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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:Jonathan: Meet Him As A Christ
Text:1 Samuel 20:17-42 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Life in Christ

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

1 SAMUEL 20:17-42 (Reading: 1 Samuel 20:1-42) Jonathan: Meet Him As A Christ Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ… Have you ever heard a saying, which goes something like this, “You can pick your friends, but you’ve got no choice about your family?” It’s true - isn’t it? And how much haven’t we realised this with Jonathan? There is another twist to this, though. We get to choose our friends - but how often don’t we think so little about what kind of friends they are? And that’s even in the closest of all friendship we can have on this earth - in our marriages! As a minister, I have always insisted that members of the church wanting to get married ought to have pre-marital counselling first of all. That hasn’t always been received the right way. Some have argued strongly against this. They wondered why they had to go through this “test”. I’ve got used to that reaction. So I respond by asking them what it was they expected to fail! If anything, wouldn’t it show how much they loved each other in the Lord? I also use the simple analogy of someone going for a driver’s licence. A driver’s licence is what our government demands of us before we drive on the road. This is the way it can be sure there are drivers on the road who knew what they were doing. Then surely for the most important of all human relationships, for which you need a marriage licence, you should know something about what you were about to do? It’s the relationship which has the greatest impact on those in it, and the family around it. And if you do know it well enough, you don’t lose anything - do you? In fact, you have an assurance that it can go well for the both of you. Now, David in the verses before our text, laid such a test before Jonathan. That was the test to prove that King Saul, his father, was determined to kill David. Jonathan, while being loyal to his father, yet was willing to be tested in this way. Either way he wouldn’t lose. It wouldn’t affect his friendship with David, or his loyalty to his father. But he knew that if David was right it would mean he probably couldn’t see David anymore, while he would have to put up with the increasing evil of his father. What’s even more, however, is that right through this Jonathan is well aware that David was going to possess his father’s kingdom. This was going to cost him a lot. But he’s not counting the cost. So what we see increasingly in this last passage about Jonathan’s character, is just how much like his LORD he is. The noble picture we have of Jonathan isn’t because of his bravery, his family loyalty, or even his friendship with the future king - it’s because right throughout all this, and especially here at the end, it’s the LORD who shines through! How can we know that? Which way do we see his faith? Actually, it’s through something which might seem very selfish. You see, Jonathan lays David under an obligation to keep that bond of friendship when he becomes king. A bond that has to extend to his family after him as well. Verse 17 affirms this. And notice that it affirms it because “he loved him as he loved himself.” As S.G. De Graaf comments, “This shows how completely Jonathan surrendered his faith to David’s calling.” He says further, “Here Jonathan stands in complete contrast to Saul, as we are shown what the Spirit of the Lord can do in the heart of man. “How precious the gift of faith was in Jonathan! “We see how marvellous the grace of Christ is: by means of that grace Jonathan was able to win a great victory over himself.” Congregation, Jonathan isn’t himself here - at least not naturally. He’s showing instead the spiritually reborn man he is. He’s keeping in step with the Spirit. That’s why I put it to you that the first point to this text, is this… HE’S CHRIST-LIKE BECAUSE HE AGREES TO DO RIGHT. Thomas Carlyle once said, “Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” Jonathan does exactly that. He accepts what he’s meant to do right then and there. For Jonathan there were no great theological debates long into night. Nor was he the opposite - he didn’t impulsively rush into it either. He thinks about it - and he does it! Did you notice that he took David out to the field in verse 11? He was planning it out. It would be in this field that he would later bring the result to David. In his mind he was developing David’s test. He took his friend’s idea and made it his own. Because he believed in it - he agreed with it. Congregation, they say that plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. So when someone copies what you’ve written, you are some how praised. And it does give you a buzz when you see someone using your words - exactly as you wrote them. But then - just as quickly - you get angry, because when someone copies you like this they don’t acknowledge you. They make it look like it’s their idea! What pleases us, though, is when someone takes what we’ve done, and builds on it. They don’t copy it word for word. They acknowledge where it’s from and they think it through some more. Then it’s being owned by them. They show they believe in it. Which is what Jonathan does. And it shows, further, that he believed in it all along. While it was David’s idea - which he himself got from the Lord of course! - Jonathan was always going to do the right thing! You see, he was always open to that. It’s an example that lays a challenge before each one of us. Would you be ready to run with the truth like this? Here I’m not talking about recognising the truth when it’s taught to you. That’s a good thing. But it’s not the best thing. Because the very best thing is that you are asking, and you are seeking, and you are knocking on God’s door, for the truth. That’s how Jesus Christ Himself put it in Matthew 7 and Luke 11. Because then you will receive, and you will find, and the door will be opened to you. Jesus showed it perfectly in His own personal experience. And Jonathan already a millennium before showed he was walking in His Master’s footsteps. Dear friend - are you? Or do you virtually have to trip up and fall on the truth, before you realise what you have to do? Let’s follow Jonathan’s example - HE’S CHRIST-LIKE BECAUSE HE AGREES TO DO RIGHT. And then you’ll find what comes out of this. Your faith, like Jonathan’s, will be confirmed. For, in the second place, HE’S CHRIST-LIKE BECAUSE HE SUFFERS FOR RIGHT. Well, you might be thinking, that’s not what I’d call such a positive confirmation. “A pat on the back”, or a “Well done son,” is what you’d look for - isn’t it? But what does Jonathan get here! You see, the first day of the festival Saul doesn’t say anything about David’s absence. He should really be there because he’s part of the family - he’s one of the sons-in-law. And this is no ordinary family - it’s the first family in the land! But Saul saying nothing doesn’t mean he hasn’t noticed. And let’s note the spin he puts on David’s vacancy. He assures himself it’s David’s own fault. He’s thinking, as we read in verse 26, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean - surely he is unclean.” Well, it couldn’t be anything to do with Saul himself - could it? The next day, though, and Saul is more than a bit miffed. Now David is clearly dishonouring the family! So Saul asks the one who would know - David’s best friend. Jonathan replies the way he had agreed upon with David. It’s Saul’s response now on which everything hinges. That reply will lovingly make it, or despisedly break it! And what a break it was! You could not have got a more devastating answer! And there was no graciousness in it whatsoever! For Saul’s anger attacks Jonathan. He let’s Jonathan have with his whole mouth! Much as we don’t like this language of Saul, how telling it is! Because while it is patently untrue, it yet opens up the innermost recesses of his soul. Who is it that let’s go of themselves like this? Who would drag the gutter of insults by completely degrading a man’s mother - and that woman is his own wife as well! Has Saul married a prostitute? Saul’s huge insecurities are shown for the whole world to see. His blatant unsuitability for being the king can’t be avoided anymore. It was recently that one of New Zealand’s highest public officials, a Human Rights Commissioner, showed the same. Her partner was caught going through the amber light of a school crossing. He is warned, and asked what he was doing. Now, that police officer was doing part of his regular duties, in his case caring for children crossing the road. What he gets for that is this awful and totally unfounded accusation of being motivated by racism because the man who broke the law wasn’t white. And the Constable himself was born in a distinctly non-white country! That official had to resign. But how many more of those in responsible and influential positions don’t themselves have such twisted and bitter views? Saul’s heart was shown up for the rotting morass that it was. But how many souls today aren’t stinking just as terribly? And don’t put those nice smiling faces and everyday family scenes as a mask on top of that! They are lost - just like Saul! They need to be saved - by God’s Spirit in their heart. We must not think, congregation, that the most awful thing was when Saul threw that spear at his own son, trying to kill him. He had murdered Jonathan before he picked up the weapon. And while he missed with the spear, he was already convicted of that crime. The motive had eternally judged him! You see, Saul met Christ here. The LORD, in His servant Jonathan, met Saul, and he was found lacking. There was no saving grace. But for Jonathan, however, there was the most praiseworthy commendation. HE’S CHRIST-LIKE BECAUSE HE SUFFERS FOR RIGHT. He’s laid his life on the line for the will of the LORD. And he was terribly hurt for that. Let’s realise, though, he doesn’t react because of that. Unlike Saul, who shows the most sinful response, Jonathan here only shows a righteous anger. Thus we come to the third point to our text. About Jonathan we must also see, that, HE’S CHRIST-LIKE BECAUSE HE’LL DIE IN THE RIGHT. That’s why he has the anger in verse 34. It’s the anger because he’s living his life for the Lord. The anger we meet in the psalms when the LORD’s enemies are vividly condemned. The anger Jesus Himself shows when he tips over the trading tables in the temple. For the LORD God has been dishonoured. His Word has been broken. And His faithful servants cannot be silent then. This is what Jonathan shows. And it’s proved by his further response. He doesn’t throw that spear back at Saul. He gets up and goes out because it’s such a bad situation. And he fasts - he doesn’t eat - because it grieves him so much. Fasting was always associated with prayer. Jonathan would, therefore, have been in much prayer with the Lord, for his father, for David, and for the whole family. He is true to his confession of faith in the Lord. It’s the God of Israel who must always come first - even if it means Jonathan himself will come last! Let me illustrate this. In a battle in Scotland there were two brothers in the same regiment. Their army was beaten and was leaving the field. One of the brothers lay on the ground desperately wounded. But the other brother, also wounded, was still able to walk. Disregarding the protests of his brother, that he leave him to die and flee with the others, he stooped down and lifted him on his back. Gradually the warmth of his brother who carried him revived the unconscious brother’s spirit and strength. The brother doing the carrying, though, when he had reached safety, staggered and fell dead under him. One brother had given his life for the other - for the brother who should have died. What a picture of Jonathan! He gave his life so that David would live. He didn’t care about his own future but he loves his brother in the LORD. That’s why we have to carefully note Jonathan’s last words in verse 42: “The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.” This is the pattern for true human love - because there has to be three. In the words of the teacher in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Here we see why. It’s the presence of the LORD which softens all clashes of personality. He harmonises differences between man and man, and man and woman. The influence of one person on another, if that’s done through the LORD in a shared faith and loyalty, can only bring good. It can never promote evil. This is the test of a true friendship. The place which God has in it is what makes it or breaks it. And if He isn’t part of that trinity any relationship here below isn’t going anywhere. That’s what Jonathan says! Congregation, the last sentence in this vivid story is really sad. Like the Lord Jesus, who set His face toward Jerusalem, and all that was waiting for Him there, so Jonathan went back to his duty, and his terrible end. As E. M. Blaiklock writes, “There was nothing to stop him going into the wilderness with his friend. “Between them they could have headed a popular movement. “It would have been easy to rebel against a father who had used and abused him.” Jonathan chose duty, though. He went on the road that led back to the city - the road that led to death. The will of the LORD was clear for Jonathan. And, though, like Josiah centuries later, it meant the most haunting sadness, yet they walked the way of their Lord. About them the words of Hebrews 11:38 are so true. For “the world was not worthy of them.” But even less, congregation, was the world worthy of the One who sent them, the very One who Himself came and died the death of all deaths. That’s why every believer’s death now is only another glorious “Amen”. Because Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled His duty. He followed His Father’s will all the way. Amen. PRAYER: Let’s pray... O LORD God, In Your redeeming grace You have given us Your Word to show us the way. And we are convicted by these saints Your Word tells us about. You used them Lord, to bring us to this day. And today is Sunday, the first day of the week. The day that declares the triumph of Your Son, because He arose victorious on Easter Sunday. In Jesus Name, we pray, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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