28 July 2013

posted 27 Jul 2013, 19:22 by C S Paul   [ updated 27 Jul 2013, 19:28 ]

28 July 2013

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost 


Gospel Reading for this Sunday

Matthew 18:1-14 - New King James Version (NKJV)


Who Is the Greatest?

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 

and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

Jesus Warns of Offenses

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast itfrom you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. 

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 

11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 

13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Great - In The Eyes of Jesus

by Pastor Linton Smith

In a Peanuts comic strip Linus and Charlie Brown are talking about what they want to be when they grow up. Linus says he wants to be a humble little country doctor. He will live in the city and every morning get into his sports car and zoom into the country. There he will start healing people - everyone for miles around. He says, "I'll be a world-famous humble little country doctor."

Linus had mixed ideas about what it means to be great. He wanted to be famous but knew that true greatness has something to do with humility.

When we describe someone as a great person.. what do we mean?

Jesus turned many of our ideas upside down. He did this with greatness.

Today.. I invite you to think about three things Jesus said about greatness.

The great person in the eyes of Jesus is..

o IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

John the Baptist had caused quite a stir. He preached powerfully.. telling people to repent and be baptized.. and he baptized many people in the Jordan River.

Jesus held him in high regard. He spoke of him as a prophet.. and not just any prophet.. but the prophet promised in the last book of the Hebrew Scriptures.. and went on to say in Luke 7:28.

I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."

In Jesus' eyes.. the least person in the Kingdom of God.. is greater than the greatest person outside the kingdom!

Ponder the kingdom of God.. we see why. Daniel writes..

Daniel 7:13,14.. In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

The Son of Man – Jesus – is given authority.. over all peoples, nations.. His rule will never end.. His kingdom.. will never be destroyed. Nothing on earth comes close to that.. No wonder Jesus said that the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than anyone outside it.

How do we become part of the Kingdom of God.. how do we enter it?

Matthew writes.. Matthew 18:1-4.. At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God!

Little children trust their parents.. carers.. throw out their arms.. almost jump into their mother's arms..

When we trust Jesus like a little child.. when we receive what He offers us.. like a little child.. then we enter the Kingdom of heaven.

In John's Gospel Jesus says this in another way. He says.. if we are to enter the kingdom of God.. we must be born again. Then He shows us how. He refers to something that happened long ago.. in the Sinai desert.. snakes were biting the people.. and many were dying. Moses called out to God.. and God said.. Make a bronze snake.. put it on a pole.. where it can be seen from anywhere in the camp.. and when a person is bitten.. all they have to do.. is look at this bronze snake.. and they will be healed.

Jesus says in John 3:14,15..

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Just like the snake.. Jesus was lifted up.. on a cross.. crucified for us all.. and all we have to do is to believe in Him. Too easy.. too simple.. can't see what difference that will make? Don't think like that.. come like a little child.. and believe.

Be like the people in the desert.. and simply look to Jesus in faith.

The great person in the eyes of Jesus is..

o GENUINELY HUMBLE

Jesus had been speaking about what lay ahead of Him in Jerusalem – betrayal. His mind was on the suffering that lay ahead of Him. The disciples did not understand Him. They were miles away in their thinking.. thinking about how great they will be when Jesus is King.. They were focused on anything but suffering and death.. focused on greatness.. power.. position.. prestige.

Luke tells us..

Luke 9:46-48.. An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest."

Jesus knew their thoughts.. could see the pictures in their minds.. I think He saw them picturing themselves in very powerful positions.. and the nations' most powerful and richest.. coming to them.. to be welcomed by them.. So what did Jesus do? He took a little child.. had him stand next to Him.. and said.. whoever welcomes this little child in My name.. welcomes Me.. welcomes the One who sent Me. The one who is least among you all.. this one.. this little child.. is greatest! The greatest thing you can do is welcome little children like this.

Now.. that takes humility.. real humility.. genuine humility!

Paul writes.. Philippians 2:3..

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Consider others better than yourself.. yes.. even little children!

Sometimes we are disappointed when adults do not come to faith.. only children. May God forgive us for thinking like that! Moody once said that two and half people were converted to Christ. A friend asked if he meant two adults and a child. He meant just the opposite – two children and an adult! He had it right!

Did the disciples learn? Not very well.. Luke goes on..

Luke 9:49,50.. "Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

He is not on our team.. we must stop him. His attitude reeks of rivalry.. competition.. pride. No.. don't stop Him, says Jesus, let him be. It takes humility.. genuine humility to do that..

How do we become humble? By focusing on humility? No. By focusing on Jesus.. If you want to feel short.. don't look in the mirror.. just stand next to someone who is 30 cm or more taller.. Want to be humble.. stand next to Jesus.

The great person in the eyes of Jesus is..

o WILLING TO SERVE OTHERS

The scene is an upper room in Jerusalem. Jesus and the disciples are sharing the Passover meal.. He speaks of the bread.. as His body.. given for them.. of the wine as His blood.. He is speaking of His sufferings again.. the cross.. and very clearly.. and what are the disciples thinking about? Luke writes..

Luke 22:24-27.. Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Don't be like the rulers of this world.. no.. don't lord it over people.. but serve people.. be truly great.. be a servant of others..

Who is greater.. the one sitting at the table.. or the one serving him? The world says.. the one sitting and being served.. But I am among you as one who serves. Be like me.

Paul.. Philippians 2:4-8..

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

That is true greatness.. not to cling to power.. prestige.. but to let it all go.. and become a servant of others..

Jesus does turn things upside down doesn't He?

But because He is the Son of God.. it is not upside down.. but the right way up.

The truly great person.. is first of all in the kingdom of God.. then genuinely humble.. and willing to serve others.

A challenge to all of us.. to stop chasing after what the world calls great.. and aim at true greatness. Can we be great in His eyes? Yes.

We begin by coming to Him as a little child would come.. and be born again..

We continue by keeping our eyes on Jesus.. by standing next to Him.. and being humbled..

We continue by allowing the Spirit of Jesus to shape us into the likeness of Jesus.. into people willing to serve.

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