A sermon for Christ Church Healey
Last weeks Gospel saw Jesus showing the disciples what trusting and believing in him could look like. The experienced fishermen were exhausted from fishing all night and having no fish to show from their efforts. They were really sure that casting their nets out again would be fruitless, however Peter decided to trust Jesus and throw out the nets again. To their surprise their catch of fish was extraordinary and Peter was convinced that Jesus was the man to follow.
This week we hear Jesus gathering His chosen twelve disciples and beginning to teach them. They weren’t alone though, people in the areas around who had heard about Jesus’ healings and miracles gathered to listen to Him. It says in the Gospel that people were trying to touch Him because they knew that great power came from Him.
In the midst of all this hubbub Jesus began to teach His beatitudes, blessings and woes that make a mockery of the world’s values, they exalt what the world despises and reject what the world admires.
Now I can imagine you all thinking, yes we’ve heard these words before, blessed are the poor etc we know we know, rich bad, poor good, but what does that really mean for me right here now?
Have these statements of Jesus just become a few words that we rattle off like the Lord’s Prayer, I can understand how a load of people stood on a dusty hill could find these things useful but are they even relevant today?
Let’s have a look and decide for ourselves:
Blessed are those who are not certain of themselves or built up on human ego, who rely on God for comfort and provision. They do not have everything they need from possessions or comfortable wealth.
Blessed are those who are hungry for the bread from heaven, for the living water that Jesus provides, those who trust in the Lord and those who’s trust is the Lord
Blessed are those who cry because of the evil that is happening in the world, who weep for the hungry children because their families are struggling to make ends meet. The people who feel sadness for the state of the environment, the people who weep for the children and families who are victims of knife crime.
Blessed are those who face trouble, face a bumpy ride, face being excluded from the mainstream world because they follow Jesus. rejoice in this and leap for joy because that is what happened to the prophets.
Now for the woes, an expression of regret and compassion not threat:
How terrible that you are rich because you have received your consolation and cannot see the glorious provision of God.
How terrible that you are full and satisfied now by the work of your own hands, that you have everything and require nothing else, that you have no need for God because you can provide security and comfort yourselves, yet you will be hungry for your soul yearns to be united with God.
How terrible for those who can laugh now, who are carefree and content with their possessions and goods, who can feel relieved that they do not struggle like others, for when the shallowness of this satisfaction dries up, it will be filled with remorseful tears.
How terrible that everyone speaks well of you all the time, who glide from one group of people to another, for prophets are uncomfortable to be around and ask questions that others do not, they speak truth to power and this upsets the comfortable.
Can we see how these words of Jesus are so relevant for us today?
These beatitudes are not a political party broadcast, they are not meant to favour one class of people or another, they are not meant to be wielded by people who have their own agenda, they are to teach the disciples, us, what it looks like to follow Jesus and enter the narrow gate into His kingdom.
It is to open up the eyes and minds of all the people listening that living and this world is bigger than you and me, that it is about being a community who calls upon and relies on God.
If we go back to last weeks Gospel story that I started with this morning, Peter was very sure in himself and in his knowledge as a fisherman that there was no point in casting the nets out again.
Let’s investigate Peter’s reaction to Jesus asking Him to cast out the net with the message we have heard from the woes,
In Peter’s mind he had a right to question Jesus:
1) Peter was rich in his own provision of knowledge,
2) he wasn’t hungry for anymore knowledge because he knew everything he needed to know about fishing,
3) he was probably laughing inside of himself when casting out that net because he knew it was pointless,
4) He was looking forward to being proven right and the other fishermen praising his knowledge instead of Jesus.
When those fish came into the boat squirming and breaking the nets he fell to his knees in repentance for trusting in only himself. Then he was blessed.
1) he knew he needed to rely on Jesus because he had knowledge that only he could provide
2) he was hungry to know more about Jesus and what that meant for the world around him
3) he weeped for his misjudgment but then was overjoyed in Jesus’ grace
4) he left everything behind which would have caused some upset and aggravation towards him, that Peter guy must be mad!
After the beatitudes Jesus moves onto teaching about love, we can see that the conversion of the heart comes with the conversion of the mind. When our minds are opened to the ways and blessings of God our hearts respond.
This is my last sermon here with you all as I am leaving and moving to another placement. My prayer for you all is that you keep eyes fixed on Jesus, because he will tell you to do things that you might think are crazy ideas, but like the disciples you are blessed, you are hungry, you are poor, you weep and you are insulted, but rejoice and leap because the kingdom of God is near and your reward is great in heaven.