September 1, 2012
... Forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:13b-14
Heinrich Heine was a famous German poet.
He may even have been a good German poet. I don't know about that, but I do know he spoke for much of humanity when he addressed the uncomfortable act of forgiveness.
Heine said, "My nature is the most peaceful in the world. All I ask for is a simple cottage, a decent bed, good food, some flowers in front of my window, and a few trees beside my door. Then, to be truly happy, I would like to see six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees. I would forgive them all the wrongs they have done -- forgive them from the bottom of my heart, for we must forgive our enemies. But not until they are hanged!"
The fact that the Lord could think that way about us and doesn't is serendipitous. The knowledge that He should be demanding our damnation and not our salvation is an unexpected and blessed relief.
Seriously, think about it:
* He is perfect and we are far from His state of holiness. He could demand we pay for our sins; instead, He sent Jesus. That's serendipity.
* We think we want fairness, but we would be damned if we got it. So that we might spend our eternity in heaven, Jesus received the penalty we had earned. That, too, would be serendipity.
* We think we're pretty good, but -- from God's perspective -- we're about as bad as bad can be. It is serendipitous that the only sinless Man this world has ever seen was made to be sin for us so that all who believe on Him could be saved.
* We think God owes us heaven, but the truth is we deserve hell. That any of us are going to heaven is totally because Jesus' manger, cross and empty tomb have made it possible.
Truly, this fact remains: because of Jesus we don't receive the penalty we've earned; because of the Redeemer we don't carry the sins we have committed; because of the risen Lord we no longer have to look upon the grave as being our final resting place.
Jesus, all on His own, without any merit or worthiness in us, has changed everything.
This is why we need to look upon Him as God's heaven-sent Substitute for lost sinners. And that God would sacrifice His Son for our salvation ... that, my friends, is serendipity.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, it's so easy for us to moan and complain about how unfair You are. I give thanks that You are unfair and allowed Your Son to be punished, so I wouldn't be. I rejoice that, in Him, You have given me more than I can hope for, wish for, or yearn for. For a blessed, undeserved Savior, I give thanks. In His Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries