I write this with gratitude for two friends God has given me. Both friends have sacrificed much to serve Him. Both friends have suffered in life - the first friend more deeply than the second, but the second friend more recently than the first. If either one had not suffered, you would not be reading my words. If my second friend, Rev. Leroy Eckert, was not hospitalized, you would have seen his picture and read his words right now, not mine. If my first friend, Jesus Christ, had not suffered, my sins would not be forgiven. I would have nothing to say.
If I tried telling Rev. Eckert that he does not deserve what he is suffering since he has devoted his life to serving God and man - well, he would probably roll his eyes. He would then tell us that he is no more perfect than we are, no less deserving of the Almighty Judge's curse against sinners than I am or you are. Rev. Eckert would tell you there is only One who is perfect, only Jesus does not deserve to suffer.
Although Christ is the Holy Lord, He chooses to call us His friends (John 15:15). Although He is completely innocent, He chose to go to the Cross with all of your guilt and all of mine. Now God forgives your sins. Now God frees you from the monster of Death. Death swallowed Jesus on Good Friday. But when the monster woke up on Easter Sunday, it had a giant hole in its belly. Jesus had cut it open from the inside out. Now the Son of God calls all people to follow Him through the open belly of Death out into Life everlasting with the Lord.
God has Christians do many things on this earth - mission work, charity work, and even suffer for the Lord's sake. When the world comes to an end, all these things will come to an end too. But one thing Christians do now will continue. We shall worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With loud voices we shall give thanks to the Father through the Son, my first friend. "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" (Revelation 5:12).
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