It was ten minutes before four o’clock on Wednesday afternoon. Five minutes ago, the guys in the lab had come to me and said, “We need to have this sample in tomorrow morning!” “Not only is this a ridiculous request, but it is also impossible. No one can get you a sample the next day if you make the request at a quarter till four.” Despite the absurdity of the request, I said I would make the phone call and at least ask the question. So I called the Customer Service person at the supplier, knowing my mission was hopeless. But I knew Susan and knew that she was very good at what she did, which was to get samples to their customers, so I called her up.
I gave a pleasant hello when Susan answered the phone, then identified myself and my company. She recognized my name and my company, mostly because we have made a lot of sample requests, and she replied in a likewise pleasant way. “Susan, I know this is probably impossible, but we need to have a sample overnighted to us for delivery tomorrow. Can you help us out?” In a courteous, professional way, Susan explained to me that I had not given her enough time and the best she could do was a Friday delivery. “Besides,” she said, “the office Thanksgiving party is going to start in ten minutes and everyone is really already off for the day.” I asked if she was going to the party as well, and she said, “No. I don’t feel much in a party mood. This is actually my first day back in the office this week. My mother died this past weekend.” “Were you close to your mother?” “Yes,” she said, “very close.” Had her death been sudden? No she had a stroke about ten years ago and had been declining steadily since then. Five weeks ago she stopped eating and so the end was anticipated. “I am sorry to hear about your mother, Susan. I am sure it is a great loss.” We exchanged a couple of other pleasantries and then ended our phone call.
But I thought about Susan’s mother and about what her life had been like. It sounded like there was no “Susan’s father” in the picture. Had her mother and father divorced? It seemed to me more than likely that Susan’s mother had lived a quiet, fairly uneventful life, and then, when she was sixty or sixty-five, she had a stroke and just sort of faded away, quietly dying in her home under hospice care. Then, because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I asked myself the ultimate question: “Was she a believer when she died?” Susan had given me no reason to believe that her mother had been a woman of faith. And if she was not a follower of Jesus, then she had already stood before the Lord, the Holy One, and been forever condemned for her sins. If she was not a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, she was right now in the agony of hell forever.
I frankly recoiled from that idea. What could this harmless, anonymous woman have done to deserve the wrath and eternal condemnation of almighty God? Is it really true that those who do not place their faith in Jesus Christ are forever damned? What evidence do I have that this could actually be the case? Is there something somewhere in the Bible that would convince me that all people deserve condemnation for their sin and that all men and women, even kindly, harmless women who have had strokes, must repent of their sins or they will perish?
Yes, there is evidence that this is the case. Yes, there is something in the Bible that proves conclusively that my sin and your sin and Susan’s mother’s sin must be punished by our holy God. What proves the horror of sin is the horror of the cross of Jesus Christ. Sin is horrible because the sinless Son of God came to earth for the express purpose of dying on the cross to satisfy the holy demands of God. This means that Susan’s mother did not need to murder someone to deserve hell and she did not need to steal a car or bow down repeatedly to some pagan idol. One sin was enough to guarantee this woman’s eternal condemnation and it is only by placing one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that a person can be rescued from the eternal punishment of hell.
As I thought about it, the only thing that convinces me that my sin is horrible, and that Susan’s mother’s sin is horrible and that we must all be delivered from our deserved condemnation, is a steady gaze up Calvary’s hill to the One who died there on the cross. The glorious Son of God wore a crown of thorns and endured huge spikes nailed through His flesh, and suffered for hours on the cross before accomplishing His goal, the redemption of all His elect by the shedding of His blood as an offering for sin. Sin is horrible because it made the crucifixion of Jesus Christ necessary. Consider Romans 3:19-26. SDG rmb 12/15/2015