Summary: Love is service rather than sentiment. John R. W. Stott
Oct. 17, 2010 Jeremiah 31:27-34 “I Have No Idea What You Are Talking About”
Have you ever had to pinch yourself to see if what you are experiencing is real or a dream? This is kind of how my life has been since I invited Christ into my heart many years ago. Sometimes when I try to plan ahead in my life, I like to look back and see where I have been and how I have gotten this far. I vividly remember some of the visions that God planted in my mind. He gave me one in college that I remember well to this day. It was where I was standing in front of a crowd of people telling them about Jesus Christ, kind of like what I am doing today (tonight). The strange part of this was that I had this vision when I didn’t know Christ. He was the farthest thing from my mind at that time. Fast forward forty years and here I am. God had a plan for me all along. I was the one who dragged my feet for so long before I came to accept Him.
God doesn’t just have a plan for me or for you. He has a plan for everyone in every place and at every time. This morning (evening), we will take a look at a passage in Jeremiah where one of the basic attributes of Christ is explained several centuries before He is even born. Let’s try to get a little glimpse of this huge plan that God has for everyone.
Tim Zingale tells the tale of a beggar who lived near the king’s palace. One day he saw a proclamation saying that the king was giving a great dinner and anyone dressed in royal garments was welcome. The beggar knew that he couldn’t go because he only had rags. But he wanted to go so he had an idea. It was a bold idea.
He went to the palace and asked to see the king. After some shuffling, the king agreed to see him. The king asked, “You wished to see me?”
The beggar replied, “Yes, your majesty. I really want to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please, sire, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I too could come to your banquet?” The beggar was shaking in nervousness as he asked this question.
The king smiled to himself and said, “You have been wise in coming to me.” Then he called his son and told him to give this man a suit of clothes for the banquet. The son took him and gave him a fine set of his own clothes and then he said, “You are now eligible to attend the king’s banquet. But more importantly, you will never need another set of clothes because these garments will last forever.”
Well the beggar was ecstatic and went to leave wearing his new clothes. But he looked back on the pile of rags on the floor and thought ‘what if the prince is wrong?’ So he gathered his old clothes and went to the banquet. Everything was great at the banquet and the serving was fast. This caused the beggar to miss some of the greatest delicacies because his bundle of old clothes kept falling off his lap and he had to keep picking it up.
The years went by and it turned out that the prince was right and the royal clothes never did wear out. However, as time passed, the beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags. He clung to them wherever he went. He even became known as the old man with the rags. One day the beggar lay dying and the king came to see him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king’s face when the king saw the bundle of rags right next to the bed. It suddenly hit him that this bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime of true royalty. He wept bitterly now knowing that he never fully embraced the righteous clothes the king had given him. He had never fully accepted the gift of royalty. How often have we known people who have not fully accepted the grace of God or not accepted it at all and continue to wear their old rags? This is something to think about.
God has a grand scheme for everything. Jeremiah gives us a glimpse of this in our passage this morning. I think that there are at least three things that we should bring away from this reading.
The first is that God will not give up on us. Jeremiah is talking to the Kingdom of Judah in this book. They will soon be conquered or maybe they already have been by the time of this reading. There is a tough part in a reading like this. There is God’s judgment involved here. The people of Judah had fallen away from God. Jeremiah was trying to bring them back but it was of no use. They had gotten too used to their evil ways and they enjoyed them too much. God was watching over his people even though they were disobedient. He watched their destruction.