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The Prince & The Paupers

Scripture: 1 Samuel 18:3-4, Genesis 41:14-41
Date: 09/22/2007 
The essence of salvation is Jesus trading places with us. Using Mark Twain's story as a launching point for the message. The Bible has several stories that speaks of this. One is the story of Jonathan and David. Jesus took what we deserve in order to give us what He deserves.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:4-6

Good morning. I want to say welcome to any visitors that may be worshipping with us today. We hope that you are being warmly received on a cooler day than is seasonably normal for Sacramento. Our message this morning I’ve titled “The Prince and the Paupers.” “The Prince and the Paupers” You can probably tell from the picture on the screen where I’m going with this. I freely confess I’ve plagiarized the title from a very popular book written by Mark Twain. Some of you know the story called The Prince and the Pauper which was, I think, released in like 1898 by Mark Twain, and it was his attempt at historical fiction. Very different from his Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn scenario because it’s based in about 1580 England. It’s the story of a very poor boy living in London who is a pauper, Tom Canty, who is raised in a home with an abusive father and his mother drinks and it’s just a very sad circumstance. He by chance is the exact same age as the only son of Henry VIII Prince Edward and happens to meet him and they look identical except for the fact that one of them is clothed in royal robes and the other is clothed in burlap rags. The prince, Prince Edward, is so tired of being pampered in the palace and all of the responsibilities and the fussing in the palace and the restrictions and the lack of freedom and he hears young Tom as he’s invited in and he talks to him, talk about playing in the mud with total abandon. The prince thinks, “Boy, I wish I could play in the mud.” The pauper is thinking, “Boy, I wish I could live in the palace.” You know this story. The city mouse and the country mouse change lives, and it’s a very interesting and entertaining tale, but there is the scene where the prince actually takes off his royal robes and he gives them to poor Tom and Tom takes off his rags and he gives them to the prince and they basically trade places. They swap lives and I’m not going to go through the whole story, but that’s what I think of when I think of the essence of salvation. It’s the story of the Prince trading places with the paupers.

Jesus trades places with you and me. The Bible is filled with stories that complement this scenario. One in particular that comes to mind, and I’m going to look at lot of different angles at this. If you have a pencil you may want to jot some of these verses down. Hopefully I’ll give you time to turn to most of them. It’s found in I Samuel 18:3-4. You quite literally have the story of a prince trading places with a pauper. I Samuel 18:3-4 going from rags to royal robes is the story of Jonathan and David. After Jonathan meets David… You remember who Jonathan is. He’s the son of King Saul; he’s the prince. He’s in line to be king. He actually is a godly man. He’s the one who went into battle and through faith in God he and his armor bearer defeated the whole garrison of the Philistines. He believed that it’s just as easy for the Lord to deliver with few as it is with many. Jonathan was a man with great faith, unlike his father. And when he saw the faith of David, when David went against the giant Goliath something resonated within Jonathan. He thought, Here is a young man after my own heart! And after just a short time David and Jonathan realized that they both had this common love for God, this unyielding faith, this great courage and there was a bond between them. something spoke to Jonathan’s heart and he said, “You’re supposed to be king. I can tell you’re going to be next in line.” And you find this amazing verse. It says, “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” Now where did David come from? Matter of fact, God talking about David chastised him one time. He said, “I called you from following the sheep when you were wearing a shepherd’s coat.” David was… the poorest of the poor were the shepherds. They lived out in the fields with the sheep and they probably smelled a little bit like sheep. You carry a lamb around, you start to smell like one. There’s something to be said for the fact that when Jesus came He revealed it to shepherds. So here you’ve got the pauper, the youngest of the family of Jesse, and the prince is giving him his robe. What does a robe represent biblically? That’s his righteousness. He gives him his belt. That’s like the belt of truth. He gave him his armor. Doesn’t the Lord give us His armor? His sword. The word of God is like a sword. His bow. A bow was the symbol of strength in the Bible because it took strength to pull back a bow. I mentioned his belt. Did I fail to mention? It says David made a covenant with Jonathan because “he loved him as his own soul”. By the way, do you know what the name Jonathan means? Yah-Nathan. We’ve got a boy named Nathan, Nathan it means gift. Jonathan means the gift of Jehovah. It’s God so loved the world He gave His Son. Do you know how Jonathan died? He died pinned to the walls of Beth Shan by the Philistines suspended between heaven and earth. Isn’t this how Jesus died? So here you’ve got a picture of how this prince who said, “Look, I know you’re going to be king. Even though I’m in line to be king, I’m willing to forfeit my position. I’m going to give you my robe. I’m going to make a covenant with you.” Matter of fact, later Jonathan made another covenant. He said, “I know the Lord has chosen you to be king,” and he was happy with that because it was God’s choice. It’s almost like Jonathan took what David deserved and David got what Jonathan deserved and there’s this great exchange that’s made. He made a covenant with him because he loved him like his own soul. How much does Jesus love you and me? Did He make a covenant because He loves us like His own soul? Now this is not the only place in the Bible where you find this incredible change and paupers receiving royal status.

