On our knees Matthew 18 Kids club service in the park
I’ve just done the washing, and I didn’t have time to hang the clothes out to dry. So if its alright with you, I’ll hang them up now while I talk with you.
At kids club we have been talking and learning about faith changing people’s lives. We’ve had a look at how faith changed the lives of people like Abraham, Noah, Jonah and also people like St Paul; whose life was dramatically changed when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Yes, faith changes lives alright. Faith in Jesus has changed the life of each and every one of us.
As I hang these pants up, (can you please pass me the top pair of pants) it reminds us of all the different sorts of lives people lead. The clothes reflect the work and life of the person.
What sort of pants are these? What sort of person might where them? Yes, perhaps someone who works with their hands; someone who is skilled with fixing cars or perhaps good at wood work or welding steel. The pants are tuff and hard to withstand the tuff and hard conditions the person works in.
Look at these, who might wear these? Yes, a student at school; a person who learns and grows in knowledge. Someone who studies, so that they can understand things about the world they live in. These are made of a softer material than the work pants, why? So the person wearing them is comfortable during the long hours of learning; they are soft so that the student is not distracted from their learning.
Wow! Check this pair out. Who might wear these? A sportsperson perhaps; someone who might run races or jump hurdles. The Olympics have just been held and we have seen a lot of men and women wearing these sorts of pants. They are called track suit pants. Why? Yes, they are made of light material so that the runner is not slowed down by their clothes. These pants are specially designed for athletes. To give them better agility, speed and endurance to run the race.
And these? What sort of work would someone be doing with a pair of pants like these? Perhaps an accountant or a business person. Someone who works indoors and works mainly with their brain. These people spend a lot of time planning and programming so that things can happen in the correct order and under budget. They wear pants that are made of wool or cotton. Why? Yes, they need to reflect the importance of their job. Their pants need to have pockets for money to pay for all the luncheons and coffees and also to fit their mobile phones and gadgets into.
O dear! Look at this pair. Wow, they didn’t clean up very well. There are dirty patches and stains all over them and look, they are ripped. The knees are all worn away. What sort of person would wear these? Why would the knees be worn out? Perhaps these pants belong to a beggar, to someone who has nothing of their own, but owes a lot of money to a bank or a money lender. Someone in this situation would have dirty clothes and ripped knees…why? What do we do when we beg? Yes, we get down on our knees and plead for mercy. Perhaps this is why these pants have holes in the knees, perhaps this person has been begging for mercy. Let’s hang them up and look at them as we talk about how faith changes lives and what it means to live a life that is ‘changed by faith.’
Jesus tells a parable about a servant who owed a lot of money to his king. Perhaps he wore these pants (point to the accountant’s pants) and he was in charge of the king’s money. His job might have been to invest millions and millions of dollars so that the king would get even more money. However, it is obvious that this person was not doing his job very well and had lost lots of the king’s money.
Jesus says ‘the king wanted everyone to pay back to him what they owed.’ The person that owed the most money came before the king first and was told ‘you owe me 10,000 talents, which in today’s money is millions of dollars’. After hearing this, shocking amount, I’m sure the servant needed a new pair pants!
There would be no way that a worker could pay that sort of money back. In fact he owed the king so much, that the figure may as well have been a billion dollars. The king wants his money but the worker can’t pay, so he’s going to jail, along with his wife and family. So what does the man do? He begs for mercy ‘Lord have mercy on me, be patient and I will pay you back’.
He takes off his expensive pants and puts on the beggar’s torn and dirty pants. In faith he trusts that the king would be merciful, so he falls to his knees and seeks the mercy of the king. He has nothing to offer except a sorry heart and trust. He realizes his mistakes and cover ups and wants to appeal to the good and gracious heart of the king.
Moved to compassion, the king gives in to the man’s plea and does something incredibly gracious…he wipes the man’s dept clean; he now owes nothing. It as if he never even owed the king any money and now the worker can go free. The king pronounces the dept ridden worker free from dept; he is justified…put in the king’s good books.
The worker believes the king’s announcement, trusts in his mercy a walks out a free man. Faith changed his life. He owed much, but paid nothing. The only exchange, was that the king took the dept upon him self and gave the man his freedom. What an exchange!
Faith changes lives. Are we not this man? Aren’t we all beggars before God our king? Our dept is not money, our dept is sin. St Paul says ‘the wages of sin is death’ and God WILL make an account of what we have done’. He WILL ask that we pay up in full. Can we pay up? What can we give? Nothing! So by faith in the mercy of God, we also put on these dirty and ripped pair of pants and fall to our knees and say ‘Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner’. By faith we appeal to God’s merciful heart.
The good news is that God has had mercy on us and has forgiven us our dept. His Son Jesus has exchanged our dept to sin, which is death, and took it upon himself and died on the cross. And in exchange he has given us his freedom and his new life. Because Jesus paid off our dept, given to us as a gift in our baptism, God does something incredibly gracious…he announces us justified; put right with him…we are in the king’s good books; we owe him nothing. Faith changes lives. We owed much, but paid nothing! By faith in the word of God, we walk free.
The ripped and dirty beggar’s pants are the pants of people who live by faith, who have had their life changed by God. The ripped and dirty beggar’s pants are the ideal work pants of a disciple of Jesus, of you and me. They remind us that we live and breathe every moment of our life on our knees, seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness. The dirt and rips remind us of the great exchange that changed our lives. And when someone sins against us, we are reminded to forgive the dept they owe us, because Jesus took our dept and gave us his freedom and life. What a great pair of pants, wear them proudly…wear them every day!