(Jesus said) "Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. ..." Luke 24:47-49a
Right outside New York's City Hall Park, there is a statue of newspaperman Horace Greeley.
Along with his belief that young men should "go west," Greeley thought people remained doubters, even when they had solid proof their disbelief was wrong.
One day Greeley decided to test his theory. He had a man stand on that corner and offer to sell 20-dollar gold pieces for the price of a one-dollar bill. That's right, $20 in gold for a $1 bill. It seemed like a deal too good to be true. That's what most people thought. That's why, for the entire day, the man kept calling out his offer.
Thousands of men and women, thinking the man imbalanced, gave him a wide berth and passed on by. Some laughed at the silliness of the proposition; others shook their heads in doubtful derision. Late in the afternoon, about 15 minutes before the man was going to quit, a lady, with some embarrassment, approached the man. She asked whether she might see one of the gold pieces. He gave it to her. She bit it; she dropped it on the pavement to see if it would ring like a gold piece. It did.
Finally, but still with some reluctance, the lady paid her dollar and walked away with the double eagle.
Ten minutes later she showed up again, this time with two friends. Between them they bought eight more of the double eagles -- all the man was offering. The next day, and for a number of days, that street corner was crowded with people waiting for the man to show up again. The man never reappeared.
It occurs to me that Christianity has been conducting the same experiment for 2,000 years.
For 2,000 years we have held out an offer that is, in human terms, simply too good to be true. We have spoken to the lost and lonely, the damned and dying, the hurting and hateful, the despondent and depressed. We have called out to sinners and lost souls.
Century after century we have said, "Repent of your sins, and in Jesus find forgiveness, healing and peace."
And what has been the reaction? By the Holy Spirit's power some have believed. But there are also many who have passed on by, others who thought it can't be or it's too good to be true.
Of course, there is one major difference between us and the fellow Greeley employed: Greeley's man never came back. But tomorrow you, me, and a host of other Christians are going to show up again, and say again, "Repent, believe, be saved."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks You have entrusted us with a message of salvation through Jesus Christ, which needs to be shared. Grant us the grace to do so, even when that message is unapplauded and unappreciated. We further ask that hearts may be made open to hear of the grace that comes to them through the life, death and resurrection of our Redeemer. In His Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries