For most of my life, Leno and Letterman have been night time’s funny men. Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show until I was 11, but that might as well have been before I was born. I only remember these guys.
And for the most part, they have only been clowns to me, often hilarious, sometimes annoying, and sometimes inappropriate. What they have not been to me is human. But as humans, they have hopes, they lose loved ones, they do terrible things that hurt others and cause them shame, and they need the love of Christ.
Here are two videos worth your time:
Leno on Life, Relationships, and 20 Years at Tonight
Letterman on Being a Weasel
Two quick thoughts on Letterman’s admission.
First, a guy like Letterman has been doing camera for the better part of his life. But we can appreciate and hope that these words are genuine. One insight that I found helpful here was his admission of weasel motives even in the moments before he confessed to his Late Show audience. He thought he might get some sympathy out of the event. He didn’t have to say that, and perhaps exposing his motive at that point is part of coming as clean as he knows how. But it is at least an honest assessment and reflection on the trouble in his own heart. I was humbled by the sheer honesty of that moment.
Second, Letterman spoke about needing to discover why he did what he did, and about atoning for his sin. The Christian can only know heartbreak at this point for a man who needs but does not know the forgiveness of God. A man whom the world has loved does not know the love of God, and he can’t know peace until he does.
Why did he do what he did? How can his sin be atoned for? How wonderful are words of another David’s in his confession of adultery in Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Because of God’s “steadfast love” for us in Jesus Christ, sinners like Letterman, like you, and like me can know the forgiveness of God. We can be clean, and whiter even than snow because Jesus Christ, who never sinned, died a sinner’s death. Through faith in him and him alone, our sins can be removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).