Summary: How do we treat Jesus our friend?
Story of Martha and Mary with Jesus
Story: A famous actor was invited to a dinner party.
After the main course, the actor was asked if he would be willing to recite a piece of poetry for the guests.
The actor readily agreed and asked if someone at the dinner table would like to suggest what he should recite.
There was a deadly hush until an old clergyman raised his hand and said:
“May I ask you to recite the 23rd Psalm?”
The actor was rather taken back but agreed, saying: “I will recite Psalm 23 - if you will recite it once I am finished”.
The clergyman rather reluctantly agreed.
The actor then recited the 23rd Psalm with as much passion as he could arouse.
His voice was perfect. His intonation was flawless.
The audience was spellbound. When he finished, he was met with rapturous applause.
The old clergyman then stood up to speak and recited the Psalm.
But his voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching.
His diction was anything but polished.
But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room.
Then the actor got up from his seat came over and put his arm around the clergyman and said:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I know the 23rd Psalm. This man however knows the Shepherd.”
Christianity is all about relationships. It is not about abstract words and concepts – however beautiful they might be.
The two great commandments (in last week’s Gospel reading) are about relationships.
The first is about our relationship with God. The other is about our relationship with our neighbour.
In contrast to Christianity - the other great religions of the world – want to do things to get right with God.
The Muslim prays and does good deeds and hopes these outweigh his bad deeds to earn his salvation.
The Jew keeps the Law to justify himself before God.
The Jehovah’s Witness believe he earns his way to heaven by talking to enough people in the week about his religion
The Mormon earns his salvation, so he believes by evangelising his faith
But this isn’t God’s way. We will never be good enough to earn our way to heaven.
The Christian comes to God realising that he is not good enough for God – in his own strength.
He knows he can never be good enough for God.
We realises that Jesus DID it all for us on the Cross
What Jesus offers us is a relationship with God not a religion of hard works.
God loves us so much that Jesus died to bring us back into a right relationship with God.
St John put it like this:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And the story in our reading from Luke’s Gospel today of Martha and Mary illustrates this.
You see Martha wanted to DO things for Jesus but Mary wanted to spend time with Jesus and develop her relationship with him. Mary didn’t want to get distracted by DOING things for Him, when she could spend time with him.
And as I was praying about this last night, it suddenly struck me that we can be too busy to spend time with Jesus – even by doing things to SERVE HIM. Like Martha we can be “worried and upset about many things” when really only “one thing is needed” (Lk 10:41-42)
It is so easy to allow our DOING to get in the way of our BEING with Jesus – in prayer and Bible Study.
Article 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism on (which I hasten to add the Church of England does not adhere to – but it makes it no less valid!) states: “Man’s chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever”
Story: If a very close friend of ours was away in a distant country, we would look forward to our conversations on the phone with him and our letters from him.
We would wait at home at the time he was going to call us.
We would eagerly dash down in the morning and rip open his letter.
Prayer is like those phone calls and reading our Bible is like opening those letters.
The Bible is God’s letter to us
Our lesson today shows us that God is interested – not in what we can do for Him but that we develop our friendship with Him
The marvellous thing that Jesus says to us is this:
“I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends, for everything I have learnt from the Father I have made known to you.”(Jn 15:15)