The Parables of Jesus - iii. The Kingdom of Heaven: Priceless

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Matthew 13:44-52

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The parables of Jesus have rightly been described as Pictures of Revolution.  The message of the Kingdom of God is indeed revolutionary, unlike any human revolution promising Utopia and freedom, only to oppress those who stand in the way.  Jesus was a revolutionary far more radical than those who endeavoured to change society through force.  His method was one of persuasion through parables ticking away like a time bomb with explosive results.  His ‘stories of intent’ were designed to disarm his opponents on the one hand, and reveal the true nature of discipleship and radical repentance on the other.  The parables simultaneously conceal and reveal, exposing the habits of his hearers’ and readers’ hearts.

The Parables of Jesus - ii. Seeds, Weeds and Explosive Growth

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Matthew 13:24-43

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Jesus continues to tell three parables about the Kingdom of God: the wheat and the weeds with an explanation to follow, the mustard seed and yeast.  Whether Jesus told these parables in this precise order is a moot point.  Matthew writes to a predominantly Jewish order and he collates his material accordingly to stress the primacy of the Kingdom in Jesus’ teaching. 

The Kingdom cannot be equated with the church, a mistake Augustine made in his interpretation which led to very grave consequences.  The church in the Middle Ages became a coercive agency, relying on power and control.  Constantine, the first ‘Christian’ emperor of the Roman Empire established a state church.  He is reputed to have offered defeated opponents in war a choice, be baptised or be drowned!  Little wonder that the church became a compromised body with nominal allegiance by many.  The Crusades in attempting to impose Christianity by force on Islam had disastrous consequences, compounded by Islam’s equating the gospel with western culture.

The Parables of Jesus - i. How do we hear?

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Matthew 13:1-23

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Jesus was a masterful teacher who captured the imagination of his hearers through the use of parables, described as stories with a sting in the tale, striking home unawares.  Filled with everyday illustrations, the surface meaning hides a sucker punch.  Whilst not unique to Jesus, parables in his hands have coined universal phrases like ‘turning the other cheek’, ‘going the extra mile’ and ‘being a Good Samaritan’ to name but a few.

 Context is vital to the right understanding of a story, not least a parable.  It may well have a disturbing, cutting edge especially if conflict and confrontation is in the air.  In this context Jesus’ enemies accuse him of being in league with Satan, and his immediate family are concerned about his mental state.  So faced with direct opposition on the one hand and familiarity bordering on contempt on the other, Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower.

Who is my neighbour?

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses: Isaiah 6:1-8, Luke 10:25-37 and Matthew 25:35-40

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The main point this morning: Your love for God and your love for other people cannot be separated.

Three aspects:

1.    Who is your neighbour?

2.    What does the Bible say?

3.    What is our challenge?

…oooOooo…

You are the one to show mercy.

“Here am I. Send me!”[1]

When I studied law I learnt of a case about a snail in a bottle of ginger beer. Mr Stevens the manufacturer was sued after a Mrs Donoghue of Paisley who drank the ginger beer became ill. It became known as the “Paisley snail” case.[2] The case was heard in 1932 and decided in favour of Mrs Donoghue by the House of Lords holding that the manufacturer owed a duty of care to her. They held this because they felt that it was reasonably foreseeable, that the failure to ensure the product’s safety could lead to harm to consumers.  

What interested me was the reasoning of Lord Atkin in deciding which group of persons might have a claim.

[1] Isaiah 6: 1-8

[2] Paisley Snail. Paisley was also the site of an incident that gave rise to a major legal precedent. In a Paisley cafe in 1928, a woman allegedly found a dead snail in a bottle of ginger beer, and became ill. She sued the manufacturer for negligence. At the time a manufacturer was considered liable only if there was a contract in place with the harmed party. However, after Donoghue v Stevenson wound through the courts, a precedent was established that manufacturers (and other "neighbours" or fellow citizens) owe a duty not to do foreseeable harm to others by negligence, regardless of contractual obligations, which paved the way for modern tort law. The case is often called the "Paisley snail."

The Right Choice...

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Matt 2:1-12

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Have you ever thought about the fact that life is full of decisions and choices that have to be made?  It is a simple fact that no one has ever been able to avoid.  There are times where we are aware of the decisions and choices that we have to make.  For example, this Friday past I knew that I had to make a pretty important decision.  I tried to avoid it for as long as I possibly could during Friday morning, but eventually I knew that I had to make this decision… to do my own washing.  The other day I noticed that the petrol in my car was running a bit low. I knew that at some point I would have to put petrol in, but I put that off as well for as long as I could until my car made the decision for me… the little orange petrol pump light came on, beeeeeep, because my car screams at me from time to time, and I had to make the decision to stop and fill up.

 

There Was Once a Man Who Planted a Vineyard. Accept or Reject?

Preacher: Gordon Hay

Verses:Romans Isaiah 5:1-7 and Matthew 21:33-46

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The mayor of Johannesburg is on a campaign to get rid of tenants who have hi-jacked buildings belonging to others. The tenants have moved in, refused to pay rental, refused to recognise the landlord and in some cases representatives of the landlords, have been killed when trying to intervene. It is not just tenants.
The law reports record many instances of employees, agents, franchisees, and representatives who have either misused or stolen the property entrusted to them.
These are persons who have been given every opportunity to do well both for themselves and for the owner, but have turned rogue and ignored the owner. The owner who had trusted them and entrusted to them the property in question.
What does the owner feel? Completely disappointed, let down, and betrayed. And retaliation follows. Applications for interdicts, termination of the contract and claims for damages.
And as we consider the passages read for us this morning we will realise that this is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden....

The Great Comission

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 16:15-18, Matthew 28:18-20

Matthew 28:18-20 is perhaps the most well-known version of the Great Commission but each of the Gospels expresses it in different ways. In Mark 16:15-18, for instance, we are told to "Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to all creation (all people)". In Matthew 28:18-20, the instruction is to "Go and make disciples of all nations (all peoples)". I believe that the Holy Spirit inspired each writer of the Gospel to write in the way they did. I also believe that what they wrote was in line with what Jesus commanded them. So the command therefore is to go into the world to preach the gospel to every creature, and to make disciples of all nations