Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘The Parables and the Miracles of the Ministry of Jesus Christ’
©September 22, 2013 by Steve Mickelson
BLCF Call to Worship:
Responsive Reading 664: About Spiritual Gifts (1Corinthians 12); Prayer Today’s Opening Hymn is #200: The Church’s One Foundation inspired from 1Corinthians 3:11(ESV): 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Let us pray…
Every Wednesday since January 2008, at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, we have been challenged to prepare for, serve to, minister upon, and clean-up after a gathering of to as many as 150 to 200 guests. Many of our volunteers, though attending post secondary schools are ESL students. That is to say that they grew up speaking another language and have volunteered at the cafe to hone their English skills as well as to serve a compassionate cause. I have observed some of the tricks used by Sophie to communicate how to run the dinner a complex set of activities in a short period of time.
Sophie will demonstrate of how we prepare to serve our guests, in what order, how to demonstrate friendship and respect, how to deal with unacceptable behaviour from guests, when to take breaks, what to do during the message portion of the dinner, when we serve dessert, how to avoid serving a guest twice before all guests have been served, and even how to serve the dinner. To avoid misunderstanding Sophie will demonstrate the process by example and often will pair experienced volunteers with new ones so that the new volunteers may observed and learn by following the example of their respective assigned partner. A simple, but effective approach to both acquainting new volunteers with the processes involved with the running the dinner, while forging a team bond among the dinner’s volunteers.
Prior to his crucifixion on the cross for our sins, Jesus ministered for some three and a half years. Jesus was challenged with teaching matters of a spiritual nature to people who have yet to experience Pentecost and before they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit to understand God’s expectations and plans for His people.
To meet this challenge, Christ’s used a number of miracles and parables performed to reveal power of faith in the Holy Spirit and to help teach God’s expectations, promises and plans for His children. To emphasize God’s compassion for our needs and teach how He can overcome the seemingly impossible, He would perform a miracle. The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels. A miracle, being supernatural by definition, is action which defies the laws and rules of nature and is beyond the abilities of the common person. The miracle demonstrates the fact that the power of the Lord exceeds the laws and rules of science and of the world. However, in the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus refuses to give a miraculous sign to prove his authority. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to have performed seven miraculous signs that characterize his ministry, from changing water into wine at the start of his ministry to raising Lazarus from the dead at the end. We find a good example in the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude in the gospel of Mark 6:30-44 (ESV) Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand:
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[a] worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Footnote: a. Mark 6:37 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer
The miracle of the feeding of the multitude happened because Jesus felt compassion for the multitude who seemed like sheep without a shepherd and having taught the multitude with his sermon, Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes so that those who heard the word knew that it had come from the Father Who is both in heaven and in Christ.
Over the centuries Christian authors have reviewed, discussed and analyzed the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. In most cases, authors associate each miracle with specific teachings that reflect the message of Jesus. Miracles performed by Jesus are mentioned in two sections of the Quran (suras 3:49 and 5:110) in broad strokes with little detail or comment.
Christian authors also view the miracles of Jesus not merely as acts of power and omnipotence, but as works of love and mercy: they were performed not with a view to awe men by the feeling of omnipotence, but to show compassion for sinful and suffering humanity. And each miracle involves specific teachings.
Since according to the Gospel of Johnit was impossible to narrate all of the miracles performed by Jesus, the miracles presented in the Gospels were selected for a twofold reason: first as a manifestation of God’s glory, and then for their evidential value. Jesus referred to his “works” as evidences of his mission and his divinity, and in John 5:36 he declared that his miracles have greater evidential value than the testimony of John the Baptist. John 10:37-38 (ESV) quotes Jesus as follows:
37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
We see the miracles of helped teach us Jesus plan and the manner by which it would be achieved. While the miracles were self evident, the Lord, also made use of the Parable as a teaching aid to teach his purpose and plan. The parables of Jesus can be found in all the Canonical gospels as well as in some of the non-canonical gospels but are located mainly within the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). They represent a key part of the teachings of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his recorded teachings. Jesus’ parables are seemingly simple and memorable stories, often with imagery, and each conveys a message. Scholars have commented that although these parables seem simple, the messages they convey are deep, and central to the teachings of Jesus. Christian authors view them not as mere similitude’s which serve the purpose of illustration, but as internal analogies where nature becomes a witness for the spiritual world.
Many of Jesus’ parables refer to simple everyday things, such as a woman baking bread (parable of the Leaven), a man knocking on his neighbor’s door at night (parable of the Friend at Night), or the aftermath of a roadside mugging (parable of the Good Samaritan); yet they deal with major religious themes, such as the growth of the Kingdom of God, the importance of prayer, and the meaning of love.
Still the disciples had a problem understanding the purpose of the Lord’s use of the parable. So Jesus explains why in the gospel of Matthew 13:10-16 The Purpose of the Parables:
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Now we return to our outreach ministry at Wednesday’s BLCF Cafe Community Dinner. To non-believing guests and volunteers, our actions of serving and fellowship are a living parable of the love and sacrifice of Christ. And by the miracle of the power of the Holy Spirit, those who accept our unconditional gift can relate to God’s unconditional love for His children. And this understanding through the power of the Holy Spirit helps non-believers understand and by Grace of the Spirit, accept by faith, God’s unconditional gift of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. And by conviction of the Holy Spirit, believers may preach and teach others the love of God by similar acts that are a living parable and testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.
In that regard, Wednesday’s Community Dinner is regarded by many of our guests and volunteers as their church. For the church, God’s holy temple, is not the mortar, wood and bricks of this building at 1307 Bloor Street West, but rather the people who gather here to study His word, who sing and praise His name, to glorify God as a body of believers who are God’s holy temple: Ephesians 2:19-22:
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
The church or temple of God is not a building that contains a body of worshipers, but rather it is the body of believers that contain the Holy Spirit. By sharing the gospel of Jesus in word, thought and deeds to others, we invite them to join His church and share grace of his gifts of salvation and the Holy Spirit through faith, and thus becoming a part of His Church. And the miracles of the Spirit are described in 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 (ESV) Spiritual Gifts:
12 Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts,[b] brothers,[c] I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
One Body with Many Members
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
Footnotes: a.1 Corinthians 12:1 The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1 b. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or spiritual persons c. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or brothers and sisters
While on earth Jesus performed his many miracles to demonstrate that God the Father is within him and that he is in the Father as John 10:38:
38 “but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
There are four additional miracles that Jesus performed which form the foundation of Christ’s church:
The first is the miracle by Jesus was assuming the judgment of sin on behalf of all humanity and freely giving his life on the cross. The second miracle by Jesus was the resurrection from the grave. The third miracle of Jesus was his ascension to heaven to assume the role of our advocate beside God the Father. And the fourth miracle of Jesus is to send the Holy Spirit to reside in the heart of all believers, so that like Jesus God may be in the body of believers as the believers are in God thus forming the church of Jesus our redeemer and shepherd.
I would like to conclude today’s message with prayer for the new year by reciting the following poem by Bobbie J. Davis:
Jesus is a Miracle Worker
He healed the blind, He raised the dead.
5000 hungry souls He fed.
He only had 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.
He stilled the storm on the raging sea.
He gave His life for you and me.
He walked on water and even turned water into wine.
He did all of this in His short life time.
He healed the sick and even raised the dead.
He did everything that he said.
He cast demons out of possessed souls.
Can I tell you our Lord Jesus was bold.
He performed these many miracles for you and I.
Now we need to do our part before we meet Him in the sky.
We need to lead others to this miracle man.
We need to all just take a stand,
And let others know they can have eternal life too.
For this is what He wants all of us to do.
Yes, Jesus is still a miracle worker for you see,
He worked a mighty miracle in you and me.
-authored by Bobbie J Davis
Bobbie J Davis’ Main Page
Let us pray…
Today’s Closing Hymn is #12: Praise the Lord, His Glories Show
Benediction: Romans 15:5-7 (ESV):
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
– Go in Peace of the Lord!