"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 3:2
It was about 20 years ago that a very tired, elderly lady took a bus to her downtown Minneapolis insurance company. With hesitation she approached the receptionist who asked, “How may I help you?” The lady pulled an old insurance policy from her purse. She lowered her voice and explained she no longer had the wherewithal to continue to make payments on the policy. Anything she was able to make went to keep a roof over her head and put some food in the refrigerator. She was perfectly content with the policy, but she just couldn’t meet the payment deadlines any longer.
Sympathetically, the receptionist directed the lady to someone who could spend some time with the lady. The man took a quick look at the policy which was for almost half-a-million dollars. Then he asked, “Ma’am, this is your husband’s policy. How does he feel about it?” The woman replied, “My husband? He died a little over three years ago.” The company quickly investigated what she was saying and found out that she was telling the truth. They had to refund three years of premiums plus the face value of the policy. She lived comfortably the rest of her life.
The first time I shared that story with a friend, he sympathetically said, “It couldn’t happen. Nobody could get things that mixed up.” My friend was wrong. It happens all the time. I’ve seen it. Almost everyone knows that they have a deadline coming. I’m not writing about an insurance policy’s deadline. I’m speaking about a very real deadline: the moment when we breathe our last and stand before God to be judged. When that deadline comes, we will not be able to make the payment for our sins. In our lives we can try to do works of charity and kindness, but no matter how hard we try, it won’t be enough. We won’t be able to make the payment.
It is a wonderful joy for me to tell you that you don’t have to make those payments. Your divine brother, Jesus, has already made the payments and made you the beneficiary of His estate. Jesus’ birth, life, love, perfection, and substitution were part of the price He paid for us. His rejection, betrayal, trial, condemnation, and death were part of the payments He made for us. Thirty-three years of payments Jesus made; and because He never missed a payment, because He never sinned, all who acknowledge the risen Christ as their Lord are saved. Because of Jesus, their sins are forgiven and they will live with Him in heavenly bliss forever.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on December 5, 2004
THE PRAYER: Gracious Lord, may the power of your Holy Spirit guide and direct me to serve you in your Kingdom today. You are my risen Lord and Savior. Thank you for the payments You made for me! In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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