Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life’
© May 27, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on September 13, 2015
Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #14: Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart
Offering & Prayer: Hymn #572 Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #632: God’s Redeeming Love (John 3 & 1John 4)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with The Bread of Life’
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church Praise and Worship Service. Remember this Wednesday is our “All For One Fundraiser,” featuring the music of Cold Water Roots, takes place during the BLCF Café Community Dinner. All proceeds from the concert go to feeding the homeless and marginalized at the café. The dinner does not benefit from any government or corporate help or support.
Speaking of feeding the hungry, our lesson today will give us a chance to examine how to ‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life.’
When we look at today’s two key Scripture verses, which are Exodus 17:1-7 and John 6:22-59, we see two accounts of the People of Israel not only dissatisfied with their lot, actually grumbling about it. I suppose the message could have been given the title: “A Tale of Two Grumblers.” Still, grumbling and quarreling happen amongst members of His Church, though it is not reflective of the Spirit of God.
The first account, from Exodus 17, concerns Moses as prophet and leader of the People of Israel, as he has to deal with not just their complaints of thirst, but also their demands to be provided with water, Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):
Water from the Rock
17 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The People of Israel not only grumbled against Moses (Exodus 17:3), they questioned Moses about the presence of God (Exodus 17:7).
It seems that the People of Israel had lost their faith, in spite of all the miracles of God that they had witnessed, including the 10 Plagues of Egypt, the Pillar of Fire, the parting of the Red Sea, and the manna God sent from heaven to feed them.
Rather than honouring God by prayer and trusting Him in faith, the people began to quarrel with Moses and questioned the presence of God in their midst.
We see that God provided for the needs of His people (Israel), by providing manna to eat and water from the rock at (Mount) Horeb. In honour of the bickering Moses received from his people, he named the place “Massah and Meribah”, the respective meaning of Massah being testing and Meribah being quarreling, as the people had quarreled with Moses and they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Our second Scripture verse, John 6:22-59, gives us of another account of grumbling and testing by God’s Chosen People, found in John 6:22-59 (ESV):
I Am the Bread of Life
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[a] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus[b] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Following the miracle that Jesus had performed, where he multiplied the bread and fish to feed the gathered multitude, a crowd had followed the Lord to Capernaum. Like their forefathers, these Jews sought not because of the miracles performed by God’s supernatural power, but because they hungered for more bread, as we see in John 6:26-27 (ESV):
26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Jesus uses his understanding that the crowds have followed him to Capernaum because of hunger for food, rather than to satisfy their spiritual hunger, which is more important.
Jesus speaks of God’s desire to fill his children’s need for the Spiritual sustenance through Jesus, who is described as being “the Bread of Life.”
And like their forefathers, the Jews grumbled. They grumbled about Jesus (John 6:41), refusing to believe or to have faith in the Lord being the true manifestation of the “Bread of Life.” Jesus continues to explain that the only path to God’s salvation and grace is by faith in Jesus as the Son of God, (John 6:55-57).
The anxiety that People of Israel exhibited in Exodus 17 and by their descendants, the Jews, in John 6, were hunger of a worldly and physical nature, for water and bread, respectively. Along with their hunger and thirst, came an anxiety that demonstrated a lack of faith in God. Even after being fed, they would eventually die when their physical lives reached their end, (John 6:58-59).
Those who believed and ate from the eternal bread and water that Christ offered would not die, but live forever, (John 6:53-57).
At times, we often see a similar reaction among guests and some volunteers at the BLCF Café Community Dinner. Over the last ten years of its existence, the BLCF Café has hosted a minimum of 100 guests a night, served by 15 to 20 volunteers. Multiply that number by 52 weeks per year and 10 years, we see that we have a conservative estimate of over 62,000 people attending the dinner.
But, it is not the free dinner or bags of bread being the point of the exercise, any more than the feeding fish and bread to the multitude gathered to hear Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Unfortunately, some of our guests and volunteers see the BLCF Café strictly as serving food to hungry people. The prime reason for the dinner is to serve the good news message found in the Gospel of Christ, Jesus.
The importance of nourishing the Spirit should be a greater priority than the feeding the body. Regardless of how much food we serve, unless the Lord returns, we should expect to eventually die. When our guests consume the Spiritual nourishment that comes from Christ’s sacrifice, we may expect the reward of our own forgiveness from the judgment of our sins; our own resurrection from the grave; and our ascension to join the Lord in heaven.
