12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 10: 26-33
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable to you O Lord, our God and our Creator.
I want to start by being honest with you all; when I first sat down and read the Gospel today in preparation for writing this sermon I was a little perplexed. At face value the words were rather challenging and a little cryptic and I was at a loss for a focus, something that usually comes quickly to me. So I had to take a little while and really sit and stew over the words of Christ.
As I did this my mind wondered (a little off task in some ways) to my Dominican heritage. There’s a book that many of us Dominicans would have read called “The New Wine of Dominican Spirituality” and in these pages the Gospel and the Dominican approach to it is likened to wine and the process of drinking and becoming drunk (metaphorically of course). I realised that as I sat and thought about the Gospel I was actually doing what we’re called to do as Dominicans. Like a connoisseur of fine wine I was taking my time to let the tastes fully develop, to let the wine of the gospel breath; and I have to say that I am glad that I did. As I sat and read over the passage and contemplated its words the full bloom of the passages bouquet was opened to my senses.
I thought this was something worth sharing as I’ve known many people who are put off reading the Bible by the conception that it’s a musty, cryptic book that takes a lifetime to understand at even a basic level. However, nothing can be further from the truth! The Bible is as easy to consume as a bottle of wine; all we need to do is pull the cork and invite our friend the Holy Spirit to share it with us. If we do this the words of the scriptures will open before us and we can all become drunk with the Word.
So as I sat imbibing the drink of the Gospel it became apparent to me that today’s Gospel reading is extremely relevant for not only the Christian world, but the entirety of humanity at this time. The reading starts with Christ telling His Apostles not to fear; who are they not to fear? The reading simply says “them”. If we explore back into the preceding passages we see that Christ is speaking about those who would persecute the Apostles. Christ is adamant that we should not fear those who persecute us.
It seems that every time I turn on the television or read a news article I’m reading fresh tales of war, famine and persecution. It’s hard in these days of terror not to become afraid; images of bombings, stabbings, beheadings and even crucifixions adorn our media portals. However, Jesus wants us all to know that we don’t need to be afraid; it seems like a big ask doesn’t it; don’t be afraid when there’s an unending barrage of hate and terror presented to us? Nevertheless, Jesus offers the disciples some advice to combat this fear and terror and I think that it applies to us just as well as it did to those in the times of Christ.
Jesus points out to His Disciples that though they may face persecution and harm, maybe even death, these things are not final. The woes of this world can only impact upon our physical bodies; no persecutor has the ability to diminish or destroy our soul that power only rests with Him who created it. For this reason Jesus tells us that the only being we should fear is our Father in Heaven. If we breach the laws of the Gospel and fall short of the mark it is only He who can respect our rejection of His love by denying us eternal grace in Heaven. In contrast to this, if we accept the love of God in our lives then God will reward us abundantly with an eternity in His presence.
So you may be left wondering what prompted this discussion about fear between Jesus and the Disciples and how persecution factored into that. If we examine the exchange in the reading we can see that Christ is talking to the Apostles about spreading the message of salvation, He tells them that whatever they have heard they must tell to others and that if they don’t deny God’s message He will not deny them before God. And so it is with all of us, we are all called to not be afraid and to boldly spread the message of salvation that we have heard.
It can be confronting to think that we are all called to bring others to Christ, to open the paths to Salvation but when you read the scriptures there is really no way to avoid it. So let me ask, what are you doing to spread the message of Christ to others? When I’ve spoken about this with people they often say things like “oh nothing, I don’t know my Bible well enough” or “I can speak to people about Church they’ll think I’m a Bible Basher”. But the first step in bringing others to Christ is being an example to them. Right now you could all be, relaxing, enjoying a lazy Sunday, reading the paper and having a Cuppa, but instead you’re here, reading this sermon and that will have an impact on your actions throughout the week I am sure.
Don’t be afraid to get involved in the good works already happening in your community and equip yourself with knowledge to help you face the harsh realities of life and to be ready to fulfil your divine purpose on earth. It is my prayer that throughout the coming week you may all be strengthened by the Spirit that God may bind up your wounds and heal you so that you can begin the process of becoming that which he created you to be; that you can boldly go forward, unafraid and proclaim Christ and his Salvation.
