Third Sunday before Lent – Sermon 237

8th January 2016 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Holy Communion 10.00 am

3rd Sunday before Lent

16th February 2014

Bible References :

  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here
  • Add Text Link Here

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





What’s the hardest word to say in any Language?


Of course – if you lived in Wales or are from Wales – you might say that  – very long named village in Anglesy!


Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (pronounced): [ˌɬanvairˌpuɬɡwɨ̞nˌɡɨ̞ɬɡoˌɡɛrəˌχwərnˌdrobuɬˌɬantɨ̞ˌsiljoˌɡoɡoˈɡoːχ]


[No I’m not going to try to say it!]


But its not the hardest word to say!


Point 1        Saying ‘no’ to self


To give you a clue – the second hardest word to say is ‘sin’


Most people don’t like to admit that they’ve – sinned – broken God’s heart and chosen selfishness – rather than respected His wishes – its easlier to find excuses for our actions – than to admit to ourselves – and others that we are wrong


So what is – the hardest word to say?


Well the answer is ‘no’


How many times have we bought something – we didn’t really need?


Or done something we know we shouldn’t have done?


Children hate grown-ups saying the word ‘no’


saying ‘no’ to our children – or grandchildren – and sticking to it – can bring out the tears  – or the bottom lip – and end up with them – running off to Mum – for comfort –


Our Gospel reading this morning is taken from St. Matthew’s version of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ –

And in it Jesus is giving us a lot of ‘no’s’


Known as ‘the Christian’s ‘job description’ – it’s the most complete summary of Jesus’ ethical expectations – for His followers –


Jesus begins by quoting from the sixth commandment –


“you shall not murder” –  and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.”


Many of His hearers thought – quite logically – that they were OK – as long as they didn’t actually murder anyone –


But Jesus reminds us that God’s requirements go much further than this – thinking about doing it – or getting into such an emotional state – that you might think about doing it – is also wrong –


as children of God – we are disobeying His law – if we get angry –  at someone else –


Instead of anger – Jesus teaches reconciliation – and renewal – we should offer friendship – even to our enemies – and this must take precedence even over worship –


The next law to come under Jesus’ scrutiny is the seventh commandment – “You shall not commit adultery”


Here most again thought that they kept this part of the law – if they didn’t commit actual adultery – but Jesus tells us that we can break it with our thoughts, our heart – our imagination – even when our outward conduct – is moral and correct –


as children of God – Jesus teaches us – self-control – and responsibility – we are to say no to desire when it strikes in an inappropriate manner –


Jesus also speaks out about the third commandment –


“You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord” –


Many thought they were keeping this commandment as long as they didn’t swear falsely and they performed their required oaths –


But in fact Jesus forbids all vain and light swearing – whether God’s name is used in vain or not –


Point 2        Choosing Love & forgiveness


But in this passage there are also things that Jesus encourages – us to say ‘yes’ to –


Yes to reconciliation –


‘First you must be reconciled to your brother or sister – and then come and offer your gift’


Reconciliation is about reaching out to restore a relationship that has become broken – it’s about – saying ‘sorry’- to those we have wronged – and ‘forgiving’ those who have wronged us.


In the Bible there are 17 different instances of Jesus forgiving others – we need to follow His example


God came into the world to build something new – to help us to start again – with our relationship with Him – and those around us –


He encourages us – to love and forgive as we would wish others to love and forgive us –


Two other words that Jesus uses – that are also difficult to deal with are the words ‘yes yes’ and ‘no no’ – in other words – telling the truth –


If we lie and don’t keep our promises – it destroys trust  – and trust is what healthy relationships are built upon –


honesty is important  – it helps us grow in our relationship with Jesus and with others –


all too often – we can be soft on ourselves but hard on others –  Jesus wants us to be sterner with our own sins  –  and more compassionate with the frailties of others –


So yes to telling the truth – yes to caring and sharing – yes to forgiving  –  and yes to accepting and following Jesus’ teachings and promises –


point 3        What it means for us –


So – in today’s Gospel reading – Jesus gives us – both sides of the coin


The ‘positive’ and the ‘negative’

The ‘abolition’ and the ‘Fulfillment’


Even though it’s the hardest word to say – saying ‘no is not enough – avoiding negatives is only half the story – we also need to say yes to the other teachings that Jesus brings –


Jesus came to bring us a whole new way to live – He came to fulfil the Law – not to abolish it – to make it better – clearer –


‘Do not murder’ says nothing about anger – anger is not a big deal when it comes to the law – but ‘anger’ is our enemy when it comes to fulfilling God’s wishes – ‘Do not murder ‘ is incomplete without the commandment to love –


Likewise our offerings to God – are an empty claim if they don’t also involve reconciliation and forgiveness of others

Jesus wants us – to make God’s love for us – and our love for Him – the basis on which we live our lives – together –


He came to announce a whole new way to live – one in which the rules are no longer on tablets of stone – but written on our hearts –


He wants us to become more spiritually mature – and responsible – to make His way – His truth – and His love – part of our day to day living –

To conquer our weaknesses – not to ignore them –


And if we find it too hard – too tough – to turn to Him for help – Jesus who has already confronted our sins on the cross – will be there to show us the way to succeed –


We are all students together in Christ – learning to grow in Christian discipleship – we need to trust Jesus – recognize and support each other – help each other grow – putting God – and His ways – before our own –




A farmer lived on the same farm all his life –  it was a good farm – but with the passing of years – he began to tire – and longed for a change – so he put his property up for sale on the market –


An estate agent came to see him and promptly put together a sale advertisement – emphasizing all the farms advantages –


Ideal location – modern equipment – healthy stock – acres of fertile ground


Before advertising it – he called the farmer and read the copy to him –


When he’d finished – the farmer said – ‘Hold everything – I’ve changed my mind – I’m not going to sell – I’ve been looking for a place like that all my life!


If we let the negatives define our way of living – we can miss out on so much more –


Of course we should say no to sin – but we should also say yes to Jesus and His ways –


He calls us to strengthen our relationship with one another – and to choose His blueprint for living –


It might be one of the hardest things for us to follow – but it’s certainly one of the most rewarding – and one that will change our lives forever –


In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit-AMEN