Sermon Illustrations

Matt Chandler tells the story of Dave Karnes. When the World Trade Center tumbled to the ground on that dreadfully dark day, more than 3000 people lost their lives. But a few who were buried beneath the rubble miraculously survived. Two of these were Will Jimeno and John McLoughlin, a pair of Port Authority employees who responded to the attack and were on the bottom floor as the south tower fell. Trapped without water and breathing smoke filled air, both men had little hope for survival. Yet as they lay there under a mountain of debris, something was stirring inside an accountant in Connecticut. Dave Karnes who spent 23 years in active duty in the Marines, was watching the scene play out on TV like the rest of us. But more than just allowing it to trouble him, he decided to do something about it. He went to his boss and told him he wouldn’t be back for awhile. He went home and put on his fatigues and then drove 120 MPH to ground zero, arriving by late afternoon. While rescue workers were being called off the site, Dave was able to stay because of the clout and credential of his uniform. Finding another Marine, the two joined forces and walked the pile of debris together, seeking to save a life. After an hour of searching, they heard the faint tapping on metal pipes. It was Will and John who had been trapped for nine hours. This Marine who had been working a spreadsheet just hours before found them, began to dig and then freed these two men. Of the 20 people pulled out of the rubble to safety, Will and John were numbers 18 and 19. And all because Dave Karnes took off his suit, put on his rescue fatigues, (rolled up his sleeves) and stepped into the despair and darkness of Ground Zero.

And then Matt Chandler writes, “In the same way but to an infinitely greater degree, God took off his royal robes, stepped into our dark and depraved culture, and served us. We were buried in the depths and rubble of our own foolishness with zero chance of pulling ourselves out of our own sin. We were without hope until the Holy One clothed himself in humanity to rescue us, to become sin for us on the cross. Our service (to others) must be grounded in the truth of the Gospel…Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection for us. It begins and ends with Jesus – begins there because he is our original motivation and ends there because in Him we are empowered to serve (and save) others.”

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