September 18, 2007
You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19a
Some of my readers, if they’re old enough, may remember something called cash. Although cash could be stamped pieces of metal, it usually was paper imprinted in green ink with pictures of past presidents. People sometimes used cash when they went to a store. They would give some cash to a person who put it in a cash register and, in return, gave them groceries, clothing and almost anything. I have even heard about people placing cash into church collection plates. It’s a story I have not been able to verify.
Eventually cash was replaced by checks. Checks were bumped aside by plastic debit cards and plastic charge cards. With the coming of plastic, cash became a thing of the past. With a quick swipe of his plastic card, an individual could purchase almost anything he wanted.
You see, there were a number of places, places like jails, where cash and checks were still the preferred means of exchange. If a person was arrested for a crime and an amount was set for his release, he could ask someone with cash to come to the jail and bail him out. Today that has changed. Major Pat Tighe of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office in Florida has brought an ATM into his police station. Now, if someone wants to bail himself out of jail, he can simply swipe his credit card.
That’s progress. I imagine pretty soon they’ll put ATMs right in the squad cars and a guilty citizen will be able to skip going to jail altogether. Can’t you hear the conversation? “What’s that, officer? I was traveling 30 miles over the speed limit? A fine of $180 dollars? That’s OK, do you take American Express?”
When I first read that story last week, I remembered the price the Savior paid to release me from sin, death and Satan. Luther put it well when he wrote, “Jesus has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death and from the power of the devil. Not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.”
In truth, no plastic, no amount of cash, no debit card could free us from the eternal damnation our disobedience deserved. All the money in the world would not have been enough to procure our freedom. Only the sacrifice of the Savior, only upon Calvary’s cross could our release be procured. Only with Jesus’ substitution could we be freed from the fate that once awaited us. Jesus’ sacrifice to pay our debts –that’s something to think about today when you use your plastic, or even your cash to buy something.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for all You have done, for the sacrifice You have made to save me, receive my deepest thanks. Today, if I complain about the price of things, remind me of the price You paid to redeem my soul. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries