By Rev. Lee Laaveg, Faith Lutheran Church, Spencer
I grew up a Minnesota Twins fan cheering for players like Ziolo Versalles, Bob Allison, Jim Kaat, Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva. In 1965, I watched the Los Angeles Dodgers defeat my beloved Twins in the World Series.
One of the heroes for the Dodgers in the series was their left fielder, Lou Johnson. I recently read that Johnson tried for over 30 years to recover his championship ring he lost to drug dealers in 1971. Unfortunately for Johnson, drug and alcohol addiction cost him everything from that magical season and the World Series triumph. He lost his uniform, the glove he wore in the field, the bat he used to hit a home run in the deciding game of the series, and of course, his championship ring.
When Dodgers president, Bob Graziano, learned that Johnson’s ring was about to be auctioned off on the internet, Graziano pulled out his checkbook, and wrote a check for $3,457 to purchase the ring. Then he gave the ring back to Johnson. Graziano did for Johnson what Johnson could never do for himself: he redeemed his lost ring and gave it back to him as a gift.
In this season of Lent, realize with fresh awareness and renewed faith that God has done the same for us. Through Jesus, God has redeemed us. By the shed blood of Christ on the cross, he has paid the price for our forgiveness and our salvation. He also lifted us out of our bondage into new beginnings. He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. He offers it to each of us as his free gift.
When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate on trial, Pilate was puzzled that Jesus responded to all the false accusations with silence. Pilate was also bewildered by the crowd, who had only a few short days ago praised Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem as their new deliverer king. Now, they screamed for his execution. "Crucify!"
Pilate asked, “Why, what evil has he done?”
Then Pilate asked this question, “What should I do with Jesus?” On several occasions, Pilate said that Jesus was not guilty. Yet, fearing the crowd and fearing a riot, he turned Jesus over to their whim and will. Jesus, the innocent Son of God, was turned over to die at the hands of angry sinners.
Pilate’s question is one that each person in every generation must answer, “What will you do with Jesus?” As we journey toward the cross and the empty tomb, I encourage each of you to whisper a prayer of thanks and faith to the one who redeemed you.