by Don Johnson
Today, I am conducting a funeral for a man who died at a relatively young age. His body broke down after a lifetime of substance abuse of various kinds. He came from a very difficult home. He was in a strata of society that the ‘decent folks’ would try to ignore if they passed him on the street.
On at least two occasions in the last year I gave the gospel to this man. His brother, a member of our church, followed up in the hospital room imploring him to repent and turn to God. Last Sunday night he died. We hope that he was able to understand and to make a conscious decision at the last, though only God knows.
Two passages come to mind as I think about this tragedy. First is one that admonishes the self-sufficient who think others are worse sinners than them:
Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
The second speaks to the heart of God as he looks at broken, sinning man:
Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
On this day we also remember that our Lord Jesus Christ yielded himself up to the hands of men, suffering and dying as the only substitute for sin. It was not sufficient for our Lord merely to call us to repentance – that is, mere moral reformation – but rather he calls us to a repentance from all dependence on self.
He calls all of us – the high born or low born, moral or immoral, decent or decadent – all us sinners are called to acknowledge ourselves worthy of death, even the death of the cross. And confessing our sins, we must then see on the cross Someone Else in our place, the Lord Jesus Christ our only Saviour from sin.
It is this Jesus who is the hope of the world, if the world would but turn to him.