Third Sunday of Lent – Sermon 223

3rd Sunday of Lent

10am Holy Communion

3rd March 2013

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

A priest was walking down the street – when he noticed a very small boy – on the other side – trying to press a doorbell on a house.

 

The boy was very small and the doorbell is too high for him to reach.

 

After watching the boy’s efforts for some time, the priest decided to move closer – he stepped smartly across the road – went up behind him   – placed his hand kindly on his shoulder – leaned over and rang the doorbell very firmly –

Crouching down to the child’s level, the priest smiles at him – and asked – , “And what now, my little man?”

 

To which the boy turned and hollered very loudly, “Now we run!” –

 

Point 1        Interpreting disasters

 

Mis-understanding a situation and what is happening – is a theme of our Gospel reading –

 

Some people were telling Jesus about a group of Galileans on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem –who were worshipping in the temple – when the Roman Governor – Pontius Pilate – sent in the troops – and brutally murdered them – perhaps fearing a riot – and accusing them of being part of an uprising against the Roman Authorities –

 

The Jews saw them as innocent victims – and thought that their situation – and outcome – was all to do with God’s punishment of their sins –

 

News of such tragedies – produced – great fear – among the Jewish people – and for Jesus’ followers too – there was –an added concern – for Jesus’ safety – they knew He would soon be going to Jerusalem at the head of a group of Galilean Pilgrims – and they feared a similar situation would arise –

 

But Jesus reminded them of another group – who had also been killed – at the water pool at Siloam – they weren’t extra sinful – He said – they were just like anyone else –

 

such things can happen to anyone – saint or sinner – and we should not try to judge people – or God – when they occur –

 

Instead they should be reminders of our own mortality – and that life is short – that while we are alive – there are important things that we need to do – for our own salvation and for others – while we still have time –

 

We are all sinners – and that’s the condition in which we live or die unless we repent – while we have the opportunity –

 

Point 2        Parable of the Fig Tree

 

Jesus then told them a parable about a fig tree – to help explain his point –

 

The fig tree produced no fruit – year after year – and the order is given to cut it down

 

But the man who cares for the tree wanted one last try at nourishing it – ‘Perhaps this time it will respond and fruit’.

 

The parable provides us with a wonderful picture of God’s patience with us – rather than rushing to punish us for our sins – God wants to give us one last try –to see if we will respond to Him –

 

He gives us more time – not less – and we misunderstand Him if we think He sends tragedy – to punish individuals for their sins –

 

But at the end of the day the fig tree must respond – or be cut down –

 

And it’s the same for us – God is patient –but tragedies remind us that life is short – and we need to respond and repent while we have the opportunity

 

God invites us to come and receive – from Him – as our OT reading reminds us – hungry people need food that satisfies – and sinners need salvation –

 

The fig tree has not been asked to do anything outside its capabilities –it’s not been asked to produce bananas or to become an oak or a giant redwood – only to accomplish what it ought to accomplish –

 

We all have differing gifts – and natural abilities –

 

each one of us is gifted by God – and capable of bearing fruit for Him – and we should be using our gifts – to achieve what God wants us to achieve –

 

He is the master gardener – doing His best to nourish, encourage and help us to produce that fruit – the question is – is it important enough for us to give it our best?

 

Point 3        Jesus and us

 

Jesus calls us to repent and change-

 

To learn from Him and to do things God’s way and not repeat our past mistakes –

 

If you’ve ever been in a car – or a bus – on the road from Stockton Heath to Northwich – you can’t help but notice frequent signs – saying things like 13 accidents on this road – or 3 fatalities here –

 

Warning signs put up to help us – think about what happened last time – last year – last month – and make sure we don’t become part of the next lot of statistics –

 

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians – isn’t thinking about statistics – but about history repeating itself

He tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt –focusing on four elements: the cloud; the sea; food and drink; which have strong parallels with today’s Christian experience of the Spirit; of baptism and the receiving of the bread and wine –

 

He also looks at four ways in which Christians can endanger their salvation – examples that can be as much a temptation today as they were then –

 

Worshipping idols – today we might make an idol of our bank balance or our quality of life;

Sexual immorality; Putting the Lord to the test; Grumbling – against God and the people He has called to lead –

 

Paul warns us that just because we have been baptized – and attended a Eucharist regularly –doesn’t mean that we are in the clear –

 

We need to be constantly on the alert – repenting of our past mistakes – and not sliding back into old ways –

 

In the final verse Paul reassures us that God is faithful – that He won’t let us be tested beyond our ability – and that He will provide a way of escape – for those who are alert – to avoid the temptation in the first place –

 

ending

 

So there should be no misunderstandings –

Jesus has come seeking fruit – seeking us – and longs to gather us up – He works to save us – not to punish us –

 

We are called to seek Him while He may be found – and call upon Him while He is near

 

For His ways are higher than our ways – and His thoughts higher than our thoughts –

 

There can be no better way for us – than to trust in Jesus – Only through our repentance – and His rescue – will our freedom and salvation be assured

 

Prayer:  In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit– AMEN