"What Would You Do?"
December 28, 2013
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left. And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." .... Luke 23:33-34a
PLEASE NOTE: This devotion does not deal with pleasant subjects. Parents and teachers, please read this devotion through before you share it with an audience. Thank you. Pastor Klaus
The time was World War II, and the Jewish man found himself in a Nazi extermination camp.
One day a guard pulled the Jewish man away from his work and took him to the hospital. He was told to have a seat at the bedside of the room's sole occupant: a wounded German soldier. The soldier, his name was Karl, with a gravelly voice, gasped out his confession. Sent to the Russian front as part of an SS unit, he had taken part in any number of atrocities directed against the Jews. His most terrible memory was when his unit had rounded up a community's Jewish residents, locked them in a wooden building, and then burned it down.
Several times the Jewish man tried to exit the room. Each time he was asked to stay. After two hours of confession, the soldier told the Jewish prisoner why he had been called. The doctors had told him he was going to die, and he wanted to clear his conscience. That's why he had asked the nurses to bring him a Jew, if, indeed, there were any Jews left in the world. Having heard the explanation, the Jewish man sat and stared at the face of the dying man. He tried to imagine the many faces of those this man had killed. Finally, and without speaking a sound, the Jewish man got up and went back to his work detail.
He left the soldier to die alone, words of forgiveness, unspoken.
Years later, after he had been released, he wondered, did I do the right thing in withholding forgiveness? He asked his friends. He visited the dead soldier's mother. He spoke to rabbis, Christian scholars, a wide range of philosophers. Of the 32 people to whom the Jewish man spoke only six said he should have given peace to the dying soldier.
Now, I would like to ask you, what would you have done? Understand I'm not asking what you ought to do. I'm asking, what would you have done? I've asked the same question of myself.
The Lord has given Pam and me, three children and four grandchildren. What would I do if someone systematically, deliberately, methodically killed those children and grandchildren? Could I say and mean the words: "You are forgiven"?
What would you do?
You will have to answer that question for yourself. As a Christian, you know what you should do.
But this devotion is really not about what we should do. It is about what Christ has done. After He had been rejected by His hometown, His church, His government, and the pillars of the community, Jesus forgave us. After He had been beaten, whipped, spit upon, crowned with thorns, and laughed at, He forgave us. From the cross He forgave us and with His resurrection from the dead, He has shown His authority to forgive is authentic and genuine.
Which really takes the question, "What would you do?" to a different level. If Jesus could forgive us for all we have done against Him, should we not forgive those who have done far less to us?
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, let me learn to forgive even those whom I do not wish to forgive. Since Your blood has washed me clean of all my transgressions I offer this prayer up in Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries