July 14, 2014
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
NOTE: Today's devotion may not be suitable for everyone, especially little children. We encourage responsible adults to review the material before it is shared. Thanks. Pastor Klaus
"He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried."
For almost 2,000 years preachers have spoken about the painful horror of crucifixion. Indeed, so horrible was the means of Jesus' death that, to honor the Redeemer, on January 1, 439, the Code of Theodosius officially banned the practice throughout the Roman Empire. For centuries no so-called "civilized government" has reinstated the practice. Until now.
Recently, reports and photographs came out of Syria relating how eight rebel fighters have been crucified by ISIL, that is, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (aka ISIS). Disgusted by these narratives, I was forced to do some thinking about the powerful differences between the two sets of crucifixions. By that I mean this:
1. Jesus was crucified because He was God's Son, the Prince of Peace, but these eight terrorists died because they weren't intense enough in their hatred to please their rulers.
2. Jesus was crucified to bring peace to the disquieted souls of humankind, but these eight men were murdered to instill a spirit of fear and intimidation into all who would hear.
3. Jesus was crucified as the culmination of His life of sacrifice which, from start to finish, brought honor to the Heavenly Father. In contrast, the slaughter of these men show the depravity of human hearts when they have not been touched by the gracious Triune God.
4. Most importantly, Jesus was crucified as a crucial part of God's plan of salvation. It was the Lord's will that every sinner who would be brought to faith in the crucified and risen Redeemer would be forgiven of their sins and welcomed into heaven and the family of faith. In contrast, the eight men who were crucified in Syria suffered their fate because their enemies wanted everyone to know the fearful end that awaited anyone who didn't fully cooperate with their rule, which is based on hatred and violence.
And if you are wondering why this devotion has gone to such great lengths to point out these amazing differences, the answer is simple: too many people believe that all gods are the same and all religions are the same and all faiths take you to the same place.
That's simply not true.
As the events in Syria prove, from A to Z, Christianity is different. It is unique and it alone, in Jesus, produces salvation.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks I have been called to faith in the crucified and risen Redeemer. By Your grace and the Holy Spirit's power may those who are lost see the wonders of Your love, which is shown in the life, cross and resurrection of the Christ. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
All too often the job of reaching others is left to others. That can be unfortunate. After all, there are times when YOU may be the best person to reach someone who is lost or wandering. If you have always wanted to know how to do such a sharing of the Savior, you may want to attend Lutheran Hour Ministries' SENT Outreach Conference, which is July 24-27 in Detroit. For more information, visit www.lhm.org/conference.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries