The Amazing Grace of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Greatness is no guarantee of goodness. Nor is goodness a guarantee of godliness, not even when a preacher convinces a president to make good on a promise as old as the scriptures and as sound as the American Constitution. But Martin Luther King, Jr. was no ordinary preacher, given his fluency in God’s laws and his faith in man’s ability to write laws, to right the wrongs of unjust laws. He never asked Congress to enact what no sheriff could enforce: love.

He loved his enemies. He died in the crosshairs of his enemy. His memory endures in spite of his enemies, not because of what they took from him, but because of what was never theirs for the taking: grace. The amazing grace of peace, of the spirit of the Prince of Peace whose grace guided our greatest King, whose grace guided him from Selma to Montgomery, from crossing a bridge to bridging divides until he reached the final avenue—Pennsylvania Avenue—where President Johnson came to the Capitol to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

From there, the preacher entered the President’s Room near the Senate Chamber for the actual signing. In that room, before a desk from the Age of Lincoln, President Johnson proved himself a more worthy successor to the legacy of the 16th president than that man’s actual successor, Andrew Johnson.

From there, King continued his travels. He preached in the North. He preached in the South. He preached his last sermon in Memphis.

He preached without worry. He preached without fear. His eyes had seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Photo credit: Bettmann/Getty Images

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