Unheard, scandalous grace
When we go back to the Old Testament, to the 1st book of Samuel, you will discover, towards the end of the book, that the people of Israel (the Israelites) again in battle with their archenemy, the Philistines.
In this particular situation, they are beaten. In fact, they are hit harder than at the Oklahoma football stadium, the Orange Bowl. That is bad; because on this special day, in this special fight, their king, Saul, must die. With him, his son, Jonathan, dies in this fight. Our story begins a few chapters later, in 2 Samuel 4,4 (GN-2000):
“By the way, there was still a grandson of Saul, a son of Jonathan called Merib-Baal [also called Mefiboschet], but he was paralyzed on both legs. He was five years old when his father and grandfather died. When the news came from Jesreel, his nurse had taken him in to escape with him. But in her haste she dropped him. He has been paralyzed ever since. ” This is the drama of Mefiboshet. Because this name is difficult to pronounce, we give it a nickname this morning, we call it "Schet" for short. But in this story, the first family appears to have been completely murdered. When the news reaches the capital and arrives at the palace, panic and chaos break out - because you know that often when the king is killed, family members are also executed to ensure that there is no future uprising. So it happened that at the moment of the general chaos the child sister took Shet and escaped from the palace. But in the hustle and bustle that prevailed at the place, she drops it. As the Bible tells us, he remained paralyzed for the rest of his life. Just think he was of the royal sex, and the day before, like any five-year-old boy, he was moving with no worries. He walked around the palace without worrying. But on that day his whole fate changes. His father has been killed. His grandfather has been killed. He is dropped and paralyzed for the rest of his days. If you continue reading the Bible, you won't find much that will be reported on Schet in the next 20 years. All we really know about him is that he lives in a dreary, isolated place with his pain.
I can imagine that some of you are already starting to ask yourself a question that I often ask myself when I hear messages: "All right, so what?" So what does that have to do with me? Today I would like to answer the answer to the "So what?" In four ways. Here is the first answer.
We are broken as we think
Your feet may not be paralyzed, but maybe your mind. Your legs may not be broken, but, as the Bible says, your soul. And that's the situation of every single one in this room. It is our common situation. When Paul talks about our desolate condition, he even goes a step further.
See Ephesians 2,1:
“You also participated in this life. You were dead in the past; because you disobeyed God and sinned ”. He goes beyond being broken to just being paralyzed. He says that your situation of separation from Christ can be described as 'spiritually dead'.
Then he says in Romans 5 verse 6:
»This love is shown in the fact that Christ gave his life for us. At the right time, when we were still in the power of sin, he died for us godless people. ”
Do you understand? We are helpless and whether you like it or not, whether you can confirm it or not, believe it or not, the Bible says your situation (unless you have a relationship with Christ) that is spiritually dead. And here's the rest of the bad news: there's nothing you can do to fix the problem. It doesn't help to work harder or to improve. We are broken than we think.
The King's Plan
This act begins with a new king on the Jerusalem throne. His name is David. You have probably heard of him. He was a shepherd boy who looked after sheep. Now he is king of the country. He was the best friend, a good buddy of Schet's father. Schet's father's name was Jonatan. But David not only took the throne and became king, he also conquered the hearts of the people. In fact, he expanded the kingdom from 15.500 sq km to 155.000 sq km. You live in times of peace. The economy is going well, the tax revenue is high. If it had been a democracy, it would have won a second term. Life just couldn't have been better. I imagine David getting up earlier this morning than anyone else in the palace. He walks leisurely out into the courtyard, letting his thoughts wander in the cool morning air before the pressure of the day takes his mind to the full. His thoughts move back, he begins to recall the tapes from his past. On this day, the band does not stop at a certain event, but stops at one person. It is Jonatan's old friend whom he has not seen in a long time; he had been killed in the fight. David remembers him, his very close friend. He remembers times together. Then David remembers talking to him out of the blue sky. At that moment, David was overwhelmed by God's goodness and grace. Because without Jonatan none of this would have been possible. David had been a shepherd boy and now he is king and lives in a palace and his thoughts wander back to his old friend Jonatan. He remembers a conversation they had when they made an agreement. In it, they promised each other that each of them should take care of the other's family, no matter where it would lead their further life journey. At that moment David turns back, goes back to his palace and says (2 Samuel 9,1): «Is Saul's family still alive? I would like to show a favor to the person concerned - for the sake of my late friend Jonatan? » He finds a servant named Ziba and the latter answers him (V. 3b): «There is another son of Jonathan. He is paralyzed on both feet. » What I find interesting is that David doesn't ask, "is there anyone worthy of?" or "is there a politically savvy person who could serve in my government's cabinet?" or "is there someone with military experience who could help me lead an army?" He simply asks: "Is there anyone?» This question is an expression of kindness, and Ziba answers: "There is someone who is paralyzed." From Ziba's answer, one can almost hear: "You know, David, I am not sure that you really want him near you . He really is not like us. It doesn't suit us. I am not sure that it has royal qualities. » But David cannot be dissuaded and says: "Tell me where he is." It is the first time that the Bible speaks of Shet without mentioning his disability.
I thought about it, and you know, I think that in a group of this size there are many of us here who carry a stigma around with us. There is something in our past that sticks to us like an anklet with a ball. And there are people who keep accusing us of it; they never let them die. Then you hear conversations like, "Have you heard anything from Susan again? Susan, you know, that's the one who left her husband." Or: "I spoke to Jo the other day. You know who I mean, well, the alcoholic." And some people ask themselves: "Is there anyone who sees me separately from my past and my failures in the past?»
Ziba says: "I know where he is. He lives in Lo Debar." The best way to describe Lo Debar would be as "Barstow" (a remote location in Southern California) in ancient Palestine. [Laughter]. In fact, the name literally means "an infertile place". He lives there. David locates Schet. Just imagine: the king is chasing the cripple. Here is the second answer to the "well, and?"
You are being followed up more intensively than you think
That's incredible. I want you to pause for a moment and think about it. The perfect, the holy, the righteous, the almighty, the infinitely intelligent God of the Creator of the whole universe, runs after me and runs after you. We speak of searching people, people on a spiritual journey to discover spiritual realities.
But if we go to the Bible, we see that in reality God is originally the seeker [we see this in all of Scripture]. Go back to the beginning of the Bible the story of Adam and Eve begins the scene where they hid from God. It is said that God comes in the cool of the evening and looks for Adam and Eve. He asks: "Where are you?» After making the tragic mistake of killing an Egyptian, Moses had to fear for his life for 40 years and fled to the desert, where God visits him in the shape of a burning bush and initiates a meeting with him.
When Jonah was called to preach in the city of Nineveh in the name of the LORD, Jonah runs off in the opposite direction and God runs after him. If we go to the New Testament, we see Jesus meet twelve men, pat them on the back and say, "Would you like to join my cause"? When I think of Peter after he denied Christ three times and left his discipleship and turned back to fishing, Jesus comes and seeks him on the beach. Even in his failure, God is following him. You are being followed, you are looking for ...
Let's look at the next verse (Ephesians 1,4: 5): »Even before he created the world, he had us in mind as people who belong to Christ; in him he chose us to stand before him holy and flawless. For love he has us in front of his eyes ...: literally he has us in him (Christ) chosen. he has determined us to become his sons and daughters - through Jesus Christ and in view of him. That was his will and he liked it. ” I hope you understand that our relationship with Jesus Christ, salvation, is given to us by God. It is controlled by God. It is initiated by God. It was created by God. He's following us.
Back to our story. David has now sent out a group of men to search for Shet, and they discover him in Lo Debar. There Schet lives in isolation and anonymity. He did not want to be found. In fact, he did not want to be found so he could live the rest of his life. But he was discovered, and these fellows take Schet and lead him to the car, and they put him in the car and drive him back to the capital, to the palace. The Bible tells us little or nothing about this chariot ride. But I'm sure we can all imagine what it would be like sitting down on the floor of the car. What emotions Schet must have felt on this trip, fear, panic, uncertainty. To feel like this could be the last day of his earthly life. Then he starts to make a plan. His plan was this: If I appear before the king and he looks at me, then he realizes that I am not a threat to him. I fall down before him and ask his mercy, and maybe he will let me live. And so the car drives in front of the palace. The soldiers carry him in and place him in the middle of the room. And he somehow fights with his feet, and David comes in.
The encounter with grace
Notice what happens in 2 Samuel 9,6: 8: “When Merib-Baal, the son of Jonathan and Saul's grandson, arrived, he prostrated himself before David, face to earth, and paid him due credit. "So you are Merib-Baal!" David said to him and he replied: "Yes, your obedient servant!" "Habakkuk, don't be afraid," said David, "I will show you a favor for your father Jonatan. I will give you back all the land that once belonged to your grandfather Saul. And you can always eat at my table. "" And looking at David, he asks forced masses the following question. Merib-Baal threw himself on the ground again and said, I am not worthy of your mercy. I'm no more than a dead dog! ""
What a question! This unexpected demonstration of mercy ... He understands that he is a cripple. He is a nobody. He has nothing to offer David. But that's what grace is about. The character, the nature of God, is the tendency and disposition to do kind and good things to unworthy people. That, my friends, is grace. But let's be honest. This is not the world most of us live in. We live in a world that says, "I want my right." We want to give people what they deserve. Once I had to serve as a jury member, and the judge told us, "As a jury member, it is your job to find the facts and apply the law to them. No more. No less. Discover the facts and apply the law to them." The judge was not at all interested in mercy and certainly not in mercy. She wanted justice. And justice is necessary in court so that things do not get out of hand. But when it comes to God I don't know about you - but I don't want justice. I know what I deserve. I know what I am. I want mercy and I want mercy. David showed mercy simply by saving Schet's life. Most kings would have executed a potential heir to the throne By sparing his life, David showed mercy, but David went far beyond mercy by showing him mercy by saying, "I brought you here because I want to show mercy to you." Here comes the third answer to the "So what?"
We are loved more than we think
Yes, we are broken, and you follow us. And that's because God loves us.
Romans 5,1: 2: »Now that we have been accepted by God because of our faith, we have peace with God. We owe that to Jesus Christ our Lord. He opened the way of trust for us and with it the access to the grace of God, in which we have now firmly established. ”
And in Ephesians 1,6: 7: »... so that the praise of his glory can be heard: the praise of the grace which he has shown us through Jesus Christ, his beloved son. We are saved by his blood:
All our guilt is forgiven. [Please read the following aloud with me] So God showed us the riches of His grace. "How great and rich is the grace of God.
I do not know what's going on in your heart. I do not know what kind of stigma you are wearing. I do not know which label sticks to you. I do not know where you failed in the past. I do not know what outrages hide you inside. But I can tell you that you no longer have to wear them. On the 18. December 1865 became the 13. Supplement signed in the US. In this 13. Change has abolished slavery in the US forever. This was a significant day for our nation. So there was the 19. December 1865, technically, no more slaves. Yet many continued to remain in slavery - some still for years for two reasons:
- Some had never heard of it.
- Some refused to believe that they were free.
And I have the suspicion, spiritually speaking, that there are a number of us today, in this room, who are in the same situation.
The price has already been paid. The way has already been prepared. It's about the following: Either you have not heard the word or you just refuse to believe it could be true.
But it is true. Because you are loved and God followed you.
A few moments ago, I gave Laila a coupon. Laila did not deserve him. She did not work for it. She did not deserve it. She did not fill out an application form for it. She came and was simply surprised with this unexpected gift. A gift someone else paid for. But now their only job - and there are no secret tricks - is to accept it and begin to enjoy the gift.
In the same way, God has already paid the price for you. You only need to accept the gift that he offers you. As believers, we had a mercy encounter. Our lives changed with the love of Christ and we fell in love with Jesus. We did not deserve it. We were not worth it. But Christ offered us this most wonderful gift of our lives. That's why our life is different now.
Our life was broken we made mistakes. But the king went after us because he loves us. The king is not angry with us. The story of Schet could end right here, and it would be a great story. But there's another part - I do not want you to miss it, it's the 4. Scene.
A place on the board
The last part in 2 Samuel 9,7: 15 reads: “I will give you back all the land that once belonged to your grandfather Saul. And you can always eat at my table. ” Twenty years earlier, the same boy at the age of five had to experience a terrible tragedy. He not only lost his entire family, but was paralyzed and injured, then living in exile for the past 20 to years. And now he hears the king say: "I want you to come here." And four verses further David says to him: "I want you to eat with me at my table like one of my sons". I love this verse. Schet was now part of the family. David didn't say, "You know, Shet. I want to give you access to the palace and have you visit every now and then." Or: "If we have a national holiday, I will let you sit in the royal box with the royal family". No, do you know what he said? "Schet, we will reserve you a place on the table every evening because you are now part of my family". The last verse in history says the following: “He lived in Jerusalem because he was a constant guest at the king's table. He was paralyzed on both feet. ” (2 Samuel 9,13). I like the way the story ends because it seems like the writer has put a little postscript at the end of the story. There is talk of how Schet experienced this grace and should now live with the king and that he may eat at the king's table. But he doesn't want us to forget what he has to overcome. And the same goes for us. What it cost us was we had an urgent need and experienced a mercy encounter. Several years ago Chuck Swindol wrote this story in an eloquent manner. I just want to read a paragraph to you. He said, "Imagine the following scene several years later. The doorbell rings in the king's palace, and David comes to the main table and sits down. Shortly afterwards, Amnon, the cunning, cunning Amnon, settles on David's left side Then Tamar, a beautiful and friendly young woman, appears and settles next to Amnon. On the other side, Solomon slowly comes out of his study - the mature, brilliant, thoughtless Solomon. Absalom with flowing, beautiful, shoulder-length hair takes a seat In the evening Joab, the brave warrior and troop commander, was also invited to dinner, but one seat is still unoccupied, so everyone is waiting, hearing shuffling feet and the rhythmic hump, hump, hump of the crutches makes his way to the table. He slips into his seat, the tablecloth covers his feet. " Do you think Schet understood what grace is? You know, that describes a future scene when the whole family of God will gather around a large banquet table in heaven. And on that day, the tablecloth of God's grace covers our needs, covers our bare soul. You see, the way we get into the family is by grace, and we continue it in the family by grace. Every day is a gift from His grace.
Our next verse is in Colossians 2,6 “You accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord; therefore live in the community with him and according to his way! ” You received Christ by grace. Now that you are in the family, you are in it by grace. Some of us think that as soon as we become Christian by grace, we now have to work very hard and make sure that God does everything right to ensure that he continues to like and love us. Yes, nothing could be further from the truth. As a dad, my love for my children does not depend on what type of job or how successful they are or whether they do everything right. My entire love belongs to them, simply because they are my children. And the same goes for you. You continue to experience God's love simply because you are one of His children. Let me be the last one "So what?" answer.
We are more privileged than we think
Not only did God spare our lives, but he has now showered us with his life of grace. Listen to these words from Romans 8, Paul says:
»What is left to say about all this? God himself is for us [and he is], who then wants to stand against us? He did not spare his own son, but put him to death for all of us. But if he gave us the son, will he keep anything from us? ” (Romans 8,31-32).
Not only did he give up Christ so we could enter his family, but he now gives you everything you need to live a life of grace once you are in the family.
But I love this phrase: "God is for us." Let me repeat: "God is for YOU.» Again, there is no doubt that some of us who are here today do not really believe that, it never occurred to us that anyone would be on our fan curve of the stadium to spur us on.