Let us pray:
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading 1 :IS 49 :1=6
R psalm : PS 139: 1B=3,13=14AB,14C=15
Reading 2: ACTS 13:22=26
Holy Gospel: LK 1:57=66,80
Today, we as a church come together to commemorate the birth of St John the Baptist, often called the ‘Forerunner’.
John was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that Zechariah was told beforehand about the birth, and that he was to be named John. The name John means “God is Gracious” (LK 1 :8=2:3).
John whilst still within his mother’s womb, instantly recognised the presence of Our Lord Jesus, who was also still in his mother’s womb, when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth (LK 1 :41). John lept for joy in Elizabeth’s womb as soon as Mary and Elizabeth met, and this is when John was cleansed of original sin. This came to pass just as the Angel Gabriel had previously promised Zechariah in LK 1 :15.
When John was older, he left the home of his parents and went to live his life in the desert. He wore only a garment made of camel skin and only had Locusts and wild honey to eat. John would preach in the desert (MK 1:6; Matt 3:4).
John went about preaching and proclaiming about the Kingdom of God and of a time of coming judgement. He invited those who wanted to repent, to accept him to baptise them as a sign of their repentance.
John, just like the prophets, disturbed the comfortable and gave much comfort to the disturbed. The message of John spread far and wide. The Gospel of Mark tells us that all peoples of both Jerusalem and Judea travelled to him and confessed their sins as John baptised them in the river Jordan (MK 1:5).
John clearly shows his humility because he never wanted attention for himself, he always directed people to Jesus. Some wondered if John was the Messiah, but John reassured them that indeed he wasn’t and he declared that his ministry was merely for to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. John said, “I have baptised you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (MK 1:8)
Then Jesus himself came to John to be baptised and John immediately recognised Jesus as the Messiah and he declared, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. (JN 1 :29). This statement from John is still used in Mass prayer today, when the Priest holds up the sacred Host as we prepare for the Holy Eucharist, as the Priest says, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…”.
It was after being baptised by John, that our Lord Jesus began his Earthly ministry. When John had been baptised by John, John again showed his humility as again, he turned his attention to Jesus, declaring, “He must increase, I must decrease”(JN 3:30).
St John the Baptist is an excellent example that we as Christians should take much notice of within our lives of faith. Just as John always showed his humility by turning his attention away from himself and towards our Lord Jesus, we too, also need to show this same humility if we are truly to serve and follow the Lord. We also, must turn attention away from ourselves and towards Jesus. Just as John himself declared, “He must increase, I must decrease”.
Let us pray:
O glorious St John the Baptist, greatest prophet among those born of woman, although you were sanctified in your mother’s womb and lived a most innocent life, nevertheless, it was your will to live in the wilderness of the desert, there to devote yourself to the practice of austerity, penance and humility;
Obtain for us by your intercession, the grace of the Lord to be wholly detached within our hearts, from earthly goods and self attention. Increasing our humility and service, by making ourselves far lesser and in the never ending increasing, to be ever greater within our hearts and lives.
This Sunday we celebrate the great feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. For Catholics, both Roman and Independent, this Sunday is a feast that celebrates a great spiritual mystery and reality: that the bread and wine of the Eucharist became fully and truly the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is in this gift of the Eucharist that our Lord Jesus truly gives Himself to us, drawing us in to Himself and bringing us together with our brothers and sisters. St. Paschasius Radbertus, a 9th century theologian and abbot, wrestled with the concept of the Eucharist and what it really means in our lives. He says that the gift of the Eucharist allows Christ to more fully dwell in us: “If the Word had become flesh, and we truly consume the Word as flesh in the Lord’s food, how can it not be justly judged that He dwells in us by His nature.” As we regularly participate in the Mass and receive the great gift of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we are transformed by His dwelling within us.
In our world today, we tend to lean toward materialism, believing only what we can experience with our senses. In this case, our senses tell us that it is not the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ that we receive in this great mystery. Rather, our senses tell us, it is mere bread and wine. In our Gospel passage for this great feast, we see Jesus give a more concrete understanding of what it means to have salvation. He said to the people: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” What a detestable thought to people with such strict dietary laws and practices which forbid the drinking of blood, and here was this man saying that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life! As some of the disciples started to walk away and leave Him, Jesus doubles down, and tells the apostles, His dearest followers, that they can leave too if they’d like. If this was meant as mere symbol or conjecture, He would not have allowed His followers to walk away so easily. Instead of stopping them, He adjures them all the more: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
What a gift this is! The Lord of all creation gives Himself into our hands, at the hands of the priest, to be consumed by us that we might take Him into ourselves and be transformed by Him. What a precious gift!
I urge you, the next time you partake of the Eucharist, to say a prayer asking Jesus to more fully come into your being, and to TRANSFORM you. Transform you into all that you can be in His name, in His person, in His Body and Blood which is within you. As we dwell in the Lord, so too does He dwell in us. Let us not look to materialism, but to Our Lord, who is the source and fount of all life and salvation.
What is the Trinity and why is it important?
As a former youth minister I was always talking about rules. Things the youth group could and couldn’t do, where they could and couldn’t go in the church, and any time we did an overnighter at the church or with the Diocese we would have the students sign a covenant. In this covenant there is a list of rules that the youth must agree to in order to be able to participate. In a sense as members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church we have a list of covenants that we agree to in order to be part of this particular body of believers.
We are reminded of this covenant every Sunday when we say the Creed and we renew this covenant several times a year when a new member is baptized. We renew this covenant by saying the creed, and despite all of this happening in every almost every church across the country I have found an increasing number of members of certain Christian Denominations that are flat out denying some of the most basic fundamentals of Christianity, and what’s even more alarming is some of these people are our priests and bishops.
This week I was on the Episcopalians on Facebook page on Facebook where I saw a member say that she has to cross her fingers every time she says the creed, in the same group several days later many of the members were promoting reincarnation as an idea that is completely compatible with Christianity. When I questioned them and offered scripture to counter their ideas I was accused of being a fundamentalist.
Last year when I wrote my Trinity Sunday sermon it was in response to my post on the fact that I was preaching on Trinity Sunday. It was a reply with a link to an article. This article was written by a Christian, but a Christian who did not believe in the trinity, and at the end of the article, the author posed the question: why in the modern day church should we believe in a doctrine that does not make sense and has no bearing on how we live our lives as Christians, and most importantly, how we take the words of Jesus out into the world? Well that’s a good question; why do we need to believe in the trinity? Does it really matter?
More and more in the Church I am finding that I have to defend the doctrine of the Trinity and answer the question of is the doctrine of the trinity essential to what we believe as Christians?
In the book Episcopal Questions, Episcopal Answers: Exploring Christian Faith, Ian Markham the Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary and C.K Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church answers this very question. They Ask Why Do Episcopalians (and all Christians really) believe in the Trinity? The answer: Belief in the Trinity is a defining characteristic of all Christians. There might be moments when an individual Christian struggles with the doctrine, but the faith of the church remains resolutely Trinitarian.
Today we mark the celebration of the Holy Trinity. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. But what is the Trinity? Is it a symbolic reference? Is it an outdated or unnecessary doctrine that we hang onto because we are a people who love our tradition, and that’s what our parents believed so that that’s what we are going to believe? The answer to all those questions is NO.
From the beginning of the New Testament Church, and the celebration of Pentecost, there has been much misunderstanding surrounding the Trinity. This is in part because of the fact that the word Trinity does not appear anywhere in scripture. However, that does not mean that the early church did not believe or teach that the trinity was real. All throughout the scriptures we see the Trinity being spoken of, from the very beginning of the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation we see the Trinity, the three persons who make up the Trinity, their specific functions and their personalities, all of these are given to us in scripture. Because of this, it is safe to assume that when the church was born on Pentecost, and they started to live out their call as Christians, the doctrine of the Trinity was being taught.
However very early on there was a group of people who did not understand the Trinity for what it was and tried to explain it away in terms of what they could understand and comprehend, these people were known as Arians, and this became known as the Arian Heresy.
Arianism is a nontrinitarian Christian belief that asserts that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is entirely distinct from and subordinate to the God the Father. Arianism is defined as those teachings attributed to Arius, which are in opposition to current mainstream Christian teachings on the nature of the Trinity and the nature of Christ. It was first attributed to Arius (c. AD 250–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt. The Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist, but was created by—and is therefore distinct from—God the Father. This belief is grounded in the Gospel of John (14:28) passage: “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”
The Arians hold to that one scripture to define what they believe, completely ignoring the rest of the scriptures that affirm the Trinity. To address this, there were two ecumenical councils that were held to clear up any questions that the early church had in regards to the trinity. The first ecumenical council that was held in 321 at Nicaea and the second was subsequently held in Constantinople. From these two councils we have the creed that we say today affirming our belief in the Trinity.
So what is the Trinity?
To answer that, I would like to use a quote from the Didache. The Didache is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century. It was the very first ever catechism, and in it the early church was given the following instructions:
“After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. . . . If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”
Simply put the Trinity is the The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, week after week we are also reminded of what the trinity is when we recite the Nicene Creed.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The Trinity three distinct beings yet one in essence. This past week I was speaking to an Anglican Dominican of the very subject of the Trinity, and he reminded me of Saint Augustine’s defense of the Trinity, which is that:
All persons that we know of are, or are at least describable in terms of, fundamentally relational in a Trinitarian way. As human beings we have a primordial seat of awareness which is in some sense immediate and pre-conceptual, a conceptual awareness of and picture of ourselves as situated in the world (what you might call a logos) and a sense of relation between the two. Critically, all of these elements of our being share in a single consciousness, although they might be considered to be, at least conceptually speaking, separate modules or modes thereof.
Or to put it in my terms, we are all trinities. We all have a body, soul and spirit. Each of those three parts serve a different purpose, yet they are all one in the same. I like to use this example when people say that the trinity cannot exist because three beings cannot occupy the same place simultaneously, while they are correct in the physical sense, they are incorrect in the spiritual, and the human trinity is a great example of that.
Why is the Trinity important?
Some could and do argue that the belief in the Trinity is not necessary… that is more important to reveal the teachings of Jesus, and to make sure we don’t force our doctrinal beliefs on others, because it might offend them, and while they may be correct that it might offend people that we have that belief, especially in the Muslim community, as they believe that we are polytheistic because we believe in the Trinity, I would argue that to deny the Trinity is to deny the very essence of God. If it were not important, we would not see the Trinity all throughout scripture, we would not see Jesus teaching and Paul reaffirming it. The doctrine of the Trinity is the very fundamental basics of what we believe as Christians. But with that being said, if one does not grasp the trinity that does not mean that they are any less of a Christian than you or I, it just means that they have not yet received the grace yet to understand it.
Biblical Proof for the Trinity.
In Bible school we were always taught that in order to make a strong case for our argument, that we need to give scriptural proof, as a matter of fact in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he instructs us that it is in the testimony of two or three witnesses that truth is established. Earlier I spoke of how scripture is filled with references to the Trinity, so I am going to share some of those with you.
Genesis 1:26 26 Then God said, o“Let us make man8 in our image, pafter our likeness. And qlet them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Genesis 3:22 22 Then the Lord God said, q“Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand rand take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”
Genesis 11:7 7 Come, dlet us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Isaiah 46:18 16 yDraw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret,
from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now zthe Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.
Matthew 3:16-17 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, othe heavens were opened to him,2 and he psaw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, qa voice from heaven said, r“This is my beloved Son,3 with whom I am well pleased.”
I was reading a text for my course work last week, Christianity: An Introduction and the author was talking about the Trinity and he said, “ At one level, the doctrine emphasizes the sheer immensity of God. There is no way that the fallen and finite human mind is going to be able to comprehend the fullness of God. At another, it provides a framework both for making sense of, and deepening the quality of Christian worship. Christians pray to the father through the son in the Holy Spirit.” I believe this gives us the best understanding of how and why the Trinity is important.
For those of you who have never struggled with this doctrine, I hope that this sermon has been a great reflection for you. I hope that it has been a way for you to renew your faith. For those of you who have struggled or are struggling with this doctrine, rest assured you are loved and cherished by God just as much as anyone. We as the church are here to walk with you in your moments of doubt. We have all been there at some point in our lives on some issue. To me these struggles are the very foundation of who we are as Christians. The Trinity is a great mystery, no one really knows the ins and outs, we can do our best as ministers to provide a road map of how we think the Trinity functions. Much like many things in the church, the belief in the Trinity takes faith. We must place our faith in the teachings of the early church fathers, we must place our faith in the words of the scriptures that try and shed light on the subject, and sometimes we lack the faith necessary to believe. We have doubts on the hows and whys. But I have found that when we have the doubts, and with an open heart, and an open mind, we approach something that we don’t understand, that once we understand it, once we grasp that concept that we struggled with, we come out on the other end firmly believing it.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal
Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in
Trinity of Persons: Give us grace to continue steadfast in the
confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign, one God,
now and for ever. Amen.