If we grumble and complain amongst ourselves, we are not demonstrating to the world a love and joy that comes from faith in the Lord to believers in the Resurrected Christ. Rather than complaining and grumbling, we should always rejoice in the Lord as seen in Philippians 4:4-8, which is printed on the back of today’s bulletin:
Rejoice in the Lord always
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
This expression of prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and joy leads to a peace which surpasses all understanding. Our focus should be on the positive aspects of a faith which is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Seeking these is characteristic of the pursuit of righteousness, which we should be the focus of our attention and which leads us no room for us to grumble. By seeking them, we follow a righteous path and are promised to receive the Lord’s blessing:
Matthew 5:6 and 11 (ESV)
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Let our hunger and thirst be of a righteous in nature, for in this pursuit we cannot find fault in others, as such grumbling is not an expression of Christ-like love and an acknowledgement of the joy that comes from grace of God, by allowing Jesus to be our Lord, Saviour, an example in how we treat others.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King
Benediction – (Romans 15:5): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Lacking Nothing, While Banking Your Treasure in Heaven‘
© May 20, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on January 5, 2014
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #63: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name; Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayer Requests
Responsive Reading #618 (Heavenly Treasure – Matthew 6)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Lacking Nothing, While Banking Our Treasure in Heaven’
Let us pray…
Welcome to the house of the Lord in the heart of Toronto, where the lesson today is entitled: ‘Lacking Nothing, While Banking Our Treasure in Heaven’.
I would like to talk about today’s Scriptures, which give us a good idea what the Lord values in HIS children.
Our first Scripture passage, taken from Exodus 2, describes the circumstances of the birth of Moses, the son of a Levi, a Hebrew slave, who was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as a Prince of Egypt. It turns out that the biological mother of Moses was hired to be nursemaid to the baby found in a basket amongst the bulrushes, which afforded Moses an opportunity to bond with his real mother. It is amazing how God works things out. It is likely that some of the compassion that Moses had for the Hebrews had its origins in the loving care he received from his nursemaid mother.
Exodus 2:1-14 (ESV): The Birth of Moses
2 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 When
she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes[a] and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”[b]
Moses Flees to Midian
11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.[c] 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”
Eventually, Moses gave up his place as a son of Pharaoh and Prince of Egypt. However by acknowledging his true birthright as a Hebrew would likely result in his own enslavement. But before this happened, Moses killed an Egyptian whom he found beating another Hebrew. Moses fled Egypt to the land of Midian, eventually to have an encounter with God, in the form of a burning bush. God had chosen Moses to lead the Hebrews out of servitude and enslavement, through the desert, to deliver HIS laws, and eventually to HIS promised land. Moses had the unique understanding of Egyptian Royalty which would be useful when dealing with Pharaoh in the assignment of freeing the Hebrew slaves.
Today’s second Scripture passage is from Luke 16, known as Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus tells the story of a ‘rich’ man who dressed and ate well, while just outside the gate to his house lies Lazarus, a poor, starving man, who is covered with sores. Eventually, both men die, with angels bringing Lazarus to join Abraham in heaven.
Luke 16:19-31 (ESV): The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[a] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers[b]—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Lazarus is an interesting name for a character in this Parable, as it has the following meanings (sheknows.com):
The name Lazarus is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Lazarus is: God will help.
The name Lazarus is a Biblical baby name. In Biblical, the meaning of the name Lazarus is: Assistance of God.
The name Lazarus is a Greek baby name. In Greek the meaning of the name Lazarus is: God is my help.
This is the only Parable where Jesus gives a name to one of the protagonists, Lazarus. It is worth noting that the other main character remains nameless and, unlike Lazarus who dies and is brought to heaven by angels, is judged and is sent to Hades or Hell. To God, material wealth does not get you to Heaven. And there is a point when it is too late to repent and ask for forgiveness and avoid judgment. The rich man ended up in Hades and sought mercy for his thirst not unlike the compassion that Lazarus desired at the rich man’s doorstep. The man’s request is denied. Next, the rich man asks for the opportunity to notify his brothers who are still living, so that they may avoid the same fate. The man is told that it is unlikely that people who have ignored the words of Moses and the Prophets will be convinced if someone such as Lazarus were raised from the dead.
This is very interesting, as the Parable tells us that there are people who will never believe or have faith, even if the messenger is raised from the dead. From this, we may conclude some people will embrace faith, even if the messenger is known to have been raised from the dead, which is precisely what our Lord Christ, Jesus did. It is interesting, though sad, for those who refuse to believe. But we as believers must continue to witness to those who do not have faith until it is too late. For we never know whether or when a person may change his heart and embrace faith so as to be saved before it is too late.
Our third Scripture passage, which teaches the same lesson as the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus gives us an account where a young rich man approaches Jesus and asks how he may inherit eternal life. In contrast to the rich man in the ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus Parable’, a wealthy young man asks Jesus what is necessary to enter God’s Kingdom.
Mark 10:17-25 (ESV): The Rich Young Man
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Footnotes: a. Mark 10:24 Some manuscripts add for those who trust in riches
The outcome for the young man seems to be more hopeful than the rich man who ends up suffering in Hell after death. In addition to seeking God’s Kingdom before death, the young man has some knowledge of religion and awareness of God, as he has observed all of God’s commandments from the youth. It appears that this rich man will not end up in the same place as the rich man in the Lazarus Parable. But wait, there is one stumbling block.
Jesus perceives that the young rich man’s religious practices are tainted by something the young man values more highly than he should. Jesus instructs the young man to sell all that he has and give all the proceeds to the poor. In other words, the Lord has perceived that young man values his own personal wealth over the welfare of the poor. In spite of a desire for eternal life, the young man is unable to relinquish his material wealth in exchange for heavenly treasure received by demonstrating love and compassion for the poor.
Jesus uses the exchange with the rich man to teach how difficult it is for those who are preoccupied with worldly values to enter he kingdom of God or to follow the Way of Jesus. This gives us some insight to how Moses was able to establish a relationship with God, as he had already surrendered all his worldly wealth and power associated with the position of an Egyptian Prince, and he had demonstrated compassion for the vulnerable: the Hebrew Slaves in Egypt.
But you may say how much does a preoccupation with acquiring and maintaining one’s wealth and worldly possessions interfere with faith? What would happen if our fortunes are reversed? Let me share with you a short article I recently came across which gives just such an account. It was untitled, so I gave it the title: ‘Switched at Birth’:
‘Switched at Birth’ – Julian Ryall
Subtitled: ‘Japanese man accidentally switched at birth grew up in poverty while other baby lived a life of privilege’
Julian Ryall, The Daily Telegraph | November 28, 2013, 7:01 PM ET
(Republished by the National Post)
TOKYO — A Japanese man born to wealthy parents grew up in poverty after being given to another couple in a hospital six decades ago, while the infant who took his place went on to live a privileged life of private tutoring and university, and is today head of a property firm.
The 60-year-old man – who has declined to give his name – was raised reliant on handouts from the state after the man he thought was his father died when he was just two. The woman he considered his mother had to support his three older brothers, and there were few comforts in their one-room apartment as he grew up.
The man had to study at night school while working day shifts in a factory before finding steady employment as a driver with a transport company. He did not marry and now helps take care of three men who are not his brothers, including one who has suffered a stroke.
The infant who was given to the man’s biological parents was born 13 minutes later at the San-Ikukai Hospital, in Tokyo’s Sumida ward, and grew up in relative affluence.
This boy had a personal tutor, went to university and is the head of a successful property company. His three brothers work for major companies, according to media reports.
‘It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer’
Questions were only raised when those brothers recently realized that he bore little resemblance to any of his relatives.
In 2011, the family requested access to hospital records and DNA tests subsequently confirmed the mistake.
The error apparently happened when a midwife took the newborn babies to be bathed and then returned them to the wrong mothers.
Speaking to media in Tokyo, the man condemned to a life of hardship described his shock at learning the people he grew up believing to be his parents and brothers were unrelated to him.
“I wondered how this could have happened,” he said. “I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it.”
The Tokyo District Court this week ordered the hospital to pay the man 38 million yen ($393,000) in damages as a result of the mix-up, significantly less than the 250-million yen ($2.6-million) the plaintiffs had been seeking.
“The links between the man and his real parents were severed and the man was forced to grow up in a poor home,” Judge Masatoshi Miyasaka said in his ruling. “The mental anguish he went through was enormous.
“There were far-reaching differences between the two family environments and the plaintiff suffered an unreasonable loss as a result,” the ruling said.
“It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer, as they were deprived of opportunities to enjoy their parent-child relationship forever.”
‘I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it’
The man’s biological parents both died before the error came to light and he is still coming to terms with the impact of the events of 60 years ago.
“I might have had a different life,” he said. I want [the hospital] to roll back the clock to the day that I was born.”
He is particularly angry at never having the opportunity to meet his real parents.
“As I saw a picture of my parents, I wanted to see them alive,” he said. “For months, I could not hold back the tears every time I saw their pictures.”
He added that the woman who raised him may have suspected something was amiss. “I think my foster mother may have sensed it,” he admitted, pointing to the physical differences between himself and his brothers.
The hospital initially attempted to have the case dismissed on the grounds that the 10-year statute of limitations had run out. The court dismissed that claim and ruled that the statute of limitations only began when the results of the DNA tests were confirmed.
The hospital has not confirmed whether it will appeal against the ruling.
