Sermons

ST JOHN’S CHURCH FARNHAM COMMON UBS 26th AUGUST 2018  11am

Readings:        Joshua 24 v 1-2a; 14-18          Choose this day whom you will serve

                        Ephesians 6 v 1—20                live a life worthy of your calling

                        John 6 v 56-69                         And you – would you also like to leave?

 

1                    Preaching plays an important role in Church life. Most congregations expect helpful sermons. Some sermons are personally challenging; some teach and explain God’s Word; some respond to a perceived need in Church life; some are meant to encourage and empower the congregation. Some ministers are good preachers and some not so good. Sometimes the response to the sermon is very variable; sometimes you can feel the apathy or resentment against strong words.

Of course, you will get nothing from a sermon if your mind is turned off - maybe you are thinking of the dinner in the oven; or how long the sermon is going on; or maybe you just don’t understand the message even after years of coming to church?

 

What sort of preacher do you want in our new Rector? I remind you to write down your wishes for the Wardens to consider, as they write a personal specification for the Bishop!

 

2                    The hearing of an audience plays an important part in a sermon. Jesus told a parable about how people listened and received the gospel message.

He told  parable of a sower sowing seeds. A parable is a story about earthly things, but with a spiritual meaning.

Some seed fell by the wayside, some amid thorns, some on rocky soil, and some on good ground. From this teaching we could say that every sermon has a response of some kind. Jesus was a masterful preacher. When he preached, people responded. Let us look at the different responses to his sermons.

 

3                    Rejection – The response of the Jewish religious leaders: The Jews resented Jesus’ message.

We read in John 6v35 “The Jews then murmured against him, because he said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger and he that believes in me will never thirst”.

In context, Jesus had referred to the experiences of the Israelites when God fed them with manna in the desert. God gave them life, for life was in the bread. Jesus then applied this life giving bread to himself.

The Jews rejected the messenger - to resent the message is to reject the messenger v42

And they said - Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say I came down from heaven?

The Jews judged Jesus by external standards. They didn’t listen. The forgot how many times in the Jewish scriptures, (which they should have known and understood) that God had chosen ordinary men and women as his messengers.       In every audience or congregation there will be those who resent God’s message and reject his Son.

 

4                    The Dropouts – the response of the crowds: Jesus was popular with the crowds at the beginning of his ministry. People were attracted by his unusual sermons and watched him perform many miracles. They understood his language and the settings for his parables. They enjoyed the benefits of following him, like being fed with loaves and fishes, and seeing sick friends healed.

 

But we read in todays gospel – The crowds began to depart from Jesus.                           

John 6v66 “From that time many of his disciples left, and walked no more with him”.

Why did these people leave? They left because they found the way of Jesus too difficult- Jesus had spoken about eating his flesh and drinking his blood (v54). He had spoken in the synagogue at Capernaum about being the bread of life that came down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, they will live for ever – he told them.

 

 

 

It wasn’t that they didn’t understand, but this teaching was hard to accept and to put into practice. Jesus was asking for total commitment.

The crowds knew the claims of Jesus. They had heard him explain the kingdom of heaven, they had heard the parables, they had witnessed the miracles – but they were unwilling to accept and follow him.

People haven’t changed. They continue to respond to the call to follow Jesus by dropping out.

 

Sometimes people walk away from Church, and sometimes people are unable to disclose that “inside”, they have dropped out of their Christian commitment.

Before God, it discloses the reality of their failure to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ  - their rejection of the Christian way of life. And they try to hide this in their pretence of actions and words.            For the believer, who accepts and trusts the words of eternal life, having that special relationship with Jesus, provides an assurance and security.

    

5                    After the rejection and dropouts comes the response of Dedication – this was the apostles response:

Jesus posed an important question to his disciples to test their dedication and commitment.

V67 we read “Then Jesus said to the twelve “And you – would you also like to leave?”

The disciples had only two alternatives – they could go or they could stay.

    Disciples are always put to the test. The passing of time and various life situations will disclose the reality or otherwise of commitment and the depth and strength of faith.

In v 68 Simon Peter answered Jesus with a demonstration of dedication and commitment

“Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life. Now we believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God!”

Peter affirmed that there was no one else to whom the disciples could turn to for eternal life. Only Jesus could satisfy their deepest longings.

 

        6         Conclusion

Well our sermon is nearly ended.  Some of you will be timing it – I know and can see.

You will make a response of some way to this sermon. Either you will say “It was good” or “it was bad”. But that will not be your only response.

The claims of Jesus have been presented. Scripture has been expounded. Various responses to Jesus have been explained: You can reject him; you can drop out, or you can dedicate your life to him.

Jesus says to each one of us at some time ““And you – would you also like to leave me?”

What will be your response?

 

 

PRAYER

 

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who came into our world to bring us forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We thank you that in him we find the bread of life and the water that gives us life. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, which helps us to understand your teaching through Jesus Christ.

May we each be able to respond to your call by responding “Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life. Now we believe and know that you are the Holy One who has come from God!” And may our lives be a witness to our commitment.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, we pray.

AMEN

 


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