January 8, 2009
And He (Jesus) said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you." Luke 22:25-26a
In 28 years as a parish pastor, I never made a sick call on someone who had cholera.
Maybe that's because unless you eat raw, infected shellfish, or drink unsanitary water, you generally won't catch cholera.
That's why I had to do some research after I read that almost 1,000 people in Zimbabwe had died from a recent cholera epidemic. Almost as bad, 16,000 have been infected. What I found out is this: in less than a day, cholera can kill you. On the other hand, if treated with water, sugar, and depleted salts, most people recover relatively easily.
This made me ask, "Why are people dying of cholera in Zimbabwe?" The answer is relatively simple: the president of that African country is allowing it. In December, he announced, "I am happy to say there is no cholera." And, he added, "now that there is no cholera, there is no cause for war." By making that pronouncement, President Robert Mugabe was trying to head off humanitarian and military intervention.
That was when I remembered the words of Jesus. At His Last Supper, He indicated that though kings and authorities among the Gentiles lord it over their people and want to be considered a benefactor for having done so, His followers should truly serve each other.
Almost 2,000 years since Jesus made that statement, nothing has changed. Many rulers still cling to power and some allow their people to suffer. On the other hand, in the best of Christian homes and congregations, God's people still serve each other, and they serve their enemies.
Serving is something we are glad to do. How could it be otherwise? We have seen a Savior who left heaven's high throne and came to earth and was placed in a manger. Wishing to serve and save humanity, Jesus lived His life perfectly and allowed Himself to be crucified. Now, because of that gracious gift of service, all who believe on the risen Lord as Savior are forgiven and promised a place in heaven.
John said it best: "We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' but hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:19-20).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, by Your sacrifice and service, I am saved. May my thanksgiving find expression in the way I treat others. Further, I also ask that You will touch the rulers of this world so they may truly become "benefactors." In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries