Fifth Sunday after Trinity – Sermon 228

8th January 2016 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Fifth Sunday after Trinity

10.00am Holy Communion.

30th June 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

 

If you go back in time – just a few hundred years – you’ll find that most people didn’t travel very far – The rich could afford horses – but the poor would have stayed put-

 

Here in Lymm before the building of the Bridgewater Canal most people would have born, lived and died here – without travelling more than a few miles

 

So – 2000 years ago when Jesus and his disciples arrived at this village of the Samaritans – it would have been an unusual site to see –

 

The one exception would have been when the Jews of Galilee made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem – about 3 or 4 days walk – and all the Jews wherever they were – would tell the story of the Exodus –

 

Jesus of course – was planning His own journey to Jerusalem – to fulfill His own Exodus – and in our Gospel reading we have the story – of what happened when he met some characters along the way –

 

Point 1        Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem

 

Following Jesus is not easy –

 

Earlier in the chapter – Luke tells of the disciples having a private row about which one of them is the greatest-

 

And when they reach the Samaritan village – James and John want to send down fire from heaven – to teach them a lesson – for not welcoming Jesus –

 

But that’s not what journeying with Jesus is about

 

It’s not a triumphant march – sweeping all resistance aside – it’s about sending a message of love and grace – to transform hearts – not overpower them –

 

On the road to Jerusalem He meets three men – who could be described as seeds sown on rocky or shallow ground – or among thorns –

 

The first man said to Jesus – ‘I will follow you wherever you go’ – But Jesus’ reply is not exactly encouraging –

 

“Foxes have holes – Birds of the Air have nests – but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”

 

This first man was told he must leave all his earthly securities and possessions behind – if he wanted to follow Jesus –

 

Jesus doesn’t have a place to call ‘home’ – He lives in loaned accommodation – given by those who love Him – borrowed a coin to tell a story –

Borrowed a donkey to ride into Jerusalem to fulfill a prophecy – was even buried in someone else’s tomb –

 

Jesus tells us that those who follow Him must be prepared for the same road – that the security we must seek is the security of heaven – of God’s faithfulness – not a house in the suberbs – but a home and a life – that no one can take away –

 

The second man didn’t fare any better – here we have a conversation that would have shocked most people of the time –

 

Jesus calls this man to be His disciple but he begs to go and bury his father first –

 

The obligation to go and bury your father was regarded by many Jews of the time as the most holy and binding duty of a son –

 

But Jesus says – that too is secondary to God’s call – to follow Him – and announce the Kingdom

 

There must be no earthly ties – no family responsibilities that hold us back –The call of the Gospel comes before family and family responsibilities –

 

Which brings us to the third man – Jesus said to him – ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough – and looks back – is fit for the Kingdom of God’

 

Here is the challenge to move forward and journey on with Jesus – Anyone who had worked the land – would know that ploughing a straight furrow – demands that you don’t look back – or the line will become crooked

 

Elisha in our OT reading – after making a similar initial response – didn’t look back – he severed all ties with his former way of life  – and then followed Elijah –

 

Jesus tells us that those who follow Him – must commit themselves unconditionally to Him –

 

Discipleship is not a second job – not a hobby or part-time activity – It’s the product of God’s calling and needs to be rigorously taken up –

 

Jesus must be first – He does not accept second place to anyone – or anything –

 

Point 2        How we should respond-

 

Paul in our NT tells us how we should be and how

We should live – when we follow Jesus – He lists the bad stuff –we need to avoid – and the good stuff – we need to follow

 

He reminds us that the freedom we receive through Jesus is not for our own gratification but for expressing God’s love to others –

 

Paul quotes one of the early Christian commandments – ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’

 

Increasingly today we live in a self-service world – whether it’s shopping online – or in a king-sized supermarket – filling the car up with petrol – or eating on the move –most of the time we serve ourselves – and our only contact with a member of staff – might be to pay the bill – or to help us work the self-service checkout tills –

 

We have freedom to choose – and don’t have to queue – but we are having less and less contact – or dependency on others – and more and more on looking after number one –

 

The pressure on our wallets – on our work time – on our family time – means there’s little time for serving anyone else –

 

As Christians we are called to put the needs of others first –

 

So being ready for service – is less about self – and more about readiness for Jesus – more about being open to serve one another in love –

 

The Gospel at its heart – is about Jesus working within us – to enable our lives to speak to others – it’s about the saving power that He brings – We succeed not by our own efforts – but – through the renewing power of the Holy Spirit within us –

 

Just as a glove is useless without a hand in it – so we are useless without Jesus inside us – to fill us with His power – to enable us to do all the things He gives us power to do –

 

We need to choose the path that Jesus calls us to – and not deviate from it –

 

Point 3        what about us?

 

Luciano Pavaroti tells the story of how he once made the choice to be a singer – being introduced to it at a young age – he enrolled in College in both vocal lessons from a professional tenor and college studies to be a teacher-

 

When he graduated he faced a dilemma to either become a singer or to become a teacher –

 

He asked his father for advice – on which course to take – back came the reply – if you try to sit on two chairs – you will fall between them – for life – you must choose one chair –

 

Commitment is key – we too much choose one chair – sign up to a life with Jesus – to His work and love – but not on our own terms – on His –

 

The characters described in Luke’s Gospel didn’t

grasp the self-sacrifice that Jesus was asking for

 

First we had Mr Rush – who thought following Jesus was going to be easy – something to add to one of his life experiences –

 

Then we had Mr Slow – who decided following Jesus was a good idea – but only when he was ready to do it –

 

And finally Mr Muddle – caught in two minds – who wanted to follow Jesus but also fulfill his family commitments and couldn’t decide between the two –

 

Being a true follower of Jesus is costly –

 

None of these three Mr Men characters were prepared to pay the price that Jesus required –

 

Maybe we think that what Jesus asks is impossible – or nonesense – We’d like our commitment to be good – or even perfect – but we worry that we will be lazy – and what we offer will be small –

 

But as long as we are true – to Jesus – we have the assurance – that we – will be accompanied and supported by the one who has already made the journey – and who knows both the cost – and the joy gained from service in the Kingdom –

 

Conclusion

 

Jesus is ready to recruit everybody – not just a few good men –

 

Today He is calling us to follow the path that He has laid out for us – its time – for us to get ourselves fit for His service – and make that important step forward – and follow His lead –

Prayer

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen