58. Sermon in parables (4 of 4)
Sermon in parables (4 of 4)…….THEN said Jesus unto the disciples,
It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him,
through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
The apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said,
If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
But which of you, having a servant ploughing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? and will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
¶Lazarus, of Bethany, the brother of Mary and Martha, was sick. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair. ) The sisters sent unto Jesus, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. Jesus said,
This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. He abode two days in the place where he was; then saith he to his disciples,
Let us go into Judea again.
His disciples say, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered,
Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of his sleep.
Howbeit Jesus spake of Lazarus’ death; but they thought that he had spoken of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus plainly,
Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
And when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had lain in the grave four days.
Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him; but Mary was still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her,
Thy brother shall rise again.
Martha answered, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her,
I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Martha saith, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
When she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come.
Mary arose quickly, and came unto him in that place where Martha met him. The Jews which were with Mary in the house followed her. She fell at Jesus’ feet, saying, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Jesus saw her weeping: he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said,
Where have ye laid him?
They say, Lord, come and see.
Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
Jesus cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said,
Take ye away the stone.
Martha, the sister, saith, Lord, he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith,
Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?
Then they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said,
Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
When he had thus spoken, he cried,
Lazarus, come forth.
He that was dead came forth, bound with grave clothes. Jesus saith unto them,
Loose him, and let him go.
¶Then gathered the chief priests, and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Jesus to death.
Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
Scripture: Luke 17:1-6
Meditation 1 of 2:
What’s the driving force in your life? Jesus speaks of two forces at work in our lives — the power of temptation to sin and the power of faith to overcome obstacles. The Greek word fortemptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The scriptures warn us about the snare or enticement to go astray and to do what is evil. Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers! (Psalm 141:9) Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling (1 John 2:10). The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.
While Jesus warns against the sin of bad example and scandal, he also demonstrates the power of faith for overcoming temptation and obstacles. What did Jesus mean when he said that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matt.17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term “mountain remover” was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties. Don’t we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God’s power. Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. God expects more from us than we can do by ourselves. Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will. We are his servants, and he is ever ready to work through us and in us for his glory. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. Do you trust in God’s grace and power to resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?
“Lord, help me in my weakness and increase my trust in you and in your power to resist temptation. Give me the grace and strength to choose what is right and to set a good example for others, especially to those who are young in the faith.”
Scripture: Luke 17:7-10
Meditation 2 of 2:
Do you give your best, regardless of the cost? Aren’t we like the laborer in Jesus’ parable who expected immediate reward and compensation for his day’s work? How unfair for the master to compel him to give more than what was expected! Don’t we love to assert our rights: “I will give only what is required and no more!” But who can satisfy the claims of love? Jesus used this parable of the dutiful servant to explain that we can never put God in our debt or make the claim that God owes us something. We must regard ourselves as God’s servants, just as Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve”(Matthew 20:28). Service of God and of neighbor is both a voluntary or free act and a sacred duty. One can volunteer for public service or be compelled to do service for one’s country. Likewise, God expects us to give him the worship and praise which is his due. And he gladly accepts the free-will offering of our lives to him and his service. What makes our offering pleasing to God is the love we express in the gift of self-giving. True love is sacrificial, generous, and selfless. How can we love others selflessly and unconditionally? God himself is Love (1 John 4:16) and he fills our hearts with the boundless love that gives what is good for the sake of others. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:12). God honors the faithful servant who loves generously. He is ever ready to work through and in us for his glory. We must remember, however, that God can never be indebted to us. We have no claim on him. His love compels us to give him our best! And when we have done our best, we have simply done our duty. We can never outdo God. Does the love of God compel you to give your best?
“Lord, fill my heart with love, gratitude and generosity. Make me a faithful and zealous servant for you. May I generously pour out my life in loving service for you and for others, just as you have so generously poured yourself out for me.”