Jonathan by Paul Utnage

It’s often said, “Like father, like son.” Yet some sons are more visible than their father. So itwas for Jonathan, the father of Mephibosheth. We recently studied the amazing story ofDavid’s offer of grace to Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9. Mephibosheth became a typecast forall believers. But what about his father, Jonathan? What thumbprint does Jonathan leave on our lives?

Jonathan was Saul’s eldest son. He was a courageous, loyal, and dedicated leader in Israel’s
armies under Saul’s kingship. When he was younger, Jonathan and his servant scaled
dangerous cliffs—two crags named Bozez (“slippery”) and Seneh (“sharp”)—in order to
surprise a Philistine encampment. Jonathan famously remarked, “Perhaps the Lord will
work for us, for the Lord is not restrained to save by many or by few.” The Lord created a
major defeat of Israel’s enemies through Jonathan’s initiative and courage. His popularity
was so broad that Jonathan could have ridden his success to further acclaim.
Yet Jonathan was never destined to become king. Jonathan believed God’s promise that
David would become the great king of Israel after Saul. His faith in God’s promise was
acute—so much so that he risked his life to enable David to flee from Saul’s murderous
threats.

Saul obsessed about killing David. Jonathan defended his friend’s honor. It infuriated Saul’s
madness and he threw a spear at his own son. So Jonathan ran to advise David to leave
Jerusalem. “Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his
hand in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find
you. You shall be king over Israel’” (1 Samuel 23:16-17). He thereby chose David over Saul,
another’s rule over his own.

The amazing quality of Jonathan is that he still chose to remain with his father, accepting
his destiny and death as the result of his relation to Saul. He kept his eye on the long-range
goal of God’s kingdom through David, knowing that he would have to suffer to accomplish
God’s mission. He recognized that he would have to die in order for David to become king.
Many Christians voluntarily accept the same fate in God’ work. A soldier accepts the
possibility that he might be killed in a battle against an evil foe. A teenager realizes that he
will face the consequences of an alcoholic father’s choices in life, at least while he lives at
home. A mother understands that her lifestyle has been set in order to care for a disabled
child. Most of us face suffering of some type in order to prolong the will of God in another
person’s life. We choose to face it with grace, distinction, and faith.

“Like father, like son” may be the wrong phrase for us, until we consider God as our
heavenly Father. In such cases, our readiness to face whatever circumstances glorify God
becomes the defining—and exemplary—characteristic of our legacy. Wouldn’t this quality
stand out in Tucson’s culture? Are we at Catalina Foothills Church willing to sacrifice our
comforts in order to accomplish Christ’s vision for us? Let’s pray that we answer, “Yes, like
father, like son.”