"The Least of These"
December 26, 2013
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Every age of man seems to have an illness, which strikes terror into people's hearts.
Undoubtedly, the long-term record-holder of humankind's most loathsome disease is held by leprosy. For thousands of years, fear of contaminating those who were healthy kept the leper isolated and ignored.
Not even beloved saints seem invulnerable to the fear leprosy engendered. Case in point is St. Francis of Assisi. One afternoon he came upon a leper as he walked along a narrow mountain path. Although ready to face popes and powers, Francis was terrified of coming into close contact with this ill man. Instinctively, his heart shrank back, and his body recoiled at the prospect of touching this individual, who had been horribly disfigured by the disease.
Ashamed of himself, Francis rallied. He turned, ran back, and threw his arms over the fellow's shoulders. He kissed him upon the cheek and then started to continue his journey. Francis had gone only a few steps, before he looked back for a final glance at this fellow, who had changed his heart.
Ever after Francis was convinced that leper was the Lord Jesus. That's because when he looked back, there was nobody there and the road was empty.
The loving action of Francis was a beautiful example of Christian living and giving. Still, what Francis did is little, when it is compared to the actions of our Savior. St. Francis embraced the leper and moved on, while Jesus became one of us and lived His entire life like us.
The step He made in leaving heaven's high throne to be born in Bethlehem is a descent we cannot imagine, replacing the perfection of paradise with a world soured by sin and sadness. Jesus' birth gives us an indication of the amount and quality of His love and commitment.
Look where you wish, no other religion of the world speaks of such an act from any of its deities.
No other faith can tell its followers: "Look into the manger and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has done to save you" (see Luke 2:15).
Christianity -- and Christianity alone -- says, "We have a Redeemer who not only felt sorry for sin-sick souls, He actually took that sickness into Himself and carried it until it was gone and He could say, 'It is finished.'"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You entered this world to change my sin-diseased destiny. Your substitution has granted me forgiveness so that I, freed from the devil and death, may worship You and reflect Your love to others. May that be my goal and desire. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries