+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening (A Collect for Peace – Tuesday)
O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Morning Reading – Matthew 13:44-58 (NLT)
Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
Parable of the Fishing Net
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things?”
“Yes,” they said, “we do.”
Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”
Jesus Rejected at Nazareth
When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.
Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
The Problem of Unbelief
And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
– Matthew13:58 –
The essential problem of unbelief is that it devalues Jesus and his Kingdom. Today’s Kingdom parables and Jesus’ visit to Nazareth are illustrative.
+ The Treasure and Pearl – both make the point that the Kingdom of God is so valuable that the seeker is willing to look everywhere and sell everything in order to participate in it. But how many of us are actually eager to sacrifice everything – to pay any price – to join Jesus in the advance of his Kingdom? Why not? Because unbelief devalues the worth of his person and the Kingdom that he so freely offers.
+ The Fishing Net – makes the point of separation and accountability on the day of judgement. – the good and righteous will receive their promised Kingdom inheritance while the bad and wicked will be destroyed.
What distinguishes the two? – Unbelief.
_The good understand the unparalleled value and worth of Jesus and his Kingdom; they find their satisfaction (highest joy) in him and are willing to make the daily sacrifice of obedience, of delayed gratification, in order to receive their promised inheritance.
_The bad devalue Jesus and his promises to find their satisfaction in the things of this life – money, sex and power – they want it now, and have bought into the lie that the one who dies with the most toys wins. They are tragically mistaken.
+ Nazareth – The unbelief of Jesus’ family and neighbors in his home town is a devaluation of his worth from another perspective – familiarity. They were so used to seeing him in the context of everyday life that they couldn’t appreciate the wonder of his person and the worth of his coming Kingdom. In essence, he was hidden from them in plain sight. The result was that their unbelief prevented them from participation in the signs and wonders of the Kingdom. Familiarity devalued Jesus’ person and his Kingdom.
Questions for consideration:
- Do you believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ and citizenship in his Kingdom is your most precious possession? Please explain?
- What has following Jesus cost you? What have you sacrificed? Has it been worth it? Please explain.
- Can you think of ways that unbelief has affected your relationship with Jesus? Please explain.
- Can you think of ways that familiarity has led to unbelief in your life? Please explain.
Morning Prayer: Prayer – For Satisfaction in Christ (Julian of Norwich)
O God, of your goodness, give me yourself, for you are enough for me. I can ask for nothing less that is completely to your honor, and if I do ask anything less, I shall always be in want. Only in you I have all. Amen.
“Seek First” – Housefires
Peace that passes, my understanding
Love that conquers, my fear and regret
Joy unending, eternal pleasure
In your presence, my risen King
I will seek first, Your kingdom
I will seek first, Your righteousness
Everything I need, You will provide for me
My heart is to seek first, Your kingdom
You’re all I really want
You’re all I really need
Father every breath I’ve got
You have given it to me
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen