Jesus Chose YOU
The scene is a neighborhood playground. It is a normal playground like you would see in any neighborhood. There are a few trees and a sandbox. There are swings. There are slides and monkey bars. There is also a basketball court, but today on the basketball court, basketball is not the sport being played. There is no dribbling, dunking or shooting baskets. No instead there is another sport being played. It involves a ball. It involves a large rubber ball about the same size as a basketball. The game involves 5 Ds: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. The game is dodgeball.
The neighborhood kids begin to gather in the morning for a day of painful active fun. They have to play this game in secret and on the weekends because most schools have outlawed dodgeball. Whiny kids who lost at dodgeball when they were kids are now principals and have bad memories about dodgeball. They remember being pounded with balls and then sitting on the sidelines. So, dodgeball has become an underground sport and the kids of this particular neighborhood want to play.
Neighborhood kids begin to gather in the morning. The sun has been up for a little bit and there is a cool breeze blowing. Skies are clear. It is a great day for dodgeball.
First, onto the playground, we have Beckett Appleton who is one of the more popular kids in the neighborhood. They have the biggest house on the block. His dad has the nicest yard. It is green all year round… even in the snow. They even have a pool. He owns all the dodgeballs and he brings them with him to the playground. He happens to be your best friend.
Second, we have Serenity Appleton who is Beckett’s younger sister. She is younger, but not by much. She is a bit meaner than him and everyone knows it. Most of the girls in the neighborhood follow her around and do whatever she says. Some of the other kids make fun of them and call them Serenity’s Silly Sisters. Madison, Missy, Jennifer, Tiffany, and Tiffany’s chihuahua named Taco, don’t mind. It is rumored… just a rumor mind you… that Serenity has never lost a game of dodgeball.
Next onto the playground are the triplets. Elliot and Eliot and Elliott. For some reason, their parents named all three boys some version of “Elliot” and the only difference is the spelling. A long time ago the neighborhood kids came up with nicknames for each of the identical brothers: Mole, Sniffles, and Messy. Mole, Sniffles, and Messy are not all that athletic, but they are intense and like to compete at sports. Their dad and grandpa are National Cornhole Champions and won the doubles tournament in Las Vegas two years in a row. They dodge well at dodgeball.
Various other kids also come to the playground. Quite a group is gathering this morning. Billy comes and brings is cousins Vladimir and Mikhail who are visiting from Russia. No one knows if they even know how to play dodgeball ‘cause they are from Russia. Billy says they do know how to play, but in Russia they use large rocks instead of rubbery weak American dodgeballs so they are definitely ready. Even more kids come.
Finally, you arrive. You want to play dodgeball, but you aren’t particularly good at it. You don’t throw well. You don’t dodge well. You can’t duck. Diving is also a problem. Dodgeball is probably your nemesis at sports. In fact, you are the reason that dodgeball is no longer played at your school. You were part of the infamous “Last Game at School That One Time.” The “Last Game at School That One Time” ended when you got hit in the head with a dodgeball and it totally knocked you onto the gym floor. You were knocked completely out. You woke up in the nurses’ office with ice on your head and your mother crying that you had “died playing that irresponsible game dodgeball.” She was relieved through her tears when you opened your eyes. The gym teacher apologized over and over. The principal and school nurse apologized over and over. After that, no more dodgeball at school.
Now dodgeball is played on this playground. Away from gym teachers. Away from adults.
You aren’t all that athletic. You don’t really like to play sports. You are ok video games. You are really good at Scrabble, but that doesn’t really help at the moment. You came today because all your friends are here. You know Mole, Sniffles, and Messy because they are in your class at school. Your dog Meathead tried to eat Taco the chihuahua one time so you definitely know Tiffany. Really though, the reason you are here is because Beckett Appleton, your best friend, was going to be team captain today. Even though he was a year older than you, he would be team captain today. The other team captain would be the undefeated Serenity Appleton.
Before dodgeball begins, one thing must happen. It is one of the most important parts of dodgeball. Teams must be chosen. If a captain chooses the wrong team, the game can be lost even before the game begins. There has to be a balance of athletes and non-athletes. You have to have good throwers and good dodgers. Some kids duck well and some kids dive well. There is much strategy in picking teams. Captains take turns picking their team members one at a time so that the teams will be theoretically as equal as possible.
Everyone already knows who the team captains are before they even arrive at the playground. Beckett Appleton is obviously the first team captain. The other team captain, even though she is a girl, is his sister Serenity. Beckett stands there with his arms crossed and looks out over the other 18 kids who are assembled. Serenity stands there with her arms crossed and looks out over the other 18 kids who are assembled. Who will they pick?
Beckett looks at Serenity and says, “You are a girl, you pick first.”
Serenity gives her brother a sneering look but accepts picking first. She gets to pick first out of all the kids waiting to be put on teams. She hedges her bets that Russians know how to play dodgeball and maybe there are some state-sponsored performance-enhancing drugs in his system and chooses: “Vladimir.” It doesn’t matter that he’s a 6th grader… maybe it is true… she doesn’t know.
Serenity looks at her older brother, sticks her tongue out, and says, “Your turn loser.”
Beckett gives his sister a sneering look but knows obviously it is his turn.
Beckett points. He. Picks. You.
A grand wide toothy smile comes across your face. Remember, you aren’t particularly good at dodgeball. You don’t throw well. You don’t dodge well. You can’t duck. Diving is also a problem. You are not all that athletic. You were the one in the “Last Game at School That One Time” that got everyone’s favorite game banned.
There is no reason for him to pick you. You have no skill that will add to his team. You probably will not help him win the game.
Why did he pick you?
To beat his sister and the Russians, he is going to need skillful dodging and ducking. To win the most games over the other team, he will need athletes. There is no reason for him to pick you.
Why did he pick you?
Because he is your best friend.
Hebrews 10:19-22 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (NIV1984)
This passage is about the confidence Christians have in Jesus Christ as people who are forgiven. The picture that is being painted for us has as the background the tabernacle or the temple of the Israelites (they had the same set-up). What is being described even more is the Most Holy Place which is the place where God has His presence among His people. The only person allowed in the Most Holy Place is the High Priest once a year. With that Old Testament picture in mind, we are told in Hebrews 10 that Jesus Christ gives us access to the Most Holy Place because of the sacrifice of His blood. We have access to God because of Jesus! He also gives us access because as the Great High Priest He has torn down the dividing curtain and lets everyone in on His authority. All people can access the Most Holy Place because Jesus lets them in.
That means that you and I can draw near to God the Father at any time. You might think… isn’t that always true? Hasn’t God always been accessible? The answer to that is actually NO! There have always been mediators between God the Father and His people. Moses, Levites, the High Priest, and even prophets filled the roles of mediator between God and His people. People did not go directly to God but had someone to be an advocate for them. The point of this passage is that Jesus changes all that through His sacrifice and allows us to have a personal relationship with God the Father. You and I can have the freedom to pray and have a relationship with God, the Creator of the Universe because Jesus made it possible.
That means that our hearts are cleaned from sin because of the sacrifice of Jesus. You might think… isn’t that always true? Hasn’t God always just forgiven people when they asked? The answer to that is also NO! There was a whole sacrificial system set up in the Old Testament (Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy) that was used to forgive sins. The point of this passage is that Jesus changes all that through His sacrifice and allows us to ask God for forgiveness and He grants it through His grace because of the payment of Jesus Christ. We can be forgiven because Jesus makes it possible.
That means that we have the presence of the Spirit because of baptism. You might think… isn’t that always true? Hasn’t the Holy Spirit always been with people? The answer to that is NO! God poured out His Spirit on believers after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus as a deposit of the life to come. God was always everywhere, but the Most Holy Place was that for sure place that you knew you could find God. God’s presence with us means the Most Holy Place has moved from an actual place in a temple to the human heart. God resides inside the hearts of people who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
How did we get to be forgiven?
What did we do to earn forgiveness?
How is it that God chose to place His Spirit within us?
Why did Jesus choose to sprinkle our hearts with His blood and cleanse us of our sins?
Why did Jesus choose us?
I hope you and I understand that being forgiven has absolutely nothing to do with us. We did not earn forgiveness from God. We did not somehow live in such a way to pique God’s interest and therefore He sent Jesus to forgive us. We sin. We make mistakes. We take two steps forward and three steps back. We have attitude problems. There is no reason for Jesus to choose us.
Why did Jesus choose us?
Because He loves us.