A stained-glass window in the United States depicts St. Patrick with his staff and holding a church.
Who was St. Patrick? Why is there even a day named after him? What is a sermon idea that can be useful from this man?
Why is Patrick Called a Saint?
In the first place, all believers are called saints (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 14:33) so that is nothing new but normally we don’t meet people in church and says “Good morning Saint Bob” or “Hello Saint Martha, how’s it going?” This man had a great history and there is every reason to call him Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick is called the patron saint of Ireland and for good reason. Some have even called him the Apostle of Ireland. He is given credit for being the first bishop of Armagh or what is called the Primate of Ireland.
The truth be told, he didn’t banish all snakes from Ireland because there is no evidence of there ever having been snakes on Ireland in the first place due to its post-glacial history. Although his father was a Christian deacon, he was more than likely a deacon for tax incentives so as to avoid the heavy British taxes at the time. There is no solid evidence that the family was overtly Christian.
A Prisoner to a Christian
This sculpture of St. Patrick stands in a Aghagower, County Mayo, Ireland.
When St. Patrick was only 16, he was captured by Irish pirates and held captive for six years before he was finally able to escape but from what he wrote, he believed that God spoke to him and told him to return to Britain, which he finally did.
He apparently had another revelation from God while in Britain in which an angel supposedly told him to return to Ireland as a missionary for Christ. Instead of leaving right away, he trained for the ministry for more than 15 years before leaving for Ireland. After his ordination as a priest, he went to work with another missionary to help Christians in Ireland so it is blatantly false that St. Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland…he simply went there to help those Christians who were already living there. This happened in the last half of the fifth century and by the seventh century, he had already become known as the patron saint of Ireland.
The day of his death, March 17th, is the occasion of the holiday called Saint Patrick’s Day. In Ireland it is a holy day of convocation but also a national holiday and celebration for Ireland itself.
The Shamrock and the Trinity
The legend is that St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, as a symbol of the Trinity when trying to explain the Three Persons of the Godhead. The fact that the shamrock is green seemed to fit the idea of the rebirth of the individual as well as the idea of eternal life. The appearance of three things with living organisms has always fascinated St. Patrick who saw it as a symbol of the Trinity and reminded all of the earth’s inhabitants that God is everywhere present or He is at all times everywhere. There is some truth to that about the nature of God since there is no place a person can flee to escape or avoid the presence of God (Psalm 139:7). In other words, you cannot hide from God; just read Jonah’s story!
There are still unreached people groups in the nations of the world where the gospel has not yet been preached and one wonders if St. Patrick were still alive today, where would he go? Would he go to Ireland again or back to his native Britain?
That he was in inspiration for Ireland and his passion for the Word can, hopefully, inspire us to go where God would have us bring the gospel, even if it’s next door. We are to bring the good news of the gospel to those who are presently separated from God by their sins (Isaiah 59:2) as we once were. Should not St. Patrick’s passion to preach the gospel and to leave all that is familiar to him at least inspire us to go to those we know who are not yet saved? This means those co-workers of ours, our family members, our neighbors, and even those on the street who have yet to hear the bad news of the wrath of God that abides on those who have rejected believing in Christ (John 3:36b). Therefore we should be compelled to tell them since we ourselves were spared from God’s wrath and at one time were enemies of God (Rom 5:10).
Let His Passion be Ours
If someone were willing to leave the comforts and familiarity of their own home for the sake of the gospel and with the purpose of recusing the perishing, should not our own hearts burn within us for the same purpose (Jer 20:9)?
Since God saved us by someone else’s proclamation of the Word, shouldn’t we feel a sense of obligation to tell others? The answer is obvious. Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 that “God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
As ambassadors of Christ, we represent the King of the kingdom and as ambassadors, we must leave the comforts of our own home or land to take this message of hope into all the world as the only possible way that they might be saved (Acts 4:12).
If we do not go, who will? Must we depend on others to enter into the fields to labor for His glory? Can we not see the desperate condition of a world that is headed down the broad path to destruction (Matt 7:13) and tell them that “the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (Matt 7:14)?
Let St. Patrick inspire us to leave our own comfort zone and take the gospel to others in the hopes that they might be saved. Were we not “a brand plucked from the fire” (Zech 3:2)?
Should we not help “save others by snatching them from the fire [and] to others show mercy” (Jude 1:23)? The Prophet Amos reminds us again, as Zechariah did, “You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire” (Amos 4:11).
Let us use St. Patrick’s passion for the Great Commission to help inspire us in the rescuing of the perishing.