May 19, 2014
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
Generally speaking, the World Health Organization (WHO) is very selective in its use of words.
That is, at least in part, because WHO knows that the wrong word can cause fear and panic among people around the world. That is why I sat up and took notice when I heard the WHO had, for the second time since it was created, declared an "international public health emergency."
And if you're wondering what event has caused the use of such powerful terminology, the answer is simple: the WHO believes, in the next few months, polio could grow and destroy 30 years of work, which has been done to erase the disease from the medical books and our lives.
Right now there are ten countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East that are reporting new cases of polio. WHO has recommended that Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon require all international travelers produce papers proving they have been vaccinated. The greatest concern for WHO is that polio is showing up in nations that have been considered polio-free for a long time.
People my age and older, folks who have seen the tragedy of polio, are concerned and saddened. We are concerned because we would hate to see anyone, especially our children and grandchildren, come down with that disease. We are saddened because the illness is preventable. If the vaccination is administered, the danger is removed.
Listening to what is happening in the world, most Christians would be reminded the same story is playing out spiritually in people's lives around the world: the same story, but worse. You see, while some people would never contract polio, every man, woman and child in the world will ultimately fall victim to the effects of sin.
On our own there is no escaping temporal and spiritual death, which are the results of disobedience.
Still, because of God's grace, things are no longer hopeless. In the Person of Jesus Christ, God's perfect Son, our suffering Savior, we have been given the forgiveness that will enable us to escape eternal damnation. Through Word and Sacrament we are given faith in our heaven-sent Substitute and because of that faith we are forgiven.
Jesus is the cure for sin, and He is 100 percent effective.
Even so, that doesn't mean everyone is safe or saved. There are those who refuse to be given this divine medicine; there are those who think they can take care of themselves, and there are those who think any cure is just as good as that which has been given by our Savior.
It is for them we pray, and we work, and we strive. It is to them that we take the message and the medicine which says, "By His wounds you are healed" (see Isaiah 53:5).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks to You for having provided healing for my soul. Because of You I am released from the clutches of sin and the penalty of death. Now, by the Holy Spirit's power, may I tell others what You have done, and may they be brought to faith. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries