Summary: A short talk on father's day at a baptism service. Lots of visitors perhaps not sure about the person and message of Jesus so this is a parable-style short challenge for them.
(Before the Bible Reading)
Does anyone feel as if they could really do with a holiday - somewhere warm and exotic with new foods to taste and a new culture and language to inhabit? Well, just in case you’re wondering I’m not about to start giving away free holidays just to get people to listen to my talks on a Sunday – but I would like you to imagine for a moment that we are beside a lake. Think big. Think Lake District but the weather is hot and sunny nearly all the time. We’re next to Lake Galilee at the time of Jesus and the crowd is huge. People have travelled from miles away to come and see Jesus, to hear Jesus, and to be a part of the excitement surrounding him – and the crowd is so big that Jesus gets into a boat at the edge of the lake, and teaches the crowd from the boat (4:1). Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the water lapping at the side of the lake, sense the excitement of seeing this amazing Jesus in person, and as he speaks ask yourself, “What is he talking about?”
(After the Bible reading)
At this point in his life Jesus was fast becoming a local celebrity. Some of his family thought he’d gone mad (3:21). People were crowding round Jesus for all sorts of reasons but he had a mission and a purpose to fulfil. He wasn’t looking to build up a following of the 1st century equivalent of paparazzi, journalists and fans. Jesus was seeking disciples who would not just follow, but would also learn from him and imitate him. So, he often told stories – parables – that left people scratching their heads thinking, “What was that all about? (4:13)” What does he mean? Be honest, if you’ve just heard that story told by Jesus for the first time have you got any idea what his story is pointing to? What’s the meaning and the challenge behind it?
Maybe you’ve heard it before and you’ve heard the explanation but it doesn’t make sense to you.
One of the main points of this so-called parable of the sower is that people who really want to follow Jesus, to know Jesus will have to think it through seriously.
Winston Churchill once said that ‘men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”
As he spoke in parables – stories to communicate truth – Jesus was presenting truth. Some people heard the stories and then carried on with their lives as if nothing had happened. My prayer is that every one of us would decide to explore what Jesus meant and to apply it to the rest of our lives.
If you read on in the Bible – Mark Chapter 4 – either now or at home on your smart phone or your tablet – Mark Chapter 4 – Jesus explains the parable to his disciples because they didn’t get it. So if you don’t get it you’re in famous company; but if you want to find out what Jesus meant read the explanation for yourself; and as you do so ask yourself, “When it comes to the message of Jesus being planted in the soil of my life - what kind of soil am I and what kind of soil do I want to be?”
On Thursday I was at Buttsbury Juniors for assembly.
I’m going to tell you the same story I told them but I’m using the story today for a different reason. It’s called The Auction.
(Note to the Reader - The story is called The Auction and can be found in various places. One is a book by Margaret Silf called One hundred wisdom stories from around the world, but it can be found on the internet by typing in this phrase: “The man who took the son gets everything.” I don't reproduce the story here but it has been around in various forms since the 1950s at least)
(Some key phrases to remember when telling the story are as follows:
“I’m not a great artist but I think your son would have wanted you to have this sketch.”
“Oh no, I don’t want any money for it. I could never repay what your son did for me.”
“The son, the son; who will take the son?”
“The auction is over. My instructions were clear. Whoever takes the son receives the entire estate.”)
God’s message through Jesus is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. In the light of eternity God says to us, “My son Jesus; who will receive my son? Whoever receives the son gets everything” - and that includes the message of the stories Jesus told.