I read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents
warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he
arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. At dinner that
night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He
looked at his father's full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent.
The boy was crushed.
The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy's plate and
placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front
of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, "All my
life I've known what God is like by what my father did that night."
The government of Polish Prime Minister Jaruzelski had ordered crucifixes removed from
classroom walls, just as they had been banned in factories, hospitals, and other public
institutions. Catholic bishops attacked the ban that had stirred waves of anger and
resentment all across Poland. Ultimately the government relented, insisting that the law
remain on the books, but agreeing not to press for removal of the crucifixes, particularly
in the schoolrooms.
But one zealous Communist school administrator in Garwolin decided that the law was the
law. So one evening he had seven large crucifixes removed from lecture halls where they
had hung since the school's founding in the twenties. Days later, a group of parents
entered the school and hung more crosses. The administrator promptly had these taken down
The next day two-thirds of the school's six hundred students staged a sit-in. When
heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets. Then they
marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by twenty-five
hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in support of the
protest. Soldiers surrounded the church. But the pictures from inside of students holding
crosses high above their heads flashed around the world. So did the words of the priest
who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that morning. "There is no
Poland without a cross."
Chuck Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, pp. 202-3.
Alila stood on the beach holding her tiny infant son close to her heart. Tears welled
in her eyes as she began slowly walking toward the river's edge. She stepped into the
water, silently making her way out until she was waist deep, the water gently lapping at
the sleeping baby's feet. She stood there for a long time holding the child tightly as she
stared out across the river. Then all of a sudden in one quick movement she threw the six
month old baby to his watery death.
Native missionary M.V. Varghese often witnesses among the crowds who gather at the
Ganges. It was he who came upon Alila that day kneeling in the sand crying uncontrollably
and beating her breast. With compassion he knelt down next to her and asked her what was
Through her sobs she told him, "The problems in my home are too many and my sins
are heavy on my heart, so I offered the best I have to the goddess Ganges, my first born
son." Brother Varghese's heart ached for the desperate woman. As she wept he gently
began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that through Him her sins could be forgiven.
She looked at him strangely. "I have never heard that before," she replied
through her tears. "Why couldn't you have come thirty minutes earlier? If you did, my
child would not have had to die."
Each year millions of people come to the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the
River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away.
For many people like Alila, missionaries are arriving too late, simply because there
aren't enough of these faithful brothers and sisters on the mission field.
Christianity Today, 1993.
During the Middle Ages there was a popular story which circulated about Martin of
Tours, the saint for whom Martin Luther was named. It was said that Satan once appeared to
St Martin in the guise of the Savior himself. St. Martin was ready to fall to his feet and
worship this resplendent being of glory and light. Then, suddenly, he looked up into the
palms of his hands and asked, "Where are the nail prints?" Whereupon the
Theologians tell a story to illustrate how Christ's triumph presently benefits our
lives: Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds they city will not let anyone
or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark
of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the
people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have
already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time
until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Similarly, we may
seem now to be surrounded by the forces of evil -- disease, injustice, oppression, death.
But the enemy has actually been defeated at Calvary. Things are not the way they seem to
be. It is only a matter of time until it becomes clear to all that the battle is really
Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 149-150.
For family devotions, Martin Luther once read the account of Abraham offering Isaac on
the altar in Genesis 22. His wife, Katie, said, "I do not believe it. God would not
have treated his son like that!" "But, Katie," Luther replied, "He
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching &
Preachers, p. 191.
Mahatma Gandhi is fasting to protest the riot killings that followed the partition that
created Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan in 1947. A fellow Hindu approaches to confess a
great wrong. "I killed a child," says the distraught man. "I smashed his
head against a wall." "Why?" asks the Mahatma (Hindu for "Great
Soul"). "They killed my boy. The Moslems killed my son." "I know a way
out of hell," says Gandhi. "Find a child, a little boy whose mother and father
have been killed, and raise him as your own. Only be sure he is a Moslem--and that you
raise him as one."
Reader's Digest, February 1992, p. 106.
In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy
whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The doctor explained that she had the same
disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance for recovery was a
transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children
had the same rare blood type, the boy was the ideal donor.
"Would you give your blood to Mary?" the doctor asked. Johnny
hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, "Sure, for my
sister." Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room--Mary, pale and
thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.
