Thursday, 19 July 2018

Christ The Good Shepherd
I Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6: The remnant of my flock I will gather and I will raise up shepherds to look after them.
II Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18: Christ Jesus is the Peace between us, and made the two into one.
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34: They were like sheep without a shepherd.

Today we celebrate the Shepherd who leads all people to the Father, however far apart they may be in race or culture.
The first reading talks about the social and moral fibre of the country  was rotten. The leaders who are called shepherds (both civil and religious) will be removed; God will regather his people under a real king in place of weak rulers of Jeremiah’s day about 600 B.C. Jeremiah announces an extraordinary shepherd to come. The prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled in Jesus.

The Psalm 22 is the image of the good shepherd, the writer, traditionally said to be David, projects all the qualities of the keeper of sheep on the hill side. The Psalm ends with  a feeling of security prompted by the divine shepherd. All we like sheep we gone astray and we find in this psalm the Great Shepherd who gently leads the lost back to the fold.
With unity as the theme of the second reading, Paul deals with the reconciliation of Jew and Pagan in Christ to form a “single new man.” “The barrier” refers to the fence which marked the limit to which pagans might go in the Temple.
In the gospel reading we listened, none of the Evangelists records any comment by Jesus on what the disciples had done during their mission. Jesus was more concerned that their spiritual resources  had been depleted and that a retreat was necessary. But it was not to be. The crowd gathered and he saw them as sheep without a shepherd, their needs came first and with great compassion he ministered to them with extensive teaching. By giving the Holy Spirit to everyone, Jesus wiped away all distinctions among people. First, Jesus brought peace with his Father and secondly, Jesus brought peace among all people. The fact of belonging to Jesus’ flock imposes a serious obligation on shepherds and sheep alike: to maintain peace and unity with the Christian community. What kind of Christians are we today?
Today the church and the life of our Christian communities depend to a very large extent on the quality of our spiritual leaders and leaders of our country. Today’s message is as follows:
1. Spiritual leaders or shepherds should have more concern  about the needs of their flock at all time.
2. They should be the messengers of love, joy, peace, reconciliation, compassion, caring and unity for their faithful.
3. The church or the Christian communities in turn should have one aim in view: to maintain all costs union with the community.
The Need for Rest and Its Dangers, Mk 6:30-34
Every person needs rest, relaxation, and time alone with God. However, when the believer is seeking to rest, he must know there are some serious dangers that confront him. This passage shows three of the dangers.
1.    The disciples returned from their mission (v.30): reported what they had done and taught.
2.    Danger 1: not taking time to rest (v.31-32)
a.    The disciples worked long and hard
b.    The disciples were pressed by the crowds
c.     The disciples left to rest
3.    Danger 2: taking too much time to rest when people are seeking help (v.33)
4.    Danger 3: losing sight of people who are as sheep without a shepherd (v.34)
a.    Jesus saw and had compassion
b.    Jesus began to teach
Thought: Believers are accountable both for how they live and for what they teach. They are to be obedient to Christ’s teachings. Every disciple is held accountable to God (2Cor 5:10; Heb 13:17)

Gospel: Matthew 12:14-21: Jesus warned them not to make him known; this was to fulfil the prophecy.
I Reading: Exodus 12:37-42: It was night when the Lord brought Israel out of the land of Egypt.
Messiah is the Chosen Servant of God
The Old Testament predicted who the Messiah would be and what His work would be. This passage proves that Jesus fulfilled what was predicted of the Messiah.
1.    Two attitudes toward Jesus and His response (v.14-16)
a.    First attitude: the Pharisees plotted against Jesus, so he withdrew
b.    Second attitude: many followed Jesus, so he healed them
c.     Jesus requested no publicity
2.    Jesus’ person (v.17-18)
a.    God’s chosen servant
b.    God’s Beloved Son
c.     God’s Spirit upon him-fully
3.    Jesus’ work (v.18-21). What Jesus did and the quiet, tender way he went about doing it proved his Messiahship.
a.    He proclaims justice to all peoples
b.    He shows humility
1)    Not strife: arguing
2)    Not crying: reacting
3)    Not fussing
c.     He loves and encourages
d.    He leads justice to victory
e.     He gives hope to all
Thought: Christ submitted to God’s will; therefore he was given a great work to do; he experienced the great trust of God. Christ shuts no man out, but men do shun and avoid, exclude and shut one another out. Jesus reaches out to all, and he shows all how to live a just and righteous life.

Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8: The Son of Man is master of the Sabbath.
I Reading: Exodus 11:10-12:14: You shall slaughter a lamb between the two evenings; and when I see the blood I will pass over you.
Messiah is Greater than Religion, Mt 12:1-8
Chapter 12 deals with the rising opposition to Jesus Christ both from religionists (Mt 12:1-45) and from his own family (Mt 12:46-50). Jesus confronted attack after attack, vindicating his Messiahship against each one. Suspicion, rejection and fear of Christ were growing at a rapid pace. Jesus had to continue to proclaim the truth for the sake of every generation, for he was the true Messiah, the Saviour of all who would believe and surrender to him.
Christ used this opportunity to show that he himself was the Messiah is greater than the Sabbath or religion.
1.    A questionable act-breaking the Sabbath law (v.1-3)
a.    The religionist’s accusation
b.    Jesus’ progressive argument and defense
2.    Step 1: need has precedence over tradition and ritual (cp. David) (v.3-4)
3.    Step 2: necessary work has precedence over the Sabbath, that is over religion (v.5)
4.    Step 3: he (the Messiah) is greater than the temple (v.6)
5.    Step 4: he will have a religion of mercy and not sacrifice (v.7)
6.    Step 5: he is Lord of the Sabbath and religion (v.8)
Thought: The religionists (Jewish teachers) corrupted God’s Word (Rev. 22:18-19; Prov 30:6; 1Jn 5:3; Acts 23:8; Lk 6:2).
The religionists did not have a merciful heart; they were not compassionate and understanding of human need. They did not understand the true meaning of God’s heart and Word. They knew God’s Word but did not know its meaning. They judged and censored others because they did not know the meaning of God’s heart and Word. God’s heart and word never allows censoring any one. How much mercy and compassion are needed in all our dealings!

Gospel: Matthew 11: 28-30: I am gentle and humble in heart.
I Reading: Exodus 3:13-20: I AM who I AM. I AM has sent me to you.
The Great Invitation: Given to This Generation, Mt 11:28-30
Christ paints two pictures in this passage. One picture is of extreme weariness. The other picture is of extreme pressure. Jesus does not say what caused the weariness or pressure (heavy burdens). It does not matter, for his invitation is open to all. It is a simple invitation, requiring so little and offering so much.
1.    Come to Me (v.28)
a.    Who: The weary
b.    Why: He will give rest
c.     Condition: Must come to Jesus
2.    Take my yoke-learn of Me (v.29-30)
a.    Why:
1)    He is gentle and humble
2)    We will find rest
3)    His yoke is easy, his burden is light
b.    Condition: Must come to Jesus Christ
Thought: Some of the things that exhaust us are
·       Too much work
·       Worldliness and carnality (fleshy pleasure)
·       Sin and guilt
·       Unsatisfying spirit in money and material possession
·       Name and fame of emptiness in life
·       Power and lowliness of it
·       The rituals and traditions of religion
·       Rules and regulations
·       Not knowing the truth of life is one the major causes of exhaustion
Every person has his/her yoke that is his/her life to live and his/her task to do while on earth. Jesus is gentle and humble. He cares, looks after us. How far we can go to Jesus’ invitation (Come to ME) and how capable we are.

Gospel: Matthew 11: 25-27: You have hidden these things from the learned and revealed them to mere children.
I Reading: Exodus 3:1-6.9-12: The Lord appeared to Moses in the shape of a flame of fire, coming from the middle of a bush.
The Blindness of This Generation. The generation was blind to three things
1.    The people were blind to God’s truth:
a.    The wise are blind: self- sufficient
b.    The little children are not blind: teachable
2.    The people are blind to God’s will and purpose:
3.    The people were blind to the Messiah. Note: a man is blind to four facts about the Messiah:
a.    He is of God, His very own Son
b.    He has been given all things
c.     He is the Mediator
d.    He alone reveals God
Thought: Spiritual truth is “hidden” where? In God. The only key to spiritual truth is faith and trust in God. What Christ condemns is not intelligence and wisdom but intellectual pride and self-sufficiency.

Gospel: Matthew 11: 20-24: It will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon and with the land of Sodom as with you.
I Reading: Exodus 2:1-15: Pharaoh’s daughter named him Moses because, she said, “ I drew him out of the water.” Later, when he was a man, he set out to visit his countrymen.
The Judgement of this Generation, Mt 11:20-24
There is the judgement of this generation.
1.    The judgement of this generation (v.20-24)
a.    The judgement of two privileged cities
1)    Because they were privileged
2)    Because they did not repent
3)    Because they ignored Christ
4)    The degree of their judgement: to be greater than most
b.    The judgement of the most privileged city
1)    Because it had the greatest opportunity
2)    Because it did not repent
3)    Because it neglected Christ
4)    The degree of its judgement: to be the greatest
Thought: Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22).

Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1: It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.
I Reading: Exodus 1:8-14.22 : We must take steps against Israel increasing any further.
The Cost of Being the Lord’s Disciple, Mt 10:34-42
In this passage Jesus is exact and uncompromising. He lays some heavy demands upon his disciples. He states clearly what it will cost a person to be his disciple, and he describes the cost by using four illustrations.
1.    Jesus’ purpose (v.34)
a.    Not to bring peace
b.    To bring a sword
2.    Illustration 1: a person’s family (v.35-37)
a.    The fact: Christ sets the believer against his family
b.    The demand: must love Christ supremely
c.     The reward: counted worthy vs. unworthy
3.    Illustration 2: the cross (v.38)
a.    Demand: die-follow
b.    Reward: counted worthy vs. unworthy
4.    Illustration 3: a person’s life (v.39)
a.    Demand: give up life
b.    Reward: lose life vs. find life
5.    Illustration 4: welcoming and ministering to others (v.40-42)
a.    Demand: welcome a believer and minister to him
b.    Reward: an equal reward
1)    The presence of Christ and of God (v.40)
2)    The equal reward
3)    Strongly asserted: the smallest ministry will not lose its reward
Thought: The world is full of hurt, pain and suffering-not peace. The truth cannot be denied. However, we can be of good cheer, for Christ has overcome the world.
His word, sharper than any two-edged sword, pierces the soul and spirit of a person, discerning the thoughts and intents of his heart. It convicts the person to become a follower of God and His righteousness (Heb 4:12).