October 31, 2013
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15b
There's no doubt in my mind that some Daily Devotion readers may not think a story about a turtle is appropriate for Reformation Day. While what follows does not speak about Martin Luther, it does address the doctrine of salvation by grace that was so very precious to the Reformer.
Our story begins with an unnamed man who felt sorry for a turtle.
The man lives in Florida and was on Interstate 75 when he saw a turtle trying to make his way across the road. Anybody who drives that highway knows the turtle's chance of success was minimal. Feeling sorry for the reptile the man picked it up and took it safely to the other side.
Does the story sound familiar? It ought to. The turtle's story has much in common with our own.
You see, the Lord, like the Florida man looking at the turtle, saw we were going to fail in our attempt to get over to the other side. Like the man from Florida, the Lord graciously decided to do what we couldn't. The Lord's help came in the Person of Jesus who left the comforts and joys of heaven to come to earth where He fulfilled the Law for us, resisted temptation for us, and did everything necessary to deliver us safely.
But there's more to the story.
As the man from Florida delivered the turtle to the other side of Highway 75, he was struck by an Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Experts say it takes 70 milligrams of rattlesnake venom to affect the human body. The Eastern Diamondback can inject 800 milligrams of venom in a single wallop. The turtle-helper was raced to the hospital where he was treated.
You see the comparison.
In Genesis 3:15, the text for today's devotion, the Lord gave to our ancestors the first promise of a Savior. He let Adam and Eve know the day would come when Satan, sin and death would be destroyed, and they would be delivered. In His promise the Lord also shared the cost of salvation would come at a great price. To save us, Jesus -- like our Florida man -- would be struck down.
Of course, there is a major difference between these stories. Unlike the Florida man who never knew he was at risk, Jesus was fully aware that saving us meant He would suffer and die. Although I can't be sure, I imagine the man from Florida might have done things differently if he had known that snake was in the grass. That is unlike our Savior who set His face to the cross and graciously laid down His life so we might be saved.
Sola gratia. Alone by grace. That is one of the foundations of the Reformation.
We are not saved because of anything we could do ... but only because of what Jesus was willing to do. It is a message the world does not want you to hear; it is a message Satan wishes to corrupt, but alone by grace remains the only way you, I, and humanity can be forgiven and saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, may I always be grateful for Your gracious act of sacrifice, which has won my salvation. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries