Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
There’s a story about a man who purchased a white mouse to feed his pet snake. When he placed it in the snake’s cage, that was filled with sawdust, the snake was asleep. Still, the mouse immediately scurried about the cage in fear, trying to find an escape. In desperation, the mouse began covering the snake with the sawdust. The pet-owner watched in amazement. After the snake was covered with sawdust, the mouse appeared calmer.
Of course not.
But, then, a “greater power” intervened. The pet-owner, taking pity on the foolish, silly mouse, removed him from the cage.
This parable of the mouse is really a story about our spiritual condition. No matter how hard we try to cover up or deny our sinful nature, it’s fool’s work. No matter what we do, we human beings cannot save ourselves. That’s a basic, foundational teaching of Christianity.
We cannot save ourselves.
Oh, humanity has a history of trying! Adam and Eve thought they could do it. The builders of the Tower of Babel tried. The ancient Israelites were convinced a worldly king would be their salvation. (Their best king, David, had a murderous, adulterous record!) Truth is: we cannot save ourselves!
Sin is our most basic human problem. We try to cover it up. We try to ignore it. We even pretend it isn’t a serious problem. “I’m only human” is an excuse we sometimes tell ourselves. It’s unbelievable to me how many times people think they’re smart enough to beat the odds! They won’t get caught, they think. They won’t have consequences, they believe.
It’s all a sawdust cover-up!
Sin (the snake in the parable) eventually wakes from sleep, shakes off the sawdust, and eats us alive. The consequences of sin: death.
But, there is salvation. It’s God’s gift to us, the Bible teaches. The gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! We are offered the saving grace of the Master’s hand. There are no words more important for us to hear from our Savior, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” There is no greater experience in life as when God, in Christ, reaches down to us in forgiveness, pity, compassion and love.
We cannot save ourselves. God, through the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ Jesus, CAN and DOES save us. And that’s GOOD NEWS! Amen!