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You can’t be neutral with Jesus

Dear Friends
It seems that as Jesus nears Jerusalem to die on the Cross His parables become more pointed at the hardness of hearts of the religious leaders. In Matthew 21:28-46 Jesus teaches us 2 parables both of which focus on His mission. In the first parable about 2 sons both sons are asked to work in the field. The first son agrees but doesn’t go and the second son said no but later changed his mind and obeyed. Jesus applies this and says that the sinners and tax collectors and prostitutes are like the second son. They initially resist God but many have changed their mind & repented and are following God. This is in contrast to people like the first son which refers to Jews and especially the religious leaders. They said they would obey God but didn’t. Jesus is looking for people who will by faith listen to Him and obey him. In the second parable about tenants in a vineyard Jesus speaks about how he provided everything for the tenants. He was generous in His provision. In 21:34 the owner of the vineyard sent His servants to collect the harvest but the tenants beat one, killed another and stoned a third. He decided to send His son thinking they will respect him but they killed him. In 21:45 the chief priests and the pharisees knew that the parable was directed at them. Jesus teaches them that He is the cornerstone and that what people do with him is critical. People can either believe and accept or not believe and reject. You can’t be neutral with Jesus. In 21:43-44 Jesus raises the prospect of judgement and that those who reject Him will be crushed. God is generous to us and this is most fully seen in sending Jesus. God has been generous and provided everything we need for salvation - Jesus. We have no excuse because Jesus has come to earth and died on the cross for our sins. Other parables such as John 15 and the vine and the branches speak of the fact that God provides us with the power and resources to be fruitful. We have no excuse. May our faith lead us to be obedient and fruitful in knowing and serving Jesus. In the passage at 5pm we look at John 4:43-54 and Jesus comments that a prophet is not honoured in his own country. Jesus goes to Cana in Galilee and the people welcomed him. John is making the point that outsiders ie people from Galilee welcome Jesus whereas those from Jerusalem don’t. The royal official teaches us what true faith is :- v50 the man took Jesus at his word and departed. He trusted Jesus’ Word before he saw the results. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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The great hope of Jesus power

Dear Friends,
In Matthew 20:1-16 the clue to unlocking this parable is in the literary markers or bookends. This passage is framed by a similar phrase in 19:30 and 20:16 that act as bookends which mark it off as a unit. The verse which is repeated is :- But many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first. This parable is about reversal. In chapter 19 Jesus has encountered the rich young man who comes to him and asks “What must do to inherit eternal life ? 19:16. This man finds it difficult to accept Jesus instructions to go and sell his possessions and he goes away sad. The response of the disciples is instructive - 19:25 Who then can be saved ?” When they see that the rich young man who was privileged in his society they are shocked because they believe that someone of his status must be close to God yet walks away from Jesus. In response they wonder what hope they themselves have in knowing and following God. Jesus reassures them with God all things are possible. Jesus then introduces the parable of the vineyard workers who get hired at different times of the day and yet each one received a days wage (the same). Those who were hired first protest at this and consider it is unfair because they have born the heat of the day. This parable is quite pointed as Jesus is close to Jerusalem and he is teaching that the Jews who had the great privilege of the Law and Moses are in a dangerous position spiritually because they have rejected Him and questioned the Gospel being offered to outcasts. The religious leaders reject the generosity of God to offer the kingdom to those who are considered last or least such as tax collectors and sinners. Throughout church history there has often been resentment from various people when the Gospel is offered to those who are outsiders. This was the big issue the early church faced in learning to accept that the Gospel is also offered to Gentiles. There is another possible application :- in response to Peter’s statement that they have left everything to follow Jesus 19:27 Jesus is assuring them that God is generous and will provide for them. We must be wary of resenting and envying the generosity of God through Christ to offer salvation to all. The passage for the 5pm is John 11:1-47 which contains the great hope of Jesus power to defeat death and sin. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this ? 11:25-26 God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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The compassion of Jesus

Dear Friends,
In Matthew 18:10-14,21-35 we see the compassion of Jesus. In the first parable Jesus teaches about the initiative of the shepherd who goes looking for his lost sheep. Throughout the Bible we learn that it is God who makes the first move towards us. God’s grace is expressed in God in seeking us even before we think about him. This initiative of God to seek us and find us is what gives us security ! One of the most well known verses in the Bible - John 3:16 For God’s so loved the world that He gave His one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life speaks of God’s initiative and the motivation of God. God seeks us because He loves us. He does this because He sees that we are sinners and under judgement and lost and that our only way to get out of our mess is by God’s grace. He does this because He wants to see our relationship with us restores and for that to happen our sin must be dealt with. Jesus out of compassion deals with our sin by dying on the Cross and taking the judgement for it instead of us. Remembering the compassion of Jesus or his grace is what refreshes us. We all need to know that we are loved by someone who knows us at our worst and still loves us us and has power to deal with our greatest problem - our sin. This gives us courage to face sin and pain and be willing to grow and change. In the second parable we learn about the merciful master who forgives a huge debt of his servant. This debt cannot be repaid by the servant and he begs for mercy. The master is merciful and cancels the debt. What happens next is that the servant who is forgiven encounters a fellow servant who owes him a much smaller debt. Despite his experience of incredible grace his response to his fellow servant is harsh. The master when he hears of this is angry because He expects that our experience of His compassion to us will in turn empower us to be gracious to others. A failure to forgive others is a failure to understand God’s grace and kindness to us. God expects that on the journey of faith we will through the work of the Spirit begin to resemble Jesus and especially grow in being compassionate and merciful to other people. At the 5pm service the passage set is Ephesians 5:1-21 which encourages us to be imitators of God. Paul reminds the Christians that we are dearly loved by God and so we should live a life of love. When we sin against God and against people we are not loving them and in fact are rebelling against God and His good purposes and failing to treat people with dignity and respect based on their creation in the image of God and redemption through the blood of Jesus. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara

 

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