... By grace you have been saved -- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:5b-10
Thornton Fractional North High School is located in Chicago.
As is true for most high schools, Thornton recently had its commencement service. As you might expect, Thornton's graduation was a time of excitement and joy. There was a blend of emotions. For the students there was an eagerness to get to the future, an eagerness that was balanced out by a sadness at saying farewell to old friends and pleasant memories.
This year Thornton's commencement had another dimension. Most certainly the students were thrilled at moving on, but they were also mourning for one of their classmates: football quarterback, 18-year-old Aaron Dunigan. On the previous Saturday, Dunigan, riding in a car as a front-seat passenger, had been killed in a head-on collision.
Understandably, his absence was on everyone's mind.
Dunigan's football coach said, "If you are looking for a way to honor Aaron, do it by going out and living life to the fullest, taking advantage of your opportunities, and not sitting on the sidelines, and watching life pass you by."
Other similar comments were made in this moving ceremony. But the most emotional part of the graduation came during the awarding of the diplomas. When Dunigan's name was called, his mother, dressed in Aaron's cap and gown, ascended the platform and received her son's graduation certificate.
I suppose some might object to her getting a certificate she hadn't earned.
Some might, but I'm not one of them. You shouldn't be either. We shouldn't object because we have also been beneficiaries of the work of someone else. On Judgment Day, the day we graduate from this world and enter the next, those who have Jesus as their Savior, will be declared "innocent and free from sin."
We will graduate with perfect grades not because of our own abilities and hard work. On our own we had flunked out. On our own, we were losers. But on that day we will graduate with highest honors and move into heaven because of the life, death and resurrection of our Savior.
We will receive something we hadn't earned.
And will there be any objectors to that? You bet. The devil is going to howl and carry on, but he can't change what has happened.
Because of Jesus we are saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that even though I have failed miserably at keeping the Commandments, You still sent Your Son to save me. May I always give thanks He accomplished all that I never could. Further, may I share this good news with others who are still in danger of flunking out. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries