August 10, 2017
Luke 24:46b-48 - (Jesus said) "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."
There are times when I meet, or hear of, special Christians. By that I mean believers whose commitment to the Savior is something special. Here is an example:
On April 25, 1958, a Korean exchange student, a young Christian leader at the University of Pennsylvania, left his room and went to the mailbox to send a letter to his parents in Pusan. Turning from the mailbox he stepped into the path of 11 leather-jacketed gang members. Without a word they attacked him, beat him with a blackjack, with a lead pipe, with their fists.
By the time the police found him in a gutter, the young man was dead.
All of Philadelphia cried for vengeance; the district attorney was granted the authority to try the gang members as adults. It was his intent, if they were found guilty, to ask for the death penalty.
That's the way it was until a letter arrived from Korea, a letter signed by the parents and 20 other relatives of the murdered boy. In part the letter said, "Our family has met ... (and we are asking) the most generous treatment possible within the laws of your government be given to those who have committed this criminal action ... we have decided to ... start a fund to be used for the religious, educational, vocational, and social guidance of the boys when they are released. We have dared to express our hope with a spirit received from the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ who died for our sins."
When I first heard that story, I thought, I don't know if I could have written that letter. I wonder where the family got the idea of trying to turn their son's death into something good.
Then I remembered.
Two-thousand years ago, God's Son, our Savior, was crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem. His hours on the cross came only after He had been betrayed by one of His closest friends and unfairly tried in front of a stacked courtroom. The verdict in those trials had already been decided, and false witnesses were employed to assure Jesus of Nazareth would die. When those witnesses proved to be insufficient, the leader of the court twisted Jesus' words to produce the desired outcome.
In order to receive Rome's blessing on the legalized murder, Jesus was brought before the procurator. Although convinced of the Redeemer's innocence, Pontus Pilate had Jesus whipped. That pain was underscored by the soldiers who crowned the Christ with thorns, spit on Him, beat Him, and mocked Him as a pretend king.
By mid-morning, Jesus, carrying humanity's sins, had been crucified. He would die six hours later.
And why did this happen? It happened so that you and I, along with all the world's sinners, might be forgiven and saved. Jesus' third-day resurrection from the dead is living, breathing proof that His sacrifice has been completed and is accepted. It was God's plan to turn His Son's death into something good: salvation and forgiveness for all who are brought to faith.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I stand in awe of Your love, which saves lost souls. May I do all I can to share with others this precious story of salvation. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries