Matney: The parable of two soldiers
This past Sunday at New Life Assembly of God, we honored our Veterans, observed the Lord’s Supper, honored some of our church leaders and spoke of Thanksgiving. I believe all of these are intertwined and I sought to illustrate that with a short story I wrote on how to receive God’s cup of blessings in a worthy manner. Please take a moment to read the parable of the two soldiers.
Squad leader, Ron, and his squad of 12 soldiers hiked through the jungle all morning, watching out for enemy combatants. At noon, they sat down for lunch. Suddenly, without warning, a live hand grenade landed in their midst. Immediately, Sargent Ron threw himself onto the hand grenade and absorbed the full explosion into his own body. That day he saved his 11 fellow soldiers but died from the explosion. I’ll continue his story in a moment.
In a similar way, Jesus absorbed the full explosion of your sin and my sin into his own body by his death on the cross. He absorbed all of the world’s sin, sickness, death and despair. He who knew no sin, became sin so we might live in right standing with God, (2 Corinthians 5:21). Then, He arose from the dead with power over death, hell, sin, sickness and disease.
And, today, even now, his wounds have the power to absorb and heal your wounds, your sickness, your disease and all the abuse that has ever been heaped upon you. And, his blood has the power to wash away all our sins. In this parable, I want to look at how to honor Jesus, how to honor our veterans, our police, our church and community leaders and examine what it means to partake of the bread of life and the cup of blessing in a worthy manner.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.” Let’s continue the story of Ron’s sacrifice and the lives he saved.
Two of the soldiers, upon completing their tour of duty, returned to the United States and went to the home of Ron’s parents to honor their son and his Gold Star Family. The other nine soldiers never said a word. They were like the nine lepers Jesus healed who never returned to thank him. I believe this is one of the first lessons in receiving Jesus’ sacrifice and our many blessings in a worthy manner: Be thankful. Ponder the magnitude of God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice and the cost of your freedom.
When the two soldiers arrived at the parents’ home and introduced themselves as friends of Ron, the father immediately invited them in. The family had just sat down to eat and invited the two men to eat with them. After a moment’s hesitation, they sat down at the table with Ron’s family.
The younger soldier, without waiting on anyone else, immediately began eating, and with his mouth full, began to tell the family about his day, the day Ron died.
“I started my day by asking God to protect me and bless me and I’m glad I did because I’m alive.” His voice rose as he excitedly told of his plans for his future. “I’m saving my money to buy a new four-wheel drive. My girlfriend and I love to go to the mountains on Sundays. Then, we want to buy a big, four-bedroom, house, in one of the nicer sections of town! Oh, by the way, thanks for your son who made this possible. Pass the bread and wine,” he said, as he filled his glass for the fifth time.
There was an awkward silence. Then, the older soldier put down his fork and in a respectful tone of voice looked at the father and said, “Sir, your son was a great man. Each morning we would see him returning from his prayer time with his Bible in hand. Then, he would go to each soldier in our group, give them a firm handshake and an encouraging word. Thank you, sir, for raising a great man who gave his life for us all.” He has inspired me to live life serving God and others. Meanwhile, the younger soldier blissfully stuffed himself with the meal the father had provided.
Which of these two veterans partook of the family meal in a worthy manner? In this parable, we see the younger soldier totally self-absorbed. He talked non-stop about himself. He barely gave thanks for the life that was sacrificed for him. He ate the meal in an unworthy manner.
The older veteran, on the other hand, focused on Ron’s sacrifice. He gave thanks to the father for giving such a wonderful son. He honored Ron and the family by aspiring to serve God and others. See the difference? The older soldier partook of the table in a worthy manner.
Let us examine ourselves daily to ensure we have a heart of gratitude for our freedoms, our veterans, our leaders and the many other blessings God’s love has provided for us. And let us purpose to live our lives worthy of their sacrifice by using our freedom to serve God and others.
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at email@example.com.