Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. Romans 5:12
You're going to have to stay with me on this one. It's a bit complicated.
This past month a video came out of Siberia which showed scientists dressed in HAZMAT suits incinerating an animal carcass. They were getting rid of a long-dead reindeer carcass, which had been frozen in permafrost. Recently, that permafrost melted and the reindeer carcass began releasing anthrax bacteria.
That got the scientists to thinking. Could that kind of thing happen elsewhere?
In this case, the "elsewhere" was a Siberian village where 40 percent of the town died in the 1890s. The cause of death was smallpox. The villagers who died were buried in the upper permafrost layer on the bank of the Kolyma River.
And wouldn't you know ... the Kolyma River is flooding and eroding the river banks.
The bottom line is this: those frozen bodies probably have done a great job of preserving that virus. If the corpses thaw and float away, there's no telling the global damage that might be caused by this virus which we thought had been eradicated.
In short, it could be a very bad thing.
Now I tell you that story not to frighten you -- nor was it to urge you to go to your local pharmacy and ask for a smallpox shot. Drug stores don't stock the stuff, and they can't get the stuff. In case there ever would be an outbreak the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they have enough of the remedy to inoculate all those who need it.
No, the purpose of the tale is to remind everyone that the world is an evil, sinful place. As Paul explained in the text above, the sin of Adam and Eve has permeated this world and condemned all of us. Now the world may think it can fix itself, but it can't. Sure, we can try to stifle our sins and make the world a better place, but it doesn't work.
Sin -- like the anthrax which is coming from that long-dead reindeer -- will keep coming back.
Truly, if we are to be saved, it will not be because we eradicate sin. It will happen only when we confess our sins and fall on the mercy of the Lord. When the Holy Spirit calls us to faith, sin can no longer destroy us.
As St. Paul wrote, "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11b). Because of the Savior we can rejoice. Death and grave have lost their sting and victory.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, "Jesus sinners doth receive; oh, may all this saying ponder, who in sin's delusions live, and from God and heaven wander! Here is hope for all who grieve -- Jesus sinners doth receive. We deserve but grief and shame, yet His words, rich grace revealing, pardon, peace, and life proclaim. Here their ills have perfect healing, who with humble hearts believe -- Jesus sinners doth receive" (The Lutheran Hymnal, "Jesus Sinners Doth Receive," verses 1 and 2). This we pray 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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