And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that He wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. 2 Kings 17:37a
Roman Ostriakov, a Ukrainian citizen living in Italy, had fallen on hard times.
Not having enough money for a lunch, Ostriakov went to a market and paid for some bread. Then he took $4.60 of cheese and sausage without making a payment. It was a crime for which he was caught and prosecuted.
The judge in the lower court found Ostriakov guilty and sentenced him to six months in jail and the payment of a fine.
Somehow or another Ostriakov's case was appealed and made it to Italy's Supreme Court.
Now to you and me taking something from someone else without permission and without paying for it is a crime. In Ostriakov's case $4.60 was not a big crime, but it was still a crime and worthy of some kind of punishment.
Are we all in agreement with that?
That's good, because Italy's Supreme Court doesn't agree. In making its decision it said the "condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment." Such action, the court said, "does not constitute a crime."
What? Excuse me?
The Court agreed the man was guilty of "theft" and then it concluded the man's action wasn't a crime? I imagine the deli and restaurant people aren't too pleased to hear their Supreme Court say theft isn't wrong. Suppose someone without transportation needed to get somewhere, would it be all right for them to steal someone's car? Suppose you needed a place to stay, but couldn't afford a room, would it be all right to use the guest bedroom of a stranger?
Truly, we live in a world where God's will and ways are not humankind's. Knowing what the future would hold may be one of the reasons the passage above was written. God wanted us to know His Laws were applicable ... for everyone ... everywhere. Period.
Of course, we also need to remember the Lord gave His Son to save those who were condemned by His Law. Because Jesus had fulfilled the Law and resisted all temptations to sin, because He had offered His life as full payment for us, we can be rescued. That is why the Lord assures us that all who believe in Jesus as their Savior are forgiven and have become part of the family of faith.
THE PRAYER: Lord, give us a faith which hears Your truth rather than humankind's reinvention and reinterpretation of Your Words. Keep me faithful to Your Word and the Savior who saves sinners from the Law's punishment. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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