Summary: The proof of God's activity in our lives is not so much about the magnificent and the miraculous as it is about the grace that sustains us even in our weakness.
Title: The Exception and the Rule
Text: II Corinthians 12:2-10
Thesis: The proof of God’s activity in our lives is not so much about the magnificent and the miraculous as it is about the grace that sustains us even in our weakness.
When he was born his mother named after gospel writer Mark in hopes that he would tell the gospel truth. But 13th Century Europeans found his tales of faraway places impossible to believe. He claimed that at the age of 17 he began an epic journey that lasted a quarter of a century. He traveled across the steppes of Russia, the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, the wastelands of Persia and over the top of the world through the Himalayas. He was the first European to enter China and through an amazing set of circumstances served in the court of the Kublai Kahn, the most powerful ruler on earth. What he saw in China absolutely dwarfed anything he had ever seen in Europe.
When he returned to Italy loaded down with gold, silk and spices people dismissed his stories as mythical. His family priest rebuked him for spinning lies. At his deathbed, his family and friends begged him to recant his tales of China. But setting his jaw and gasping for breath, Marco Polo spoke his final words, “I have not even told you half of what I saw.” Ironically, history has proven that Marco Polo was truthful about his adventures.
1300 years before Marco Polo wrote about his adventures there was another man who wrote of his vision of the glories of heaven in the Book of Revelation and it may well be that he only told of half of what he saw. And I suspect that like Marco Polo, history will prove that John was truthful about his vision as well.
Our text begins today with a similar tale. The Apostle Paul wrote:
I. The Exception
“…I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell.” II Corinthians 12:2-4
Our text begins with the Apostle Paul offering up a disclaimer for what he is about to write. He seems embarrassed by the fact that he is actually going to tell about his spiritual experience because he knows it will sound like he is bragging. But he feels compelled to tell his story non-the-less. It seems some other spiritual teachers have come to town and telling the people who made up the church at Corinth how important they were. In II Corinthians 10:12 Paul’s words almost drip with sarcasm where he wrote, “Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are!”
Seemingly people were getting all giddy about the arrival of the latest proponent of the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, compliments of Sweet Jesus. And the Apostle Paul, who was not exactly chopped liver, was feeling pressured to defend himself as a worthy representative of Jesus Christ. He feels embarrassed to have to defend himself. He is embarrassed that he needed to produce his credentials and drag out his resume’ in order to get a little respect.