The Parables and the Miracles of the Ministry of Jesus Christ

BLCF: making-disciples-header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Parables and the Miracles of the Ministry of Jesus Christ’

© August 30, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 30, 2015

Based on Messages shared with BLCF on December 30, 2012 and September 22, 2013

Christ is the foundation

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 664: About Spiritual Gifts (1Corinthians 12); Prayer

Opening Hymn: #200: The Church’s One Foundation; Choruses

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayer Requests

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 13:10-16; Mark 6:30-44; John 10:37-38

Matthew 13:10-16 The Purpose of the Parables:

BLCF: 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.

Mark 6:30-44 (ESV): Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand:

BLCF: Jesus_feeds_the_5000

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

John 10:37-38 (ESV):

BLCF: the_Father_and_I_are_One

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.”

Let us pray…

As a church, composed of a body of believers in the resurrected Christ, we are gifted with salvation from God’s judgment of sin, the promise of a resurrection from death, and gifts through the Holy Spirit. These gifts empower us to demonstrate as one unified body, the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit as a witness to the Gospel of Lord, as we see in 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 (ESV) :

Spiritual Gifts:

BLCF: Spiritual_Gifts

12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, 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.

BLCF_Cafe_LOGO_Sign

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. To help develop the ESL student’s English skills, Sophie will have an experienced volunteer brief the new volunteers regarding the operating and safety procedures at the café.

Sophie will demonstrate to the volunteers how to prepare; serve each guest, in what order; how to demonstrate friendship and respect; how to deal with unacceptable behavior from guests; when to take breaks; what to do or not 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 the manner by which the dinner is served. 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. Sophie uses 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 volunteers.

For our lesson today, we will compare how the actions of the volunteers at the BLCF Café relate to Jesus’ miracles and parables as a living testimony to Christ’s Gospel.

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 performed a number of miracles and parables to help them understand God’s expectations, promises and plans for His children. To emphasize God ‘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. That is to say, the Lord refused to perform a miracle as a stunt or to entertain those incapable or unwilling to appreciate the Spiritual Power of God.

In John’s Gospel, 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.

Over the centuries Christian scholars 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. These scholars view the miracles of Jesus, not merely as acts of power and omnipotence, but as works of love and mercy that are performed not with a view to awe witnesses with a sense of the Lord’s omnipotence, but as a sign of Christ’s compassion for a sinful and suffering humanity. Each miracle involves a specific teaching or lesson.

According to the Gospel of John, it 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 to the faith of a witness. Jesus referred to his “works” as evidences of his mission and his divinity, and in John 5:36 (ESV), he declared that his miracles have greater evidential value than the testimony of John the Baptist:

BLCF: John_6_57

36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

And our Lord challenges those who witnessed his miracles as a validation of the presence of God in Christ, as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity in the Gospel of John 10:37-38(ESV):

BLCF: who-is-Jesus-Christ

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.”

BLCF: Gifts-of-Grace

We see the miracles of the Lord helped teach us Jesus’ plan and the supernatural manner by which it would be achieved. While the miracles were self- evident, the Lord made use of the parable as an 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 may seem simple, the messages that they convey are deep, and central to the teachings of Jesus. Christian scholars 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. In other words the miracle gives the world a glimpse of the supernatural aspects of God’s Spiritual realm.

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, which Jesus explains the Gospel of Matthew 13:10-16 (ESV):

The Purpose of the Parables

BLCF: Deity_of_Jesus

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.

 BLCF: actions_louder_than_words

The parable helped the non-believer to understand the Lord’s spiritual purpose to his miracles. A full understanding only comes by way of the faith of the witness, with help from the Holy Spirit. Belief in the supernatural aspect of a miracle, can lead the observer to supernatural character of the Lord, and in turn to faith in the Lord and belief in the truth of his Gospel.

BLCF: Community-Dinner

Let us now 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 God’s Holy Spirit, those who accept action of love that are given without any expectation in return, can relate to the gift of God’s unconditional love for His children. This understanding, through the power of the Holy Spirit, helps non-believers understand and accept by faith, God’s unconditional gift of grace, salvation and love, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. It is by conviction of the Holy Spirit that believers may preach and teach others the Gospel love of God through Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. It is by acts of unconditional compassion and love, we become a living parable and testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.

In that regard, Wednesday’s Community Dinner is viewed, by many of our guests and volunteers, as their church. After all, is the Church, God’s holy temple, not a building composed of mortar, wood and bricks located at 1307 Bloor Street West, but the people who gather here to study His word, sing and praise His name, and to glorify their God, as a body of believers’. It is the people who are God’s Holy Temple or Arcs of His New Covenant: Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV):

BLCF: Dwelling_Places_of_God

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[a] 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[b] the Spirit.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 2:19 Or sojourners b. Ephesians 2:22 Or in

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 with Christ as the foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11 (ESV):

BLCF: Christ_our_foundation

11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

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.

I would like to conclude today’s lesson by reciting, as our closing prayer, the following poem, Moments, by author Violet Turner:

Let us pray…

In moments of my deepest sorrow

When I’m tempted to despair

You remind me that you love me

Proving that You’re always there.

And,

In moments when life feels empty

As I’m drowning in the rain,

You reach out to save me

Healing my deepest pain.

And,

In moments when I feel lost

As the waves crash over me,

You cling to me with all Your might

Protecting me in the raging sea.

 

And,

In moments when I want to quit

You help me to believe,

You open my blind eyes

That I may truly see …

 

That,

In a moment of great love

You sacrificed Your perfect Son,

Redeeming me from sin’s grasp

 

So,

In moments of pain and sorrow

I will not give up, nor despair,

Because in Your might love

You’ve proven You’re always there.

 http://christianity.about.com/od/membersubmittedprayers/qt/Moments-Poem.htm

Amen…

Closing Hymn is #12: Praise the Lord, His Glories Show

Benediction – (Romans 15:5-7):

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. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

– Go in Peace of the Lord!

BLCF: after_church

Advertisements

Mother’s Day Message: Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude

BLCF: faith_thanking-God_in_advance

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude

© May 10, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 10, 2015

BLCF: God_I_need_a_miracle

 

Announcements & Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #603 (Divine Providence – Psalm 34);Prayer

Opening Hymn #417: What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine; Choruses

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Today’s Scriptures: John 2:1-12, 2 Kings 4:1-7, Matthew 14:13-21    

 

BLCF: bread-of-life 

 Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service  on this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, 2015. I pray the Lord will bring a special blessing to our mom’s attending the service, today.

For our lesson this morning, I would like to examine how the Lord supplies for the needs of those who serve Him faithfully. Today’s lesson, ‘Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude, began with the reading of three accounts in the Bible, where the Lord responded to needs of His faithful servants by way of a Divine miracle.

The first Scripture, John 2:1-12, describes the miracle at the wedding at Cana:

John 2:1-12 (ESV) The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: thefirstmiracle

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 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.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

In this passage, Jesus was asked by his mother, Mary, to help provide more wine for wedding. The wine had run out and, though Jesus told his mother that his hour had not yet come. Jesus obeyed his mother’s wishes by changing six stone jars of water into wine.

This was the first of the miracles Jesus was to perform as a sign to his disciples of his manifested glory.

The second Scripture, 2 Kings 4:1-7, tells of how widow of one of the sons of the prophets has died, and that a creditor has come to make the widow’s two children his slaves, as payment for the dead man’s debts. The widow asks Elisha to help save her sons:

2 Kings 4:1-7 (ESV) Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

BLCF: widow-oil

4 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

In our second Scripture, Elisha asks the widow, what does she have in the house? Her reply is a single jar of oil. The widow is instructed to acquire as many empty vessels as possible, from her neighbors, close the doors and to fill the empty vessels from her single vessel of oil. When all of the empty vessels were filled, the oil stopped flowing. Elisha instructed the widow to sell the oil from the vessels in order to pay off her debts, and that she and her sons live off the rest.

These two accounts, show how the Lord takes care of the needs of the faithful, providing wine for a wedding and oil for an indebted widow.

The third Scripture account, Matthew 14:13-21, describes how Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and six fish to feed some five thousand men, plus their women and children:

Matthew 14:13-21(ESV)

BLCF: feeding-the-multitude

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

In these three miracle accounts, we see that the Lord provided an abundance of wine, oil and food to take care of his faithful servants. Not only do these miracles demonstrate the ‘Glory of God’, they provide food from the earth and wine to gladden the believers’ hearts; oil to make his face shine and to gladden their hearts, as well.

It is appropriate that on Mother’s Day, we see that the first two miracles are in response to requests from His faithful servants, who are mothers seeking the Lord’s help for the needs of others. It is just like a mother, who is faithful to the Lord, to put the needs of others ahead of her own!

In the three Scripture accounts that we studied, we have miracles of the Lord providing an abundance of wine, oil and food, all staples and necessities of life. These miracles demonstrate how God provides for the needs of His own, which the Psalmist acknowledges in, Psalm 104:13-16 (ESV):

13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;     t

he earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock     

and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15     

and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine     

and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,     

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

BLCF: God_blesses_those

Our righteousness, as demonstrated by our obedience to God, gives us His reward of wine, oil and food, to gladden our hearts. In the same manner, when we honor and obey our parents, we provide joy to our parents. For when we honor our parents, we honor His commandment, Proverbs 23:22-25 (ESV):

22 Listen to your father who gave you life,     

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy truth, and do not sell it;     

buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;     

he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

25 Let your father and mother be glad;     

let her who bore you rejoice.

BLCF: God Listens

When we are not obedient to the Lord, by not serving God and following His commandments; worshipping other gods, we face His wrath and judgment, Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (ESV):

13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he[a] will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 11:14 Samaritan, Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew I; also verse 15

And just as a servant of the Lord may look to Him to provide for the physical needs, Jesus promises to provide for our spiritual needs, John 6:35 (ESV): 

BLCF: I_Am_The_Bread

                                                 

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.

The Divine Miracles shared in today’s lesson are: wine, oil and bread, all multiplied by the power of the Lord. The three  are not just staples of our physical life, providing for the physical needs, when blessed, they are also used as elements of spiritual worship; wine and bread when we remember the Lord as elements of communion and oil to anoint those who seek His healing.

Just as the ordinary elements of these staples of life are transformed to elements of spiritual worship, when blessed through faith, by faith, ordinary people are elevated to a place of sanctification when they accept, by faith, the gifts of the bread of life and living water, given by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.

The provision of the Devine, both physically and spiritually, is faith’s reward, which gladdens our hearts and glorifies His name. Let us praise His name and share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the ends of the earth and until the end of our days.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #408: I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Benediction – (Philippians 4:19-20):  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen

BLCF: believe