You and I get a new royal status. I think about the story of Joseph. Joseph is one of many stories in the Bible of someone going from the prison to the palace. You can read that in Genesis 41:14. I’m just looking. I’ve sort of spoiled you. You don’t turn anymore, do you? Turn in your Bibles, you’ve got time, Genesis 41:14. I never saw anyone budge when I gave the scripture. I’ve spoiled you because we put them on the screen and I read them all to you, or you write them down. “Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved…” I could stop right here and preach a sermon about beards and shaving. Shaving is not a sin. That goes for men and women. He “changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.” Do you think Joseph put on new robes? Why couldn’t he go before the king like that? Because he was wearing prison clothes, wasn’t he? Can you imagine what a surprise it was for Joseph? He’s in his cell; he’s been there for years. He thought that everyone has forgotten about him. He hears a tap at the door and they say, “Get up!” He gets up and they say, “We’ve got to clean you up. You’re going to meet with the king.” All of a sudden they say, “Take away your rags. You can’t meet the king like that. You’ve got to be wearing royal robes if you’re going to the palace.” So they give him a royal robe. Keep in mind Joseph once had a robe, didn’t he? It was taken from him. So now he’s getting a royal robe again and he’s getting cleaned up and he comes into the presence of the king. Then go down with me if you’re still in Genesis 41. You know the story of the pharaoh’s dreams. Go to verses 40 and 41. The pharaoh declares to him the same day he’s brought from the prison house, “You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” Joseph is like a type of Christ and the only authority that Jesus is subject to is the authority of the Father. Only in the throne will I be greater than you. “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’” Talk about a reversal of fortune! To go in one day from the prison to the palace like that. To go from being a captive wearing rags, a pauper, to being a prince in one day. By the way, what is it that made the difference? How did he go from that status of pauper to prince? The word of the king made all of the difference. How do you and I go through that transformation of being paupers to being princes? It’s the word of the king, isn’t it? In one day that transition is wrought. By the way, the Lord tells us, Peter says, “you are a royal priesthood.” Moses said, “You will be to me a nation of kings and priests.” Then in Revelation it says we will live and reign with Christ. Does that excite you? That if you believe the word of the King that you go from the prison to the palace and it can happen in one day? Let me make this practical real quick. Whatever your bondage is, whatever your prison is, whatever the chains are that bind you, through the word of the King in one day your whole status can be transformed. You can be from totally defeated on your way to destruction under a death sentence languishing in prison to the palace and the status of a prince; it can happen in one day. This is the story of the exodus. God took a nation of slaves and in one day they became children of the King. Isn’t that right? They crossed over. In one day they went from slavery. They spoiled the Egyptians, they went out of Egypt. As soon as they crossed over they were out of bondage, and now they were children of the king and they were wealthy, one day.

Sometimes you probably fantasize that you would win the lottery. I hope you’re not dreaming that because that would mean that you’re playing the lottery. Hey! I’d better not see you at Thunder Valley. I don’t go there, but you’ve got to drive by Amazing Facts now to get there. We’re going to put a video camera out front, run it through our database of license plates in the church parking lot. You know it talks about Joseph’s change in status in Psalms. Not only does it tell the story there for Joseph, Psalm 105, you can find it there as well. It says “The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, To bind his princes at his pleasure...” Here Joseph has now got the power to bind the princes of Pharaoh. “…And teach his elders wisdom.” He told them how to prepare for the famine. In one day he goes through that transformation, and the Lord is willing to do that for you and me.

Another wonderful story that helps give us a picture of how the Lord is willing to trade places with you and me, this change of status, is found in the story of Jehoiachin the king of Judah. Now I want you to turn in your Bibles to Jeremiah chapter 52. By the way, this verse is a very important verse because it is the closing verses of Jeremiah and it’s the closing verses of 2nd Chronicles. It sort of is the story that closes the Old Testament. So pay careful attention to how does God close the message of the Old Testament. I’ve got to give you the background first as we prepare to go here. Nebuchadnezzar comes to Jerusalem. He captures King Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin is one of the sons of Josiah the good king, but Nebuchadnezzar wants to install one of his brothers that will make a covenant with him and so he takes Jehoiachin and he puts him in prison. He doesn’t kill him because you can kind of manipulate a people by saying, “Look, don’t forget I’ve got your king, the son of David, the royal seed. I’ve got him in my jail. You don’t obey me; I’m going to kill him.” So he carries him to Babylon, and this young king, he was probably in his late teens, is placed in a dungeon in Babylon. He languishes there for thirty-seven years. Now it’s something when a person stays in our more modern prisons that long, but if you lived in some of these ancient prisons and you survived a month, it was amazing. I mean, sometimes they would have in the Roman jails one historian said you might be chained in a Roman dungeon; they could still have the decomposing remains of a former prisoner in there with you. It wasn’t pretty. They would throw some straw on the ground and that was your bed and it was usually crawling with vermin. The food you ate wasn’t necessarily out of a sterile refrigerated pantry. It could be moldy, filled with maggots. So the very fact that he had lived thirty-seven years is miraculous. Now you got the picture? King Nebuchadnezzar dies, Daniel has not stopped thinking about King Jehoiachin. Nebuchadnezzar would not let him out of prison. Once he made a decision he didn’t go back. He was pretty stubborn. Daniel is hoping that the son of Nebuchadnezzar, by the way, the son of Nebuchadnezzar is not Belshazzar. That was the grandson. The son of Nebuchadnezzar is Evilmerodach. Evilmerodach evidently had a softer heart. Daniel maybe Shadrach, Meshach and abed-Nego they intercede. They say, “Look, our king has been in prison for thirty-seven years. The temple is destroyed; the city is destroyed. You have nothing to fear about a rebellion. Can you show him mercy?” It says here, Jeremiah 52:31, “Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah,” he had once been the king, but he lost it, “in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign,” (No, he’s not related to Evil Kenevil, in case you were wondering that.) “…in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison.” Now listen carefully. “And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon.” I want to pause right here. A king of a big empire often had other kings that sat at his table. They are basically governors of different provinces. So he had other kings that were fed at his table, and where you sat in relation to the king told something about your status and your stature. You might be at the lowest seat and that meant you’re not a very important king and you might be right up next to the king and that meant you had a position of great honor. So here he gives him this position of honor. He speaks kind words to him, “So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments…” What did you wear in prison? Well, I don’t think he was wearing the stripes. I think he was probably wearing rags. What do you think he wore now if he’s sitting at the king’s table? He gets royal robes, doesn’t he? “…and he ate bread regularly before the king…” What kind of bread do you eat if you sit at the king’s table? The best bread. “…all the days of his life. And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king of Babylon…” That’s not only talking about bread. That means he was given an allowance monetarily as well as food. “…a portion for each day until the day of his death, all the days of his life.” Alright think about this for a minute. What a wonderful story. You’ve been in jail thirty-seven years. You once knew what it was like to be king, but because of your rebellion you’re in prison. A lot of people are raised in the church. They know what it’s like to have that peace; they go out in the world and they spend thirty-seven years in prison. They were once reigning and living, they understood what it’s like to be a child of the king, but they lose it and then it’s restored. All of a sudden when you least expect it there’s a knock at the dungeon door, they open up the door, you get a shower, you get cleaned up, they give you new royal robes. They say, “Not only are you getting robes, here’s a checkbook, here’s a bank account.” You’ve got regular deposits that will be given to you. You now get to eat with the king of the biggest kingdom in the world, which was Babylon. Don’t forget Joseph was at that time Egypt was the biggest king. This is a type of God; the biggest King. You sit at his table, he spoke kindly to you. Does God show us words of kindness and grace and mercy? Does He speak kindly to us? And it says all the days of your life. That sounds like Psalm 23 where it says, “You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. …goodness and mercy shall follow me” how long? “All the days…” That kind of implies eternity there, doesn’t it? “…until the day of his death, all the days of his life” is how that verse ends. Now is that the story of salvation or what? Going from a pauper to a prince. This royalty was restored. His royal status was restored when it came to King Jehoiachin. Evilmerodach spoke mercy to him. Is God willing to do that for those who have backslidden? Not only that, He’s willing to trade righteousness with us.

You know the story of the Prodigal son. Luke 15:22 “But the father said to his servants,” when the boy comes home… what is the boy wearing when he comes home? He’s wearing rags. He once knew what it was like to live in the father’s house, but he lost it through prodigal living. He comes home, he’s wearing stinking rags. He’s been feeding pigs, but as soon as the father sees him coming he runs to meet the father, the father embraces him and he says, “Bring out the best robe…” This is the robe the father would wear. “…put it on him, and put a ring on his hand…” Back then if you had stature in a family and you had authority to seal documents you had a family ring and you would press it into the hot wax on any formal document and it gives you the authority of being a legitimate son. “…sandals on his feet.” How did he come home? barefoot. “And bring the fatted calf here and kill it…” A sacrifice is made, and then there’s a feast. “‘…and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” You see the picture in the story of the prodigal son of him going from being a pauper to being a prince in one day, but again this is another story of those who maybe were raised in the church; they knew what it was like to be in the Father’s house and then they lose it. And he trades righteousness with him. Romans 8:3 and 4 “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Can I translate that for you loosely? The Prince becomes a pauper and the pauper becomes a prince. He trades places. Not only does He trade status with us; He takes our status of being unrighteous. He says, I’m going to give you a righteous status, but the only way I can give you a righteous status is I become unrighteous. So they trade places. Jesus says I take your unrighteousness and I’m giving you My righteousness. That’s different than just being let out of jail. That’s being the person who let’s you out of jail saying I’m going to take your jail cell for you. You see that’s going the second step and this is what Jesus does for us.

You can see this exchange in the story of the Good Samaritan. You probably heard it a hundred times before. You find that in, of course, Luke chapter 10. Well, let’s turn there real quick. You’ll only find this parable in the gospel of Luke. The great exchange of the Bible that Jesus makes with you and me. And He says in verse 30, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” This is what the devil has done to the human race; we’ve fallen stripped, paupers. Robbed, he fell among thieves. They took everything precious so there he is. He’s wounded, half dead, he’s dying, poor, wretched, miserable, blind (they probably punched him in the eye), naked, and leaves him there alone. That’s the story of the human race. That’s the story of a world full of paupers. And then of course the priest comes by, doesn’t help. The Levite comes by, he prays, but he doesn’t do anything about it, but, verse thirty-three, “But a certain Samaritan…” the least likely “as he journeyed, came where he was.” And when he sees him, “he had compassion on him, and went to him…” God comes to us; He came to our world. “…and (he) bandaged his wounds...” Where did he get the bandages? Do you think he had a first aid kit on his donkey or his camel in the glove box? No, I think he took some of his own clothes, maybe his own robe, and tore it up and made bandages to bind up his wounds, bound up with his righteousness. “…pouring in oil…” what does the oil represent? Holy Spirit. “…and wine…” What does that represent? The blood of the covenant. “…and he set him on his own animal….” Now wait. Who was supposed to be sitting on that animal? He was. He said, “Look, I’ll trade places with you. I’ll walk, you ride. I’m going to take the clothes I’m supposed to be wearing and I’m going to use them to bandage you. I’m going to take the wine I’m supposed to be drinking and I’m going to use it on your wounds. I’m going to take the oil that’s for my bread…” Any of you ever been to Macaroni Grill? The reason I mention that is what they do is they bring out bread and they put out a little dish of olive oil. That’s not a new thing. They did that in the Middle East for thousands of years. That’s what they’re talking about. They used to dip their bread in oil. You remember when Jesus at the last supper said to John I’ll be dipping a sop and whomever I dip it in and hand it to he’s the one betraying Me. They used to have olive oil and they would dip the bread in the oil and hand it to them. It’s pretty good, isn’t it, if you’ve been there? And so he gives him his oil. I don’t think you thought the oil was not like motor oil for the camel or the donkey. It’s not the same thing. It was eating oil in case you had any question. And his wine “and set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn,” by the way, that’s the church. When people are saved in the world we bring them to the inn. And it says, he “took care of him.” First the Lord works in our lives through His Holy Spirit. And then he says to the innkeeper the next day, when he’s departing, he takes out two denarii, and he gives them to the innkeeper, he says now I’ve started. As I’ve taken care of him, I want you to take care of him. You “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend,” it may cost you more than I’ve given you, “when I come again…” does he say he’s coming again? “I will repay you.” By the way, the Samaritan is a type of Christ. A Samaritan was sort of half Jew and half Gentile, and Jesus is where the gentile world and the Jewish world meet, isn’t He? By the way, Jesus had gentile blood, did you know that? You ever read His family tree? Ruth, gentile; Tamar, gentile; Rahab, gentile, yeah, Jesus had some gentile blood, in case you didn’t know, so He’s like that Samaritan. Now just stand back and look at the story again. This is the story of a great trade. He comes upon a man who is supposed to be his enemy and the average Samaritan you would have thought would have gone, “pft!” and said, “You get what you deserve. You’re a Jew,” and left him there. But he said, No, I’m not only going to have compassion on you, I’m going to go beyond that. I’m going to give you what’s mine and I’m going to take your problem. I’m going to give you my wine, my clothes, I’m going to put you on my animal, I’m going to give you my food, I’m going to take money out of my pocket, I’m going to let you sleep in the bed that I’m supposed to sleep in, but I’ll take care of you that night, and then I’m going to commit you to someone and take care of your future. What a great change. What a great exchange. Do you see it here? This is what the Lord does with us in the gospel story. Martin Luther said to a friend once in a letter, “Learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to sing to Him and say, ‘Lord Jesus, You are my righteousness; I am Your sin. You have taken upon what is mine and given me what is Yours. You became what You were not so that I might become what I was not.’” Isn’t that wonderful? This is the story of the gospel. God does for you what you can’t do for yourself. He trades places with us.

Not only does He trade stature and status, He trades resources. I touched on that briefly here. II Corinthians 8:9 He takes our poverty and He gives us His riches. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” He trades riches with us, doesn’t He? You probably heard the story of this fellow named Jack Wurm, 1949, he’s penniless, he’s walking down the beach in San Francisco and he finds a bottle on the beach. He takes the bottle; he opens it up and inside is a document that looks like a will and it’s signed by someone of the name Daisy Singer. He wonders whether it’s a hoax, but he thinks just in case it’s offering to leave the entire estate to whoever finds the bottle. He takes it to some attorneys who get very excited and they do some investigating. They contact London and indeed it is authentic. It is the last will and testament of Daisy Singer who is the heiress… you remember the Singer Sewing Machine? Does anyone remember the Singer Sewing Machine? We used to have a treadle sewing machine. Anyone remember the treadle sewing machines? And they had a vast fortune, the Singer family. She had become disgusted with a lot of her family. She wasn’t married, had no children, so when it came time to make out her will (She had kind of a bizarre sense of humor.) she made it out, she put it in a bottle, she threw it in the Thames River twelve years earlier. It manages to float its way around… This is a free Amazing Fact. It manages to float its way out into the Atlantic, goes around the bottom of South America they figured, somehow gets in the stream, passes Hawaii and lands in San Francisco twelve years later. This fellow who just happens to be penniless and out of work gets the will. Oh, and by the way, here is what the will says, “To avoid confusion I leave my entire estate to the luck person who finds this bottle and to my attorney Barry Cohen. Share and share alike.” It ends up he got six million dollars in cash and Singer stock for finding that bottle. To go from unemployment and rags to riches, a total act of grace, wouldn’t that be nice? You’d just like to think about this, you think, “I wish I was Jack Wurm, other than the name.” What a story.

You know I think in the Bible about Elisha. Elisha when Elijah came to him and he cast his mantle on his shoulders, you know what Elisha’s status was? By the way, do you know what the name Elisha means? My God is Savior. It’s very much like the name of Jesus. Yashuah, Elisha, very similar. He is plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, you read it. Back in the Bible times if you had one ox you were doing okay. A yoke of oxen was like owning a John Deer tractor for one of these big Texas farmers. You know now they make them with just about everything. It’s got air conditioning, TV, radio, vibrating seat, Jacuzzi, practically everything in the tractor. Really it’s not like it used to be. Elisha is the only son of this family who has twelve yoke of oxen. He walks away from that to follow Elijah a poor prophet who gets fed by widows and ravens. Why did he do it? Because he was getting a bigger inheritance. When Elijah went to heaven he gave his inheritance to Elisha. What was it? A double portion of his spirit. When was Elisha richer? When he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen or when he got a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and he was still a poor prophet?

What is the Lord offering us? Real riches. Christ says that He’s offering us that. He became poor that you might become rich. Not only that, the Lord is trading places with us in that He’s trading and here’s where it really touches the heart and it ought to evoke a similar response from you. He trades sentence. You and I have committed sin. The penalty for sin is death. Would it make you nervous to know you were going to be executed today? Would you be ready? How do you feel about a death sentence? This is what He did for us.

You know I wanted to jump back to the story of Joseph one more time. Joseph, after he became the prince of Egypt, when his brothers came to him, his brothers who had sold him and put him in prison, he let them taste what he had tasted. Talk about trading places. Then Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison where the king’s prisoners were confined and he was there in the prison. He had been born free, but now he is put in prison because he is sold for their sin. By the way, how did the brother’s cover for their sin? They presented to their father a blood-stained robe, right? Then years later Joseph’s brothers come to him; they bow down to him. He accuses them of being spies. Joseph puts them in prison. He says, I want you to taste what I’ve tasted. Trading of sentences is exactly what Jesus did for you and me. I heard one time about some parents that they kept telling their eleven year old boy, “You better be here in time for dinner.” And he kept coming late. They finally got fed up. They said, “Look, if you’re not here in time for dinner you’re just going to eat toast and water.” Sure enough, they very seldom take the threat seriously, the boy showed up late for dinner. By the time he got to the table the parents had already served their plates and he sat down at his plate and there the eleven year old boy saw there was half a piece of toast and some water. He sat there staring at it because he was really hungry. He was really sorry. Tears started to well up in his eyes. His father couldn’t take it anymore so the father reached over and he took the boy’s plate, slid it over to himself and he took his full plate and slid it over to his son and never said anything. Later that boy grew up and became a preacher and he said, “I never forgot what God was like, that day when my father took my punishment.” What do you think hurt the boy more? If he had been forced to eat the toast or the fact that his father now was just going to have toast for dinner because he was late? Do you think he was late again the next day? This is the story of what the Lord does for us. He takes our sin, He takes our punishment, He makes this sacrifice on our behalf. Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” You remember our scripture reading this morning that opened the worship hour? Isaiah 53 “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions,” He’s our sacrifice. “He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” He’s whipped, stripes is what happened when you were whipped. He’s whipped in our behalf. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Is that just a theory or did it really happen? Jesus took the sin of the whole world. He took your sin; He took mine. Have you read Daniel chapter 9? One of the signs of the Messiah, it says, “In the midst of the week He will be cut off, but not for Himself.” Well, let’s think about that. He’s cut off from the land of the living. Who is he cut off for? Me. He’s cut off for you. You know I don’t know if they do this anymore, but I read once that years ago the Mohammaden’s of Calcutta went through a sacrifice ritual that probably sprang from their connection with Abraham. It was a yearly sacrifice. A lamb or a kid without spot or blemish was taken to the priest. The person who presents the offering would lay his hands on the animal’s head and he’d say, “For my head I give thine.” Then he would touch the ears and the mouth and the eyes etcetera of the lamb and he’d say, “For my ears… for my mouth… for my eyes I take thine.” Until finally he mentioned it all and he says, “Your life for mine.” And as he pronounces this words the priest would plunge the knife into the lamb’s heart and symbolically he really understood that lamb is taking what I deserve, he is suffering for what mine eyes have seen, for what my mouth has said, for what my ears have heard, the life that I should lose he’s going to lose. They really had a better sense of substitution then because of going through this. Christianity is all about substitution. The paupers get the place of the Prince and the Prince takes the place of the paupers. You know there is a beautiful quote from the book Desire of Ages, page 25, you might write that down. Pastor Mike reminded me of this yesterday when we were talking. “Christ was treated as we deserve that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins in which He had no share that we might be justified by His righteousness in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours that we might receive the life which was His.” With His stripes we are healed. He trades places with us. It’s a beautiful story.

He trades records with us. You’ve probably heard stories before of people that go in, they sneak into the college or the high school office at night and they swap test results or something so that a person who really deserves a failing grade gets the honor roll and the person who deserves the honor roll is wondering why they got an F. It’s because someone swapped grades. Have you ever been amazed when you got a passing grade when you thought you failed? Very rarely have you gotten an A when you thought you should get an F, but this is what happens. The Lord changes records with us. I Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins,” listen, “the just for the unjust,” He’s the Prince, we’re the paupers, “that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…” Again, II Corinthians 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” I remember hearing a story years ago when we went to the Philippines, that was 2000, I think. We went to visit a prison that had ten thousand inmates and this is outside of Manila. I had never been to a prison quite like this before because security was very tight getting in and out, but once you got in you get to wander out there in this prison. It was like a city. Many of the prisoners had their own homes. They had their own little gardens. There were chickens running around. Families would come in and visit with the prisoners. There are fires burning. I thought, man, this is pretty scary. It was like just a city that was within the prison. They would even let children come in and visit their fathers and they’d be playing with them and then they’d leave. I heard a story. By the way, at the Amazing Facts office we’ve got a great big boat that was given to us when we went to the prison. We spent some time with the people there. Some of you in the office have seen it. The Filipino prisoners carved it with rocks because they don’t allow them to have knives. It’s a very intricate elaborate ship with all of the sails and they carved the whole thing with just the rocks that they’re allowed to have. We’ve got that in our Bible school in the Amazing Facts office. I heard a story one time that these two brothers, twin brothers, one was a Christian, one was not. One drove a jitney; it was like a Filipino taxi. He was drinking, the non-Christian brother, had an accident. Some tourists were killed. It was an accident, but they gave him an especially severe sentence: life in prison. Maybe that’s not that severe when you think about it. Well, the non-Christian brother happened to be married, the one who drove the jitney, and had a family with several children. His Christian brother was unmarried. The Christian brother’s sister-in-law and all of her children were constantly crying every day for their father. “We don’t have money to pay the bills now he’s no longer here.” He tried to help as often as he could, and then finally it occurred to him, he said, “What they really need is not money. What they need is the father and the husband back.” He thought, “Look, I’m a Christian. I’ve got eternal life. Maybe I could witness in the prison.” So he went to the prison and he checked in, got his badge, got his photo and everything, went in, changed clothes with his brother. He told his brother, “Your family needs you. I have no big reason to live on the outside. I can work for Jesus on the inside, but you must give up your drinking and you must serve Jesus.” And he traded places with his brother, and sure enough they looked so identical that when the time came for him to go out the condemned one went out and the free one took his condemnation. You hear that story and you think, wow, what a sacrifice to do that! But isn’t that really what the Christian story is? That He trades places with us; He takes our penalty. He takes our sentence.

He takes our punishment which is our next point. Going on with Isaiah 53, verse 10, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He” God the Father “shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” You see, Jesus took the wrath of the Father against you, He took it. He jumped in front of the speeding truck of judgment. <> Jesus was something like a lightening rod in this world. The cross is a lightening rod for the wrath of God against you because of your sins. I’m talking about the wrath of God’s justice. God loves you, but there is wrath against sin, and if you’ve got sin in your life when Jesus comes the Bible says the wicked are destroyed by the brightness of His coming. That’s why we need Jesus as our lightening rod right now. Amen? He took the wrath of the Father that you and I deserve upon Himself that we might be spared. You know I understand that if you go to Strasberg, Pennsylvania there is a grave of a Civil War soldier there, and it’s signed Jay Summerfield. It’s faded and you can barely read it anymore. This man was Lincoln’s substitute. It says right on the grave “Lincoln’s substitute.” You see back during the days of the Civil War when so many were dying Abraham Lincoln began to feel bad that he could not fight. He had to, of course, administrate as president. He thought, so many are giving so much. One of the soldiers volunteered. He said, “I will fight in your behalf.” The president graciously accepted. He said, “I wish I could enlist.” Frequently Lincoln went to the front lines and he met with the soldiers. On this one grave this is the one soldier who said he would fight in Lincoln’s behalf. Sadly Lincoln actually died before the young man. The young man survived the war and he died years later, but there’s still that grave there. It says, “Lincoln’s substitute.” This is sort of what Jesus did. He said, “Look, I will go into battle with the devil for you. I will be your substitute.” And when Jesus overcame the three temptations there in the wilderness, He fought those temptations and was victorious so that we can be victorious. You and I can cash in on His victory and you can win as well because He fought in your behalf and He’s your substitute. In case you missed your cue, say amen while I find my next thought.

Christ who was the King of all became a servant. You think about the picture. We should be serving Him, isn’t that right? I mean He’s God. He’s the Creator, we’re the creation. We are to be ministering to Him. But the Lord said in Matthew 20:26 “…it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus said, “I’m going to trade places with you.” He took the status of a servant and He gives us the status of royalty. Can you understand? Even Peter said, “There’s something wrong with this picture.” When Jesus came to wash his feet, he said, “Not so, Lord! No, I’m supposed to be washing Your feet! What are you doing down there? You’re the King and I’m the servant.” Jesus is trying to communicate “My whole life is about changing places.” Christianity is all about us not only trading places with the Lord, then He tells us to go trade places with the world and say, “Look, we’re willing to serve you that we might save you. We’re willing to let you ride and we’ll walk. We’re going to pour ourselves out and invest in you that you might live. What Christ did for us in trading places He’s asking us to do for the world. You know there is really no better sample in the Bible of this dynamic than when Jesus is on the way to the cross. He fell the third time under the weight of the cross and all of the beating and they tapped somebody who was standing by and they said, “Alright now you’re trading places with Jesus. He’s going to place His cross upon you.” It’s wonderful to think that Jesus is not asking us to be crucified, is He? Do we have a cross to bear? Let me take that back. We are spiritually crucified with Christ. I didn’t want you to misunderstand me. But you and I very likely are not physically going to be crucified. We’re not going to bear the sins of the world the way He did, are we? He did that for us. No man can do that for any other man. But we all have a cross to take up, and what Simon did that day when he bore the cross of Christ every follower is invited to do. And it’s a privilege.

And then in closing, the other story that I think in the Bible really illustrates this love and this exchange is after David loses his son, if you want to have some idea of how the Father grieved when Jesus died and took our place, David when Absalom died and when David got word that his son died hanging from a tree suspended between heaven and earth pierced with three darts in his heart. Very much like how Christ died the son of David. It says King David went up to the tower and he cried as he went probably leaning against the wall and weeping with every step and he said, “Oh, Absalom, my son! Absalom, my son, my son! Would God I had died for thee.” I’m sure a lot of parents have thought when they lost a child, “I wish I could have traded places. You were too young. I’ve lived long enough.” But that statement really encapsulates the story of the gospel. God says, “I love you so much I am willing to die for you. I’m willing to trade places with you.” This is the story of the gospel, friends. I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of giving it to you. But if you look at your Bible from place to place, from cover to cover you’ll see that it’s a story of a great exchange. We’re all paupers. We’re all poor, wretched, miserable, blind, naked. What an amazing thing that the King says, “I’ll tell you what. I’ve got a proposal for you paupers, I’ll trade places with you.” The just for the unjust. When Jesus died on the cross He said, “I will take your rags. I’ll take your sin. I’ll take your poverty; I’m giving you My riches. I’m taking your weakness; I give you My strength. I take your punishment; I give you My liberty. I take your prison; I give you My liberty. I take your sickness; I give you My health. I take your death; I give you My life. I take your low station; I give you My high station.” I mean, everything good that Christ had, He forsook when He took your place, but why did He do it? Because He really wants you to have everything He had and to keep it. He’s willing for you to have His high position to live and the reign with Him. That, to me, is a wonderful story. Matter of fact, it’s called good news. You’d never know from looking at your faces that it’s good news. It must be too warm in here. Tell you what, if you’d like to sing about the good news turn me to hymn 198. I thought this is a hymn… we don’t typically sing this. It’s like too good to be true. “And Can it Be” and let’s stand together as we sing this.

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior's blood! Died he for me? who caused his pain! For me? who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Before we sing the next verse, this is one of those sermons where it’d be a mistake, I think, to just dismiss everybody with a blessing without giving you an opportunity of changing rank from pauper to prince. There may be some here that haven’t understood the gospel that Christ is willing to trade places with you. He will take your unrighteousness and give you His righteousness and all of that can happen in one day. Matter of fact, it can happen in the next sixty seconds, yet some people don’t believe it and don’t want to take advantage of it. They say it’s too good to be true. Can it be? Yes, it can. If you believe you can come to Christ just like you are right now and you can go from being a pauper to being a prince. Would you like that? If you have not done this before and you want to make that exchange, come. We’ll sing verse two. We’ll pray together before we close.

He left his Father's throne above (so free, so infinite his grace!), emptied himself of all but love, and bled for Adam's helpless race. 'Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me! 'Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me! Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

This is one of those great hymns of the church, the words. Let me read verse three to you.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, fast bound in sin and nature's night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

Isn’t that good? This is one of the great, great songs. How many of you want to be able to capitalize on that change the Lord is offering us? Is that your desire? Let’s sing verse four since we read verse three.

No condemnation now I dread; Jesus, and all in him, is mine; alive in him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine, bold I approach th' eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own. Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Loving Lord, sometimes it does seem too good to be true. Can it be that You the king of heaven would be willing to come to this world and to exchange all with us, to trade place with this race of paupers and give us all that You own. Not only that, Lord, You’ll give us the strength and the power now to live in this world as Your representatives and to pass on the good news of the great trade. Lord, I pray that each person listening both here and those who might be watching or listening on a tape can take advantage of this incredible good news that You’ll trade places with us. It’s wonderful to consider that someday You will live and reign with us. The capitol of the cosmos will be moved to this world and we’ll share in that through eternity. Lord, I pray that we can choose to be citizens of that kingdom right now that we can be princes and reign with You right now and be Your children, a nation of kings and priests. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

God bless you. You may be seated. I’d like to remind you in closing that we’ll be having at ten a.m. tomorrow morning the funeral service for Sister Gwen Dennis.

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Down From His Glory (PB) by Joe Crews

Down From His Glory (PB) by Joe Crews

52 Things to Do on Sabbath by Glen Robinson

52 Things to Do on Sabbath by Glen Robinson
God's Promises




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