As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny's smile faded. He watched the blood
flow through the tube. With the ordeal almost over, his voice, slightly shaky, broke the
silence. "Doctor, when do I die?'
Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled
when he'd agreed to donate his blood. He's thought giving his blood to his sister meant
giving up his life. In that brief moment, he'd made his great decision. Johnny,
fortunately, didn't have to die to save his sister. Each of us, however, has a condition
more serious than Mary's, and it required Jesus to give not just His blood but His life.
God requires satisfaction because He is holiness, but He makes satisfaction because He
Em Griffin writes, in Making Friends, about three kinds of London maps: The
street map, the map depicting throughways, and the underground map of the subway.
"Each map is accurate and correct," he writes, "but each map does not give
the complete picture. To see the whole, the three maps must be printed one on top of each
other. However, that is often confusing, so I use only one 'layer' at a time.
"It is the same with the words used to describe the death of Jesus Christ. Each
word, like redemption, reconciliation, or justification, is accurate and correct, but each
word does not give the complete picture. To see the whole we need to place one 'layer' one
top of the other, but that is sometimes confusing--we cannot see the trees for the whole!
So we separate out each splendid concept and discover that the whole is more than the sum
of its parts."
STATISTICS AND STUFF
Who can estimate the value of God's gift, when He gave to the world His only begotten
Son! It is something unspeakable and incomprehensible. It passes man's understanding. Two
things there are which man has no arithmetic to reckon, and no line to measure. One of
these things is the extent of that man's loss who loses his own soul. The other is the
extent of God's gift when he gave Christ to sinners...Sin must indeed be exceeding sinful,
when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner's Friend!
J.C. Ryle, Foundations of Faith.
"laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). Commenting on this verse
Martin Luther wrote: "All the prophets did foresee in Spirit that Christ should
become the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulterer, thief, rebel, blasphemer, etc.,
that ever was or could be in all the world. For he, being made a sacrifice for the sins of
the whole world is not now an innocent person and without sins...but a sinner." He
was, of course, talking about the imputing of our wrongdoing to Christ as our substitute.
Luther continues: "Our most merciful Father...sent his only Son into the world and
laid upon him...the sins of all men saying: Be thou Peter that denier; Paul that
persecutor, blasphemer and cruel oppressor; David that adulterer; that sinner which did
eat the apple in Paradise; that thief which hanged upon the cross; and briefly be thou the
person which hath committed the sins of all men; see therefore that thou pay and satisfy
for them. Here now comes the law and saith: I find him a sinner...therefore let him die
upon the cross. And so he setteth upon him and killeth him. By this means the whole world
is purged and cleansed from all sins."
The presentation of the death of Christ as the substitute exhibits the love of the
cross more richly, fully, gloriously, and glowingly than any other account of it. Luther
saw this and gloried in it. He once wrote to a friend: "Learn to know Christ and him
crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, 'Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your
sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You became what
you were not, so that I might become what I was not.'" What a great and
wonderful exchange! Was there ever such love?
James Packer, Your Father Loves You,
Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.
We trample the blood of the Son of God if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry
for our sins. The only explanation for the forgiveness of God and for the unfathomable
depth of His forgetting is the death of Jesus Christ. Our repentance is merely the outcome
of our personal realization of the atonement which He has worked out for us. It does not
matter who or what we are; there is absolute reinstatement into God by the death of Jesus
Christ and by no other way, not because Jesus Christ pleads, but because He died. It is
not earned, but accepted. All the pleading which deliberately refuses to recognize the
Cross is of no avail; it is battering at a door other than the one that Jesus has opened.
Our Lord does not pretend we are all right when we are all wrong. The atonement is a
propitiation whereby God, through the death of Jesus, makes an unholy man holy.
In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may'st live."
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill'd,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd!
John Newton, 1725-1807.
Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior,
Turned away God's wrath forever;
By His better grief and woe
He saved us from the evil foe.
Christ says: 'Come, all ye that labor,
And receive My grace and favor';
They who feel no want nor ill
Need no physician's help nor skill.
As His pledge of love undying,
He this precious food supplying,
Gives His body with the bread
And with the wine the blood He shed.
Praise the Father, who from heaven
Unto us such food hath given
And, to mend what we have done,
Gave unto death His only Son.
If thy heart this truth professes
And thy mouth thy sin confesses,
His dear guest thou here shalt be,
And Christ Himself shall banquet thee.