Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Least of These

I get so wrapped up teaching about the law and criminal justice I often forget the needs of those who are the "consumers" -- the criminals. It's easy to hate them, forget them, toss them aside on the slag heap. That's not the way -- even if it is the way of society -- to treat these men and women.

Here's a great story from John Piper of Charles Wesley witnessing Christ to condemned men in Newgate Prison in 1738. He didn't excuse their crimes and he didn't exempt them from punishment, but they were saved nonetheless.

The quote from Wesley's journal:

They were all cheerful; full of comfort, peace, and triumph; assuredly persuaded Christ had died for them, and waited to receive them into paradise. . . . The black . . . saluted me with his looks. As often as his eyes met mine, he smiled with the most composed, delightful countenance I ever saw.

We left them going to meet their Lord, ready for the bridegroom. When the cart drove off, not one stirred, or struggled for life, but meekly gave up their spirits. Exactly at twelve they were turned off. I spoke a few suitable words to the crowd; and returned, full of peace and confidence in our friends’ happiness. That hour under the gallows was the most blessed hour of my life. (Journal, vol 1, 120-123)



That is the peace that passes all understanding. Christ says it all in MAtthew 25 (NAS):

34"Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;

36...I was in prison, and you came to Me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?

38'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?

39'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'

40"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

41"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;

43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'

44"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'

45"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

46"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

2 comments:

monkey said...

great post, im not a religious person but really enjoyed the read.

Troy said...

thanks monkey