Reading 1: ZEP 3:14=18A or ROM 12:9=16
R psalm: ISAIAH 12:2=3,4BCD,5=6
GOSPEL: LK1:39=56 (NABRE)
Mary set out and travelled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
If we picture the scene in today’s Holy Gospel reading, we find great joy. Great joy because Mary who was carrying the Lord inside of her, went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also expecting John the Baptist. Joy because the Unborn John the Baptist leapt for joy when Mary arrived, because John knew it was the Lord inside Mary’s womb. Mary was puzzled but no doubt was rejoicing to be chosen as the earthly mother of our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus.
I can almost imagine this scene in my mind. How wonderful it truly must’ve been.
But just as John leapt for joy as he knew that our Saviour was within Mary, We also can have a share of this rejoicing.
Although we don’t have our Lord physically inside us the same way that the Blessed Virgin Mary did, we like the Unborn John the Baptist, can leap for joy as we indeed know that the Lord our Saviour is inside of us as Spirit, and that we are also inside of Jesus. We are one body in the Lord, so just like John, Mary and Elizabeth, we who truly love and follow Jesus within our hearts and lives, should leap with joy and rejoicing knowing the Lord is ever present to us.
How wonderful it is that we get to share in such joy!
Let us pray:
Wonderful Lord, on this the Feast of of Mary`s visit with Elizabeth, we are reminded that you are a God of joy and that you always fulfill your promises. We ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for us when we feel discouraged, so that our souls may always magnify you, Our Lord. May Mother Mary remind us of your premises and your faithfulness when difficulties of life cover us with darkness. Give us a spirit that rejoices in you, Our Saviour, for all the great things that you have done for us and will continue to bestow upon us, simply because you love us.
We thank and praise you for all you have done and also for all that you will do.
Blessed Mary, pray for us.
There is a lot in a name. A name holds the essence of the person, said the ancient philosophers, and can affect many things. A name can evoke fear: “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself” (Hermione Granger, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone). A name can evoke feelings of pride or honor: “She was the bravest person I ever knew” (Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird). A name identifies us: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:23). A name draws us into community within a family.
The change of a name can hold significant meaning. For centuries and in countless texts, change of a name usually indicates a change in mission, in outlook, in journey; it symbolizes something that is new in the person while acknowledging all that has come before. In Scripture, Jesus changes the name of Simon, a humble fisherman disciple, to Peter because, He says, “on this rock [petrus or Peter] I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18). The change of Peter’s name changed his mission, his outlook, his journey. He was now the rock on which the Church was to be built, all the while not forgetting who he was as a fisherman along the shores of the Sea of Galilee not long before.
In our Gospel reading for this 7th Sunday of Easter, we hear Jesus pray these words:
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.”
Jesus tells the Father that He has revealed His name to those whom He called. He reveals the name of God to the disciples, to all of us throughout the centuries who have called upon His name and have desired to follow after Him. He has revealed, in a sense, God’s very self, in revealing His name, in giving us the words that He has to give to us.
What is it about this name? What is it that has made kings fall to their knees and the most raucous grow silent? What is it about the One who created the heavens and the earth, and who formed us in our mother’s womb? What is it about this name? In revealing the name of God, Jesus reveals God’s true desire: to live in relationship with us. What a beautiful thought! That the Lord of all creation, the all-powerful and ever-living God, desires us to know His NAME. He desire us to know His name that He might teach us about who He is, that we might know Him, and grow closer to Him day by day. He reveals to us His name, so that we might love Him, trust in Him, and keep His commandments. This is not found in the name of Buddha, or in the name of Mohammed, or the name of Bahaullah, but in the name of the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “I AM WHO AM,” the Creator of the world.
