(Jesus said) "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46
From what I've been told, orange-colored jumpsuits, the kind worn by prisoners, are the newest fashion statement.
This causes a problem for those who watch over those who are in jail. The problem is this: if everybody is dressed the same, how can guards stop a prisoner from just walking out the door with a group of similarly-clad visitors?
William Federspiel, the sheriff in Saginaw County, Michigan, has come up with an old solution. Those prisoners in his charge are now being clothed in the black-and-white stripes that were worn by those who were incarcerated a century ago.
When his prisoners complained, "We don't like wearing black-and-white stripes," the sheriff replies, "Too bad. Don't come to jail. I didn't ask you to come wear this uniform."
That sheriff has much the same style as one I heard about a few years ago. When that sheriff heard the really bad boys in his jail were bragging they had managed 10, 20, or 30 days on bread-and-water, he improved their menus by giving them baby food. The sheriff maintained, and I believe him, it was difficult for a criminal to boast, "Yup, I survived a month on strained peas and ham."
In this world there are a number of reasons why someone is jailed. One is to protect the general populace from those who are dangerous; another is to punish someone for a crime, and yet a third is to help an individual leave behind the past and embrace a new and more law-abiding lifestyle.
In contrast to the prisons of this world, the Bible speaks about a prison for the next life. Jesus tells us punishment is the sole purpose of that prison. Never-ending punishment, punishment without reprieve or redemption is the fate that awaits those whose sins have condemned them.
Sound frightening? It is.
No one understands the terrible and unrelenting torment of hell better than the Lord. Indeed, it is such a horrendous ending, God decided to send His Son into this world to rescue anyone and everyone who would be brought to faith in the Savior.
To help us escape our punishment, Jesus was born in this world. So we might be rescued from hell, Jesus lived a perfect life, resisted all temptation, fulfilled the Law, and carried our sins to the cross. It was there, on Calvary, that our sins were atoned for, and Jesus' resurrection guarantees that all who acknowledge Jesus as their Redeemer are forgiven, saved and will never see hell.
To direct people on a path that leads to heaven and not hell is why you, your church, your denomination, and Lutheran Hour Ministries share the Savior with the lost.
We want them to know that unbelievers will be handed over for eternal punishment, but those who believe will be brought into eternal life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I cannot understand why You would send Your Son to take my place under the Law, but I give thanks He has. Now may I do all I can to share the story of salvation with others who, this day, are headed for eternal punishment. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries