Summary: Jesus described the coming kingdom of God through the windows of the parables. This sermon unpacks something of the meaning to the people then and to us now.
YOUR KINGDOM COME – Luke 8:4-14
News headlines today – THE TIMES 22nd February 2009
PARENTS TOLD: AVOID MORALITY IN SEX LESSONS
PARENTS should avoid trying to convince their teenage children of the difference between right and wrong when talking to them about sex, a new government leaflet is to advise.
Instead, any discussion of values should be kept “light” to encourage teenagers to form their own views, according to the brochure, which one critic has called “amoral”.
Talking to Your Teenager About Sex and Relationships will be distributed in pharmacies from next month as part of an initiative led by Beverley Hughes, the children’s minister.
The leaflet comes in the wake of the case of Alfie Patten, the 13-year-old boy from East Sussex who fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl and sparked a debate about how to cut rates of teenage parenthood.
I WROTE by text to the BBC : The nation that loses its spiritual roots in one generation loses its moral roots I the next. Committed Christians hold the hope for future generations.
QUESTION What do we make of this in the light of our prayer this morning: ‘Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’?
What is it that we are praying for when we pray, ‘ Your kingdom come’
If they had newspapers in Jesus’ time I have no doubt that one of the papers would run with a headline that reads something like:
Man claiming to be the Messiah claims ‘The Kingdom of God has arrived’
But as we have already seen:
• the ‘kingdom of God’ that Jesus announced was very different from the kingdom of God the people expected,
• to the same degree that the Messiah who came in the person of Jesus was different to the Messiah commonly expected by the people.
What was Jesus message to the people concerning the kingdom of God?
And what input or participation does God expect of us today as we pray, ‘Your kingdom come’?
READING Luke 8:4-15
Jesus described the message he was bringing as GOOD NEWS!
In the culture of the day this was a typical expression used to announce something significant such as a military victory, a wedding or the birth of a child.
In terms of the media this ranked at the very top of the stories of the day.
Today it would rank with news such as:
• The discovery of a way to restore a broken spinal cord
• An effective cure for all cancers
• The ability to produce limitless amounts of energy from cold fusion
Here Jesus announces the news that the Jews were expecting. Their hope to be restored to God as a people through whom the peoples of the world and creation itself would be redeemed had now arrived. God’s kingdom had come.
But instead of calling the people to devote themselves to the teaching of the Torah he calls them to centre their lives on Jesus himself, demanding total commitment and absolute loyalty.
He forms a community of disciples. Some travel with him. Others remain loyal in the homes such as Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
But as far as teaching about the kingdom of God is concerned, the parable was Jesus’ preferred way of teaching the people.
Jesus taught truths about the kingdom through many parables: for example -
• Its value: The pearl of greatest price
• Its nature: The wheat and the weeds
• Its appeal: The lost sheep, coin, son
• Its demands: The parable of the talents
• Its future: The sheep and the goats
And in the parable of the sower he demonstrated that the kingdom of God does not come with irresistible power. But through an appeal to the human heart and will.
Jesus describes how the kingdom of God comes into being:
• God’s word appeals to the human heart – the centre of our spiritual life.
The Parable describes:
• The power of the Word of God to bring forth fruit
• The various conditions of the human heart
• The outcome of listening to God’s Word depending on our response
But it also CHALLENGES THE WILL in the words of Jesus ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’
POINT The condition of the human heart will determine what God’s Word can do in their life.
(And what kind of a person they will become)
At any time, our heart can take on one of the four characteristics Jesus talks about in this parable.
1. At any given time we may be Resistant (The Path)
Because we are selfish, or because of bad experiences or fear that we might fail in life we tend to put up barriers in order to keep the challenge of God’s word at a distance. We build walls. We end up like the proverbial ‘bird with the broken wing’ in Don Francisco’s song, that tries to escape from the hand of the one who would heal it.