Sunday 17th March

Read Psalm 49

If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as or an app such as YouVersion

“Hear Ye, Hear Ye” was the old Town Cryer’s shout; in Psalm 59 the Psalmist declares, “Hear this, all you peoples, listen all who live in this world”.  We’d better pay attention because he says it is for “both low and high, rich and poor alike”.  So what is this Psalm about?

If you quietly read through the Psalm it will become obvious, it is about life and death.  Death is the destiny of all from which no-one can rescue themselves, but he separates those who trust in themselves and those who look to God.  He says of those who trust in themselves that their forms will decay in the grave far from their princely mansions, but with a firm faith he declares about himself that “God will redeem me from the realm of the dead, he will surely take me to himself” (v15).

There is a difference between those who love the Lord and have given their hearts to him and those who haven’t because, when thoughts turn to the close of this earthly life, the famous speech from Hamlet rings an ominous bell, “To be, or not to be, that is the question ….. to die, to sleep; To sleep perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub: for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil ….”

As the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Now is the accepted time. Behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).  No-one ought to wait before they shuffle off this mortal coil to bow before Jesus and make peace with his Father.

Readings for the Week ahead

Monday Matthew 12:46-50

This is an interesting addition at the end of the chapter about Jesus’ earthly family and those he states are his family.  It introduces a time when Mary and younger brothers of Jesus came to where he was talking to one of the crowds that followed him.  They were outside because it was too difficult to get to Jesus (remember the time when four friends had to lower their crippled friend through the roof because it was too difficult to get to Jesus?).  Word was passed to Jesus that his family wanted to speak to him.

This gave Jesus the opportunity to indicate his disciples as his family.   He wasn’t disparaging his earthly family or refusing to see them, most probably he did when he could extricate himself, it was just that he wanted to teach that it was those who obeyed and followed him who were his mother and brothers.  It also indicates that although we tend to think of his disciples as the twelve names familiar to us, there were women who followed him and supported him, something we ought to ponder more often – and which became more obvious at the end of his life.

It is quite something for those who give themselves to Jesus in faith and obedience to be called his family. 

Tuesday Matthew 13:1-23

Jesus now leaves the house where he was and goes down to the shore, when a large crowd gathered, he took a seat on a boat while the people sat on the shore.  Possibly he taught from the boat because the people could not crowd around him seeking a touch of healing.  He wanted to teach and leave the healing to another time and place.  There are times when hearing God’s Word is more important than miracles or supernatural doings.

Jesus starts to teach in parables which some understand and others don’t.  When the disciples asked him why he did this he told them that it was to sort out those who understood and those who didn’t. His division is between those who were his true followers and those who weren’t and to the latter they would have truths hidden from them even though on the surface they were hearing.  They were hearing but not perceiving.

The first parable Jesus tells them is the well-known parable of the sower which he explains to his disciples afterwards and it is about the reception or otherwise of the Word of God.  Jesus IS the Word and what he says is pertinent to the people around.  At the last week-end of his life crowds gather welcoming him but at the trial by Pilate he is spurned and rejected by the crowd.

Wednesday Matthew 13:24-43

Next comes another agricultural parable, the parable of the weeds and it is introduced by a form of words he often uses, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like ..”  It is God’s realm, the place and the way God works.  The good sower was the man who owned the field and planted good seed in it to have a fertile crop.  However there was an enemy who came at night time and started to sow weeds in the field while the owner’s servants were asleep and didn’t know.

Eventually the dastardly deed was done and when things began to grow, the servants recognised the weeds and came to the master with a question, “Shall we go and pull up the weeds?”.  On the face of things, it seemed reasonable, but the master said, no, because in pulling up the weeds they might also pull up the good crop.  He knows that the servants might not be perfect in their differentiation and so harm some good crop.

This argument is one that always needs to be borne in mind by Christian people who can easily cast off those they think do not belong in the company of God’s people.  Would we ever have a murderer in our fellowship, a greedy tax collector, an immoral woman?  Yet all are mentioned in scripture as inheritors of forgiveness and acceptance by Christ.  Murder and adultery are not acceptable but murderers and adulterers and many more can be.

The parable of the Mustard seed which is in between the sower and the explanation (vs31-35) tells of the small mustard seed which can grow into something much larger, linking it with faith.  Faith may start small and shaky but grow into something much bigger, thus the prayer, “Lord increase our faith”

Thursday Matthew 13:31-44

The parables of the treasure and the fine pearl are about finding something of great value.  The ‘thing’ of value of course is the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves sinful men and women, that in repentance we find a gracious God.

Stan Dale was an Australian Missionary who felt called by God to go to what was then New Guinea to share the good news with the Yali people who lived in the interior behind vast mountain ranges.  He was intrepid and pushed ahead against all obstacles having been shot when he approached them, had arrows fired at him, pulling one out of his body, breaking it over his knee.  It took three visits before he managed to make positive contact but he felt this was Gods role for him.  He often repeated to himself, as though God’s call to him, the words of Kipling’s poem The Explorer,

“Something hidden.  Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges –

“Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

You can read his story in Don Richardson’s book “Lords of the Earth”, a great missionary book if you can find it.  Some things are worth pursuing at all cost and hearing and following God’s call is the best.

Friday Mathew 13:47-52

Jesus is preaching from a fisherman’s boat at the edge of the lake.  It was probably filled with nets for the job and everyone knew that what was caught would be separated into good and bad. Jesus’ parable is about the net that is let down into the sea of men and pulled up and which is followed by a great separation at the end of time.  It is similar to the parable of the sower in that it allows time before a final assize and judgement.  The conclusion that mentions the blazing furnace and the weeping and gnashing of teeth is not one that sits happily but it is there and Jesus asks the crowd at the end of his parables, “Have you understood all these things?” to which they boldly reply, “Yes”.

Of course, we wonder whether they do for in John’s gospel when Jesus had been teaching about the Bread of Life, the crowd at that time asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Jesus does not teach the salvation of everyone but he does teach and show the graciousness of God to which we are commanded to respond.  His closing words about teachers of the Old Testament who have become disciples shows that he is not disparaging the old but that they must learn to understand the old in terms of the new and vice-versa.

Saturday Matthew 13:53-58

Coming home to Nazareth after teaching in parables, Jesus began teaching in the local synagogue and people were amazed saying, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” (v54), which, considering knowledge about him had spread far and wide, showed they weren’t paying attention.  However, in their amazement they added, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. (v:55-57).

Their offense was basically, “He’s one of us”, and they didn’t want to be knocked down.  Pride, the greatest sin, was the root of their offense.  Pride is the capital sin which finds its home in the heart of its master the Devil who wanted to ascend to the top (Isaiah 14:12).  Pride finds its way into the hearts of every man or woman.  Richard Nixon’s Special Council, Chuck Colson, who helped manage Nixon’s winning second term as President and was jailed for his conspiracy in the Watergate Affair, was converted as a result of reading C S Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”.  It was the chapter on Pride, the capital sin, which slew him and brought him to repentance, subsequently to become a well-known writer and Christian apologist.  His book, “Born Again”, gave the title wings on the cultural scene and is still worth reading today.

Jesus did not perform many miracles in his home town because, despite knowing what they did about him they lacked faith  His phrase, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.” (v57) has become well-known.  We should be aware that God can do things close to us and we should beware of being high-minded and proud of our own situation.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *