“Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.”
The Good News that everyone is eager to get in on is that we couldn’t get in, but someone has come to get us into the Kingdom of God. Up until Jesus, everyone tried to fulfill the law and work their way in but now God was about to do a work we simply could not accomplish. As David cries out in Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” David understood what the Pharisees couldn’t accept- we deserve judgment but God is granting us grace through His sacrifice. We deserve to be abandoned to our fate in the eternal fire, but He brings us eternal forgiveness through His sacrifice. He will work out through grace what we can not accomplish through works. So, if people aren’t eager to get into the church is it because we aren’t actually preaching the whole Good News? We deserve Hell but instead, Jesus gives us a hug and welcomes us home through repentance. This is Good News that everyone needs to hear about.
Yesterday, in a Dallas courtroom everyone did! September 6, 2018, police officer Amber Guyger came home to her apartment still in her uniform and noticed the door was ajar. She pulled out her firearm and shot Botham Jean who was sitting on the couch watching TV and eating ice cream. She didn’t realize until it was too late that this wasn’t an intruder but that she had gone to the floor just above hers and walked into Botham’s apartment. Botham Jean died immediately. Jean was a young man, a worship leader at his church and a leader in his community. Through this horrific act, he was taken from his family and friends in a moment. If anything deserved judgment this certainly did. Yesterday, a Dallas, Texas jury just found Amber guilty of murder and sentenced her to 10 years. Protests outside began to form due to the light sentence for such a grievous act. This was looking like another painful example of the misuse of power and a racially motivated skewed judgment as Amber was white and Jean was African American. Botham Jean's 18-year-old younger brother, Brandt, took the stand and during his victim impact statement preached the “Good News of the Kingdom of God” better than I’ve ever heard it. He said, “I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. I love you just like anyone else and I'm not going to hope you rot and die," Brandt Jean told Guyger. "I personally want the best for you. I wasn't going to say this in front of my family, I don't even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you because I know that's exactly what Botham would want for you. Give your life to Christ. I think giving your life to Christ is the best thing Botham would want for you." Brandt Jean then asked Kemp if he could give Guyger a hug, a request the judge granted. He stepped off the witness stand and met Guyger in front of the judge's bench and embraced as Guyger broke into tears. Here he was, loving his enemy, just as Jesus commanded. Just after that, District Judge Tammy Kemp apparently gave Guyger a Bible and also hugged her. "You can have mine. I have three or four more at home," the judge said. "This is the one I use every day. This is your job for the next month. It says right here. John 3:16. And this is where you start. 'For God so loved the world…’” I was in tears as I shared this with friends. It was so powerful that I changed the end of my sermon last night at Midweek service and let Brandt preach the Good News- repentance for sin, faith in Christ, forgiveness for sin, unconditional love and acceptance resulting in eternal life. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. This morning this video clip of Brandt’s words on the witness stand has gone viral as “everyone is eager to get in” to a Good News like this! Brandt had the opportunity and every right to throw fuel on the fire, but instead threw forgiveness on the fire and turned the focus on Christ! All the news outlets are running with this story because this is the Good News of the Kingdom of God and there’s absolutely nothing like it anywhere else. It makes no sense to the mind but it captures the heart. I believe in this one moment, with this one message, with this one hug that no one saw coming, many will come to Christ! Who wouldn’t want to know Jesus like that? This is Jesus in real-time and this is exactly what our world desperately needs more of right now!
Lord, I pray for the Jean family as they grapple with the sudden violent loss of their son this morning and a sentence that feels unjust. I pray for Amber and the Guyger family this morning that received this grace from Brandt instead of judgment. That not only would they come to know You as their Lord and Savior but they would become the message they have just received- They who have been forgiven much, love much. I pray that Your Spirit would take this message around our hate-filled world and use it to spark a revival and to inspire reconciliation across all lines. I pray that You would forgive me for holding on to unforgiveness. If Brandt could forgive someone who took his brother's life, what excuse do I have for holding on to resentment or letting my pain fuel the fire for retribution? I pray that I would lead the way in preaching the full Good News of the Kingdom of God- repentance, forgiveness, freedom and eternal life through Christ! May many more hear what You have done because of what I preach and how I live! Let me follow in Brandt’s footsteps who was following in Yours.