“God has bound all men
over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all,” Romans 11:30.
Pay attention to what he said--so that he may have mercy on them all!
Everyone needs Jesus.
This is a rescue mission where no one gets left behind.
1. Leave no man
When kids go on a field trip, you don’t leave anyone
behind.The bus doesn’t leave until
everyone is present and accounted for.That’s
kind of how God is with us.He works
hard to keep us all safe and close to him.
In the military, they leave no man behind. Nate Rawlings wrote in Time magazine about
looking for a soldier who had been captured in Iraq, Staff Sargent Matt Maupin—even
after reports that he had been executed:“One of our companies received a
tip from a prisoner who knew where Maupin’s body was buried. The next morning
at daylight, we cleared a field where Maupin was said to be. Heavy engineers
used ground-penetrating radar to look for remains. Bulldozers dug up the earth,
hoping to discover the soldier’s resting place. In the end, we came away with
nothing. Dry hole, we said, and returned to our base.”They finally found him and brought his
remains home, 4 years after he was captured, 3 years after he was reported
2.God leaves no man behind.
Where is God when his people fall away from him?Our children, brothers and sisters, members
of our church who have stopped coming… He is working to get them back.Even better than the military, he is looking
for those who don’t want to be found by him—and we should be too, because we
aren’t just bringing home a dead comrade.When we bring someone back to Jesus, he is actually bringing them back from the dead.Just like what God said in Romans 11:15,
that if the Jews would come back to God, it would be life from the dead for
Even though Israel fell away from God, he is still there
trying to bring them back from the dead.They rejected the Word of the Savior, and crucified him, so God sent his
Word elsewhere to the Gentiles.—like a child who doesn’t want the delicious grilled
cheese and turkey sandwich until she sees it sitting right there in front of
someone else, God’s plan was to make them realize what they were missing by
giving his Word to other people instead.
See, when God’s people fall away from him, he never gives up
trying to open their eyes to what they are missing. He always wants sinners to come back to him,
and they do he welcomes them with open arms.There isn’t a hint of reproach in God.He isn’t standing by the church doors to say, “Haven’t seen you in a while!Where have you been?”When we see him welcome us back even after we
have rejected him, then we know his mercy all the more.Like stars on the darkest night, God’s mercy shines
brightest with the backdrop of our horrible rebellion against him.–It’s beautiful mercy that he can say he
never gave up on you; that he still wants you in heaven with him.
3.What’s wrong with us?
We actually do give up on people.When they seem to have lost their faith, we
do leave them behind.Not usually our
children, but sometimes a sibling who leaves Jesus, and often church members
who stop coming.And the neighbors—most
of them have heard about Jesus, but a lot have fallen away from church.When God is trying to get them back, why are
we saying that they will never listen, that it’s a waste of our time, or—God
forbid—that we are better off without people like that in our church?Did you breathe a sigh of relief when a
member caught in sin decided to leave the church?Did you raise a skeptical eyebrow at a
visitor walked in looking like trouble?Have you given up hope on those who have spent most of their Sundays
saying “No thank you” to Jesus?God
leaves no man behind.We do,
though.Why are our hearts so far from
where God’s heart is?Hopeless cases
need Jesus too—they need to be brought back to him!
4.We need Jesus.
Religious pride is the problem—that’s the reason why our
hearts are so wrong on this.We are as
much like the Pharisee as we are like the Tax Collector in Jesus’ story.We are as much like the older brother as we
are like the Prodigal Son.When our
brothers and sisters fall away from God, we leave them behind, because we think
we are better than that.
On the other hand, ironically, it hurts our puffed up
religious pride when they leave.They
are disgusted with us.They think they
are too good for us—and in our minds we say that we are better off without them—that
actually they are too hopeless, too evil, and not worth our effort.This is so wrong—when did we start thinking
that this a place for people who are good enough to be here?Isn’t this a place for people who aren’t
worth the effort?Didn’t Jesus come to
save sinners, of whom I, like the apostle Paul, am the worst?We need Jesus.Where is Jesus, when we fall into thinking
that we are better than others, and that we deserve to be here but they
Here he is, trying to bring us back from being
self-righteous Pharisees.His Word has
exposed that sinful pride, and we see how unlovable we are, we who leave anyone
behind because they aren’t as good as we are.“God has bound all men over to
disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.”—and those words are a
promise that in our self-righteous disobedience God still has mercy on us.You aren’t kicked out of the church, and
neither are you kicked out of God’s family.Jesus’ blood has brought forgiveness for your pride.God has taken away your history of leaving
the fallen behind.He says that you
actually are like him, that you love the lost and don’t leave anyone
behind—because that’s the new life that he has given you.That’s the life that you have been baptized into.Your life is not what you have done—your new
life is Jesus, and you are defined by who Jesus is, because Jesus has joined
himself to you by the water and Word.We
5.Back to the fallen—We all Need Jesus.
Pray for them.They
are spiritually dead again, just like those who have never had faith.Maybe you’ve had frustrating conversations
with them as you have tried to bring them back to church, and you know how true
it is that only Jesus can rescue them from this spiritual death!Pray for them, and be ready to welcome them
back with not even a hint of “you know you really should have known
better”—because we are all here only by God’s great mercy.In the darkest night of our disobedience,
God’s mercy shines brightly.We all need