“The LORD called to [Moses] out of the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.’ So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do.’ And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD.” (Exodus 19:3-8 ESV)
“All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” When I read these words, I think of an experiment I used to do with my all-grades Sunday school class.
Once every couple of years or so, we’d learn about the Ten Commandments, and we’d discuss what they meant in light of Matthew 5-7. So, not just “Don’t murder,” but all that goes with it—no harming people, no hating your brother in your heart. Not just “Don’t commit adultery,” but avoid the thoughts and words that lead to sexual sin as well. The whole tangled mess of sin, words and deeds and thoughts, all twisted and hurtful together.
And then I made my students a deal. If one of them—just one!—was able to live for 24 hours perfectly, during the next week, I’d throw the whole class a pizza party. They were overjoyed. It would be easy, right? They ran out of the class, happy and excited.
And the next week, they came slinking back in the door, heads down. I didn’t have to ask to know what the result was. Nobody had avoided sin, not even for 24 hours. They had lost.
This is rather like what Israel went through, isn’t it? “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do,” they said. And the rest of the Old Testament tells us exactly what happened to that promise. Idolatry, greed and oppression, disobedience and disaster, shame and sin. The people of Israel stand for us, all of humanity—they tried, but they couldn’t do it. And neither can we.
But there’s good news for them and for us as well. God has always known we couldn’t do it—the experiment, if we can call it that, was for our sakes, so that we would realize and believe that, too. Now we know that we need help. We need a Savior—and we have one, in Jesus Christ.
He is God Himself, become a human being—the only truly good and perfect human being ever to walk the earth. He came out of love for us. And through His own freely chosen death and resurrection, Jesus has traded places with us—taken our sin and given us His goodness, taken our death and given us everlasting life. And His Holy Spirit remakes our hearts in His image.
Oh, and my students? They got their pizza party. I brought out the boxes and smiled at their surprised and happy faces. “Now let’s talk about grace,” I said, as they ate. And we talked about Jesus.
We Pray: Dear Lord, thank You for the joy and forgiveness You bring us freely. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on June 13, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. When you think of sin, do you usually think of individual actions or of something else?
2. If you said “something else,” what is it?
3. Tell about a time when someone showed you undeserved grace in your life.