(Jesus said) "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28-29
When many of our relatives immigrated to this country, as their boat passed into New York Harbor, they saw the statue designed by Frederic Bartholdi. Originally called, "Liberty Enlightening the World," it has become better known as the "Statue of Liberty."
While the statue itself was a present from the people of France, the folks of the U.S. had to come up with the funds for the base to the giant piece of art. To help in that cause, a small book of collected writings, including a poem by Emma Lazarus, was put on the market.
The book and Lazarus were soon forgotten.
After Lazarus' death, her poem was rediscovered and all 14 lines of that poem were carved out and placed at the statue's entrance. In case you have never heard all of them, they read,
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
May I tell you that those words changed the purpose of the Statue of Liberty?
You see, Bartholdi had originally thought of the statue giving encouragement to the people of the Old World who were fighting oppression. But Lazarus' words changed that. Rather than providing assistance to folks who were living in Europe, it gave hope to those who were leaving that continent.
In short, the Statue of Liberty had been transfigured; that is, it had been given a new and nobler purpose.
This weekend many churches are celebrating Transfiguration Sunday. It is right that we remember how the Lord acknowledged His only Son who was living His life to save the souls of lost sinners. Read the Gospels and you will soon discover that when people thought of Jesus, they generally thought of Him only in human terms. He was a Prophet, a Teacher, a Samaritan, a Sinner.
But Jesus' transfiguration tells us that while Jesus is true Man, He is also true God. For us He was doing that which only God could do. By that I mean Jesus lived His life sinless and successfully resistant to all temptation. But more than that, He actually shouldered the sins of the entire world and carried those sins to the cross where He died in our stead.
His glorious resurrection three days later says His work had been completed, and all who believe on Him as Savior are forgiven of the past and given an eternal home in heaven.
Paraphrasing the last lines of Lazarus' poem, the living Lord Jesus says, "Give Me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning for forgiveness free, the doomed refuse of your teeming shores. I call these the once-lost sinners to Me, for My blood alone opens heavens eternal door."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, true Man and God, Your life was lived for my eternal salvation. May the faith I have been given create a transfiguration in my life. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries