Levi Lusko - The Christmas Table
Well Merry Christmas! I just wanna say God bless you and your family in this Holiday season. We're about to jump into a message from Gods word all about The Christmas Table. Because really at the end of the day, Gods plan in sending His son to the world was so that you and I could come to the table and be in relationship and be in His house. It's a special thing.
If you have a Bible, join me in 2 Samuel chapter 9. I'm calling this message the Christmas table, And in 2 Samuel 9, we find our text The table speaks of what a family should be. Tragically, it's being replaced with the television as the place the family gathers around. But really, the heart of the home is the dinner table. It's that breakfast table. It's where you gather. It's where you eat and spend time together. They say Americans are spending less and less time at the dinner table. I think it used to be 90 minutes would be the meal, now it's like 12 to 17 minutes on average the TV's on in many households. This isn't an Amish trip. I'm not trying to get you to get your aluminum foil hat on and throw your television away, but I think we're losing something in the elimination and the minimization of the precious moments just gathered around the table looking into each other's eyes, lighting some candles.
Can we agree the table speaks of what the family should be, which is the heart of the home. And the Christmas story is all about family. Christmas is God inviting you and inviting me into the family. Christmas is God doing everything necessary for us to have a seat pulled up at his table. That's what we lost in the garden, right? When Adam and Eve sinned, we forfeited the right. We who used to walk with God in the cool of the day, we who used to just enjoy the presence of God right there, face-to-face, that which was lost, Christmas seeks to return. And the promise for Christmas was given. The first initial Christmas story announcement was Genesis 3, where God promised to crush the head of the serpent and to restore all that had been taken away from us, for paradise to be once again regained so we could once more fit at the Christmas table. We have three principal actors who we meet in the first verse.
Let's just read that, and then we'll set it all up. "One day, David asked, is anyone in Saul's family still alive, anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake"? We're just having a Bible study here, is that cool? Yes! I love having time talking about scripture with my girls at the table. And my nephew doesn't contribute much. But he's cute, right? So we let him stay. And Tabasco, our dog, every time we eat, he just does laps, just hoping, hoping. And they usually don't disappoint, something drops from the tip, wait. He just gets it. So we're here in 2 Samuel 9, and we just met three people. We met Saul. We met David, and we met Jonathan. Who are they? Saul, you probably know, was the first King of Israel. And his son is Jonathan. And David is Jonathan's best friend, Saul's son-in-law, and the person who is going to be the next King of Israel.
Saul did not like that at all. In his mind, Saul saw his son sitting on the throne after him. He wanted the one after that to be related to him, and the one after that to be related to him. In his mind, what was he thinking? Dynasty. Dynasty. And that was what would have happened, had Saul not forfeited the right to be a part of all of this by disobeying God at every turn. So God eventually told Saul, it was tough for him to hear, the kingdom has been torn from your hands by your own doing, and it's going to be given to someone else, someone who's better than you. Who did God intend? Well, he was a little kid taking care of sheep, who his dad didn't even think enough of to invite to the dinner table when the prophet came to town to pick a new king. And that's because God doesn't see things like man sees them. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.
And I came to tell you here, if you've been passed over and excluded and not counted by people in this world, God sees you. He values you. He loves you. He knows you. He's got a plan for your life. Ask David, this little runt kid, and he got anointed to be the next king. Well, from that moment forward, God began to work in David's life in ways where he began to grow in prominence, grow in favor, made wise decisions. There's a very notable incident with a very tall guy named Goliath, who David trusted God, ran onto the battlefield and took out. And because of that, he secured a high-level position in Saul's military, and he only proved himself more capable, more able. And Saul, as God began to bless David, began to grow jealous of David. Saul was just so full of insecurity and racked by jealousy that he began to scheme how to get rid of David. But you can't keep a good man down. You can't keep God's man down. Even though Saul tried to kill him by sending him to fight an impossible battle, and because of that he got to marry Sauls daughter and become son-in-law to king Saul. Saul could not kill David no matter what he did.
Now you are familiar with Saul. You understand who David is. Jonathan brought complexity to this whole story, because him and David became best friends. Now, that's awkward. When Saul wants Jonathan to be king, God has made it clear David's going to be king, and Jonathan, he sides with David. Saul insists Jonathan become king. Jonathon's like, God's hands on David's life. God will take care of me. I want what God wants for me. So Saul gets so mad while Jonathan's defending David that Saul tries to kill Jonathan so he can become king. Does anybody else see the logic breaking down in all this? I'm going to kill you so you can be... how's that going to work if I'm dead, dad? Hey, listen, sin makes you stupid. So what he's doing doesn't make any sense, and he's clouded. His judgment is not all there.
And so Jonathan and David, their friendship survives. And Jonathan makes David promise: promise me one day when you're king, you'll be kind to my family. David says, you'll be looking after your family. What are you talking about? He says, no, no. Promise me you'll look after my family when I'm gone. And he said it with a distant look in his eye of a person who senses they're not long for this earth. From that moment forward, David and Jonathan, we don't know of them ever seeing each other again, because David had to go on the run, and Saul was chasing him around for over 10 years. David lived in caves. Oh, by the way, in those caves, he wrote almost all of the Book of Psalms. So some of the most precious things can come out of your darkest days, because God is with you and he's near to the brokenhearted. So just take heart if life's hard for you right now. Let it become a praise. Let it become something precious. Let it become something powerful.
Eventually, Jonathan died and Saul died, and that brings us up to speed here, where David, look at it again, verse 1, woke up one day and said, is there anyone in Saul's family still alive? Thinking of that promise he made. Anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake? He summoned a man named Ziba who had been one of Saul's servants. Are you Ziba, the king asked? Yes, sir, I am, Ziba replied. The king then asked him, is anyone still alive from Saul's family? If so, I want to show God's kindness to them. Ziba replied, yeah, actually, one of Jonathan's sons is still alive. He's crippled in both feet. Where is he? The king asked. In Lo-debar, Ziba told him, at the home of Machir, son of Ammiel. So David sent for him and brought him from Machir's home. His name was Mephibosheth.
Now we're introduced to our fourth character. Mephibosheth is Jonathan's son who David never knew. You're like, wait, he was his best friend. How did he not know him? He was born after Davis was already living in a cave. He couldn't get on Instagram to see the epic shot that Jonathan posted from the hospital, right? He had no awareness of this kid's existence. His name was Mephibosheth. I keep wanting to call him "Mush-ib-o-feth". That's not his name. Let's just call him "Fibby". He was Jonathan's son, and Saul's grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect. David said, greetings, "Fibby". And "Fibby" replied, I'm your servant. Don't be afraid, David said. I'll explain in a minute why he said that, I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will eat here with me at the king's table.
So "Fibby" bowed respectfully and exclaimed, who is your servant that you would show such kindness to a dead dog like me? Then the king summoned Saul's servant Ziba and said, I have given your master's grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and servants are to farm the land for him to produce food for your master's household. But Mephibosheth, your master's grandson, will eat here at my table. Parenthetically, we're told, just in case it's helpful information, Ziba had 15 sons and 20 servants. And that's just way too many kids, really. Verse 11, Ziba replied, yes, my lord, the king. I'm your servant, and I will do all that you have commanded. And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David's table like one of the king's own sons. He also had a young son named Mica. From then on, all the members of Ziba's household were Mephibosheth's servants. Amazing reversal of fortune here. And Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet, from that moment forward, what did he do? He lived in Jerusalem, and he ate regularly at the king's table.
Now, this doesn't, like I said, seem like a Christmas story, but let me just tell you something. This is exactly what we need to understand if we're to go into Christmas with the proper frame of mind, ready? You and I are Mephibosheth. What do I mean? Five things, jot them down. Number one, for Mephibosheth, life hadn't gone according to plan. And if we're to understand Christmas and the power of the story of Jesus coming to this world, it's because like Mephibosheth, our lives haven't gone according to plan, have they? You were young and you charted out what it was going to look like to be 20, to be 30, to be 40... kids, you know. What do you want to be one day? And we looked down one day and we asked the question, when did we give up on our dreams? Or we had this image of what marriage was going to look like. Divorce wasn't in the picture that we painted, was it? Maybe you were 17 and you got mixed up with the wrong crew, and one night things got a little out of control. Now you've got a criminal record, Life doesn't always go according to plan. I mean, it's fine to plan.
Remember what Mike Tyson said. It's always nice when you can work a casual Tyson quote in on Christmas Eve. Says, fine to make a plan. Everyone's got a plan. But then you get punched in the mouth. How do you adapt when life savagely punches you in the jaw? Well, Mephibosheth, man, his life didn't go according to plan. Mephibosheth woke up somewhere in the fifth year of his life, and the palace was his house. Everything was about to change for this young man. New home, no dad, we don't know anything about his mom. She's never mentioned. And we don't know anything, whether she's alive or not. But life didn't go according to plan. There's a second reason why we're like Mephibosheth and we need to own up to that this Christmas to receive the power of the message, is this.
Second thing is people in his life that he trusted let him down. Is there people in your life that you've looked to that said they'd be there, weren't there? Said they'd be faithful to you through thick and thin, then they betrayed you. Walked out on you. They said till death do us part. What they meant was till debt do us part, there was a panic among all the household staff that worked for Saul, and the fear was, we're going to be rounded up and killed. So this nurse, this nanny, she grabs the little baby boy, five years old, and she's running. But at some point, she just drops him in her hurry to be out of there. And so it doesn't tell us that she did it overtly, but all it tells us is she fell, she stumbled, she dropped him. But whatever the case, she now was the only loving face he knew of in his life. She let him down. We've all trusted people that have let us down, but we've all let people down who trusted us too. That's on me. There's things I've done that have let people down. There's ways I haven't lived out my witness like I should that's hurt the name of Jesus, right?
So we've all fallen, and we've all let other people fall. And that's because, guess what? We all have fallen, Romans 3:23. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And that explains why we've been hurt and that explains why we've hurt other people - because we've fallen. The third reason we're like Mephibosheth is because he was in danger and he had no way to run. The king could easily be seeking him to come into the palace on this day. Now, years have gone by. He's probably in his 20s, maybe even as old as 30, because he has his own son now. He's been living in Lo-debar. David never knew about him. David forgot about his promise. He's been expanding the empire. He's been doing all these things. Then one day he wakes up and he remembers his promise he made to Jonathan. And he realizes, I don't know anybody from Saul's family. So look it up. Is there anyone related to Saul?
Now, everybody assumes, guaranteed, everybody who hears this happening assumes Game of Thrones shenanigans are going down. This is Lord of the Rings. This is, I don't want someone carrying the blood of Saul, who five generations from now could mount a coup and overthrow the House of David and raise up the standard and flag of Saul. So everybody assumes, including Mephibosheth, that he's going to be brought in and be executed. That's why the first thing David had to speak to him was, what? Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. And where have I heard that before? Where have I heard, here's David, a man from Bethlehem, saying, don't be afraid. Oh, that's right, Luke 2. You'll get your Luke 2. Now you're going to go home happy. All right, look at this. It says, suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They, like Mephibosheth, were terrified. But the angel reassured them. Say it with me. Don't be afraid, for I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David.
Isn't it amazing that this story that we're looking at echoes the greatest story ever told? As this person, who is in great danger, had nowhere to run, finds mercy at the hands of a good king, look at this next point, who wanted to show him kindness. Why are we like Mephibosheth? Because there was a good king who wanted to show him kindness. There was no reason to. He didn't have to. The normal thing to do in the ancient world would be to consolidate your power and to eliminate any rival. We're in danger because we're all sinners who have fallen, and because we're all moving closer every day to the day that we will die You've never stopped getting closer to the day of your death from the moment you were born. You're like, no, not me. I diffuse essential oils. You're going to die smelling better than us. Not me, I eat kale and tofu. You're going to die with a bad taste in your mouth, but you're still going to die, right? I say, if I live a little bit less but I eat bacon, that's better. Jesus died and then rose from the dead. That's why I'm listening to him. So if your prophet or guru has an y thoughts, I'll listen to them if they could die and get back up from the grave and be seen and eat and talk with people after their death. I'll go with them. Until then, I'm listening to what Jesus has to say. It's because of the resurrection.
So when we stand before Jesus, when we stand before God to be judged for the deeds done in the body, it's heaven and hell. And what's the difference between the two? Well, it's not, did you do more good than bad? It's, have you sinned, or have you not sinned? we remain lost perpetually. And that's what the Bible teaches is hell. It's a Christless eternity. And that's not what God wants for you, because he's a good king who sought you to show you kindness. That's Christmas. Christmas is God intruding into the world to show kindness, his coming to this world in human likeness so that we would not experience danger, but so he could show kindness to us. I like how N. T. Wright puts it. He said, Christmas is not a reminder the world is really quite a nice, old place. That might be how Dean Martin sings it, or Frank, oh, it's a holly, wonderful, but no, it's not a nice, old place. It reminds us that the world is a shockingly bad old place where wickedness flourishes unchecked, where children are murdered, where civilized countries make a lot of money selling weapons to uncivilized ones so they can blow each other apart.
Christmas is God lighting a candle, and you don't light a candle in a room that's already full of sunlight. You light a candle in a room that's so murky that the candle, when lit, reveals just how bad things really are. That's why the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot ever overcome it. Christmas is a rescue mission. Christmas is radical and messy and bloody. It's God's way of saving us from a life that's lost and an eternity full of nothing but agony. The reason you and I are like Mephibosheth is because he was given a seat at the royal table. David says, you're not going to be executed. No, I came here to bless. I came here to adopt you. In fact, for the rest of your life, Mephibosheth, I want you to live in Jerusalem. If you're willing, we'll make space for you here And from now on, here at my table, I decree this to be Mephibosheth's seat.
Let's put his name on it, and every time food is served, I'll sit here, my sons and daughter here, the room will be filled here, but this is your seat, Mephibosheth. And they help him. They escort him. And it was obviously rather unceremonious how he would move about with his lame legs. There wasn't ADA laws. There wasn't wheelchairs. the chair is pushed in, and the napkin is placed upon his lap, and now he looks around, and he realizes, I have a place where I belong. I have people who want me here. There's a good king smiling at me, there to ask me how my day was, who loved my dad and so is showing love and kindness to me. And he who lived in Lo-debar, a place that means no pasture. The animals had nothing to eat. This place was so remote Luke Skywalker wouldn't even consider going there, right? And yet, he's here now, in Jerusalem, in the capital city, sitting at the table with people around him to share the stories of how his day's going, and food that's lavishly prepared for him, and the opportunity, after the table has been cleared and the coffee and the pie is being served, to tell funny stories and inside jokes and laugh until your belly hurts and you're crying. Just the best parts of life all happening around the table.
What did it take to get us to the Christmas table? It took God's own son being willing to come and be born in a stable That's Christmas, Jesus being born in a barn. That's Christmas, Jesus being surrounded by filth. That's Christmas, God's son being born into a world surrounded by animals, but living a life where he was doubted and ridiculed and mocked and hated, dying surrounded by criminals on the cross, on the third day rising and ascending to heaven, sending his spirit in the world to seek you out, to find you in Lo-debar, to invite you to the city. Not because he's mad at you, because he wants to bless you, wants to prosper you, has good plans for you, and wants to be your father. Wants you to be his son. Wants you to be his daughter. But I don't deserve it.
That's the point. It's for Jesus' sake. David blessed Mephibosheth for Jonathan's sake. God wants to bless you for Jesus' sake, and he wants to adopt you into his family, and he wants you to feast at the royal table. Strike up the music. Serve the food. Pour the wine. Let the party continue. That's Christmas. Mephibosheth realized, maybe somewhere after the second course, wait a minute, I've felt like an outcast my whole life I've been an enemy of the state all my life, since I was five when my life shattered in front of my eyes and dissolved into thin air. But now I'm sitting here next to Absalom. Absalom, that's Absalom! Can I take a selfie with you? Sure, bro, let's take a selfie. It's like, it's frickin' Kind David! Tell us about when you killed Goliath. O-M-G! And his condition was hidden by his position at the table.
What I'm saying is that your history doesn't have to determine your destiny. I came to church to tell somebody, this could be your last day in Lo-debar. Jesus wants you at his table with purpose and hope and passion and the light of Christ burning in your eyes. Two ways, don't miss them. Two ways to get there: be humble, and sit down. You got to be humble. What does that? Mean you've got to quit pretending like you've earned it. Religion is so jacked up, because it makes us feel like we could puff our chest up about how many of God's 10 commandments we've kept. Only people in Heaven are going to be there because Jesus, for Jesus' sake. For Jesus' sake.
The only way we can get to Heaven is trusting Jesus Christ and being humbled, basically, pulling a card from Mephibosheth's playbook. I'm a dead dog, and I'm your servant. We don't talk like that anymore. That's just his way of saying, who am I that you would show such kindness to me? Be humble, what was the second part? I forgot. Think, sit down. You got to be willing to take a seat. What does that mean? You have to accept the invitation. Mephibosheth could have felt so bad about all this that he just went back to Lo-debar. But he had to choose to keep sitting down. Take a seat. Sit down. Accept these promises. This is all just New Testament doctrine I'm teaching you. Ephesians chapter 2, verse 1 puts it all this way. This is the Christmas story. This is 2 Samuel 9. But we were dead in sins and trespasses, look at it. That sucks, by the way. Dead in sins and trespasses, but God. Dead in sins and trespasses, but God.
The gospel isn't about bad people becoming good. It's about dead people coming to life. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ. By grace, you have been saved. And raised us up with him and seated us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. When we choose to sit down in Christ and to take the promises and appropriate them, accept his invitation to the royal table, we get seated in heavenly places, even while we're still here on this earth. What that means is our name gets put on a table setting. There's a place prepared for you in Heaven that God wants you to spend in Heaven until Heaven comes down and the Kingdom is once again on this Earth. And while you live here here and now, he wants you to live with hope and peace and purpose as an ambassador, inviting more people, inviting more people. You get to be a part of the committee that goes to Lo-debar to find the next Mephibosheth.
Once you're in the family, you then have the right, as a son or daughter, to extend invitations to others. Jesus put it this way. This is Luke 22. He said, as surely as my father has given me my kingdom, so I give you the right to eat and drink at my table in that kingdom. And once we are sons and daughters of the house, how many of you know? We can invite our friends over to the family table for dinner as well. So this table has leaves that can be added, and our church, our whole desire is to keep adding on leaves. Why 39 worship experiences for Christmas? We want to add more leaves to the table. Why would we open up in Wyoming? Why did we go to Utah? Why have we expanded all across Montana? Here's why. Here's why we're in Portland, Oregon. We want to add leaves to the table. We want to pull up more seeds. We want to create more space. We want the whole world to know how great it is to experience the grace of our great God. This is Christmas. And so my question to you is, have you accepted God's gracious invitation? Have you chosen to be humble so you can sit down? If not, right now is your opportunity to do that, and I believe God's spirit is working in many hearts to that end.