Late one evening just over fifteen years ago, Tuesday July 13th 2003 to be exact, Amir Simachon sat with Shalhevet Okashi, a woman friend from the Tel Aviv municipality where they both worked, on the Jaffa promenade overlooking the moonlit bay and shore. About 1:40 AM a crazed terrorist ran up behind them, shouted “Alla Akhbar” and stabbed Amir in the back with a 30-centimeter (that’s one foot; twelve inches long) blade knife.
Amir managed to stand to his feet as the terrorist raised his knife to stab Shalhevet. Amir lunged forward between them, embracing Shalhevet as the knife stabbed the second time into his back. As the terrorist ran off, Amir turned to Shalhevet and said, “I feel faint.” He died a few hours later in the emergency room at Wolfson hospital. The terrorist was later captured and underwent interrogation.
Shalhevet’s response to journalists was simply, “He hugged me, and his hug saved my life.”
A Life Saving Hug
I can’t stop thinking about that embrace. An act of self-sacrificing love saved her life. Amir volunteered to have himself pierced by a satanically-inspired terrorist in order to save Shalvevet. How like Yeshua’s act of sacrificial love on the cross for us!
As Amir embraced Shalhevet, his blood from the double stabbing spilled onto her. She’ll never be able to forget the impression of that mortal, precious, scarlet, steamy blood of her co-worker. In one moment, the blood of Amir changed Shalhevet’s life for eternity. Not only saved, but changed.
Amir was a handsome young man of 24, who often volunteered for civilian guard duties. His parents’ response was, “As Amir was in his death, so was he in his life – always sacrificing himself for others – that’s just the way he was.”
What a challenge that is to us! Yeshua’s death on the cross was not an isolated incident, but rather the culmination of a lifetime of sacrificial love, service to others and absolute obedience. The blood of Yeshua not only saves us, but influences us to change. We are in Shalhevet’s position, being embraced by Yeshua’s outstretched arms on the cross.
His blood not only erases our sins, but motivates us to live a lifestyle like Him – a lifestyle of love, faith and integrity. As the imprint and impression of the blood of Amir will haunt Shalhevet every moment for the rest of her life, so are we to be traumatized and transformed by the blood of Yeshua every day. The power of the blood of Yeshua is not just in the one-time historical event of 2,000 years ago, but in the constant and continual, internal and eternal, re-recurring reminder of His sacrifice. As Shalhevet said, “He shielded me with his own body.”
One difference of course is that three days later, Yeshua rose from the dead. Imagine the shock for Shalhevet if Amir had come back to life and appeared to her saying, “Come follow me. Let us make a covenant together. Not only have I saved your life in this world, I have the power to give you eternal life in the world to come. Will you trust me? Will you lead a life of purity and love for my sake? Will you receive my spirit in you?”
Yeshua also had a few last words on the cross. The power in those words comes from the witness that his blood had been poured out. In some ways, all of the gospels are Yeshua’s final words to us that are backed up by the power of his blood. What if Amir’s last words to Shalhevet had been a request? – Such as, “Watch out for my parents.” Or “Donate some money to charity.” Do you think she would have fulfilled that request? I’m sure she would have.
Perhaps Amir’s “I feel faint” doesn’t sound that profound. On the other hand, it makes me think of Yeshua’s statement, “I’m thirsty.” Sometimes we get caught up in the theology of the cross so much, we miss the raw physicality of the event, the humanity, the guts.
By the way, why did the terrorist kill Amir? For one reason alone: he was a Jew. Again I am reminded of Yeshua, that the stated crime that He was crucified for was being “King of the Jews.”
One of Yeshua’s blood-backed declarations on the cross was for us to be forgiven of our sins. You see, we are not only like Shalhevet, in some ways we are like the terrorist. It was for our sins that Yeshua was crucified. We are like the jailed terrorist to whom Amir-Yeshua might come to say, “Even you I am willing to forgive.” Or suppose Shalhevet had been his wife who had committed adultery, to whom he would say, “I forgive you, go and sin no more.”
What repentance, what forgiveness, what freedom, what victory, what consecration, what empowerment there is, when we completely identify with the blood-soaked embrace and the life-changing message of Yeshua on the cross.
People Just Didn’t Get It
Some people did not take note of the story of Amir. They were too busy with politics and economics. But others saw in that story the most important event of the week – so important in fact that nothing else might seem to matter. Let us put ourselves in Shalhevet’s shoes: nothing else matters. Nothing else will ever matter – only that embrace, only that blood, only that life-saving sacrifice.