Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II era movie that centers on the heroic efforts of an Army medic named Desmond Doss who is played by Andrew Garfield, the actor who starred in Marvel’s The Amazing Spider Man movies. “Dez,” as he was called by his fellow soldiers, was deeply impacted by the Bible’s teachings against killing, so instead of carrying guns and ammo into battle, he carried bandages and other medical supplies. He did not have a weapon with him during the war. That was a bit crazy, because this particular battle was a really bloody one. The American soldiers retreated several times in their efforts to defeat the Japanese, leaving behind many injured soldiers on the battlefield. Initially despised by the rest of the military for his convictions and views, Dez accomplished something in the battle that not only won him the respect and gratitude of his entire company, but also the highest award given to any military serviceman, The Congressional Medal of Honor. Take a look at what he did on behalf of his fellow soldiers, and listen to what he kept repeating as a prayer.
BEGIN CLIP AT 1 HOUR 48 MINUTES AND 34 SECONDS
(The scene is essentially a battle scene. It’s a little graphic with war-related injuries and wounds. But over and over again, we see Dez dragging injured soldiers to the ledge of Hacksaw Ridge and lowering them to safety below. Each time he saved a fellow soldier, he prayed, “Lord, just one more.”)
END CLIP AT 1 HOUR 52 MINUTES AND 13 SECONDS
That was a fairly gripping scene, wasn’t it? I don’t know what you think, but personally, I believe it took lots of guts for Dez to stay behind trying to care for and rescue his wounded friends. I mean, it’s one thing to do that while carrying a rifle; it’s another to do it without any sort of weapon! But that’s what he did. After everything was tallied, official reports claimed that Private Doss risked his life to rescue 75 injured soldiers from Hacksaw Ridge. That’s the thing: rescuing others usually involves risk. Just ask Dez! But since Jesus sacrificed so much in rescuing you and me, we should be willing to do the same for others.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRLCE: As we get started, let’s all take a second to share our names and whether we know anyone who’s ever served in the military.
- ASK SOMEONE: What did Dez keep saying over and over again in this clip?
- ASK A FEW: Put yourself in the boots of the American soldiers who were wounded and left behind on the battlefield. First, what would that have felt like to be someone in that position? Second, how would you react when Dez came to rescue you?
- ASK SOMEONE: What did Dez risk to save his buddies? Why do you think Dez did what he did…over and over again?
- ASK A FEW: In this clip, Dez’s buddies needed to be saved from the Japanese soldiers. What are some of the “enemies” your friends and/or family members need to be saved from?
- ASK A FEW: What do you think God wants you to do for them in those situations?
Read the following passage:
- Romans 10:1-15 (NIV)
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. 5 Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
- ASK A FEW: This passage was written by a guy named Paul who really wanted to see his entire nation of Jewish people “saved.” Does anyone know what Paul wanted his fellow Jews to be “saved” from? (Leaders – This is a key question going forward. Without a doubt, Paul was writing about his Jewish countrymen being saved from their sins.)
- ASK A FEW: Does anyone know why Jesus is the only One who can save people from their sins? (Be prepared to explain, if necessary, that Jesus is the only Savior that can rescue us from our sin because Jesus was willing to die on the cross for us.)
- ASK A FEW: What does Paul say is required for someone to be saved? (Hint: Look at verses 9 and 10.)
- ASK A FEW: According to this passage, who can be saved? Just religious people? Just good people? Anybody? Nobody? Does the answer surprise you? (Leaders – Verse 13 plainly says that “everyone” who calls on Jesus will be rescued from their sins. That’s amazing and life-changing news!)
- ASK A FEW: Look back at verse 14. What has to happen on our part before any of our friends or family can be saved by Jesus? Is that easy for you…or does it require taking a risk?
- ASK A FEW: For his efforts in battle, Private Doss has the reputation of hero. For His efforts in dying on the cross, Jesus has the reputation of Savior. According to verse 15, what does Paul say is the reputation for those who share the good news of Jesus? Why is that important?
- ASK A FEW: What – if anything – are you risking by talking to your family and friends about Jesus and their need of a savior? What – if anything – are you risking by NOT talking to them about their need of Jesus?
- ASK A FEW: None of us know exactly how all 75 of those soldiers had their lives changed by Dez during that battle. In what ways do you think Jesus can change the lives of your friends or family members?
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Name just one person. Who are you willing to take a risk for, this week, to make sure they know about Jesus?
In a powerful clip, we watched Private Desmond Doss Dez risk his life to save his friends from their enemy in battle. When the dust settled, 75 American soldiers were saved because of his selfless act. That’s on the edge of unbelievable!
But truth be told, his story pales in comparison to what Jesus did for billions of others. The Bible teaches that He chose to die on the cross, thus paying our debt of sin, and was buried in a tomb. But on the 3rd day, what we now celebrate as Easter, Jesus rose from the grave showing that He had ultimate authority over sin, death, the grave, and even our enemy, the devil. Dez saved 75 people. Jesus has saved literally millions more than that!
Both Dez and Jesus took huge risks to save those they loved. The big question I want to put on your heart is: Are you willing to take a risk and share the good news of Jesus with someone you love?
Here’s the deal. All of us know someone who needs to be rescued. Maybe it’s from drugs or an addiction to alcohol. Maybe it’s from a terrible relationship. Maybe it’s from an addiction to pornography. Maybe it’s from depression or possible suicide. I don’t know what it is, I just know Jesus can save them…
If someone is willing to take the risk and share Jesus’ love with them.
Again, let me echo that last question we talked about in our small groups. Who is ONE PERSON you’re going to take a risk for this week, and share with them the good news about Jesus’ love for them?
I can guarantee you if you do that, someone’s life is going to be changed. It may be your own! I know Jesus can do incredible things through you…if you are willing to take a risk in sharing His love with others.
After we close in prayer, take a moment to speak with one of our adult leaders if you’d like help in sharing your faith. We’d be delighted to share some strategies with you, or just encourage you by praying for you.
Close in Prayer
Written by David R Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.