We have in this sad but true story, the account of two babies: one born of wealthy parents and the other whose parents lived in poverty. After 60 years, the impoverished man, a caretaker for three ‘brothers’ who are not even related to the man, has one main regret: that he never had an opportunity to meet and talk to his biological parents, now deceased. There did not seem to be any regrets for lost or missed opportunities or wealth that were afforded to the man whose place he had exchanged with, through a mistake made some six decades before.
It is also interesting, according to the story, that the wealthy man, who should have been raised in poverty in his place, seemed to show a callous disregard towards his true biological parents, his true siblings, or the man took in his place to live a life of poverty. Perhaps he was too busy running the property company to care. And the man who lived in poverty gave no indication of abandoning brothers who really are not related to him, from a family that a fateful mistake had been given to him.
In this story, it is not difficult to speculate which of these two men would have difficulty finding God’s Kingdom if both were presented with Christ’s Gospel of salvation, and which would not. One may live a life of extreme poverty and still have more to share, than someone who is raised in wealthy circumstance. We find a good conclusion to today’s lesson in Luke 12:32-33 (ESV):
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Let us pray…
Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory
Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21): Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Mary: Mother of Jesus and Disciple of Christ’
© May 13, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on May 11, 2014
Announcements and Call to Worship, Prayer
Opening Hymn #99: Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners; Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #657 (Godly Womanhood – Proverbs 31)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Mary: Mother of Jesus and Disciple of Christ’
Let us pray…
Good morning and God’s blessings to all, including all the mothers in the congregation, with our best wishes to you on this Mothers’ Day Sunday.
Today’s lesson entitled: ‘Mary: Mother of Jesus and Disciple of Christ’, we will examine the influence of an extraordinary woman, who is well known as the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. However, sadly, scholars generally have not acknowledged Mary’s dedicated discipleship to Jesus, the Messiah.
I remember each time Sophie became pregnant with each of our four children, she would call me at work to share with me the happy news.
By contrast, Mary, who was betrothed to Joseph, the news of her first pregnancy would come in an unexpected way, with the potential of exposing the engaged couple to ridicule and criticism for a pre-marital pregnancy. We read this account in Luke 1:26-35 (ESV):
Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed[a] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[b] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”[c]
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.
Footnotes: a. Luke 1:27 That is, legally pledged to be married b. Luke 1:28 Some manuscripts add Blessed are you among women! c. Luke 1:34 Greek since I do not know a man d. Luke 1:35 Some manuscripts add of you
We see in this account from Verses 28- 29 of the first Chapter of Luke’s gospel, Mary demonstrating her pragmatic side by her reaction to the angel Gabriel’s initial greeting, 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And when she was told that she was chosen to conceive a son, Jesus, the Son of the God, Verse 34 indicates more pragmatism, when she asks Gabriel, 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Mary did not demonstrate an overt emotional reaction to the news that she was chosen to be the mother to the Christ, a Messiah that the Jews had waited for over eight hundred years since his birth was first prophesized.
Over the next few years, following the birth of Jesus, the family of Jesus would be visited by a host of angels, three Magi, and be forced to flee for their lives to Egypt.
But how does the responsibility of being a mother to a child destined to become God’s chosen king for her people forever affect Mary? We get a glimpse of how Mary and Joseph chose to treat the child, Jesus in what might be considered to be in a manner no different from any other 12-year-old son, as we see in Luke 2:41-51 (ESV):
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents[a] saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”[b] 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.
In this Scripture Passage taken from Luke 2, we find an indication of the love and concern Mary had for her son. In an account that sounds a little like the film, Home Alone, Jesus is left behind in Jerusalem, or should I say he elected to remain in Jerusalem, following the annual Passover Feast. The young twelve-year-old Jesus is assumed by Mary and Joseph to be with others in a group of friends and family returning home to Nazareth. However, after a day’s journey, Mary and Joseph then realize that Jesus is missing from the group. Jesus’ parents return to Jerusalem to look for their son. Three days later, Jesus, now missing for several days, was found in the temple, talking to the elders. Those present, including Mary and Joseph, were amazed and astonished at young Jesus’ understanding of the Scriptures. This did not deter Mary, who was worried for her son’s safety, from chastising her son, verses 48 – 50, of Luke 2:
48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.
While not making excuses for Mary and Joseph for being separated from Jesus, as we shall see later in the lesson, it is recorded that Jesus was not their only child. The Scriptures indicate Jesus had at least six siblings, four brothers and at least two sisters, (Mark 6:1-6).
We also see that though the “Son of the Most High“ must be in his Father’s house, Jesus did not forget his place with respect to his parents, as we read in Luke 2, Verse 51 that:
51And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.
