Summary: God’s grace is God-given, Spirit-driven, and entrusted to us.
Title: What Happens at the Table Does Not Stay at the Table
Text: Luke 24:44-56
Thesis: God’s grace is God-given, Spirit-driven, and entrusted to us.
I’m sure you’ve seen the “What Happens Here” marketing campaign put out by the Las Vegas tourism people… This is one I can show in church.
Project What Happens in Vegas Clip - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrRipLBh6jo
Originally the marketerss were trying to appeal to hardworking blue-collar Americans who could get away for a few days to do some really fun things like indoor skydiving. However they found that what played best during this time of recession was the idea that whar consumers wanted was to go to Las Vegas where they could sample pleasures unavailable at home.
The “What Happens” ads played to Las Vegas’ reputation as a party town where visitors could do stuff they would never do otherwise without folks back home ever finding out. (Tamara Audi, Vegas Tries Luck with Old Slogan, The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2009)
The ad is a not so subtle, smirk, wink, and knowing-nod that says, “We will be discrete about your indiscretions. Don’t worry, what happens here stays here.”
While it may be human nature to hide some things, what happened at the table when Jesus shared a Tilapia fillet with his disciples following his resurrection, was never intended to be kept secret. Quite to the contrary, Jesus essentially said, “What happens at the table does not stay at the table.” This was a story that was intended to be told and retold down through the centuries.
This is the first bit of news Jesus wants us to take from the table.
I. The grace of God is for everyone everywhere.
“With my authority, take this message of repentance to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem: There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.” Luke 24:44-47
Notice the intent of the word “all.” The message is to be taken to “all” nations and forgiveness extended to “all” who turn to God. “All” means each and every nation and each and every person in every nation. “All” means barring none.
A. God’s grace is all-inclusive – “take this message to all nations… there is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.”
In addition to specifying that God’s grace is all-inclusive, Jesus also suggests a strategy for making God’s grace known:
B. God’s strategy is all-expansive. “beginning in Jerusalem…”
The phrase “beginning in Jerusalem” triggers in our minds this account as recorded in Acts 1:8 where Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit comes you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The image Jesus invokes here is that of dropping a pebble into a pool of water. Ultimately Jesus wants the whole pool to hear about God’s grace. But the news begins where the pebble first hits the water and then what follows is the ripple effect. It begins in Jerusalem and then the ripple extends to the immediate area of Judea and then the ripple spreads to envelope Samaria and beyond until the ripple has spread across the entire pool of water.
The idea is that this grace is for everyone everywhere.
The Big Tent approach in politics seeks to attract people with diverse viewpoints rather than attract people along single-issue litmus tests or rigid ideology. People in a Big Tent are pragmatic in their approach and believe that together they can advance their core issues even if they disagree on other issues. Big Tent politics is about bringing as many people into or under the tent as possible… even if they are radically diverse.
It seems to me that God is the ultimate proponent of the Big Tent. Paul wrote, “All who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians” (Galatians 3:27-28) In Colossians 3:11 he continued the thread when he wrote, “In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric or civilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters and he lives in all of us.”
Pastor Craig Gross, founder of xxxchurch.com and the Las Vegas ministry they call The Strip Church takes the concept of Big Tent seriously. He and his volunteers attend adult entertainment tradeshows where they buy a booth, wear t-shirts that say, “Jesus Loves Porn Stars” and hand out bibles. He says, “We will do anything short of sin to reach people for Christ.” (Leadership Interview with Craig Gross, Salvation on the Strip, Leadership, May 15, 2009)
Jim Cymbalas, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle says the number one sin in America is not internet pornography or that the divorce rate in the church is the same as that of the country at large… the number one sin in America is that its pastors and leaders are not on their knees crying out to God, ‘Bring us the drug addicted, bring us the prostitutes, bring us the destitute, bring us the gang leaders, bring us those with AIDS, bring us the people nobody else wants, whom only you can heal, and let us love them in your name until they are whole.” (Mark Buchanan, Messy, Costly, Dirty Ministry, Leadership, May 15, 2009)