Contributed by Vic Kohring
The Reverend Franklin Graham delivered a sermon in Anchorage recently on the crucifixion of Jesus. Graham spoke how Jesus was deserted by his followers despite all he did for humanity - performing miracles, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, feeding thousands and even raising the dead. And most significant, he sacrificed his life on the cross of Calvary as savior to the world.
Where was everyone in Jesus’ time of need when Roman soldiers arrested and held him in custody as they abused him and then put him to death? Except for his family, most were nowhere to be found. And where was the gratitude of those he helped in their time of need, many of whom were in dire straits from the lepers, to the infirmed and to so many other desperate souls? Sadly, it was largely absent. Even Peter, a disciple of Jesus and supposedly a loyal friend, denied knowing Jesus because he was afraid he may also be led away in chains. So he decided to take the easy way out by denying any association with his lord. Peter's cowardice was shameful.
As I listened to the Reverend Graham, I began to reflect back on my own personal experience as a state legislator. Graham’s words struck a chord as I was able to relate to Jesus' experience. I thought back on how I went through a rough patch when I too was abandoned by many whom I assumed would stick with me in times of trouble, including those who claimed to be friends. My story of course pales in comparison to Jesus, but at least it gave me a greater understanding of what He endured at the hands of the Roman government after experiencing my own personal horror as a target of the U.S. government.
While in office, my primary focus was helping people - my constituents. I decided from day 1 that I would not be a typical politician, playing the game of trading votes to pass bills to justify being re-elected or grabbing as much money as I could from the public trough for never-ending projects and funding schemes that add to the size of the bureaucracy.
Instead, my emphasis would be assisting individuals. I'm proud that my staff and I helped literally thousands during my seven terms in office (I once figured about 3000 people through the years) on a wide range of challenges such as qualifying for a PFD, resolving a child support or custody matter, helping with an adoption, a medical funding issue or taking care of road safety concerns. The problems were endless, but I chose to make it my duty to help others as I considered it my calling as a public servant - “earning my wings” if you will.
When the government lowered its boom eleven years ago and threatened me with decades in prison over ludicrous charges based on twisted facts, deliberately concealed evidence crucial to my case and intimidating witnesses to commit perjury on the stand - all surrounding a lousy hundred bucks - I like Jesus, was taken away in chains and brutalized. But where were the thousands I helped and where was their outcry? Why did they desert me and not come to my defense and protest against the government for dragging me through the mud and making my life miserable? The answer can be found with the disciple, Peter.
As with Peter, people were simply too afraid to get involved and found it too troubling to take a stand as they worried they may get burned. But that’s okay, as I understand human nature and long ago forgave them for failing me. It's now between God and their conscience. Regardless, I would without hesitation help every single person again if I had to start over, as it was the right thing to do. So I have no regrets. If Jesus can forgive, so can I.