In high school I played basketball. Usually we do not have spectators when we play. One day, however, the gym was full. I later learned that they had planned a fund-raising campaign that would allow them to buy an exit from the class for a quarter of a dollar. But before that you had to come to the baseball game. At the end of the 3. There was a loud buzzing, the school was dismissed, and the gym was emptying as fast as it had previously filled. But over there, in the middle of the audience benches, sat two people who stayed until the end of the game. It was my mom and my grandma. You know what? They were for me, and I did not even know they were there.
Sometimes it takes you a while after everyone else finds out - until you realize that God is on your side in every way. Yes, really, and he is watching you.
The story of Schet is just great, but I want to answer another question before we go, it's: Well, and?
Let us begin with 1 Corinthians 15,10:22: "But by God's grace I have become so, and his merciful intervention has not been in vain." This passage seems to say, "If you've had a grace encounter, changes make a difference.» When I was a child and growing up, I was pretty good at school and most of the things I tried succeeded in. Then I went to college and the seminary and got my first job as a pastor at the age of. I didn't know anything, but I thought I knew everything. I was in the seminary and flew back and forth every weekend to a more rural town in central Arkansas. It would have been less of a culture shock to go abroad than after central west of Arkansas.
It's a different world and the people there were just lovely. We loved them and they loved us. But I went there with the goal of building a church and being an effective pastor. I wanted to put everything into practice that I had studied in the seminary. But, honestly, after being there for about two and a half years, I was done. I didn't know what to do anymore.
The church has hardly grown. I remember asking God: Please, send me somewhere else. I just want to get away from here. And I remember sitting alone in my office at the desk and nobody else was in the whole church. The whole staff was just me, and I started crying and was worried and feeling like a failure and felt forgotten and prayed with the feeling that nobody was listening anyway.
Although this is more than 20 years ago, I still remember it very vividly. And though it was a painful experience, it was very useful because God used it in my life to break my self-confidence and pride and helped me understand that whatever he would do in my life would do Everything happened because of his grace - not because I was good or because I was gifted or because I was clever. And, when I think about my trip in recent years and see that I was allowed to get a job like this [and I'm the least qualified for what I do here], I often feel inadequate. I know one thing, that wherever I am, whatever God wants to do in my life, in me or through me, everything happens because of His grace.
And when you've grasped that, when that really sinks in, you can not be the same anymore.
The question I started to ask myself is, "Do we who know the Lord live a life that reflects grace?" What are some of the characteristics that indicate that "I live a life of grace?"
Let's close with the following verse. Paul says:
»But what is it about my life! It is only important that until the end I fulfill the mandate that Jesus the Lord has given me [which one?]: To announce the good news [the message of his grace] that God has pity on people ” (Acts 20,24). Paul says: this is my life's mission.
Like Shet, you and I are spiritually broken, spiritually dead. But like Shet, so were we, because the King of the Universe loves us and wants us to be in his family. He wants us to have a mercy encounter. Maybe that's why you're here this morning and you're not even sure why you came here today. But internally you will notice that jolt or that pull in your heart. That's the Holy Spirit talking to you, "I want you in my family." And, if you have not taken the step to begin a personal relationship with Christ, we would like to offer you this opportunity this morning. Just say the following: "Here I am, I have nothing to offer, I'm not perfect, If you really knew my past life, you would not like me." But God would answer you, "I like you, and all you have to do is accept my gift." So I would like to ask you to bow down for a moment, and if you have never taken that step, I would ask you to simply pray with me. I say one sentence, you just have to say it, but tell the Lord.
"Dear Jesus, like Schet, I know that I am broken and I know that I need you, and I do not fully understand it, but I believe that you love me and that you followed me and that you, Jesus, died on the cross and the price of my sin has already been paid. And that's why I'm asking you now to come into my life. I want to know and experience your grace so that I can live a life of grace and be with you always.
by Lance Witt