As pastor Wayne and his translator walked toward the homeless man in the street, the make-shift tents and people were everywhere. This is the part of town most people avoid because of crime, drug use and homelessness. No doubt for this KBC vision team to Brazil, the surroundings were a bit intimidating. Yet, the team was determined to forego their comfort and share the love of Jesus with those whom society had already abandoned.
The words out of Wayne’s mouth through the translator were simple, “We have come 3,000 miles from the United States to tell you that God loves you.” The homeless man stood still and began to weep. He then spoke to the translator in Portuguese. Shocked by the man’s response, Wayne asked for clarification with his translator. “What’s wrong?” Wayne asked.
As the translator began to explain, Wayne knew that the Lord was at work. “You see,” clarified the translator, “the man said, ‘I’m not worthy.’” By God’s grace, Wayne shared with this man abandoned by society and enslaved to sinful devices that God sent His Son in order to take our sin and bare our shame.
Indeed, Jesus is our substitute for sin as Isaiah the prophet foretold he would be, some 700 years before the Messiah is ever born. “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed…. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
The truth is, none of us are worthy. Our unworthiness is why Jesus came. He is worthy and only a perfect sacrifice for sinners would “justify the many” because “He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). After hearing about Jesus’ love for sinners and that He alone is worthy and could be the sacrifice for our sins (no matter what we have done), the man in that Brazilian street of the largest city in South America, with tears streaming down his face, trusted in the One who bore his griefs, sorrows, and sins.
Men and women all over Brazil, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Kentucky and everywhere in between need to hear of the only One worthy who was the sacrifice for sinners. People in high rises and low rises, addicted to drugs and addicted to money, on the “right side” of the tracks and the “wrong side” of the tracks all need to know that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.”
Kentucky Baptists, we know that we are not worthy. That’s why Jesus came. But countless others have no idea that He came, let alone of what He did. By God’s grace, let’s lead our churches across the street and across the sea to say, “We have come to tell you that God loves you.” Perhaps we, too, will see tears stream down as the unworthy are made new.