September 4, 2008
Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel." Mark 1:14a-15
Richard Cooey is 5-feet, 7-inches tall. He tips the scales at 267 pounds.
Some would say Richard Cooey is endangering his life by being so heavy. Richard Cooey thinks being so heavy might just save his life.
Does that sound strange? Well, it is. You see Richard Cooey is on Ohio's death row. He's been convicted of raping and killing two University of Akron students in 1986.
Right now, Richard is asking for clemency because he's too fat to be executed. His lawyers maintain the executioners would have difficulty finding his veins to administer the lethal injection and Cooey's weight would diminish the effectiveness of one of the lethal drugs.
Richard Cooey also argues he did what he did because he was beaten as a child and because he abused alcohol.
Richard Cooey further holds the attorney's who represented him at his first trial didn't do a proper job of sharing that information with those who tried and convicted him.
Richard Cooey finally believes his attempted escape from prison and punishment a few years ago shouldn't be held against him.
About the only thing Richard Cooey hasn't said is "I'm guilty" or "I'm sorry." County Prosecutor Sherri Walsh said, "In the 22 years since the defendant committed these brutal acts, he has never demonstrated one second of genuine remorse for murdering these two young women."
That takes us to the topic of repentance. Immediately after John the Baptizer was arrested, Jesus began to preach a twofold message to the communities of Galilee. The Savior told everyone to repent and believe the Gospel.
Sadly, repentance is not a quality that comes easily to humankind. Rather than repent, most would prefer to pass the blame, offer up excuses for their behavior, or do everything and anything other than say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner."
Yet, it is sinners whom Jesus came to save, and it is sinners who rejoice in the Gospel of grace that comes through His suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection.
Now I don't know what will happen to Richard Cooey. I certainly pray repentance becomes a part of his vocabulary. If it does, even though Richard Cooey may have to pay the price the law demands, the Lord Jesus can and will set him free.
How do I know? I know because Jesus once did exactly that for a repentant thief who was hanging on the cross next to Him. I know because Jesus has done that for me.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, may my prayers always be filled with repentance for all I have done wrong, and with praise for all You have done right. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries