(Jesus said) "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand." Matthew 24:23-25
Husband and wife, Mercedes and Richard, were Texans who were missionaries in Latin America.
Last May, at a private hospital in El Salvador, Mercedes gave birth to a son. She left the hospital with her baby and, after a while, the couple returned to the U.S. of A. This is the part of the story where I'm supposed to say, "And father, mother, and son lived happily ever after."
Well, I can't type that line because Mercedes had a sneaky suspicion something wasn't right.
In this case, the "something" was her baby. He didn't seem like the child she had held right after giving birth. Yes, the child she was nursing was a beautiful baby, and she loved him, but ... eventually the feeling grew so strong Mercedes and her husband had the doctors run a DNA test. That test showed Mercedes' intuition had been spot on. There was a zero percent chance the baby belonged to them.
Fearing their biological baby had fallen victim to child traffickers, they returned to El Salvador.
The hospital ran tests on all the baby boys who had been born that day, and they found a match. There was sadness as the families gave up the infants they had loved. There was joy in those families to know they now had the right child, their child.
Having read that story I continued on, reading the many reactions people had to the mix-up. I was surprised: not a single person thought those mothers should be content with the baby they had been given. Not a single individual said, "What's the big deal? Isn't one baby just as good as any other baby?"
Nobody said such a thing, because saying such a thing would be very, very foolish.
It is also very, very foolish when people say, "One way to heaven is as good as any other" or "All religions are the same" or "As long as you are sincere in your beliefs, it doesn't much matter what you hold to be true."
In the passage above, Jesus warned that the time would come when charlatans would arise and claim to be the Christ. Jesus told us those fakers would perform some razzly-dazzly tricks. When that happens, Jesus warned, "Don't you believe them, there is only one Savior, and that Savior is Me. Following the orders of My Father in heaven, I have begun and finished winning forgiveness and salvation for all who are brought to faith in Me."
It was Jesus' way of rephrasing today's advertisers, who say, "Accept no substitutions."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, no matter what the world may say, no matter what false messiahs may claim, help us always to remember: "There is salvation in no one else (other than Jesus), for there is no other Name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). This I ask in my Savor's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries