All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
For almost 200 years people have been taking photographs. Some have changed the world.
For example, there's the photo, taken on June 5, 1989, which shows a courageous Chinese man facing down an entire column of tanks in Tiananmen Square. Then there's the inspirational picture of the U.S. flag being raised over Iwo Jima or the tragic moment Lee Harvey Oswald was shot in Dallas.
Those pictures are special, but today's devotion deals with a pretty ordinary 4 x 5 inch tintype that was bought for less than a dollar by Randy Guijarro in Fresno, California. The photo was taken in 1878 New Mexico. It shows some men playing croquet in front of a rustic cabin.
Well, that's the picture ... and this year that picture is going to be sold ... probably for more that $5 million!
And if you're wondering what makes this worn, old photo the most valuable picture in existence, I'll tell you. Experts in digital facial recognition, antique photography, geographic positioning, and vintage croquet sets were called in and they agree: this photograph shows Billy the Kid and his outlaw gang of Regulators. And since there is only one other picture of Billy in existence, this one, with his pals, becomes extremely valuable to western collectors.
Now I know you wouldn't pay that kind of money for an old photograph of a young murderer. No, you wouldn't, but someone will, which takes this devotion to you, me and all of humanity.
Have you ever taken a real good look at us -- at the many ways we have messed up the world? An honest assessment would say that while some people do some good some of the time, they are the exception and not the rule. Indeed, if it's possible to pervert or subvert something good, humanity has managed to do so and it has done the job in a serious way.
Our honest evaluation would lead us to say that anyone looking at humanity wouldn't pay a plugged nickel to claim ownership rights over us. Wait; let me amend that a bit. Let me say you and I wouldn't pay a plugged nickel to own us, but ...
Someone would -- and Someone did.
The Triune God, fully conscious of all we had thought, said and done wrong, decided He wasn't going to walk away and forget about us. Seeing our faded and desperate condition, He decided to do what was necessary, all which was necessary to save us. To make that idea a reality, the Father in heaven sent His Son into this world to pay the ransom price for our souls.
So we might be owned by the Lord, Jesus lived, suffered, died, rose and sends His Holy Spirit to call us, forgive us, keep us, and empower us.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that I always keep before me the picture of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection Sunday's great victory, which saves me. In His Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries