The list is long for sins prohibited by the Fifth Commandment. They include, but are not limited to, murder, physically harming another person, or recklessly endangering their life; abortion, needlessly ending a person’s life for whom death is near but they aren’t yet dead (euthanasia), and suicide; sins against the Fifth Commandment even include treating our body in harmful ways by improper eating or immoderate drinking, by smoking or stress or lack of sleep or exercise; also according to the Bible anger and hate are as deplorable as murder (1 John 3:15).
Guilty. But here’s the good news. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).
The world. This wicked world. Stained with our blood of abortion, domestic abuse, and gang fights. Terrorized by our hatred, bigotry, ethnic cleansing, and racism. Hurt by our angry words. Jesus came. Here. He offers his mercy to a world of murderers and sinners. Even if any of us is the worst one.
Thirty years ago the Brazilian government turned a prison over to two Christians. The institution was renamed Humaita, and the plan was to run it on Christian principles: the love of God and love for each other. With the exception of two full-time staff, all the work was done by 730 inmates. The inmates were each assigned another inmate as an accountability partner, and and families outside the prison adopted an inmate to work with during and after his term.
Chuck Colson, a well known advocate of prison ministry, visited the prison and made this report: “When I visited Humaita I found the inmates smiling – particularly the murderer who held the keys, opened the gates and let me in. Wherever I walked I saw men at peace. I saw clean living areas, people working industriously. The walls were decorated with biblical sayings from Psalms and Proverbs …. My guide escorted me to the notorious prison cell once used for torture. Today, he told me, that block houses only a single inmate. As we reached the end of a long concrete corridor and he put the key in the lock, he paused and asked, ‘Are you sure you want to go in?’ ‘Of course,’ I replied impatiently, ‘I’ve been in isolation cells all over the world.’ Slowly he swung open the massive door, and I saw the prisoner in that punishment cell: a crucifix, beautifully carved by the Humaita inmates – the prisoner Jesus, hanging on a cross. ‘He’s doing time for the rest of us,’ my guide said softly” (Max Lucado, In the Grip of Grace, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996, 113).
Jesus sets murderers and sinners free. Jesus saves us even from sins against the Fifth Commandment. Even the worst. Now live!