“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us,not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”
Titus 3:4-6, ESV
Within the Greek mythology, about 600 B.C. we’re introduced to Hercules, who is given 12 impossible labors to perform as penance.
For the fifth labor, Eurystheus ordered Hercules to clean up King Augeas’ stables. Hercules knew this job would mean getting dirty and smelly, but sometimes even a hero has to do these things. Then Eurystheus made Hercules’ task even harder: he had to clean up after the cattle of Augeas in a single day. It was really meant to humiliate Hercules, and ‘show up’ his weakness.
Now King Augeas owned more cattle than anyone in Greece. Some say that he was a son of one of the great gods, and others that he was a son of a mortal; whosoever son he was, Augeas was very rich, and he had many herds of cows, bulls, goats, sheep and horses. Hercules went to King Augeas, and without telling anything about Eurystheus, said that he would clean out the stables in one day, if only Augeas would give him a tenth of his fine cattle.
Augeas couldn’t believe his ears, but promised. Hercules brought Augeas’s son along to be a witness. First the hero tore a big opening in the wall of the cattle-yard where the stables were. Then he made another opening in the wall on the opposite side of the yard. These stables had not been cleaned in over 30 years, and over 1,000 cattle lived there. (Just imagine the piles.)
Next, he dug wide trenches to two rivers which flowed nearby. He turned the course of the rivers into the yard. The rivers rushed through the stables, flushing them out, and all the mess flowed out the hole in the wall on other side of the stables.
By diverting the rivers, Hercules had easily done the impossible. The rivers blasted away the filth, and Hercules had won his bet.
Jesus is like Hercules, only infinitely more so. We are the Augean Stables. The slippery sludge and piles of excrement have choked us for far too long; we have a long history of living in our disgusting waste. But the Lord has come, and in one fell swoop, washed our sins away. Perhaps many have tried to clean the hearts of men; we have great philosophies and religions that have tried. The human condition remains unaltered. None can do what Jesus has done. What Hercules did– Jesus has done far, far more.
Jesus Christ is the conduit of spiritual salvation. He comes by his spirit to the worst, and completely cleanses us. Our piles of filth are washed away. Nothing can side-track or nullify what he has done. There maybe a small mountain of toxic sludge, but it will not stand. We hate the filth that we have become. Our responsibility is to ask for help, and then to let Him work. He has promised to flush us clean.
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
No sin is too great; no sinner is too far gone.
Sometimes we forget what has been done for us. We forget how bad it once was, (or maybe still is.) Ask him to work in your heart, you need not fear about being ‘taken for a ride.’ But if the truth be told– you really are helpless and hopeless. Without the ‘super’ heroism of Jesus, you will be lost in your sin. Come to him and be cleansed.
“So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”