For the Sake of Jonathan (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
Reflections on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
A Dying Dynasty
Though the nation’s kingship had barely sprouted, Israel’s king-making God had already uprooted Saul, the first and last of his dynasty. When that errant ruler realized his folly, he pleaded for mercy from the seer Samuel. The prophet responded with his famous rebuke: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). In the failed king’s heedless disregard of God’s command, he set himself in opposition to the Lord. We, like Saul, have recklessly turned aside to the worship of false gods. Because of Saul’s disobedience to the Lord’s command, the crown fell from his head into the hands of David, a shepherd from the hamlet of Bethlehem.
For the Sake of Jonathan
While Saul’s family was fully aware that God had removed them from the palace, Saul’s eldest son Jonathan, the crown prince, nevertheless cultivated a firm friendship with Israel’s newly minted monarch. Though his royal prospects had been dashed by his father’s foolishness, Jonathan remained steadfast in his love for David. He was willing to surrender crown and status for the sake of God’s anointed. In his sacrifice, the silhouette of Christ’s future offering came into view.
At the King’s Table
Years after David assumed the throne, he desired to show kindness to Jonathan’s descendants. The late prince’s son Mephibosheth came forward. As he appeared before David’s throne, the king restored his family’s land, provided servants to till his fields, and reserved a spot at the royal table. Mephibosheth was to eat “at David’s table like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).
This man, however, doubted David’s bounty. Mephibosheth was, after all, paralyzed, a stigmatizing condition in ancient societies. Many viewed infirmity as the result of some unconfessed sin. Though Christ would later dispel such notions, this idea had many entrenched centuries left in its life. Clutching to this despair, Jonathan’s son incredulously responded to David, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:8). However, when the king looked upon this man, he didn’t see a destitute cripple; he saw the son of a man who had selflessly loved despite all he had lost. In the same way, God gazes at us through neither anger nor hostility but through the love of his beloved Son who sacrificed his very life to reconcile us to his Father. Is that not good news?
Footsteps—putting feet on our faith
Why did Mephibosheth feel disqualified from David’s kindness?
What in your life makes you feel disqualified from God’s kindness?
How does Christ change the situation?
Dear God, though I am a rebel at heart, you still love me. For the sake of Christ, you forgive me and offer me a place at your table. You treat me like your own son. May my knowledge of my station before you propel me to love you more deeply. By Christ I pray, amen.