Concrete Shoes

Who would have thought that a song from a 1928 music drama about MacHeath, a cold-blooded, knife-wielding criminal from London’s underworld, would go on to become a huge hit. Yet, Mack The Knife, sung by Bobby Darin in 1959, became a number one hit and earned him two Grammys. Furthermore, who would have guessed that the lyrics from this song could contain an important spiritual message for all Christians. Please read more.

The song’s lyrics reveal a tugboat down by the river with a few cement bags “droopin” down. It was a sure sign “Macky” the killer was back in town. Poor Louie Miller had disappeared after drawing his cash out of the bank. Since MacHeath was now spending like a drunken sailor, the listener is left to assume that Louie’s dead body is now at the bottom of the water with concrete bags firmly attached to hold him down.

The act of binding, incapacitating, and killing a victim before placing each foot into a bucket or box filled with concrete is sometimes known as cement shoes, concrete shoes, or even a Chicago overcoat. This heinous act fills the pages of Mafia novels and is depicted in many films. In the worst cases, the victim is still alive while being fitted with concrete shoes and tossed into the water. This would be a horrific death.

Despite being a theme in Hollywood movies and novels, this form of execution is both cumbersome and time-consuming. You see, concrete takes days to fully harden. If not fully hardened, concrete still has air bubbles in it and it is possible for even concrete to float to the surface, thereby exposing the victim. Since killers are in a hurry, this is not an ideal method to dispose of a body. There are only a couple of documented real-life stories of “concrete shoes” ever being used to dispose of a body.

Certainly, none of us would willingly choose this fate for ourselves, or would we? Maybe we would. Choosing this fate is the subject of today’s message.

This idea of weighing an unwilling victim down and throwing them in the water is nothing new. We find references to it in the Bible. However, what works better than concrete shoes is a hardened heavy rock with no potential for air bubbles, and that is precisely what a millstone is.  Jesus speaks about this horrible way to die when He warns us not to choose this fate. You might ask, what might cause such a fate? Causing someone else to sin is the answer. Committing our own sins is bad enough. The Bible tells us in several passages that being the cause of someone else’s sin is even worse.

In Matthew 18:6 Jesus says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” This verse is sometimes misunderstood. The reference to “little ones” is not a reference to children. Prior to this Jesus clarifies this by saying, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” In other words, Jesus is clearly referring to the act of causing any Christian to sin. Doing so is a grievous sin.

Jesus makes this same point in Luke 12:48 by saying, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” As Christians we have been entrusted with the teachings of Jesus and to cause someone to sin against His teachings is a serious offense against God.

Certainly Pilate sinned when condemning Jesus to death, but in John 19:11 Jesus, referring to Judas, said the following to Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Judas’ sin caused Pilate to sin. Judas had been entrusted with much. His was the greater sin.

Too often we think our sins are private. To be clear, there is no such thing as private sin. Luke 8:17 states, “For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.”  We can commit personal sins, but because we are members of the Body Of Christ, even our most hidden personal sins are not private sins.

What is even worse is when others see us publicly sin. Gossip, lust, slander, or coveting, fame, power, and wealth, are just some examples of public sin. As Christians, we give those who see us sin tacit approval to do the same. As followers of Christ, we carry the name Christian. As a result, all of our sins are an offense to His name.

Even something done “in the dark” and in the privacy of one’s own home, can cause others to sin. Since internet pornography is a scourge on modern day Christianity, it is an ideal example of personal sin not being a private sin. Sadly, many Christians view pornography. Those who view porn often say it is a private sin that doesn’t hurt anyone. However, viewing porn increases the click rate to the website, thereby increasing the revenue to those who produce it. This increases the profits of porn industry and gives them the money to pay the actors who engage in these immoral acts. Therefore, those who view porn ultimately lead both the producers and actors into sin. Viewing porn gives producers the incentive to create more, and that leads more and more people into porn addiction.  Viewing porn is sinful enough, creating a market for others to produce or act in the porn is even more sinful. If no one viewed porn, there would be no revenue, and no one would produce or act in it.

None of us wants to end up with a millstone around our neck, nor do we need a new pair of concrete shoes. Perhaps it’s time for a thorough examination of conscience to see how our actions and sins are causing others to sin. Thankfully it is never too late to repent and change our ways. God’s mercy is abundant.

Heavenly Father, it grieves me deeply to know how much my sins offend you. It causes even more pain to think that I may have contributed to others sinning against you as well. Please forgive me, and please forgive anyone who I led into sin. Help us all to live a life pleasing to you. Amen!  


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Brian Pusateri
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