Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. Galatians 3:13a
The headline of last week’s Associated Press story read, “Missouri Man Faces 30-Year Prison Term for Stealing 52-Cent Doughnut.”
That’s the kind of story that simply has to be read. If the story is true, we are talking about a court system that has run amuck; if the story isn’t true, I’d like to know why.
To make a long story short: the headline isn’t true–not completely. It is true that Scott Masters, a fellow who had been arrested a dozen times for crimes like shoplifting, drug possession, and setting fire to a car so he might collect the insurance money, did steal a 52-cent doughnut. It is also true that Scott could end up spending a lot of time in jail.
But Scott won’t spend time in jail because he didn’t cough up the cash for some confectionery. His jail time is based on the fact that, as he tried to escape, Scott shoved a woman clerk. That means Scott’s misdemeanor crime of doughnut-lifting has been upped to strong-armed robbery, a minor assault. It’s the push, and a past record, not the doughnut which may place Scott in the clink.
Now, I’ve shared Scott’s story because it has some major theological overtones. Over the years, I’ve heard many people say, “How can God be so cruel that He would. . . ” and then they fill in the blank. For example, “How can God be so cruel that He would punish Adam and Eve for eating a bit of forbidden fruit?” or “How can God be so cruel He would send someone to hell for a single sin?”
Thinking that way is like thinking, “Scott is going to jail for stealing a doughnut.” It’s the truth, but it’s not the whole truth.
Adam and Eve weren’t punished just because of their eating; they were condemned because they rejected God, His love, and His authority. You and I are condemned because every time we sin we are letting God know that we want to be in complete control of our lives. When we understand the whole truth about sin, we can also see why God gets so very upset with us.
What we will never be able to understand is why a justifiably angry God would send His Son into this world to mend the fences we have broken, rebuild the bridges we have blown up, pay the penalty price our disobedience has demanded. In truth, I don’t know why Jesus did what He did, but I give thanks that He has, with His great sacrifice, redeemed us from the curse of the law.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, by Your suffering and sacrifice I am forgiven and saved. Even as I repent of past sins and pray for the ability to avoid future transgressions, may my heart be filled with a thankful and appreciative spirit. In Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries