Divine Voice

Easter III

John 21: 1 – 19

10 April 2016

Looking again at the Easter/Resurrection happenings with faith and hope, can be a thrilling experience.

In today’s gospel there are three very powerful pictures of Jesus which need to be pondered on and abso0rbed by us because they have power to help transform our lives.

If I may give you some homework, then: – take on and spend 20 minutes looking and pondering, the next day take the 2nd picture and on the 3rd day the 3rd picture.

Here are eye-witness accounts of very ordinary happenings with supernatural overtones.

  1. The first is the stranger on the shore
  2. The second is Jesus inviting his disciples to have breakfast
  3. And the third is Our Lord dealing with Peter who had very recently denied him.

The stranger on the shore:

Here are seven disciples not quite sure what to do with themselves, waiting around for the unseen, resurrected Jesus to take the initiative and come to them.

Peter wants to do what most naturally is part of his life – he says, almost impulsively, “I’m going out to fish.” “We’ll go with you”, they said.  So they got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.  “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”  “No”, they answered.  Then comes the command, the voice ringing out across the quiet waters, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”.  The unbelieving men could have said, “Forget it – we’re tired – we’ve been at it all night- who does this ‘Charlie’ think he is – Let’s go home”.

But it is the divine voice speaking – the very same voice who said, in Genesis 1:3, “Let here be Light,” and there was light!  In Genesis 1:20 God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures” and verse 26 God said “Let us make man in our image in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea,” And it was so.

That voice! The voice which commanded water into wine, who revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him; the voice which said” I will destroy this temple and raise it again in three days”.

And to the Nobleman whose son was dying, “Unless you see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe – now go, your son will live”.

And to the invalid unable to walk for 38 years, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” and Later, “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you,” And to the Jews, “My Father is always at his work to this very day and I too am working

Pause to Reflect

The Divine voice commands: “Throw your net on the Right side of the boat and you will find some!”

When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John discerns who the stranger is, “It is the Lord”, and when the fish are counted on the beach there are 153 large ones.

When God speaks, commands, things happen, always.

We often come to Our Lord with our wants, needs, desires. He is the Lord; we are the servants, not the other way around. We can never see the big picture as Jesus does – We live by faith, not by sight.  I am reminded of last Sunday’s gospel when Jesus addressing Thomas says, “Because you have seen me you have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That Voice! One day in the future that voice will command us to rise from the dust of the ground and to be reconstituted into our new Resurrection Bodies.

The last two lines of the Nicene Creed put it clearly, “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Pause to Reflect

That is part one of your homework.

From the stranger on the shore we look briefly at the divine invitation to “come and have breakfast”. St John 21:9 ‘When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread’ (a braai/barbecue Nogal!) Our proactive Lord sees to the physical needs of his disciples serving them again as he had done in the washing of their feet.  Another joyful reunion takes place, with one reservation: he didn’t look like Jesus, but they were sure he was. John 21:12 “none of the disciples dared ask him “who are you?”  They knew it was the Lord’.

That for me, is a reminder that the Lord comes to us often, mostly hidden though, in the people we meet. That adds a dimension to the Christian fellowship others without faith are unaware of.  Yet, for us, it affirms the importance of fellowship in the life of the Christian community.

“Come and have breakfast”, Come and have lunch”, “Come and have tea”, “Come this evening and have a meal”, always gives an opportunity of fellowship with the Lord, thinly veiled from our eyes. All this, though, must be balanced against another divine command:  (Luke 14:12)  “Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives or your rich neighbours, if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid.  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”.

That’s part two of your homework.

Pause for reflection

And so, to the restoration of Peter, and maybe, even ourselves. I apologise if you’ve heard this before, but our pew bibles translation of this passage leaves out the subtle nuances of what really was said:  What we have is: “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,

“Do you truly love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

“Alright then, feed my lambs”.

Again Jesus said;

“Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?”

“Yes Lord, you know that I love you”

“Then take care of my sheep”.

The third time he said to him;

“Simon, son of John do you love me?”

“Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.

The Greek word for Love has many meanings covered by the word “love” in English. Here are the subtleties of this passage.

“Simon son of John, do you truly love me? (Agape: Sacrificial Love)

“Yes Lord, you know I am your friend (Phileo: Friendship)

Peter can’t bring himself to say he loves Jesus sacrificially because he has let him down so often and denied him three times!

“Simon, son of John do you truly love me?”

“Yes Lord, you know that I am your friend”

And then comes the arrow tot eh heart:

“Simon son of John, are you my friend?”

And Peter is hurt. He tells Jesus, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I am your friend.”  Before Jesus stands the penitent disciple, sorry indeed for the three denials and Jesus reinstates him.  “Take care of my sheep”.  It’s a new beginning for Peter.  He is re-instated as the Rock on which Jesus will build his church.

Now if that is true of Peter, how much more can it be true of us?

Try spend 20 minutes with this and answer Jesus;

“John, Sally, Mabel, Roy, Eric, Joan, Ann, do you TRULY love me? – Can you love me as sacrificially as I have loved you?  Or are you merely my friend?”

Pause for reflection

In your time with the Lord, give your answer, and in turn, receive from Our Lord Jesus Christ himself the divine commission to do whatever he tells you, and be blessed in the doing of it.

Amen

“Merciful God

Whose love will not let us go:

Restore in us the power of our calling

That we may boldly fulfill the tasks you set before us; through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Who with you and the Holy Spirit is

Worthy of blessing and honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.

Amen”

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God’s Rescue Mission

15/04/2014

Tuesday in Holy Week

1 Corinthians 1:18

St Paul speaks to us this morning:

“The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

How true that is; we all know people who do not understand the sacrifice of Jesus, or who refuse to think about it, or who reject it out of hand or who ignore it or who are totally ignorant of it.  They are our evangelistic, prayerful target, “because”, says St Paul, “they are perishing”.  They are on their way to eternal death, for if Jesus had not died on the cross as the sacrifice for humankind then all of us would have to carry the responsibility of our own sins and imperfections when we appear before the all Holy and Righteous judge – Christ the King.  Then, since no-one is perfect, and God’s Heaven is for perfect people only, and God never tells us that sin doesn’t matter, there is only the one-way street to eternal death for everyone.  God the Holy Trinity fore-saw this happening before the beginning of time; even then He was preparing the RESCUE MISSION to planet earth because of His great love for us.

Jesus Himself would lead the Rescue Mission assisted by God the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father:  St Paul wrote about this in Romans 3:21 – 26.  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, “And are justified (put right with God) by his grace through the redemption (the deliverance) that came through Jesus Christ.  “God presented Him as the one who would turn aside His wrath, taking away sin.  He did this to demonstrate his justice, for he justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Back to our New Testament lesson for this morning: 1 Corinthians 1:18.  “The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  We are being saved NOW by the power of God – that is the divine initiative taking place amongst us and in us.  That is why we are here this morning – to witness to the fact that we are being saved by the power of God.  Unlike those who do not believe, you and I have been born again of water (we have been baptised) and the Spirit (God’s Holy Spirit) part of the Body of Christ for Jesus presents Himself and Us to God the Father.  As the communion hymn puts it; “Look Father, Look on His annointed face and only look on us as found in Him, for lo, between our sins and their reward we set the passion of thy Son our Lord”.

This morning we thank God that we are being saved from rejection and eternal death; we are being saved to be with God forever, “in communion with the holy apostles, confessors and martyrs and all the blessed saints and aided by angels and archangels and all the armies of the heavenly host.”

You and I are privileged to be part of God’s Rescue Mission to all whose hearts God will open to listen and respond to Good News.  We are in the process of being saved in order that others, too, through us, may come to see, maybe for the first time, that the message of the Cross (that Jesus died for them as well) has power to save from sin and eternal death.

For Jesus, the Eternal Son of God died and rose again for the whole of humankind, past present and future, to the glory of God the Father.

We, too, are part of God’s Rescue Mission now, because we, too, are in the process of being saved – it is our privilege and responsibility.  For “the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  May the power of God in action amongst us this Holy Week and Easter bring many souls to glory.

Amen, Amen and Amen

Motivation for Palm Sunday

8am 20/03/16

PALM SUNDAY

It was good to listen to the ‘Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ’ – ‘good’ because it’s the only Sunday in the year when we hear it other than this Friday when the Passion is read from St John’s Gospel.

Good Friday is the Christian Holy Day of Atonement, where God the Father once offered his only Son as the sacrifice for the sins of humankind past, present and future.  So, please, (and I am talking to Christian believers) cancel everything else on that day and try to attend the celebration of the Lord’s passion at this church from 12 Noon – 3 PM.  Let the rest of the world do its own thing, but for yourself, come to the cross and reflect on what God is doing there. It’s  miraculous, it’s awe-inspiring, it’s holy and wonderful.

Pause to Reflect

In this short address I want to consider only one thing:  the motivation of Our Lord – what inspired him, what drove him, what was His passion?

Pause to Reflect

St Luke tells us in chapter 2, looking at Jesus as a boy of 12 attending the Feast of the Passover, staying behind in Jerusalem “while his parents travelled homewards thinking he was with their family and friends, and, not finding him, went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”

“When his parents saw him His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house” (some translations “to be about my Father’s Business”) But they did not understand what he was saying to them”.

In hindsight, we can understand, for His motivation is a laser-like focus, the determination to DO HIS FATHER’S WILL.  He is absolutely single-minded about it – This is his MISSION!

Pause to Reflect

The Lord’s Prayer which we know so well contains His motivation which at any time we can make our own.  The writer of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews gives his reason for the motivation of Jesus – chapter12 v 12 –

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right had of the throne of God”  (Joy is the fruit of a proper focus).   

Pause to Reflect

In looking at what motivates us in our various situations we often or sometimes have mixed motives, but what do you suppose motivated a paratrooper who three years ago braved Taliban gunfire to rescue a fallen comrade and became the first living soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the military decoration for valour in the face of the enemy?

Whilst serving in Afghanistan in 2013 Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, 27 years, from Hampshire, UK, rushed across a barren hillside to tend the wounds of and rescue a stricken US marine, despite being under fire from 20 Taliban fighters.  He then returned to the top of the hill to retrieve two machine guns, though he was carrying 60 pounds of equipment, and bullets were – at one point- ricocheting off the frame of one of the guns. Later, having received his medal, Lance Corporal Leakey returned to his platoon.  Overall in WW2 181 men were awarded the Victoria Cross, 85 of them posthumously.

What  motivated them?  – an adrenalin rush?  Anger?  A  fierce determination to get it done?

Pause to Reflect

What motivates you and me to be a follower of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

Pause to Reflect

Whatever it is, there is always before us, Our Lord himself, the single-minded, courageous, holy, determined Son of God, washing his disciples feet – showing us what He wants us to become and how we are to conduct ourselves.

The focal point to which he is moving is the cross, on which He is to be God’s instrument of forgiveness and new life for humankind and for you and me.

Pause to Reflect

This Good Friday, our Christian Day of Atonement, may we discover again for ourselves the immeasurable, huge love of God in sending his son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven.

Pause to Reflect

Our response to his self-sacrifice could re-ignite our own potential to become shining lights in the world desperate to see God’s love in action.  Your palm cross could help you this week to a fresh realization of God’s LOVE for His world.

Pause to Reflect

So may God continue to bless us all

AMEN