I read recently that Martin Luther’s last written words were “we are all beggars.” Two days later he died.
For many, especially at the height of their powers and in the prime of life these words would be seen as far too pessimistic. Yet when the chips are down they suddenly appear to be full of realism and honesty. This has certainly been my personal experience. On a number of wonderful occasions people who had previously spoken (even boasted) of their goodness have said, “I know I’m not good enough for God.” One man, praised by the community as a good and upright man, said, as he was dying of cancer, “I’ve been a rat bag.” This is like music to my ears since I knew he was now on the same page as Jesus, the one who came to save sinners. Like a beggar the sinner asked Jesus to grant to him pardon. Beggars have the great advantage that they know they have a need and furthermore are unashamed in asking for help. On the other hand I have visited very sick people who can tell me they have never done anything wrong that they need forgiveness for.
Once a beggar comes to Jesus (s)he learns that they can continue to ask for their real needs to be met. Daily bread, wisdom, forgiveness, strength, comfort, discernment and hope are things that can confidently be asked of our Heavenly Father. Martin Luther had become a beggar, one who knew he could rely upon Jesus for his salvation, many years before he died. What comfort there is to be able to live life relying upon God’s generosity and then to die knowing that generosity will be extended when we stand before the judgement throne.
Another man, who knew he was a beggar as he was dying said “two things I know; John Newton is a great sinner but Jesus Christ is a great Saviour.” No wonder he had written years before those now famous words “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
We so often look down on beggars and often try to avoid them. It is a good thing that God invites us to come to Him. There is no need to avoid God’s offer so long as we come as a beggar.