Reuben Johnson

Some people have been so long in sin that their state of mind is very similar to that of a certain prisoner who for years was incarcerated in the Ohio state penitentiary. The prison commissioners went to the governor and secured pardons for five men. The prisoners were all brought into the chapel, and the chairman said: "I hold in my hand pardons for five men." Instantly every man was as still as death. Many turned pale. The suspense was awful. Hearts seemed almost to stop beating. He called out the first name: "Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon."

He held it out, but no one came forward to receive it. He turned to the warden, "Are the prisoners all here?" The warden told him they were. So he repeated, "Reuben Johnson will come and get his pardon; it is signed by the governor, and he is a free man." But no one moved. The chaplain then looked right down to where Reuben was. He was well known, had been there nineteen years, and others were looking at him, expecting him to spring to his feet. He himself was looking about trying to find the man who had been pardoned.

Finally the chaplain caught his eye, and said, "Reuben, you are the man." Reuben turned and looked behind him to see where Reuben was. He had to call again before the truth began to steal over him. He arose, came down the aisle, trembling from head to foot, and received his pardon. Then he went back to his seat, buried his face in his hands, and wept.

When the prisoners fell into rank to march back to their cells, Reuben got back into the ranks too; and the chaplain had to call him, "Reuben, get out of the ranks; you are a free man!"

How often sinners have a similar experience in obtaining their pardon! Reuben was a long time getting it into his head that the pardon was for him; but how gladly he accepted it when the truth dawned upon him! You must do the same. This story tells how men give out pardons. They are given only to a few. But God says, "Whosoever will" may take his pardon. There is one for you. Don't say, "I don't feel like coming after it."

By Sherman A. Nagel, Signs of the Times, December 4, 1923. With permission from E. Galusha Pacific Press Ministries

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