13th August 2023

Sharing the Father’s Heart and teaching deeper things to eventual church leaders

Passage: Matthew 5:1-3, Luke 15
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Sermon

So let me just say again, this morning in the morning service, we were looking at, further on into the Sermon on the Mount. And I actually had a lot to say and didn't get through half of it. And Michelle told me at home, oh you went too long, you know, so I couldn't have put any more in. But there are some very important points that I don't want missed. And so I want to join together some of what's in the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and this parable of Jesus. The parable of Jesus in Luke 15 has actually got three stories. They're all really joined because the same themes come out in all three. And there's the lost sheep, lost coin, a woman loses a special set of coins and she loses one. And she searches for it diligently and the chief thing that it says, that she searched and searched and searched until she found it. You find this repetitive phrase coming through into the next storyline, which is about the sheep. And the shepherd who's got 99 good sheep and he leaves them in an outdoorsy place that he was with them. And he goes to look for the one lost sheep until he finds it.

Again, that little phrase, until he finds it. And then Jesus tells the story of the lost son. And in the story of the lost son, the boy has taken his father's inheritance from the father, goes to a foreign land and squanders all the money and ends up in poverty, attaching himself to a pig farmer, which for a Jew would be a terrible thing. And they don't pay him anything, but just let him eat some of the pig stuff. And if you've ever been to see pigs and how they are, the slop that they get, and to think of eating that is a tremendous, terrible thing for anybody, let alone a Jew who have set against pig meat. But he wakes up to himself and eventually says, realises that the servants at home get more to eat than he's getting. And he says, I will get up and go. And so I've had previous sermons on this topic where the basic issue was that often someone's coming to Christ. It's not just someone admits the truth and bows their head and says a prayer to receive Christ and that's that. But sometimes there is involved a walk back to where they should have been. A repentance that's lived out in your life by going back to where you were and where you should have been.

And so he says, I will go back. And that resolve, that repentance that involves the walk all the way home is the part of the storyline. But most importantly, while he's coming on in, his father is taking up a position, perhaps on the veranda. I don't know whether houses and farms back then were like ours in Australia, but I imagine if it were like an Australian old-fashioned farming house, there's a veranda and a rocking chair. And farmers, you know, do a lot of hard work. When they get a chance to sit down and rest, they'll take it. They have to be careful because they often go to sleep from walking around. I've lived on a farm and the farmer only had to sit down and he'd be asleep because he's so busy the rest of the time. And anyway, the dad is there, but he doesn't go to sleep because he's watching the road that he's seen his son walk away down. And suddenly he sees a little speck of the boy coming home. It's one of those places in the Bible, there's a few, where a grown man, an adult, is talked about, described as running. And the dad runs to meet his son. Probably a lot further away than halfway from where he first saw him, because the dad is running. And there's a very interesting little statement, he falls on his neck. You could take that the wrong way, they did a bit of karate or something, I don't know.

But it means, no, he went and grabbed him and started kissing him around the neck. This is the dad. And the boy has got a prepared speech, but he tries to get out his prepared speech, but the dad doesn't listen. He just calls for a servant, there must have been servants who ran as well. And he asks them to prepare the special fatted calf, in other words they always get ready one that would make good eating, and to kill it and to set up a great party. And in that story line, you might think that the whole point of the three are brought out into very sharp relief about the love of the father and his longing for the lost one to come back, either by searching for him or waiting and watching. But that's not the end of the chapter. Whoever it was that put in the chapter divisions, and that was done later on, it wasn't a part of the original manuscripts. We knew what they were doing when they added in the final bit, where his older brother, the prodigal son's older brother is out doing the jobs on the farm, and he hears from servants that his younger brother who's squandered the father's money with prostitutes or whatever in a foreign land has come back, and they're putting on a party, and that's the reason for the dancing, the music he can hear.

And he complains to his dad and said, look, I've served you all these years, and I've done what you asked, I never disobeyed, but you never killed the fatted calf for me. And he complains, and the dad has to correct him and say, all that I have now belongs to you, eventually there won't be any other share in the inheritance, but that son, all mine is yours, he says. But this your brother, he's come back, he was dead, and now he's alive, it's sort of a metaphor for how the dad is receiving him home, safe and sound. The meaning of that story lies in the beginning, if we could put up on the screen, Luke, the middle, if you had that one, you'll find that I've asked for it to be at verse 11, where the prodigal son's story is, where in Luke 15 that starts. And, but what is of interest to this is that, we'll go on down to the second slide, I think, on my script, yeah, that's good. It is how the boy goes back, and he says, treat me like a hired servant, in verse 11. And, no, that must be, I don't know what verse it is, verse 19, and the boy's prepared speech is, I'm no longer worthy to be a son, just treat me like a hired servant. And, but the dad begins to order the servants to bring all sorts of things, includes the best robe, bring quickly the best robe and put it on him, put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. By the way, having shoes on the feet indicated the difference between a son and just a hired servant who ran around barefoot.

But the son had shoes, and the dad didn't want to receive him back as such a repented sinner that he's causing him to look like a servant only. But he orders for him to be dressed, that he is a complete son. And that's a picture of how God receives repented sinners and treats them as though they've never sinned and accepts them with a full heart. And the older brother didn't really understand this. When he complains to his father, the father has to tell him, you know, of his joy. And the whole point of Jesus telling this is that the Pharisees were complaining at Jesus for being friendly and seeming to have his first priority to spend time with the lost. And the whole point of these three parables of lostness and the person who is suffering the lost, whether it be a farmer and a sheep has gone astray, or whether it be a woman who's lost one of her precious coins, goes on looking until they find, until he finds it. And you can't help but noticing where the centre of a person's heart is when you see what they always go back to be doing. And here this description of the father is where his heart is. And in the storyline, when it comes to the prodigal son, the storyline is that the son has been keen on his father's house and on the inheritance and on having parties. But he doesn't notice the father's heart, or he wouldn't be such a cool, cold, cold would be a better word, person to see that father watching every day the road the younger brother had walked off on. And waiting for the moment to come.

I don't think you understand when you're younger, how fathers feel. But fathers have great love for their kids. And when one of them is lost, there's nothing that means more to them than watching and waiting, praying that the son will be found, that he'll come back again. And that was what that father had displayed to the older brother all the time, but the silly fellow didn't really see it. Or else he didn't care, that would be even worse. And when the boy comes back again, if he really had been sharing his father's heart, not just his father's hope of inheritance, or his father's house. If he'd been sharing the father's heart, he would have had a different atmosphere about him, he would have recognized the priority of a father like that is always to be wanting the lost one to come. Why did Jesus tell the story? Because those Pharisees who had charge of Israel were very much enamoured by their place of leadership in the Israelite race and in the religion and the temple and all those things. But they did not share the father's heart for the lost. That's what the story is all about. Now one of the things we've been learning in the morning services about the Sermon on the Mount. A lot of things I won't repeat now.

Come next Sunday morning you get the next of the, what they call them, Beatitudes. We'll do number four next time on Sunday morning. But one of the things that you can glide over and not notice in the storyline, let's go back to what is Matthew 5 and verses 1 to 3. You'd put it up before. We'll put that up on the screen and I want to show you something that you could glide over and most people do. Seeing the crowds. Now Jesus is dealing with the crowds a lot. It is because he shares the heart of the father for those not only in need because they may be sick or sorrowing some other way, but because they are lost. And another time that the miracle of Jesus where he feeds the thousands is where he had compassion on the crowds because they were lost. And that he was afraid they go home too hungry and too sugarless in their blood and faint on the way. They're out some a long distance away from resources. Jesus cared for the people. And you couldn't be a disciple of Jesus without being confronted by his heart. And so when he points out that these people need feeding and he says to Philip, you know, what will I do? What can we do for these people? Philip says we should send them away. They can go and get their own food basically. And Jesus replies and says, no, you feed them.

They don't have much to give but the little boy's lunch. But Jesus says you feed them because his heart is to feed the hungry. His heart is to find the lost. Now, when you read verse one, it is that the crowds are all coming to hear Jesus because of the miracles he's been doing and the teaching he's been giving. They're being a little bit unreasonable. They go out and say, what will we see today? And they don't take enough resources. And he knows that they're in danger of on the way home, not making about some mishap occurring. That's why he says they should be fed. But yet this is seeing the crowds. He went up on a mountain. What is going on? I'll tell you what is going on is that Jesus has an agenda, not only of ministering to the crowds and the healing and the teaching, which Matthew's gospel has been telling us. But he also has chosen who will be people working with him. He's chosen his team, the calling for who became the 12 disciples.

Later, they act as apostles and they're named apostles actually in Mark's version of Jesus calling them. He calls them and he names 12 to be apostles and tells them that he wants them to stay with him. He wants to train them. And that's been on his agenda, not only to speak to the crowds and do what was on his heart with regard to them, but he's been looking for opportunities to teach his disciples all about what he's on about, but at depth. And he actually had been asking them to come apart and be with him so he could have a chance to teach the disciples. He actually had a method of giving them triple doses, if you like, of his teaching. He'd get them alone or he'd get them talking about the miracle he did of the teaching he did to the crowds and get them to learn from it because his intention was not only to teach the crowds in a way to get the gospel across and its understanding, but he wanted particularly to teach the team that he'd recruited. That was part of his agenda for that day. But seeing the crowds on this early occasion, he had to do something to get away from the crowds. And he went up on a mountain. The disciples are following him. Maybe they said that he thinks we need the exercise.

I don't know what they thought. But when he sat down, and this morning I was making the point that the idea of sitting down was to take the pose that the rabbis had when they would teach authoritatively. And when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And what I was actually picturing is the fact that Jesus made time to give the special training to those who would be his inner team, Peter, James and John, who were ones who would go away and pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. And all of the 12 were to become apostles, except for Judas, who had a mishap, as you know. But Jesus deliberately went away from the crowds to have an opportunity for there to be training for his inner core. And we went on this morning about how he opened his mouth, and that was a way they had of saying that he started making authoritative teaching and statement. And he taught them saying. Now, something I didn't say this morning, and I thought I'd just drop it on you lot, so as to not miss out on getting it across.

But where you have another language, like Greek, that the New Testament's largely written in, there's things that you have to understand between the different ways that those varying languages get across their point. And in the Greek language, when it comes to the verbs, they're the doing words and being words. I kicked the dog or I patted the cat. We have both dog and cat. No, I don't kick the dog. But where you have a doing word, there's actually several forms for the verb to come in, the action word. And two of those are ones that are relevant here. One is called the aorist tense. A-O-R-I-S-T. The aorist tense is when you just want to express a completed action in the past. It's done and dusted, it was done and it's finished in the past. And, or the other one you can use is also a past tense. It's not the only one, there would be another I could tell you about, but I won't. But another one that's relevant here is called the imperfect tense.

Why imperfect? Because it's about an action that's ongoing. It's in the past, but it's about an action that's either talking about something that's continuous, or something that is going to be repeated, or it could be something that is a habit. And if you had a habit, now I might say to distinguish the aorist, the first one I talked about, as if I locked, I turned the key off and slammed the door. I would have to write that in the aorist tense. Because I finished it and the car stays locked, I don't have to worry about it rolling away. But if I made a mistake and put it into the imperfect, it would be like saying, I have a habit of locking the car. I might have forgotten that occasion. It might run off on me if it's on a hill. And the imperfect tense has the idea of the continuity of the action in the past.

It could be about a habit, that you're always repeating doing it, or it could be about the fact that it's going on being done, but it's in the past. Now in verse 2 where it says he opened his mouth and he taught them saying, the opening his mouth is straightforward, in the event he did it, he opened his mouth, and that was a way that they indicated some authoritative speech, and then it says and taught them saying, but the and taught them is in the imperfect tense, meaning that it's about something he either has a habit of doing, or that he started doing and hasn't finished and it's an ongoing action. And these beatitudes are all about how he had a habit of doing, of saying, and one of the things we're talking about this morning was the fact that it wasn't just one occasion where Jesus said these things, but it is that this is the essence of his teaching that he kept on saying.

There was the original occasion up at the top of the mount where he said the lot I believe, but also you'll find, and what we did this morning was how these statements all turn up in Luke, in varied places, and they're in different contexts, and you just have to recognise that Jesus is an itinerant speaker, and he would be repeating himself many times, and sometimes mixing the passages. And of the number of verses that's in Matthew, some of them are in one bulk spot in Luke, but not all, just some of them. And you can't resist the interpretation that Jesus said these things, many things. And when in the tense that I was talking about, not the aorist, but the imperfect, he taught them saying it is in that continuous or repetitive or habitual idea, that he had a habit of teaching these things. Now I've been looking through the commentaries as to exactly how, I've never really noticed these things before to be honest with you, from the passage, but you look for things in Jesus that he keeps on repeating, and when you get Luke 15, which is another spot in the Bible, the New Testament, but you have three parables, and something's in all three of them that is a repetitive idea.

It's one of the things that's important to Jesus, he's always going to be doing when he's teaching them. And this is the sort of thing that you do if you've got people who are going to be leaders in the future. Some people writing up in the commentaries say it's really an ordination training, ordination meaning when someone offers to go into the ministry and get sent off to get some very intensive training, that they might know what to say, training from Jesus. And I've been making the point recently that you shouldn't let yourself think you're ready to do ministry if you've never taken on board that you should let Jesus disciple you first. It doesn't have to be in a theological college, but it might be. And who knows whether, and this thought came across my mind coming to this sermon, especially this morning getting on to it, that there might well be someone, and why I want to repeat some of it tonight is because it might be you. That Jesus wants you to go to the theological college or to specialist training before you set out and try and be a minister or someone who's going to be a missionary or someone who does special work.

You might be someone thinking of becoming one of the chaplains that they're always calling out for. But if you went and all you had is your enthusiasm and all you had was your personality and all you had was your ideas which are often just the default ideas from the background you've come, you're actually going too early. You need to be trained. You need to go up to the top of the mountain with Jesus and let him sit down, and we were talking this morning about how that's creating a scene of authoritative teaching like the Roman Catholics talk about the Pope talking ex cathedra, that means from his chair. And the rabbis back then when they really wanted to say something authoritative would sit down, and that's why it says, when he sat down his disciples came to him, they'd been following up the hill, but now they see Jesus ready to give this intensive training and they're prepared to say, yeah, I will listen, I'll volunteer for that being trained. And who knows whether, I don't know, if it's not someone here that God has been pressing my heart to say these sermons because he wants you to hear the message, he wants you to volunteer for the training that will let you be a person that knows what to do.

Well, he opened his mouth and he taught them, saying, blessed are the poor in spirit, he goes on in the storyline. But we're looking at the fact of in Luke 15 and the three stories that are there, Jesus repeating the idea, but the very sad thing about that older brother, like the Pharisees who were annoying Jesus at the start of the Luke 15 episode, criticising him for spending time with sinners, they didn't understand. Jesus' heart is always for the lost. You can't talk him out of it, no matter how the Pharisees would have liked to have Jesus come and join their club and have their attitudes. He had a heart for the lost. And the tragedy of that 15th chapter of Luke is the fact that there are people who want to share the Father's house, get involved in religious things, be involved with scripture union, go and train yourself up at SMAD and some of the things that are involved with the use of the performing arts, good it is, but if your love is just for the Father's house or the Father's things that you get from being a church person but you haven't been a person that's shared his heart, then you're the person he also wants to talk to.

Don't just love the Father's house and miss understanding the Father's heart because the Father's heart is always watching for the prodigal son that will come back. That's my message tonight. I hope you don't find that too confronting. Part of me wants you, if you've never understood this, to be confronted with what Jesus wants of you is to share his heart, not just his house. Let's pray.

Heavenly Father, I do thank you for the prodigal son story. I thank you for all the little lessons we can learn about the lost coin. She kept searching until she found it. For the lost sheep, he left the 99 and kept searching until he found it. He put it across his shoulders. And what they used to do back then if they had a rebellious sheep who'd rather objected to the process, they sometimes broke their front legs so they couldn't walk. They had to get carried. They'd take them home and let the leg heal, but heal getting to know that the shepherd loves them. Oh, Father, we give you permission to work on us, to do whatever's necessary for us to understand that your intention is to share your heart with us and to call us into that part of it that is appropriate. Lord, we all have different gifts, different purposes, but whatever they be, we pray, Heavenly Father, that we may join in sharing your heart. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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