The Lord of all creation reveals His name to us. In our modern day, it is hard for us to reveal even the most minute piece of ourselves to anyone else, for fear of judgment, condemnation, to be labelled as a “fanatic,” a “liberal,” a “conservative,” a “broken person,” “unworthy.” In the midst of this, Jesus reveals to us the most intimate thing about God that He can, His name. Let us this day open ourselves to the Father, who reveals His name to us, that we might draw closer to Him. Let us show Him all that we are, all of our sins and failures, and let us allow Him to heal us, to cleanse us, to raise us up to live and love in His name.
Let us pray.
I am scared of revealing myself. I am worried that if I let a piece of myself be seen and known, that I might be ridiculed or that I might be hurt. Father, help me to open up to You, who have revealed Your name, Your very self, to me. Help me to enter into relationship with You, to love You, and to glory in Your presence. Then, help me to draw closer to others that I might join them in the saving work of the Gospel mission.
In the name of Jesus,
In the Name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
In the Scriptures, the word Hope is used over 200 times. But hope in the Bible is not the same as the word “hope” in our modern English dictionary. We use the word “hope” to describe our wants, desires and dreams. We hope that it will rain… We hope that the weather cools off soon… We hope this soon to be Deacon isn’t longwinded today! But as Christians we have another kind of hope. In fact, we have a better kind of hope. The hope that I speak of is not wishful thinking, rather it is a firm assurance of things to come. Hope is faith in the future tense. When faith looks to the future, it’s called hope.
The reason that we can have full assurance of what is to come, is because of the source of our hope. Our hope comes from the Lord. God alone has the right to promise hope and the power to keep the promise. I would like to take some time today and examine the hope that we possess in Christ and preach on “Hopes of the Christian.”
There are many things that we can have full assurance thanks to our relationship with Christ. I would like to start in verse 1 and see that as Christians:
- WE HAVE THE HOPE OF A REFUGE – v1
A refuge is a place of shelter, a place of protection, a place that we can run when the storms of life begin to rage. This was exactly what the Lord’s disciples needed at this very moment in their lives. In the previous chapter, Jesus told them that He would soon die. They also learned that one of them (Judas) would betray Christ. Peter was told that he would deny Jesus 3 times before the rooster crowed. Their lives had just taken a devastating turn and their hearts were greatly troubled.
Jesus knew how devastated they were and He was concerned about their “troubled hearts”. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me”. He spoke words of comfort to them and He encouraged them to trust in Him.
In this life, we will face times of great trouble. Problems will come and as a result we will possess “troubled hearts”. Maybe you are at that point as we speak. I want to remind you of the hope you possess as a child of God. You have a refuge… When trouble comes…TURN TO JESUS!
Jesus made it clear that His followers would face trouble. But HE also reminds us that HE has the power over any circumstance that we face. John 16:33 “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. If you heart is troubled today… you have a refuge and His name is Jesus!
Not only do we have the hope of a refuge… Jesus tells us in verse 2 that:
- WE HAVE THE HOPE OF A RESIDENCE – v2 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.”
Though the Disciples were facing the toughest time of their lives, Jesus promised them of a better day and a better place. As His followers, we can cling to that same promise today. We are given a glimpse into that residence in Revelation 21. There we are told of Golden streets, Jasper walls, Gates of pearl and a crystal river. The foundation of that city is made up of precious gemstones.
The beauty of our Heavenly Home is literally indescribable. Our finite minds cannot comprehend the brief glimpse of this place provided in the scriptures. The indescribable beauty of Heaven is summed up in the story of A little girl who was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed; “Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!” (Source: Charles L. Allen in Home Fires.)
Dear brothers and sisters, you may live in a home that creaks and leaks, rust and rot may have taken its toll, but you can rest assured that there is a home waiting for you on the other side!
Some of you may never own a home of your own in this life, but if you have been born again, YOU HOLD A CLEAR TITLE TO A MANSION! No landlord will ever bother you for the rent. There will be no mortgage to pay and no one will ever foreclose on the home that is waiting for you. The Bible also tells us that we have the hope of rest in the residence that is waiting for us. Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” What is not going to be in that land is just as exciting as what is going to be there!
I am looking forward to that wonderful residence that Jesus has waiting for us in Heaven. Jesus also tells us in verse 1 that:
III. WE HAVE THE HOPE OF REDEMPTION – v2 “I go to prepare a place for you.”
This is one of the most popular passages of scripture in the Bible, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. Jesus was not telling His followers that He was going to “build them a mansion”. He just asserted the fact that the mansions are already there. “In my Father’s house ARE many mansions” We are also told in scripture that when Jesus ascended, He SAT DOWN in His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. Hebrews 1:3 “When he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
When Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place” He was saying I am going to make a way for you. He was referencing the Cross. Our entrance into Heaven was secured by Christ on the Cross at Calvary. He was telling His disciples that HE was going to do what we could not do. Jesus went to Calvary, shed His blood and gave His life as a sacrifice for you and me. Because of His finished work there on the Cross we have the hope of redemption. Without redemption, we would not have hope of the residence or refuge that we have already considered.
– Also, seen in this verse is the fact that:
- WE HAVE THE HOPE OF A RELATIONSHIP – v3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.”
This is a very personal promise. Jesus was saying “what I am about to do, I am doing for you”. What He did for Peter, James, John, Andrew, Matthew and the others… HE DID FOR YOU!
– Luke 19:10 Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that He came “to seek and to save that which was lost”.
– Romans 5:8 also tells us that “God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.
Because of Jesus’ work on the Cross we have the blessed privilege of having a personal relationship with Almighty God. And we don’t have to wait for Heaven for this to occur. You can have a personal relationship with Jesus HERE and NOW! Those that have this relationship will tell you that there is nothing any sweeter than communing with the Savior of the World!
– We are also promised that there is coming a day when Jesus will return for His own. This means that:
- WE HAVE THE HOPE OF A RETURN – v3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.”
Jesus told His Disciples that though He may go away for a time, HE WILL COME AGAIN! Jesus has ascended…. He is in Heaven as we speak. But soon and very soon He will split the eastern sky and come for His Children. This is one of the most prominent promises in the Bible. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
As Christians, we are to be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
Jesus is coming back, this is not wishful thinking on our part, this is our hope… this is a firm assurance of things to come. And when Jesus returns there will be a great reunion. Consider:
- WE HAVE THE HOPE OF A REUNION – v3 “I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
There is going to be a reunion one day that is beyond anything we can imagine. All those heroes of the faith that we read about on the pages of God’s Word will be there. (Noah, Moses, Abraham, David, Elijah, John, Peter, Paul etc.)
Some of you have parents waiting for you there. Others have spouses who have already gone on. Some have children in that wonderful land. We all have family and friends that have already stepped out into eternity. We are assured that we will see them again and we long for that blessed reunion.
We are all excited about the beauty of Heaven, we are all excited about the residents of Heaven and we look forward to seeing loved ones who have gone on. But greater than the reunion with our loved ones is the fact that one day we will stand face to face with our Heavenly Father. Revelation 22:3 “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4 And they shall see his face.”
We will spend eternity in the presence of our Heavenly Father. On top of this fact, we are also longing for the day when our Savior wraps His arms around us and welcomes us to our eternal home. We will see our Savior face to face. We will see the scars on His brow, His hands and His feet. We will be reminded that He is the only reason that we made it to that place. On that day, we will shout for joy and we will humbly bow at His precious feet and we will worship Him for making a way for us to enter that promised land.
There is much hope for those who have been born again but for those who are lost, things are much different. Instead of hope, they are living in despair.
One of the most devastating things you will ever hear in this life is “there is no hope”. I am here to tell you, if you are not a child of God you have NO HOPE! You can claim none of the promises that we have examined today.
But I have good news, THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU, and that hope is only found in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! If you will surrender to Him and accept his offer of eternal life, then you too can have hope!
1) You can have the Hope of a Refuge
2) You can have the hope of a Residence
3) You can have the hope of Redemption
4) You can have the hope of a Return
5) You can have hope of a Reunion
These are just a few of the facts concerning “The Christian’s Hope”. I pray that you have that hope today. If not, pray now with me.
Oh Lord, for too long I have hoped for the wrong things in this life. I now put my hope fully in You. I hope for a refuge when life is rough, for redemption for all my sins, for your return that I may be taken with You, for a reunion with all those who I have loved and lost, and for a residence in Your Heavenly Kingdom. For all my sins Lord I am sorry. Forgive me Lord, forgive me. Create in me a clean heart oh Lord, and fill me with hope everlasting. Amen.