"Saving Us From Our Sins"
November 29, 2007
She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21
Michael Rodriguez wants to die.
Seven years ago, on December 13th, Michael along with six other inmates from a south Texas prison overpowered some workers, stole their clothes, grabbed some guns, and escaped in a stolen truck. A week-and-a-half later, on Christmas Eve, policeman Aubrey Hawkins caught them robbing a sporting goods store in Dallas. They shot him eleven times. Aubrey died immediately; his murderers were captured a month later.
Today, Michael Rodriguez, having declined to make any more appeals, wishes to die.
There is much in Michael’s story that is bothersome, worrisome, disturbing. What troubles me most is the reason why Michael wants to die. According to the Associated Press, at his competency hearing Michael told a psychologist he “had to accept his death sentence and submit to it as payment in order to be forgiven and obtain salvation.”
That’s tragic. How I pray that Michael may understand that while the state may decree he will die because of past crimes, he is not dying, he cannot die to earn forgiveness or salvation. Michael can’t pay that debt because the price has already been paid. That’s what the angel of the Lord told Joseph in a dream before the Savior was born: “you shall call His Name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
So that Michael might be saved, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. So Michael might be forgiven, the Christ carried every transgression that Michael, you, I, and the rest of humanity have committed.
In truth, the day will come when Michael Rodriguez, like the rest of humanity, will breathe his last and leave this world. Michael may die by a lethal injection administered in sterile surroundings at the hands of a court-appointed executioner; he may die when a prisoner does him in while he is exercising in a prison courtyard, or death might come in a million other ways.
When death does arrive, I pray Michael may know God’s truth, which says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8). This devotion wants you to know that no matter what you have done wrong, Christ can forgive and make you right.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks that You have done for me what I could never do for myself. For Your life, Your innocent suffering and death, I praise Your Name. For the forgiveness You give by grace, I shall forever be in Your debt. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries