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The God of Surprises and His Amazing Grace

My topic today is grace and how grace is sometimes found in the midst of sinful situations. Why? Because God is the God of Surprises.

We find the God of Surprises at work in the family tree of Jesus. His family tree contains the names of several people who had great faith: Faith-filled people like Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Mary and Joseph. His family tree also contains the names of people who had little faith. Tamar and Judah, Rahab and Joshua, Boaz and Ruth, David and Bathsheba. I would like to look at their stories because they show us how God acts in mysterious ways.

Judah and his wife had two sons. But these two sons had no children and then they died as young adults. And Tamar knew that Judah needed to have a male descendant to keep the family tree alive. So she disguised herself as a prostitute and she paid a visit to Judah. He paid her for her companionship and she gave birth to twin boys. Thus, the line of descendants was kept intact when it looked like it was about to end.

A few years later, Tamar told people what she had done. People said to her: “You are a naughty girl.” “Guess what?” she said. “I’m not as naughty as Judah, your spiritual leader, your great patriarch. Remember, he paid me to do it.” Thus, Tamar and Judah kept the line of descendants intact when it was about to come to an end.

And then we have Rahab and Joshua. Rahab did not pretend to be a prostitute. She was a full time prostitute. That was her profession. Scripture says that Rahab, the harlot, married Joshua and she gave birth to Boaz. As a result, the line of patriarchs going back to Abraham was not broken.

Speaking of Boaz, we turn to Ruth and Boaz. Both of them were chaste and virtuous persons. Boaz was a faith-filled Jewish person and Ruth was a gentile. They got married and they had a son and he became the father of Jesse who became the father of David. Ruth was a gentile and she helped to save the family tree of Jesus, the Messiah. God works in mysterious ways.

Next we have David and Bathsheba. They committed adultery and then they conspired to have her husband killed in the line of battle. Several years later they became the parents of Solomon and the line of kingship for the house of the Messiah was kept alive.

Tamar and Judah; Rahab and Joshua; David and Bathsheba; Boaz and Ruth. These characters from the family tree of Jesus were not always nice people. Several of them had very little faith. And several had some naughty behaviors on their résumés. And their behaviors are mentioned openly in the scriptures. In those days there was no cover-up. They had full transparency. Why? Because the sacred authors believed that God was also in the story and that God would find a use for these people in His divine plan. And that fact should be comforting for us. In spite of our human weaknesses and in spite of our sinfulness, and in spite of our weak faith, we end up having value in God’s sight.

Yes, we have great value in the eyes of God. Not because we deserve it but because God is kind and merciful. The family tree of Jesus is a chronicle of God’s grace, coming in from time to time to save the day. Yes, there is good news in that story. It tells us what God is like. God does not run away from sinful situations. God does not run away from people who have weak faith. The God of Surprises is also found in today’s Gospel.

Simon Peter is caught by surprise when Jesus scolds him after praising him. When Peter said to Jesus, “You re the Messiah!” Jesus praised him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “You will never have to suffer.” And Jesus said to him, “Get behind me Satan. You are so very wrong. I will suffer because I am the suffering Messiah. I am the Messiah who suffers and dies for the sake of his people”

Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan .” because he saw how Satan had entered Peter’s heart and confused his understanding of messiah ship. And yet, before the day was done, Jesus saw the sincerity in Peter’s heart and made him the head of the church.

A few years later Saint Paul would say, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.” The God of Surprises brings grace to sinful situations.

Like St. Paul said so clearly in Romans, Chapter 5, Verse 8: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If he had to wait for us to stop sinning, he would still be waiting. God’s grace appears in the midst of sin.

That is the good news which is found in today’s gospel. Now and always, God’s grace is working in the midst of sin. Our faith might be weak. Our sin might be great. But God’s grace is much more powerful than our sin.

In conclusion, I have looked at several sinful situations in the Bible. In each case, things worked out in favor of grace. And so it is in our lives today. We should be looking for the God of Surprises and His amazing grace: Each and every day.

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