He was the man who ended an epidemic with no thought for his own gain.
Three years earlier, there was a severe outbreak of polio, the worst in U.S. History. About 58,000 cases were reported that year. But polio was an ongoing crisis affecting America and other nations long before that.
Epidemics of polio had become regular events, usually in the summer. The disease caused paralysis and death for thousands of people, mostly children.
A 2009 PBS documentary described the disease as the second greatest fear affecting Americans, behind the atomic bomb.
Salk conducted a trial of his hopeful vaccine that was the first of its kind, with 300,000 workers of various types and 1.8 million children in the experiment. The polio vaccines he and others developed are credited with reducing polio cases from about 100,000 per year to under 1,000.
He was hailed as a miracle worker. His goal was prevention and cure, not profit. Regarding a patent on the vaccine, he is quoted in a 1990 televised interview as saying, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Such selflessness and compassion is impressive.
Such a hope in the midst of despair was worth celebrating.
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1st John 2:1-2 NKJV)
“Propitiation” is a big and unfamiliar word. It means “to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of.” It is the atoning sacrifice for wrongdoing, the paying of the debt owed as a result of reckless or harmful action.
The Bible teaches that humanity is broken, crippled and riddled with a disease of the spirit called sin. We were created for fellowship with God. But the wrong that we do–and more than that, the way our hearts have been twisted and warped away from our original design–separates us from God.
Jesus didn’t just create the vaccine for sin.
He IS the vaccine.
He’s the cure to the disease, the solution to the epidemic, the answer to a worldwide problem… a problem that doesn’t just affect some of us, but affects every man, woman, and child on Earth.
The Message paraphrase puts 1st John 2:2 this way:
“When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.”
Like Dr. Salk referring to the patent, this spiritual vaccine is for everyone. There’s not a person on Earth who is exempt from the offer.
Where does this put us?
Some who have received this “vaccine” may act as if they are more loved, more deserving, more important, or simply better than everyone else. This is foolish. I’m not a better person than anyone else just because I got a flu shot (or a polio vaccine). If I think I have somehow earned God’s favor or deserved this gift of grace, then it’s no longer a gift, really. It becomes a wage I think I’ve earned by what I’ve done, and Scripture is clear about what we’ve earned by what we’ve done. (Spoilers: Rom 6:23 – the wages of sin is death.)
Some who have not received or even do not desire this ‘vaccine’ act as if Christians all look on nonbelievers with a sense of superiority. “Oh you benighted fools, who have not been cured of your sin. How sad for you, who do not know how bad off you are… Too bad you’re not as wise or spiritual as we are, who have received this medicine for our souls!”
I assure you, that’s not what we (generally) think. That’s not how we feel. Like I said, there may be some who act this way, but they miss the entire point of the Good News — GRACE.
God’s grace is amazing. It takes us, cleans us up, adopts us into His family, and begins the work of changing us into what God has designed us to be. We have hope that one day we’ll be like Christ, and we have power through grace that says that today we can be like Him. His love is transforming us; it has cured us of the disease of sin, and it works now to abolish the effects of sin on our lives. More than that, it strengthens us and inoculates us so that we can be spiritually healthy from now on.
That’s something worth singing about.
Link to SoundCloud: Jesus the Righteous
(Warning: there’s a lot more guitar and noise on this one compared to previous songs.)
What incredible love You have shown, bestowed on me
That I should be named and counted among the children of God
Now I have this awesome hope, one day I’ll be like You
Purify me, Lord, cleanse me, make me new
Jesus the Righteous, the atoning sacrifice
Taking away my sins and the sins of the world
Jesus the Righteous, You came to give me life
Now may I glorify You in everything that I do
Jesus the Righteous
What incredible power to transform and make complete
The work of the cross, the hope of glory, Christ in me
Now I have this awesome grace, today I’ll be like You
Teach me, train me Lord, as I follow You
Now I have this awesome love, it’s making me like You
My Savior and my Friend, I live to worship You