Jesus and Justice, Part 2

Only Jesus Can Bring True Justice To Our Broken World

Dan Franklin
Oct 9, 2022    44m
Only Jesus can bring true justice to our broken world. Join us as we learn three qualities of the kind of justice He brings and what it will look like in action. We long for justice, not for the justice we can achieve, but for the justice only He brings that is true, final, and ultimate. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:16] Today is the second half of these two weeks within our Justice and Mercy series, where we're talking specifically about the connection between Jesus, the Lord Jesus, and the whole subject of justice. And here's what I want us to be able to start off with, Justice, at its core, is a pretty simple concept. We've been talking about this throughout the five weeks of this series, but justice is giving people what they are owed, or in a sense, giving people what they deserve, and that can be a reward or consequences. But we can think, all right, justice is trying to, and if we're thinking of a just society, a just society gives people what they are owed. So a pretty simple concept. the deal is, when we start getting into how we actually make this happen, how we actually try to foster a society where people are getting what they are owed, we begin to realize that it's incredibly complicated and difficult to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:17] And so here's what I want to do, maybe especially because the sermons up front, we're not quite warmed up yet, we're going to do a little thought experiment. And so I want you just to follow me on this thought experiment. So we're going to imagine two people in this thought experiment. Both of them are 50 years old, and one of them is wildly successful in their career. the other one is serving an extended prison sentence. So if we're looking at those two individuals, we'd say like, all right. And let's just presume right now, the person in prison is in prison because they really did commit a crime, they're not there because they were falsely accused. And the person who has a lot of money, they didn't cheat, they didn't lie, they didn't get there through dishonest gains, it's all on the up and up. So if we were to look at these two, we'd say, all right, well, in a just society, if we have a just society, they both have got to these points because this is what they have earned, this is what is due to them.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:14] But let's start with the successful one, and let's just try to ask a question on a larger scale of what might be going on. So if this person is wildly successful in their career, that probably means they've worked really hard, right? Do they deserve credit for working really hard? Yeah. Yeah, that's appropriate for diligence, it's appropriate that they would get some credit for that. But what probably has also happened is that they are in a career that our society values highly, the contribution of that. It doesn't necessarily mean that they've worked way harder than somebody else who's in a less lucrative career, it just means in our society, their contribution and what they've done are more highly valued. That doesn't mean that their money is unjustly got, but we can say, well, it doesn't necessarily mean that they deserved way more than somebody else who worked equally hard at a different career.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:07] And then let's keep going back from there, many of us, the jobs that we end up getting are through somebody that we have a connection with. There is nothing wrong with that, nothing unjust about that. But we could say, all right, well, chances are good that this person got into this industry because of having a personal connection with somebody, and it's possible that if none of that had happened if there were no personal connections, somebody else would have got that job. So we could say, well, not unjust, but maybe he didn't even earn that initial job in the same way, maybe it was because of a personal connection.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:40] And then we can take a step further back from that and we can say, well, probably if this person is in a successful career, it's probably because they got a good education. And if they got a good education, they probably worked hard at the education. But you know what also probably happened, they probably had parents that prioritized education and some parents do, and some parents don't. In fact, who are our teachers in here right now? Who are our educators? All right, those of you, I think we all kind of know this now, but especially those of you who are educators, know that the dramatic contrast that happened, especially during COVID, where kids that had parents who were helping them and were stable in the home where we're helping the kids keep on track, and the kids that didn't have parents, that had a more chaotic home, really, really struggled during that time. And so all right, so maybe this person got a great education, maybe a lot of that is because of hard work, but probably a whole bunch of that is also because this person had parents that prioritized education and helped them get there.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:42] And then you could even take a step back and you can say, well, whoa, wait a second, but what if a big part of it is just that this person is very, very intelligent and very skilled in their field? And we could say, great, do you make yourself intelligent? No, you can learn, but some are born more intelligent than others, and you don't make yourself skilled in that same way, you can develop the skills.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:05] So here's the point that I'm making, the person over here, it's not that they've done anything corrupt or unjust to get all of this, but if we're looking strictly at what they are owed, we might say, well, how much of that is owed to them and how much of that is owed to somebody like their parents who helped get them there? And then you could take a step back with the parents and you can say, were the parents that way because their parents were stable in their home. Do you see how we keep going back?

Dan Franklin: [00:05:30] And we can move over here to the person who's serving an extended prison sentence. And again, let's just say, yep, this person really did commit the crime, it wasn't an unjust court or anything like that. But let's say this person grew up with deep instability in the home, abuse, and a lot of chaos, and also grew up in a more violent area where there was a lot of crime going on. We can look at all of that and say no excuse, and is that right? Is that an excuse? No, it's not an excuse for the crime, but it should humble us a little bit. And here's the reason why it should humble us. Each of us that feels like, hey, I have been successful, and I got where I got because I worked hard. The point of this illustration is not that you didn't work hard, but the point of this illustration is if a few things in your upbringing went differently, you might have ended up over here instead of over here. It's humbling when we start to realize a lot of our successes where we feel like I am owed for this achievement are largely dependent on factors outside of our control.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:37] And this leaves us in this point that if on a grand scale if we're saying, well, we want a society that's so just that it takes all of those things into consideration, all of those complications and all of those nuances and tries to work it all together and figure out what's truly just, we find it a very, very difficult task to do. In fact, I would argue not just difficult, but for us, impossible.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:03] In fact, what happens when somebody takes it upon themselves to try to unilaterally decide what everybody should be owed? They typically end up as tyrannical dictators and nobody benefits from that. So, again, here's the big point, if we're looking at justice, and we're saying we want a just society, we have to have the humility of recognizing we don't seem to be capable of doing this. Life is too complicated, we're all limited in our knowledge and understanding, and skill. And even if we had the intelligence to get it done, we don't know all of what's going on, and we would miss things in the process.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:44] And yet I think we all have a craving for this, we all have a craving for things to be made right. We say, no, we want that just society, we want to see things made right, and we want to see people rewarded, even if they had to work really hard to get to where they were because of some things that they had to overcome, and we want to see people get consequences even if they've had all these advantages that have sort of veiled them from the consequences of their actions, we want that just society. What I want to say is this, we are not capable of achieving it. But does that mean you have to give up hope? The answer is, no, because there's somebody who is capable of achieving that, and that's who we get to talk about today in this passage in Isaiah chapter 42 verses 1 through 4. This probably isn't going to be a big shock that the person that we're talking about who can achieve this is Jesus. And it's not just that Jesus can achieve this, it's that only Jesus can bring about true and final and ultimate justice. It's something that he's promised to do, and it's something that we can have our hope that one day we will experience that full justice. And what we're going to do is we're going to walk through this passage that you heard Lauren read a few minutes ago, Isaiah chapter 42 verses 1 through 4. So you already had the chance to turn there, but if you haven't yet, Isaiah chapter 42 verses 1 through 4.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:11] A quick note on this passage, you might be saying, all right, I thought we were talking about Jesus. Why are we going to Isaiah in the Old Testament? The reason is because this is a prophecy about Jesus, it's a prediction about what he was going to do. And the reason why we know for sure it's a prediction about what he was going to do is because in Matthew 12 verses 15 through 21, it quotes this passage and says, this is what Jesus came to do, this is talking about him hundreds of years before he showed up. And here's what we're going to get from this, we not only get to go through this passage that is going to tell us that Jesus really can and will bring final justice, but we also get to see three qualities of the kind of justice that Jesus brings and what it will look like. And that's what we're going to do as we move through this passage.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:01] So we're going to start with the first quality of the justice that Jesus brings, and that's that Jesus brings a justice that lasts, it's not short-lived, it's not here and then gone, it's a justice that lasts. And so let's look at verse 1 together, verse 1 says," Here is my servant, whom I uphold." And some of you, if you have open Bibles, some of you might have a slightly different translation, but when it says here, some translations have see, or behold, this is kind of cool, this is like God is saying, look over here at my servant. And it's striking because in the verse right before this, if you have an open Bible, you can even look to the verse right before this in Isaiah chapter 41, verse 29, he uses the same word to start that sentence, and he's talking about the idols. He's saying, see, look at these idols, they have no capability of saving anyone. And then in the next verse he says, see, I'm sending my servant, "My servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight."

Dan Franklin: [00:11:10] And some of you may remember that at the baptism of Jesus, not only did the Holy Spirit descend on him as a dove, but the Father spoke from heaven out loud. And what he said was, "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." My chosen one in whom I delight. And then he says, "I will put my Spirit on him." And some of you will remember last week we were in the New Testament, we were in Luke 4, but in Luke 4, we were looking back at a passage that Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61. And again, that passage talked about the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit being upon the Messiah, upon the Deliverer, and upon Jesus. Jesus had the Holy Spirit in a special way to empower Him to do everything that He did. And finally, verse one ends by saying, "And he will bring justice to the nations." This is one of three times in this passage that it talks about Jesus bringing justice, and a wide justice.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:17] And here's why it's important that we start in verse 1, verses 2 and 3 are going to really be the meat of this passage, but we need to start with verse 1 and just make sure that we take in the reality of this. That God says, I want justice on the earth. We've already seen this, a couple of weeks ago we went through Amos 5 when God said, I'm more concerned about justice on the Earth than I am that you sing the right songs or attend the right festivals or bring the right sacrifices. Justice is very, very important to God, and so he says here, all right, I want justice on the earth, here's how it's going to happen; I'll send my servant, he'll get it done. The justice that we're longing for is not a justice that we achieve, it's a justice that we receive. It's a justice that is a gift from God, and that means it's a justice that isn't going anywhere.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:08] When Jesus returns and there is finally perfect justice on the earth, it's going to be a justice that lasts. And do you know why it's going to last? Because Jesus is never going to be out of office once he's in office. Sometimes we get really excited about a party or a politician and we think, all right, this person's going to finally bring about change, and then two years later, or four years later, or six years later, eight years later, their term is done. Jesus, though, is a king whose kingdom will never end, once he sets up justice, it's not going anywhere. And also, the justice that Jesus brings is going to last, because many times that we're experiencing joy and justice in our personal settings, we're always vulnerable to a tragedy striking, a natural disaster, a disease, a sickness, an injury, an act of violence. Once Jesus comes, he will wipe away every tear and there will be no more death and no more mourning. We get to legitimately say we are not capable of achieving the kind of justice that we want, but we place our hope in someone who does.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:25] Which, just as a quick aside, means we also are invited in this passage to abandon all hope in anyone, or anything else, ushering in the justice that we want for. Let me make a bold prediction, after November this year, there's still going to be a lot of injustice, no matter who's in office, no matter who wins in the midterms, we are still going to be dealing with this same thing, abandon all hope that some politician is going to usher in what our hearts long for. That doesn't mean you don't vote, and doesn't mean all votes aren't equal, it just means we abandon all hope, and that you abandon all hope that your parents, or that your teachers, or that your spouse is going to somehow usher in what your heart longs for. Jesus alone can get that done, and when he gets it done, it's never going anywhere. Jesus brings a justice that lasts.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:25] But the second thing we're going to talk about in verses 2 and 3 is something that might be surprising, Jesus not only brings a justice that lasts, but Jesus brings a justice that heals. Now, let's be honest real quick, if you're watching a movie, maybe it's an old Western, and somebody comes into a town and the town is in chaos and maybe it's a sheriff or marshal and it comes in and he says, all right, I'm going to go away for a little while, when I come back, I'm bringing justice. If you hear that, you might be excited and you might be scared. Because the idea of justice coming is kind of scary, everything's going to be sorted out, everything's going to be answered for. So we could hear this message, hey, Jesus is going to bring justice, and we could think that's not necessarily good news for me. But what we get to see in verses 2 and 3 is that Jesus brings a justice that heals instead of crushing.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:24] Let's look at verse 2, verse 2 says, "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets." Now, if we're thinking about Jesus' life, we might say, all right, well, maybe this is a reference to the idea that even once he was arrested and on trial, he didn't shout and speak up to defend himself, but he was willing to accept that he was going to be our sacrifice. But you might also just look at this and say, this seems to point to just an overall posture of Jesus, that was surprising gentleness. Has anybody ever seen those different TV shows about people getting scared straight? A lot of shouting in those shows, we're going to solve your problem by shouting at you and terrifying you about the eventual consequences of your actions. And we get this message about Jesus, he will not shout or cry out or raise his voice in the streets.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:23] And when we get to verse 3, what we get is building off this idea of gentleness, we get two word pictures that describe this healing gentleness of Jesus. The first one is, "A bruised reed he will not break" You guys know what a reed is, right? It's basically like a slightly stronger blade of grass, it's not something that's powerful and stable. So we've got to reed, and it's not only a reed, what kind of a reed is it? It's a bruised reed. So we've got something that's already fragile and now it's even more fragile because it's bruised. "A bruised reed he will not break." This is obviously not talking just literally about the way that Jesus is going to interact with plant life, this is a reference to how Jesus is going to interact with human beings, a bruised reed, people who have been bruised by life. Not yet broken, not, not yet utterly destroyed, but people who have been bruised and are hurt by life.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:38] As we're getting into this, here's something this might be lurking in the back of some of your minds. You might say, all right, Jesus was gentle with some people. Was he gentle with everyone? He definitely was not gentle with everyone. Jesus lived out a reality that's a constant. If you're thinking of some of the things, you know, there's so much in the Bible. But if you're thinking all right, like, are there some verses or some ideas that really boil it down? That really, I should lock into my mind because it really summarizes something that's at the core of who God is. I'm going to give you one because it's constantly repeated in the Bible, God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. That's how Jesus lived out his life. In fact, multiple parables end with the idea of the humble are exalted, the exalted are humbled. God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. So Jesus had no problem being aggressive and assertive and rebuking to people who are filled with pride and self-sufficiency. But not when he met bruised reeds, not when he met people who were humble and had been humbled by life, he was gentle.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:49] You might even think about this whole idea, the idea that Jesus was gentle with those who were bruised by life. And sometimes we might think, all right, well, that's good, because sometimes life just beats us up and it's not our fault. Sometimes we have a disease, or sometimes we're mistreated by somebody, or sometimes we have a boss or a teacher that's just really hard on us, and we just kind of feel beat up by life, and so it's good to know when you feel beat up by life and you're sort of the victim in the situation, that it's not something that God just abandons us on. He doesn't pile on, he doesn't break the bruised reed.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:26] But the other thing that we've got to take in, is that sometimes we're bruised, and we all know it is kind of our fault. We have some hand in getting ourselves into this bruised situation. One of the great and memorable passages in the Bible is found in John chapter 8, and it's usually summed up as the woman caught in adultery. A lot of you are going to be familiar with this story, the Pharisees bring before Jesus a woman and they say she was caught in the very act of adultery. Of course, questions always swarm around this, we're like, adultery usually involves two people, where's the guy? They just got the gal and brought her. But apart from that, let's just take this at face value. What doesn't happen anywhere in this passage is a denial that she was caught in adultery, she was caught in adultery. Her innocence is not a question, she was definitely guilty of this. She never claims otherwise, nobody ever claims otherwise, and Jesus never claims otherwise. But Jesus chooses to engage with this humiliated, guilty woman who is bruised, at least in part, by her own choices, and interact with her with gentle grace. And again, you can read the story later, but some of you know this, and she had to assume in this situation, this is the end of me, this is the end. I'm publicly humiliated, they're about to start picking up rocks, literally, and throw them at me. But Jesus, in an amazing and incredibly wise act, says to all the Pharisees, whichever one of you has never sinned can pick up the first rock and go ahead and throw it. And they all decide to walk away, to the point that it's just Jesus face to face with this woman. And I love this because he asks her this question, he says, where are all your accusers? Does no one condemn you? And all she can seem to muster is to look up at him and say, no one has condemned me. And he says, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." Jesus, in this amazing act, he doesn't pretend that she didn't have sin, he didn't pretend that she didn't have some hand in getting her to this broken and bruised place. But he interacts with the bruised reed and doesn't break her, doesn't push her over the edge.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:41] And here's the deal, some of you right now, some of you are in here and you are bruised right now, just like you're struggling. And maybe you feel bad because you're like, the reason I'm bruised is like, I have guilt in this, I kind of got myself into this situation. In fact, there's somebody right now that I'm walking with, in sort of an ongoing way, who earlier this year was released from prison, and he's dealing with the aftermath of this and rebuilding his life after all of this. And he's not looking at it, claiming I was done wrong, he's looking at this and trying to rebuild with all that he's lost. And one of the great assurances that he gets to have every step of the way, is that even though he is bruised, Jesus isn't breaking him. Jesus is walking with him.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:26] Maybe some of you, we talked about the marriage event that we had on Friday. Maybe some of you right now, you're like, our marriage is bruised, and some of you are saying, I'm the bruiser, I'm the one who did this. I'm the one who made a mess of this. Surely Jesus doesn't want to hear from me when I'm the one who caused my own or my spouse's bruising. And I want you to read these words again. "A bruised reed he will not break." Jesus knows that sometimes the messes that we're in are the messes that we've made for ourselves. and he still treats us with gentleness. A bruised reed he will not break.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:04] The second analogy I like even better is, "And a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." And I love this because it's another picture, and it's the picture of sort of the small flame. You've got just this little flame and it's right there; it doesn't have the power to do a lot, and Jesus doesn't snuff it out. Like, I know we don't use matches a lot anymore because we have other ways of getting fire, but you ever been, you know, you're about to light a match, and you light a match and it's just like barely, it;-'s like, all right, it's there, but it's just barely there, it's not really enough to light the candle or anything? And so what do you do? You just blow it out, set it aside, and get another match. Jesus looks at us in our tiny little flame, our little flame of faith, our little flame of obedience, it's not impressive, it's just barely there, it's just barely noticeable, and he doesn't despise us or snuff that flame out.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:00] There are so many stories about this, the story that comes to mind that some of you might know, it's found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but in particular in Mark chapter 9. And in the passage is that there's this man whose son is dealing with an ailment and he's dealing with demon possession, and he comes to Jesus, and he says, hey, I would love for you to help me. He basically says I would love for you to help my son if you can. And Jesus responds to him by basically saying if I can? He is almost like, do you know who you're talking to? If I can? He says, When will you begin to believe? And some of you know, the famous thing that the father said to Jesus, he said, I believe. "I believe; help me in my unbelief." It's basically saying to Jesus, I've got a smoldering wick. Like, that's all I've got, I've got belief, it's barely there. You can kind of, if you look closely, if you get out the magnifying glass and see it, it is there, and help me in my unbelief. And you know what Jesus said to him? He said, get out of here with your weak faith. Jesus went and took that mustard seed of faith, took that, I kind of belief, but I kind of don't believe faith, and he walked with that man and healed his son. He accepts our weak faith. If right now you're looking at yourself and you're like, my faith is just kind of like when I pray, I kind of believe that God listens to me, but there's a big part of myself that thinks that he doesn't listen to me at all. But I kind of believe, there's just that little bit of belief that God listens to me. God will accept those prayers.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:45] In fact, here's the great news, by the way, about prayer, and I love this, this is one of my favorite things that the New Testament says about prayer. Anybody here, quick note, does anybody feel like you're not very good at prayer? All right. For those of you that didn't raise your hands, you're all bad at prayer. This isn't me saying it, this is the Bible saying it. Romans chapter 8 verses 26 and 27 say that we're all bad at prayer, it says we don't know how to pray as we ought, we don't know how to do this. And whatever is said on each of our tombstones one day, one of the things that it should say is Dan Franklin, 1978 to whenever, bad at prayer. We are all bad at prayer. God receives our bad prayers, and the Holy Spirit intercedes and makes our prayers what they should be.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:30] If you have the faith and you're like, I kind of believe so I'm going to go for it. If right now you're saying I kind of believe that God is working all things together for my good, go with that. If right now you're saying I kind of believe that if I'm fighting against sin, it's going to work out for my good, go with that. Because a smoldering wick, he will not snuff out. Even if you just have a flicker, Jesus welcomes that flicker. So we are invited to bring our bad prayers, our inconsistent Bible reading, our tepid church attendance, our distracted worship, and our semi obedience within what God is calling us to do, we are invited to bring all of that to Jesus and He doesn't snuff us out because we continue to bring it to him humbly.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:22] In fact, I'll read you my favorite thing that Jesus ever said, Matthew chapter 11 verses 28 through 30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Just quick, how many of you in there, when I just read those words of Jesus, did your souls just go, (relieved sigh), anybody? And that's why I love this image. Jesus knows this, Jesus is saying, if you come to me, you know what you're going to get? You're going to get, (relieved sigh), it's okay that I'm not where I should be. We've got some bruise reeds, and we have some smoldering wicks in here this morning. We've got a lot of us that are like, yeah, that's me right now, I'm frustrated, I'm not where I should be. I'm not going to ask for a show of hands, but all of us are not what we should be right now. Jesus is gentle when we humbly bring our bruised and smoldering selves to him and he walks with us, he brings healing instead of crushing. Jesus brings a justice that lasts and a justice that heals.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:45] And now, I want us to see one more quality of the justice that Jesus brings, at the end of verse 3 and verse 4, and that's that Jesus brings a justice that includes. Now at the end of verse 3, it sort of moves into this last point. It says, "In faithfulness he will bring forth justice." So second mention of justice here. Jesus is going to do this, he's going to bring forth justice, and he's going to do it in faithfulness. And some other Bible translations translate the Hebrew word here as truth. And here's why this is really important, we could get done with verse 3 and we can say, oh, Jesus is just going to sort of be gentle with everyone and not going to hold anybody accountable, not true at all. In faithfulness, in truth, he will bring forth justice.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:26] John chapter 1 says this twice about Jesus. Jesus Christ, full of? Anybody? Grace and truth. Full of grace and truth, but full of judgment and mercy. Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth, he is going to make sure that everything that needs to be punished will be punished. In fact, he went to the cross so that every sin that needs to be punished would be punished, but that we would be spared. "In faithfulness he will bring forth justice." And then it says, "He will not falter or be discouraged until he establishes justice on Earth." I love this, also, because sometimes we get a fire lit under us and we're like, yeah, I'm going to make a difference in the world, and I'm going to make a difference in my family, and maybe even last week when you saw some of our local outreach partners, you got really excited and you're like, yeah, I really want to be a part of, I want to be a part of Warrior for Children, or I want to be a part of Inland Valley Hope Partners, I want to be a part of these different things. But maybe, if you're a little bit older, once you get to a certain point, there's even a part of yourself that you're like, but am I? Like I'm saying I'm going to do it, but am I? There's been a lot of things that I've been excited about and then I've just decided not to do anymore. Jesus will not rest until he has established justice. One day the Son of God who showed up in a manger is going to come back as the king and usher in final justice, he will do it, he will not rest until he's done it.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:52] And now just look at the final statement of verse 4, "In his teaching the islands will put their hope." Now, once again, we got three mentions of justice here, and at the end of this verse, we have a mention of hope. In fact, these four verses are verses that we've used before in the Advent season of time when we're talking about Jesus being our only hope. "In his teaching the islands will put their hope." So that means there's going to be people that say, all right, I believe that there will be final justice one day. but my hope, my expectation of it is all set on Jesus, only Jesus can make this happen.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:33] But let's focus in on another part of this. In his teaching who will put their hope? The islands will put their hope. This is weird, it's like this seems very random. Why are we talking about the islands? It would make a lot of sense if it said in his teaching Israel will put their hope because, after all, this is written to the Jewish people. Or even if it's said more broadly, in his teaching the nations will put their hope. Which it said earlier that he was going to bring justice to the nations. But it specifies the islands, and we're like Hawaii, Indonesia, like, what is going on here? Here's why the islands are specifically singled out here, because when he talks about the islands, what he is doing is he's using a euphemism to reflect people far away that we don't even know exactly what's going on with them. People who we maybe haven't interacted with, they're far away, they're hard to reach because getting to islands was a lot more complicated than it is today. The islands, the far-off people, the people that we haven't met, though we don't know about, that we wouldn't be sure would be included, even they are going to end up putting their hope in Jesus. The great thing that he ends up with is that it's not just going to be the Jews who get in on this hope, it's going to be far-off people, there's an inclusive nature of what Jesus does here. And sometimes even, and I understand why we do this, we focus on sort of the exclusive nature of Jesus, that it is only, I've said it through this sermon, it is only through Jesus that we have hope, it is only through Jesus that we have forgiveness, it is only through Jesus that we can have a relationship with God, that's exclusive, Jesus is the only way that we can do that. But it's an exclusive offer that includes anyone who comes. Remember in the famous John 3:16, that Jesus came so that whoever would put their faith in him would have eternal life? Whoever, even the far-off people in the islands. Jesus wants everyone included.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:39] And here's just a question I want us to bring up and think about as we go through this. Is there anyone, for you, that you're not sure you want included? One of the things that are worthwhile, there are a lot of things that as we go through this Justice and Mercy series, that it's worthwhile for us to take stock in, and do some internal work. And one of the areas where we need to make sure we're doing the internal work is by just asking the honest question, is there anybody out there that I don't really want them in on it? I'm at the very least indifferent, and maybe even resistant to certain people getting in on the good news of Jesus. It could have to do with something related to race or ethnicity. It could have to do with something related to political parties. It could have to do with something related to life choices, like no, no, people who have committed certain crimes, don't get in on this. It might even be a specific individual that jumped into your mind that you're like, oh, if I'm going to be honest, it's this uncle, or it's this person in my extended family, or it's this person that I work with. Be honest. And again, this is something not just for today, this is something that throughout this series that I think God will work in us if we're honest enough to recognize. For some of us, I know what we all want to answer to this, we all want to look at this question and say, no, I want everyone included. But let's be honest enough to recognize when there's some healing that God needs to bring in our hearts because we have some prejudices, or we have some biases that are setting us against one another.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:10] A quick story, this was from a bunch of years ago, this is while we still lived in Oregon. I was interacting with a member of our congregation, and we were sort of interacting on racial issues at the time and talking through different things. And it was interesting because the conversation went on for a while before he sort of came forward with something that he'd wanted to say from the beginning, and I can tell he was being very tepid with saying it. And finally, he said it. He was like, all right, here's what I want to say, he said, I think that all people are created equal, but my life experiences have led me to believe that black people are just more violent, that they're just more aggressive, and he kept kind of giving qualifications, like I'm not saying this, but I'm saying this, but he said this is just what I've seen, this is what I've experienced, and this is what I've concluded. And it was a weird moment because he wasn't even trying to convince me of it, but he was just telling me, this is what I've come to believe. And I know there are a lot of things in life right now where people will say that's racist, and it's like, no, that's not racist. This was one where I had to say to him, okay, that's racist, like that is the very definition of racism right there. But then the neat thing that happened is the conversation didn't end there. Because him bringing it up was not him trying to convince me I'm right in this. Him bringing it up was him trying to say, I'm pretty sure I'm wrong about this, but I don't see any way to the other side of this unless I come out and acknowledge this is kind of what I think. And one of the things that I got to see him do that was so powerful, because that's a scary moment when somebody admits that to you, you're like, what do I do with this? But one of the amazing things that happened is he chose to respond to that by saying, I am almost certainly wrong about this, and so I need to figure out a way to deal with my heart and to deal with more black people that will help break down this barrier for me so that I'm no longer stuck in this place.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:05] Some of you might be in a similar place. Some of you might say if I'm going to be real about it, there's this person or there's this group of people, and I know I shouldn't believe this or I've been told I shouldn't believe this, but this is where I'm at, this is what I think about this. And here's what I want to say, if you come to any of our pastors or any of our elders and you're brave enough just to say I'm dealing with some prejudice in my heart, like, here's the honest truth about where I'm at. And maybe it has something to do with it, I remember a friend talking to me about how he had a lot of racism to overcome because he just said, you know, when I was a kid, Mexican kids beat me up every day. And he knew he had to overcome it, but it was difficult for him to overcome. Some of you might have baggage and you're like, in my head, I want everybody included, but in my heart, I don't really want everybody included, and I'm not acting like I want everybody included. If you've come to any of our pastors or any of our elders and are brave enough to acknowledge that, we will not kick you out the door, and we will not put it on social media, can you believe what this person said? We will take that as a good faith acknowledgment that you're saying I want to do the hard work of figuring this out in my heart and there's no way to the beauty, there's no way through to the beauty of what God has in my heart unless I go through the ugliness that's in it right now. We want to be at the point that in our hearts, genuinely, we're saying, I want everybody included, because the heart of God is for everyone to be included. And that's not only the heart of God, that's the end of the story, the end of the story is that even people from the islands, even people far off, are included because Jesus will bring justice. And thank God that He will, because only Jesus can bring about true justice.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:50] This is something once again, it's not something that we achieve, it's something that we receive. And so here's what I want to say, what do we do in the meantime while we're waiting in hope for Jesus to do this? And here's what we do in the meantime.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:02] Number one is this, when your heart is discouraged, you continue to walk forward in confident hope. You don't give in to despair. In fact, one of the reasons why we look to live out justice and mercy is not because we think as an American society, or we think as a church, we can unilaterally make it happen, it's because we are given a sign of what Jesus will one day do. We walk forward with hope when we're discouraged because we know that Jesus will one day do it, that's number one.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:33] Number two is that we bring our weakness and our frailty, we bring ourselves as bruised reeds and smoldering wicks to Jesus, confident that he is going to be gentle with us as he brings us strength and growth. Like I said earlier, there are some bruise reeds and there are some smoldering wicks in here. In fact, part of what we're going to do later on in this service, in a few minutes I'm going to introduce communion. After communion, we're going to have a time where we're going to have our prayer team up front, just for an extended time while we sing and while we worship. And during that time, I'm just going to be inviting anybody who's like, I'm a smoldering wick, I need prayer; I'm a bruised reed, I need help, to humbly come forward and just pray with an elder or pastor or a prayer team member who is going to say, I'm right here with you and Jesus receives you gently, so I'm going to receive you gently. In fact, maybe even for some of you, you're like, I need to come forward because I haven't been a bruised reed or a smoldering wick, I've been the one who has been bruising and I've been the one who's been putting out other people's fires, and I need to repent. I've been one of the proud people that God is opposed to and it's time to repent. But we're going to have an extended time to be able to come forward.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:45] And finally, we respond to this by rejoicing any time that others are included, even if they're people that we once would have considered to be enemies. Because according to the Bible, you know, who used to be an enemy of God? Every single one of us. We were enemies and we were brought into the family through the death of God's son.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:11] And there are many ways that we celebrate that, and one of the ways that we celebrate that is through communion. If you're going to be helping out with communion now, you can head to the back as Tom will begin to get you ready and get all of us ready for this. And here's how this is going to unfold, the band is going to come out, the worship team is going to come out and they're going to lead us into song as the elements are passed. Go ahead and just hold on to those, we will all take them together after this song. We take communion to celebrate and to remember that Jesus died for every sin that we have ever committed. We take this as a time to remember that just as he didn't break us, his body was broken for us, and his blood was shed for us. We take this as a symbol of remembrance of the sacrifice that was made to bring us in, which also helps us to remember how crazy it is any time we're not excited about somebody else being welcomed in. So as bruised reeds, as smoldering wicks, we prepare to be able to take the symbol that reminds us of the price that was paid to make us God's precious people. So as the team gets ready to come forward and serve, I'm just going to ask you to pray with me.

Dan Franklin: [00:43:24] Father, thank you so much for the grace that you have poured out in Jesus, thank you that you don't crush us, but that you do heal us. And Father, I pray that you humble us so that rather than being opposed to us, you will pour out your grace on us. Receive our worship now as a symbol that brings you joy and that brings us the grace that we so need from you. We pray this in the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848