April 9, 2009
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 20b-21
If you didn't want to serve in Napoleon's army, you didn't have to.
That's right. Back then, you could hire a replacement, a substitute, to take your place. That's exactly what one man did. When he was drafted, he hired a friend to take his place.
Unfortunately, that friend was killed in battle.
Then, as such things happen, through a clerical error, the young man, the one who had done the hiring, was drafted again. When he appeared before the draft board, the summary of his argument was this: "You can't make me go... I have been killed in a battle."
Of course, with the young man standing right in front of them, the bureaucrats thought they had a pretty good case, too.
Eventually, the man's plea was brought to Napoleon. After examining the evidence, the Emperor passed down his judgment. His decree said, "Through a surrogate, this man has not only fought, but has died in his country's service. No man can die more than once; therefore the law has no claim on him."
This Holy Week, Christians give thanks for their heaven-sent Surrogate. Purely by grace and out of love for lost humanity, Jesus came to earth to be our Substitute. So we might be forgiven and freed from the law's curse He lived, suffered, died, and rose.
As St. Paul says, 'Jesus who committed no sin of His own, carried the sins of everyone else. By His sacrifice believers are forgiven, saved and made righteous.'
To paraphrase the Emperor: 'No believer can die more than once. Because of Jesus' life, suffering, death, and resurrection, sin, death, and Satan cannot lay claim upon those who acknowledge Christ as their Substitute.'
THE PRAYER: Dear Savior, for doing all that was necessary to save me, I praise Your Name. May I daily give thanks for the fact that You, by grace alone, became my Substitute. Now, because of what You have done may I rejoice in my freedom. In Your Name. Amen.
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Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries