Sermon – July 21, 2019
Paul’s gospel was summarized in the brief but memorable phrase “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” It was the goal of Christ, the proclamation of which became the goal of Paul, who passed the torch to Timothy. As we open chapter 2, then, we would be right to expect something about evangelism, especially as Paul begins by stating “First of all, I urge you…” Instead, what we get is a somewhat unexpected call to prayer. And prayer for what might be the most unlikely of people. What are we to make of this call to pray for kings and prominent people, and how does it shape our evangelism?
1. Prayer is our mandate
Paul starts in with an odd request: not that we focus on evangelism, nor that we train for it, but rather that we pray. Yes, pray for those that you evangelize, but also pray for those with power and clout you likely will never meet. It seems an odd move, and one that is difficult for many of us. We are to give thanks for them, even the ones we have real disagreements with, not just pray for their souls. But why? Where does this all lead?
Reason #1: to live quiet, godly lives. Paul notes that praying for those in power and authority help us to live peaceably in the world. This is pleasing to God. Many people just want to make waves – but Christians cannot do that. We must make waves at times, but as far as it depends on us, we should be those who are peaceable. Paul, however, has a further reason why being a peacemaker is a good thing:
Reason #2: God, our Savior, deems it good. It pleases God. Peace finds itself in the heart of God, and so it is his desire that we should likewise be people of peace. But, it is not just God’s heart and pleasure that is being hinted at here, but his very purpose in this peace: salvation. Which brings us to the third reason:
Reason#3: He wants all saved. There are a number of wrong ways to take this verse. It does not mean that because some aren’t saved that God’s will isn’t done, nor does it mean that all are actually saved. Rather, God wants all kinds of people, both Jew and Gentile, to be saved, even while loving all. His purpose of election outweighs his desire for all to be saved, because his glory in salvation is shown in that.
What all this means is that we pray for those in high positions because doing so helps to further the gospel, making straight paths before it. We spend much time and energy on tasks that are simply gospel related, but tasks that are necessary because of the fallen nature of the world. We ought to pray for our leaders, and those with social capital, so that such issues might get resolved and the gospel go forward with our full focus and interest.
2. Jesus is our Mediator
We know that such prayers will work because the very one who came to save sinners and give his life as a ransom is the very mediator we have before God. And what a mediator he is as well! Perfectly situated as a man, having experienced the sufferings of temptation as we have, to sympathize with our plight; and perfectly situated as God to know the weight of holiness and the gravity of our sin. Friends, pray much, for we have a great high priest who stands before the Father, who came to us to save sinners!