As she had done after her son’s birth, Mary treasured all these things in her heart. And though Jesus was raised to honour his parents, he obviously was instructed well with regard to the Scriptures, as he had demonstrated in the temple in Jerusalem.
It should be pointed out that in Luke 2, Verse 49, that Jesus indicated more than an academic knowledge of the Scriptures when he spoke to his parents, 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”, which reveals an awareness of the identity of his Father, as the temple where he was found is considered to be the house of God. Verse 50 of Luke 2 indicates an understanding of his Father’s identity that came from God, and not from Mary nor Joseph as his parents initially understand the meaning of their son’s words, 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.
This passage in Acts is the last place in the Scriptures to mention Mary’s husband Joseph, who is absent from future gospel accounts of the disciples. I believe that Joseph had passed, as we will see later in our lesson, when Jesus spoke at Nazareth, some present recognized him as Jesus the carpenter and as the son of Mary. Joseph is not mentioned at all (Mark 6:1-6).
Our next Scripture passage, is taken from the second chapter of John’s gospel, has Mary telling Jesus that the wedding at Cana, where they were attending, with the disciples, has run out wine, expecting Jesus to remedy the situation, John 2:1-11 (ESV):
The Wedding at Cana
2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters
We see that Mary was more than a mother traveling with her son, she was traveling with Jesus and his disciples, as a disciple of Christ. And isn’t it just like a mother to ask her son to help provide the host of the wedding with wine. You will note that though Jesus had begun his ministry, that at this time he and his disciples accompanied his mother to a wedding. This indicates the human side of Jesus, who on more than one occasion honored his mother, by referring to himself as the “son of man” rather than the “Son of God”. And not to disparage his Father, we see later that Christ honored his Godly side by chasing out the money changers from the temple, his Father’s house.
Our next verse, Mark 6:1-6, shows us that while Mary had to deal with her son, Jesus, who also happened to be the Son of God, she had at least six other children to be concerned with:
Mark 6:1-6 (ESV): Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
6 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
And he went about among the villages teaching.
Mary and Joseph, as well as the temple elders, were not the only people amazed by Jesus’ understanding of the Scriptures. We see a similar surprise to the Lord but a different reaction to Jesus’ knowledge of the Scriptures, by those who knew his family, in Mark 6, Verses 2-3:
2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”
In addition to their astonishment to Jesus wisdom and to the miracles that the Lord had performed, the people identified Jesus as a carpenter, the son of Mary, having four brothers and at least two sisters. Since the sisters of Jesus are not named, we only know that there are at least two. And because the people make no mention of Joseph, we might infer that likely he has passed away.
Jesus, in turn, marveled that neighbors had questioned, with some even offended by Jesus’ wisdom and powers. The Lord indicated his disappointment, when he indicated how they had impugned his honour with their negative response, described in Verses 4-6 of Mark 6:
4 And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” 5 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And he marveled because of their unbelief.
Just as Jesus had separated himself from his family while he had to be about his Father’s Business in the temple, the Lord had indicated who belonged to him as members of the Family of God, were related not by blood, but by faith and action in support to the will of their Father in heaven, Matthew 12:46-50 (ESV):
Jesus’ Mother, Brothers, and Sisters
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers and sisters[a] stood outside, asking to speak to him.[b] 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers and sisters?”49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers and sisters! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Footnotes: a. Matthew 12:46 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 48, 49 b. Matthew 12:46 Some manuscripts insert verse 47: Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak to you”
You may ask does Matthew 12:46-50 indicate a lack of devotion to their Father in heaven on the part of Mary and Jesus’ siblings? The good news answer is the Scripture Passage which describes both the Lord’s mother and his siblings as being identified as part of the body of devout disciples, who obediently gathered in the Upper Room chamber to await the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the believers on the Day of Pentecost. While they waited in the upper room, they went about their Father’s business, as described in Acts 1:12-14 (ESV):
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers and sisters.
From the accounts of Jesus’ birth and of his visit as a child to the elders of the temple, Mary sought to give Jesus all her the love and dedication a son could ever expect, while maintaining both the faith and devotion expected to be given to Jesus, the Christ, as a disciple of the Lord. Her example of faith was followed by all of her children who assembled faithfully in the Upper Room, demonstrating how the faith of a mother can, by her example, teach an invaluable lesson of discipleship to her children.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #126: Amen, Amen!
Benediction – (1 Corinthians 1:30):
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Go in Peace! Amen
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Hearing HIS Voice; Heeding the Call’
© April 29, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Originally Shared at BLCF on March 13, 2011
Announcements and Call to Worship, Prayer
Opening Hymn #410: O What a Wonderful, Wonderful Day (Heaven Came Down); Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #636 (The Holy Spirit Promised – John 14 and 16)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Hearing HIS Voice; Heeding the Call’
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. The lesson for this Sunday morning is ‘Hearing HIS Voice; Heeding the Call’, where our Scripture passages look at two accounts of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to the Way of the Lord, Christ Jesus, that were told by Luke in his gospel, The Book of Acts.
We, as contemporary converts, can easily understand and identify with many of the aspects of Saul’s conversion.
Both Saul’s conversion, as well as our own conversions, took place after the Lord’s glorification, which is to say after Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, and the Day of Pentecost.
For a look at the significance of the conversion of Saul, let us look at some of the points, courtesy of Grace Communion International:
Luke begins his description of Paul’s conversion in chapter 9 by continuing the story of his persecution of the church. “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” says Luke of Paul’s campaign of persecution against the church in Jerusalem (9:1).
Paul even travels to other towns, Damascus in particular, in order to round up Christians. As he later tells King Agrippa, “I even hunted them down in foreign cities” (26:11). To Paul, stamping out the Christians is a necessary part of doing God’s will. They are teaching a blasphemous heresy that threatens the people of God (the Jews) and the sanctity of the law and temple. It is surely God’s will that such people should be silenced.
Paul can justify his actions against the church by looking to the heroes of Israel’s history. Phinehas killed an Israelite man and Midianite woman who were defying the law of God (Numbers 25:6-15). Elijah killed the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:40). Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees, used violence to root out the enemies of God and apostates among the people (1 Maccabees 2:1-28, 42-48).
Thus it is that Paul sets out toward Damascus with the zeal of an avenging prophet. He has letters from the high priest with authority to extradite any Christians he finds in the synagogues of Damascus. Paul will capture them and return them to Jerusalem for trial and punishment (9:2). Most likely those being hunted down are the Hellenistic Christians who fled Jerusalem, not those who lived permanently in Damascus. So far as we know, the high priest has no direct authority over the latter, since they are not in his immediate jurisdiction.
Later, Paul explains that the entire council signed the order of extradition he was given (22:5). Luke is pointing out that the Jewish leaders continue to be in the forefront of trying to eradicate the new sect of Jesus believers. Some questions have arisen over exactly what powers of extradition the letters from the high priest gave Paul. Two centuries earlier, Rome had decreed that Jews who fled to Egypt could be extradited to Jerusalem (1 Maccabees 15:15-24). They were then to be punished according to Jewish law.
Whether this authority to extradite exists in the time of Paul is not known. It’s possible the high priest still holds the power of extradition from the Roman authorities. If not, the Sanhedrin may be relying on its clout with local synagogues to cooperate in this matter. The political situation in Judea is unstable, with the Roman governor not wanting to intervene in “Jewish matters.” Thus, the council may hope to punish as many Christians as possible without the advance knowledge or intervention of the Roman authority.
We share with Saul, the burden of sins. Though we may not have been responsible for persecuting others based upon their beliefs, seeking to punish and ultimately execute others, who Saul was convinced were teaching a blasphemous heresy against the faith and God.
Just like some modern day religious zealots, Saul sought to use “violence to root out the enemies of God and apostates among the people.”
After all, Saul reasoned, he was only doing God’s will. Violence against these Christians was God’s will, he believed.
Saul was 100% wrong, for he was singled out in a direct encounter with our Lord on the way to Damascus, Acts 9:1-16 (ESV):
The Conversion of Saul
9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. 4 And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
God has chosen prophets and leaders by revealing Himself or His will through dreams, visions, angels, and even a burning bush.
In the above Scripture passage, we see that it is Saul of Tarsus who is a living example of a person who twists God’s Word and HIS will, in order serve his own interest by committing great evil and by offends the Lord, which prompts the Lord to reveal himself to Saul and ask:
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” (Acts 9:4-6)
In our second Scripture passage, taken from Acts 2, Luke tells the amazing account of the conversion of Saul to discipleship to the Lord. The reborn disciple gives the following testimony, Acts 22:6-16 (ESV):
6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[a] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
Footnotes: a. Acts 22:9 Or hear with understanding
In our second Scripture passage, Paul identifies the Lord as speaking to him from heaven with a light brighter than the noonday sun:
12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ (Acts 22)
Footnotes: a. Acts 22:9 Or hear with understanding
In acknowledging and renouncing his own sins, Paul is baptized in the Holy Spirit and becomes an apostle or messenger of the Lord.
Paul had offended God, by persecuting followers of the Way of Christ, though he had been deluded into believing that by persecuting and harming them he was somehow fulfilling the will of God. Again we see repeated, the sins of Adam and Eve, who sought to raise themselves to the same level of God, as well as their son Cain, who sought to murder Abel, who was perceived as a threat.
Through the redeeming power of the Lord Jesus, Saul could be forgiven of his sins against God by confessing these sins and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Paul had heard the Lord’s voice and had heeded the call of the Lord, which is all that He expects from us. As for what benefit(s) do the Apostle Paul and we, as believers in the resurrected Christ, receive at the time of the Spirit’s baptism? The answer is found in John 16:7-13 (ESV):
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Jesus, having borne the judgment for all sinners’, which is everyone on the face of the earth, since the Day of Pentecost, had to ascend to and be glorified in heaven, beside God, in order give us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Only then will understand and follow God’s will in our lives:
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16)
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #417: What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine
Benediction – (1 Corinthians 1:30): “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Go in Peace! Amen.
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ’
© May 6, 2018, by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship, Prayer
Opening Hymn #192: Joys Are Flowing Like a River (Blessed Quietness); Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #620 (The Church – Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ’
Let us pray…
Welcome to our Praise and Worship Service on this Communion Sunday at BLCF Church. I would like to give you a reminder of our BLCF Café Fundraiser in support of the community dinner at 6:00PM Wednesday, May 30, at the cafe. The fundraiser will feature the Bluegrass Gospel Music of Cold Water Roots.
My lesson today is entitled: ‘Profile of Peter – A Disciple of Christ’. This will be the first in a series I hope to share with you over the next several weeks. Your bulletin today contains a series of verses from the Bible which give us a good idea of both the gifts and personality of this disciple of our Christ, Jesus, our Lord, and Saviour.
The graphic on the front of today’s Bulletin illustrates the Lord extends his hand to Peter, who sank in the water while attempting to walk with Jesus upon the sea. Peter was the only disciple who showed an inclination to attempt this supernatural miracle.
Let us begin with Peter’s initial calling to the ministry of the Lord.
We have three different verses, which at first blush give different and contradictory descriptions of how and when Peter was called by Jesus, to serve the Lord. In his commentary, Charles Spurgeon gives a good explanation of these verses that some critics cite as examples of inconsistencies in the Gospels of Matthew and John.
I have taken the liberty of expanding the verses used by Spurgeon, in order to give a clearer context to his commentary and have inserted the verses after each passage. So John 1:37 is replaced with John 1:35-42; Matthew 4:18-19 with Matthew 4:18-22; and Matthew 10:1-2 with Matthew 10:1-4.
Later, towards the end of the lesson, I would like to suggest a fourth passage from the Scriptures, in the 21 Chapter of John’s Gospel, where a resurrected Jesus reconciles with his disciple for the sins of denying Christ three times, and Peter, again, is called to follow Jesus
Let us begin with the Three Contradictory Calls to Peter by Charles Spurgeon posted on the Web Page, www.Jesus.org :
Three Contradictory Calls to Peter – Charles Spurgeon
Adapted from Spurgeon’s Sermons, Peter’s Three Calls (No. 702), by Charles Spurgeon. http://www.jesus.org/life-of-jesus/disciples/three-contradictory-calls-to-peter.html
John tells us that Peter was called by Christ through the preaching of John the Baptist, who bore witness that Jesus was Christ, the Messiah (John 1:37).
John 1:35-42 (ESV): Jesus Calls the First Disciples
35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.[a] 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus[b] was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter[c]).
Matthew, on the other hand, tells us that Peter and his brother were fishing, that Christ was walking by the lake of Galilee, and that as He passed by He saw these men fishing, called them by name, and said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:18-19).
Matthew 4:18-22 (ESV): Jesus Calls the First Disciples
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[a] 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Footnotes: a. Matthew 4:19 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women
Now, the key to the whole may be found in the fact that there was yet a third call, and that afterward, Jesus called not Peter and Andrew alone, but the whole twelve of His disciples and set them apart to be Apostles (Matthew 10:1-2).
Matthew 10:1-4 (ESV): The Twelve Apostles
10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[a]4 Simon the Zealot,[b] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
We gather from this last call that the other two might have been different and distinct from each other. Coming to look at the subject we find that the first call was the call at Peter’s conversion, which called him to be a disciple while still at his daily work as a fisherman. The second was the call of Peter, not to be a mere disciple, but to be an evangelist. And the third was the call of Peter, not to be an Evangelist or a common servant of the Master, but to be a leader, to take a yet higher grade, and to become one of the Twelve who should be associated with Christ as the founders of the new system of religion and witnesses of the life of Christ.
To recap, the three accounts of Peter’s calling may be viewed as describing the progression of his faith walk from believer to a follower, and then to become an Apostle or messenger of the Lord.
Even as a disciple, Peter showed signs of Devine insight and awareness as he identifies Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Matthew 16:13-18 (ESV): Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.
While Jesus usually demonstrated an example of humility by calling himself “the Son of Man”, the Lord blesses Peter for recognizing Him as the Son of God by telling the disciple will be the foundational leader, whom He intends to build His church. A church which shall prevail against the gates of hell.
But the road to establishing Christ’s church is not fraught with a bump or two, or even three. Jesus predicts that Peter’s faith will falter and the disciple will deny knowing the Son of God.
Luke 22:31-34 (ESV): Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you,[a] that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”33 Peter[b] said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus[c] said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
You will note in Verse 32, that Jesus, also indicated that Peter’s loss of faith will not be complete, as the disciple will turn back to the Lord and become a source of strength and encouragement to the other disciples.
Luke 22:54-62 (ESV): Peter Denies Jesus
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter wept bitterly, for he realized just Jesus had indicated that though Satan would have his way with the disciple, like Job, the Lord would not allow Satan to take his soul. The challenge to Peter’s faith continued, and the disciple who first perceived Jesus as the Messiah, could not understand that that the power that allowed Jesus to perform supernatural miracles, such as walking on water, healing the infirm, and raising Lazarus from the dead, would be able to overcome death.
John 20:1-10 (ESV): The Resurrection
20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’[a]head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.
Footnotes: a. John 20:7 Greek his
We see that Simon Peter and John had a footrace to investigate Mary Magdalene ’s report that the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb. While John had arrived first to the tomb, the disciple hesitated at the entrance. But when Simon Peter reached the tomb, he entered without hesitation in a bold manner, not unlike the way he decided to join Jesus for a walk upon the sea. We see that John followed Simon Peter inside and both disciples could not understand that the empty tomb was another fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy.
Jesus would reveal himself in the Upper Room to his disciples, including Peter, as the Resurrected Christ, on two occasions. The second time was eight days after the first, for the benefit of Thomas, who was absent from the first revelation of the Lord, and to allay the skepticism and doubt expressed by the disciple.
The third revelation of the Jesus happened as the disciples were fishing, without success, at the Sea of Tiberias. When Simon Peter recognized the Lord, he dove into the sea. Following Jesus directions as to where to cast their nets, they were rewarded with a bountiful catch. Peter climbed aboard the boat to help his fellow disciples haul in the nets bearing their great catch.
After Jesus and the disciples had breakfast together which included the freshly caught fish, the Lord and Peter had a conversation together, where he offered the disciple an opportunity to be forgiven and reconciled, by stating his love for the Lord three times. One acknowledgment for each denial Simon Peter made on the night that Jesus was arrested. I consider this passage found in Chapter 21 of John’s Gospel to be the fourth calling of Peter by Jesus that I mentioned earlier in the lesson.
John 21:15-19 (ESV): Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
With the reconciliation of Simon Peter and the Jesus complete, the Lord charges his disciple with the care of his church. The church would be established on the Day of Pentecost, when Jesus sent the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the presence of God, to all who respond to the call of God by repenting their sins, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of their sins.
Acts 2:36-41 (ESV)
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The gifts of salvation and reconciliation to God, the father, through His Son Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit of God, are available to all people and for all generations. We need to acknowledge the gifts of salvation and reconciliation, the promise of our own resurrection, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, by sharing the Gospel of Christ Jesus unto the ends of the earth, until the day Christ Jesus returns.
The other instruction given by Jesus is: to eat and drink the elements of communion on a regular basis, as a church, in order to recognize how death, which is God’s judgment upon humanity for our sin that was removed through the sacrificial death of Jesus upon the cross. Like sharing the Gospel of Christ, communion must be observed until the day that Christ, Jesus returns, to judge the living and the dead.
Just like Peter, any sin we have committed may be forgiven if we acknowledge our faith and love in the Lord, so that we may enjoy a fellowship with the Lord and each other, as members of the Family of God, through Christ, Jesus!
Let us pray…
Communion Observance (Responsive Reading #663 – 1 Corinthians 11)
Closing Hymn #417: What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine
Benediction – (1 Corinthians 1:30):
“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Go in Peace! Amen.
One for All Concert – featuring Cold Water Roots – Wednesday, May 30, 2018 at 6:00 PM at the BLCF Cafe – 1307 Bloor Street West – Take the Bloor Line to Lansdowne Station and go 1 Block west on the South Side of Bloor at BLCF Blcf Church All proceeds go to feeding the homeless and marginalized in the heart of Toronto at the BLCF Cafe Community dinner, every Wednesday since January 2008.