August 11, 2012
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5
Can you imagine the jealousy people from the past would feel if they could be transported from way back then to today? They would be astounded at the many and varied blessings which we take for granted, but they might consider to be almost miraculous.
High on that list would be the blessing of fire; maybe, I should say, the kitchen match -- the miracle of fire on demand.
Phosphorous, which makes a match light, was discovered in 1669 by a German alchemist. Since the stuff couldn't help him turn lead into gold, the chemist forgot his phosphorous and moved on. English chemist Robert Boyle discovered if he rubbed phosphorous and sulfur together, he could get a fire going almost every single time. Since Boyle couldn't think of a purpose for his interesting phenomenon, he also moved on.
Things changed when in 1827 Johnny Walker, an English pharmacist, stirred a batch of chemicals and set down his stirrer. By the time he picked up the stick again, the goop on the end had hardened. Purely by instinct, Walker tried to scrape off the goop by rubbing the stick on the floor. You guessed it: fire on demand.
The kitchen match was born.
Serendipity. Walker was only trying to clean up a stick, and he ended up with fire on demand. Light had come into the world.
It was hardly the first time. When God created the world, He created light. That was good. When He wanted to save the world from the darkness of sin, the devil, and the grave, He sent His only Son. That was even better.
Of course, when Jesus walked the earth, people didn't always see Him as the God-sent dispeller of darkness. King Herod thought Jesus was his competition for an earthly throne. The Pharisees saw Him as an upstart upsetting the status quo. The Sadducees considered His death a price that needed to be paid, if they were to avoid Roman extermination.
A sinner, a rebel, a liar, a Samaritan, a devil: that's what people called Him back then.
A teacher, a prophet, a philosopher, a figment of the disciples' imagination: that's what many critics and skeptics call Him now.
Still, for Christians who once were in darkness but have been moved to the marvelous light of salvation, Jesus is our spiritual serendipity. For us the sinless Son of God remains the Light of the world, the Light who has loved us, redeemed us, and brought us before His Father's throne.
Serendipity ... more than we expected or deserved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, once we were in darkness, and we had no way of finding our way out. Thank You for sending Your Son to take hold of us with His nail-pierced hands and lead us to safety, forgiveness and salvation. In His Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries