Thought for the Week 28 - 27th September by Rev Peter Baxandall

Welcome:

Preparation and Opening Prayer                  (Page 1)

HYMN:                         Bless the Lord, O my soul

Confession                                                                (Page 1)

First Reading:             (Dawn)                Exodus 17:1-7

Second Reading:                           Matthew 21:23-32

The Lord’s Prayer                                                      (Page 3)

Prayers of Thanksgiving                                (Page 3)

Collect for the day               Trinity 16

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers of your people who call upon you; and grant that we may both perceive and know what things we ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

   

The Morning Collect                                        (Page 3)

Sermon:             The searching question

Creed                                                                                     (Page 4)

Notices

Intercessions                       (Jan)                             (Page 5)

HYMN:                         Such love

Closing Prayer                                                           (Page 8)             

 

 

Today’s first Bible Reading is taken from Exodus 17:1-7

 

1       The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, travelling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.

2       So they quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

3       But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

4       Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

5       The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.

6       I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

7       And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarrelled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

 

This is the word of the Lord: Thanks be to God

 

Today’s second Bible Reading is taken from Matthew 21:23-32

 

23     Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24     Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

25     John’s baptism - where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven’, he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’

26     But if we say, ‘From men’ - we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27     So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28     “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29      ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30     “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31     “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

          “The first,” they answered.

          Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

32     For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him

This is the word of the Lord: Thanks be to God

 

Intercessions

Everlasting God, you offer to us everything we need for our spiritual growth and well-being, and yet we so often choose to ignore you.

We pray today that we will have ears that are open and hearts ready to receive what you want to say to us.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Almighty God, we pray for your Church; for our leaders, both lay and ordained; for Churchwardens and PCC’s; and all who seek to help in any way in the day by day running of the local church.

We pray that You will give them courage and help them to make wise and right decisions, always reflecting the love of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

We pray, our Father, for our parish here in Gunton and for the parishes of Hopton and Corton as we look for ways to move forward to seek to become one benefice.

We pray for the work being done on the joint Parish Profile and for the time when we begin to advertise the Benefice and actively seek a new Incumbent

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

We pray for our country and for those who have been elected to serve us in local and national government.

We pray for a real sense of your wisdom and courage as important measures are put into place to seek to control the spread of Covid-19.

Touch the hearts of the people of our nation that we will be willing to abide by the rules put in place to help us move forward.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for anyone we know who has recently been given bad news about their health or the health of a loved one. Lord, help us know what to say and when to speak.

May we always be ready to give practical help whenever we can and to ensure that those on their own are able to manage and cope with their day to day life.

We pray for all doctors and nurses and all care workers as they seek to help all who are struggling with health issues, especially any known to us.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Merciful God, we are aware that death separates from us those we love and often we find it hard to live without them.

Take from all who are bereaved any sense of bitterness and resentment and help them to know your arms of love surrounding them through these difficult days.

(Short Silence)

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Holy God, as we prepare for the week to come, help us to know Christ and the power of his resurrection day by day.

Help us to show your love in all that we do and say that we may bring glory to your name.

Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

We look today at Matthew 21:23-32 – a passage that follows on from the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey on what we call ‘Palm Sunday’

The events of the next couple of chapters come in what we call ‘Holy Week’ – and today’s passage follows the incident of Jesus clearing the ‘money changers’ out of the Temple precincts.

At this point in Matthew’s gospel we find that there are three parables, all of which are linked, but in our Bible reading for today only look at the first of these three.

We will, however, note these further two parables as we draw this ‘Thought for the week’ to a close – but before that we look at the first of the three parables – a landowner and his two sons.

This series of three parables grew out of the demand of the chief priests and elders for Jesus to explain what authority He had for cleansing the temple.

As the custodians of the spiritual life of the nation, they had the right to ask this question, but we are amazed at their ignorance.

Even as they challenged Jesus, they found that they had to acknowledge that they knew He had some source of authority  that was indisputable.

His miracles were too obvious and too numerous to be fraudulent.

Even His teaching was with such force and clarity that it was obvious to all that there was authority in His words.

Many of the Jewish Rabbi’s and teachers would say, ‘it has been said …’ – but when Jesus spoke, He would frequently say, ‘but I say to you …’

The Jewish leaders found this very difficult to deal with and they were clearly uncomfortable with Jesus whole style of teaching.

Jesus had lived out three years of ministry, and yet they still would not face the facts - they wanted more evidence.

There is a sense in which Jesus caught the Jewish leaders in their own trap by asking this simple question about John the Baptist.

They had no doubt hoped that He would answer their question by asserting that His authority came directly from God (as He had many times before.)

On those occasions they accused Him of blasphemy and they wanted to use the charge as an excuse to kill Him - as they had also attempted to do before.

Here, however, He asked them a question that placed them in an impossible dilemma, because John was widely revered by the people.

They could not affirm John’s ministry without condemning themselves.

If they denied John’s legitimacy, they feared the response of the people (v. 26).

In effect, Jesus exposed their own lack of any real authority to examine Him.

In taking them back to the ministry of John, Jesus was not trying to avoid the issue - John had prepared the way for Jesus.

Had the rulers received John’s ministry, they would have received Jesus.

Instead, the leaders permitted Herod to arrest John and then to kill him.

If they would not accept the authority of John, they would not accept the authority of Jesus; for both John and Jesus were sent by God.

It is a basic principle of Christian living that we cannot learn new truth if we disobey what God has already told us.

The religious rulers had rejected the truth preached by John, and therefore they would not allow Jesus to impart new truth.

Both He and John were under the same authority.

And so se turn to the first of the three parables – and here we have the parable of two sons

They rejected God the Father (vv. 23–32).

The scene is that of the vineyard, and the vineyard, of course, speaks of the nation of Israel (Ps. 80:8–16; Isa. 5).

The two sons represent the two classes of people in that nation: the self-righteous religious people on the one hand, and the publicans and sinners on the other.

The point of the parable was that doing is more important than saying (Matthew 7:21–27; James 1:22).

They had to acknowledge this, yet in doing so they condemned themselves.

When John came ministering, the religious leaders in the crowd showed great interest in his work, but they would not repent and humble themselves and be baptized (Matt. 3:7–12.)

They refused to listen to his teaching.

The ‘nonreligious’ crowd, however, confessed their sins and obeyed John’s words and were baptized.

The leaders committed two sins: They would not believe John’s message and they would not repent of their sins.

Of course, the leaders felt that they had no need to repent (Luke 18:9–14).

But when they saw what repentance did for the publicans and sinners, they should have been convinced that John’s message was true and salvation was real.

Again and again, the religious rulers rejected the clear evidence God gave them.

Their rejection of John was at the same time actually a rejection of the Father who had sent him.

But God is gracious, and instead of sending judgment, He sent His Son.

Those most publicly despised by the chief priests and elders, had found salvation while the self-righteous leaders had not.

The nation’s leaders were guilty of spiritual blindness, hypocrisy, and deliberate disobedience to the Word.

Instead of accepting this indictment from Jesus, and repenting, they decided to attack Him and argue with Him.

We should be careful not to follow their example of disobedience.

From this point on in Matthew’s gospel he moves on to recall two other parables of Jesus – and as we said at the beginning of this study, we will not look at them in detail today.

However, we can mention them at this point before we conclude our ‘Thought for the week’ for this week.

In the first of these other two parables, Matthew 21:33–46 we discover that they rejected the Son.

For this parable we are still at the vineyard.

This parable is based on Isaiah 5:1–7, and in it Jesus reminded the Jews of God’s goodness to them as a nation.

God delivered them from Egypt and planted them in a rich and fertile land of milk and honey.

He gave them material and spiritual blessings and asked only that they bear fruit for His glory.

From time to time, God sent His servants (the prophets) to the people to receive the fruit.

But the people mistreated the servants, and even killed some of them.

What should the householder do?

He could have sent his armies to destroy these wicked men.

But instead he sent his own son to them – and the reference, of course, is to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The people listening to the parable were caught up in the drama and did not realize that they passed sentence on themselves.

And so, we turn to the third of three parables – and we find this one in Matthew 22:1-14 which is the parable of a Wedding Banquet.

The Father is still inviting the people of Israel to come, in spite of what they did to His Son.

This is a powerful group of three parables and from each of them separately and all of them together, we need to learn to listen to what God is saying to us.

It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of those who were listening to Jesus as he told these parables – to get caught up in the ‘story’ and miss the real meaning behind it.

It is not so much the ‘saying’ of the right things and sounding ‘spiritual’ – it is a matter of ‘doing’ the right thing in response to God’s word to us.

May we be open today to hear whatever it is that God would say to us at this time and may we allow God to apply His word to us.

 

 

 


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