Originally scheduled for March 19
One of life’s more “interesting” experiences is the privilege of
living one floor above a house of prostitution. Your author was
serving in the army at the time, and our options for housing were
somewhat limited. To answer the first obvious question, yes, the
location was marked by a red light — and a good deal of trash such
as broken beer bottles and other party materials. The occupants, or
should I say proprietors, were also very proud of their sexual
exploits. They would personally regale you with tales of odd forms
of sex which they always assumed you wanted to hear. Hollywood
portrays the house of prostitution is a place full of sexy looking,
willing women, taking the shortcut to success. The reality is a lot
One of the things that comes through when you talk
to such people is a sense of complete hopelessness. They will tell
you that they are whores and have no chance of changing. They see no
way to escape the lifestyle.
Perhaps that’s how Rahab felt when
the Israelite spies came to her. The scarlet cord in her time serve
the same function as the red light in ours. She knew what God had
done and dreaded the future in Jericho. She also clearly understood
that Israel did not condone prostitution; she may have felt that the
future wasn’t so bright in Israel either. There is a certain sense
of resignation to living in the lifestyle not approved by those
around you. But Rahab was given the chance, and she took it. If you
ever have been down and out, you will probably understand.
Rahab’s scarlet cord identified her as a prostitute, a sinner. But
there’s one thing we know about sinners: they can be saved. Just as
the scarlet cord held her down in Jericho, it provided her escape
when Jehovah came.
Communion shows forth a similar ambiguity. We
say that we “celebrate” communion. We certainly remember what
happened to cause communion. In that sense, we celebrate the death
of Christ on the cross. It is the greatest injustice in human
history — and yet it is also the sign of the greatest mercy that man
has ever known.
So as you partake this morning, remember both.
Remember the death of Christ, in agony on the cross, paying the
price of your sins. Remember also the grace of God, forgiveness of
sins bought for us at that same cross. In the bread you see his
body; in the cup, his blood. Forgiveness is come to you; grace is
extended to you — but at what a price! Remember this today; remember
it during the week and extend the offer of grace to anyone around
you who will listen.