Ever thought JESUS was a funny man? He loves making people laugh. He has this whimsical playfulness about him. It makes you want to smile. And these stories of JESUS this morning should bring wide grins on your dial. A little seed, a bit of yeast, a hidden treasure, a brilliant pearl and a net full of fish, are all illustrations of the Kingdom of Heaven. For some of these you will have to stumble across them because they are hidden. And the others, well, you will have to search carefully.
So what are you looking for in your life? Let me tell you what God is looking for? YOU! And He will go to great lengths to find you, and, in so doing, show you how to find Him.
And, along the journey, He will take you, (that is, if you are prepared to follow Him) on some amazing adventures. He will show you His love. He will help you discover His joy
And you will bless others as you continue to follow Him Your life may be hard. There will be some difficulties but as you persevere, you will discover new hope and vitality. You will be used to draw others to new found joy And you will be satisfied. You will be filled.
The God, who loves you passionately, will provide He will be there for you. He’s got your back and He will lead from the front. Wherever He calls you to go, He will be there before you get there preparing your way.
‘I’m not sure’ is often the answer I get to ‘are you going to heaven?’ And, if it’s ‘I’m not sure’ it is ‘I hope so’. Why are people so unsure about their destiny?
And here’s the thing; Fear, guilt, shame will always cloud your understanding. These emotions play havoc with us. They weigh us down. At Bible study this week I asked the question, did satan do the right thing for him, in getting JESUS up there on the cross?’ The answer is NO! For, on the cross JESUS defeated the devil at his own game. So satan changed tactics and he began to harass those who followed JESUS in such a way that the followers of JESUS began to believe him. He pounded us (and he still does) with doubt, so that the followers of JESUS are unsure about their salvation. But, and here’s another thing: in this story this morning JESUS, (as the farmer) calls the workers to not touch the wheat and the weeds until it is time for the harvest. They can be pulled up together and then separated. But the thing about the story is the wheat and the weeds are examples of humankind,. But unlike wheat and weeds, humans can change The weeds can decide to be wheat. You might be surprised at who you find in heaven, when you get there, because, it is not about how good you are, it is ALL about whether you say YES to JESUS. And when you say YES to JESUS, He says YES to you
We’re all on a journey … even if the present situation has interrupted that. We are still moving forward? But let me ask you, do you seem to be getting anywhere? Some of you might respond, “Well, I’m getting on in years. I am retired and I am not really interested in moving on.” Others might say, in reaching the same conclusion, “My limbs ache, arthritis has set in and it takes all my energy to just get out of bed in the morning.”
This getting old is not what it’s cracked up to be, eh! And yet ….. despite the body not pulling its weight, (well, maybe its pulling more weight that it did), God has not given up on you. You are still highly useful to Him. And God has plans The story in the Gospel that we talk about today is one which JESUS told. he saw a farmer scattering seed, but the farmer did not seem to mind that some seed fell on rocky or hard or weedy areas. These areas are not fertile places for seed to germinate. And if we were translating the soil; to humans we might think that the rocky or hard soil was us oldies. We once were good fertile soil but not any more. But yet, this farmer of JESUS throws the seed our way. Doesn’t He know it’s not worth it to Him to do that? Or does He see something we don’t?
The seed, or as I like to call it, ‘the gift of life’ is just as important to you and I, than it is to folk 50 years younger, and here’s the thing. Who do you think is able to better relate to an older person? There are people out there whose path you will cross this week that need to hear your story of how you found the gift of life and how it is growing new life within you.
And if you are not one of the oldies in this church, then gives what? The fit of life is given to you too, to share with those who path intersects with yours. We are all useful to God and God wants to bless us all. When we pick up the seed that falls at our feet and offer it to someone who hasn’t found it yet, we are transforming the world the best way it can be transformed, one person at a time. You are useful to God You are in His plans He knows you. Let God excite you with His vision and plan today. That will put a smile on your face.
When we think about burdens we don’t think with a smile. More of a gloomy face, I would think. We let our necks drop into our shoulders We surrender to the feeling of exhaustion and perhaps sadness We long for a time when our burdens will be taken from us. There’s a cartoon going around Facebook at the moment that shows a very heavily laden baggage carrier being pulled by a Vicar, while the owner of the cartons and bags and everything else is walking nicely alongside.
And so, here’s the thing: JESUS is willing to carry your bag (gage). He will. And He’s up to the task He says so in today’s reading from Matthew 11. He invites us to come to Him and leave all our bag (gage) with Him.
But, it will cost you. And I can hear the groans from here of folk saying, “I knew it!” “There’s nothing free anymore We’ve got to pay for everything! OK, what will it cost me?”
JESUS tells us that He will carry our bag (gage) if we just follow Him, and put on the yoke He gives us.
Now, in case you did not grow up in the country a yoke is not the yellow of an egg but a device which is attached to your shoulders and neck to help you go in the direction of the one who put the yoke on you.
That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?
But JESUS gives us some extra information. He tells us His yoke is easy and His burdens are light. Much better than the yoke you put on yourself.
It’s one of my favourite passages in the Bible. God has your back and your front and if you trust Him with your life, your adventures will be full of hope and energy and purpose.
It’s such a lovely thought and simple too. But yet, to those who have nothing, it is more than they could ever imagine. So JESUS lets us know that if we offer that cup of cold water to the least of one of His followers we will receive a reward.
Now, there are a few thoughts about that. The first and the least important of these is the reward. Most of us have grown up in Australia looking forward to Christmas and birthdays, because they were the time we received presents. But I don’t think JESUS is thinking about presents here.
I sense that what He is on about is what He gives best …a blessing. The Oxford dictionary says blessings are God’s favour and protection In other words, for you to go out of your way to make sure that someone receives that cup of cold water to replenish their body and soul, is a special event as far as God is concerned. And you will not be forgotten for that.
But perhaps, more important here than reward, is the question of just who is the one who is the least of His followers. Is that someone who is poor, down and out or destitute. Or is that someone who is just barely getting it altogether, in their quest to follow JESUS. In the world’s scheme of things people who are on the bottom are not important. Those, who are at the top, and make a difference in the world, why, they are the important ones. The world pays lots for those who are the leaders in business and indeed, while the Uniting Church is not a lead from the top church, we recognise the importance of a Moderator in the Synod and a President in the Assembly.
We look upon to them for leadership and guidance. We listen to them.
But what of the nobody?
Do they have anything to offer or contribute? Look around your church and ask yourself, is there someone here who is easily forgotten that I could bless and honour today by offering them a cup of cold water or an encouragement? Do that and a reward is guaranteed by God.
And in part, at least, the reward is the satisfaction you feel at having done what JESUS has asked of you