Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
It is not that this woman lost her only silver coin. She lost one of the ten silver coins she owned. The message here is that it was just as precious to her as the others, and she rejoiced with celebration when she found it. Apply that to God and us. Salvation is never treated casually in the kingdom of heaven. Each sinner who comes to repentance is rejoiced over with great joy. Imagine the party in heaven that day at Pentecost when 3000 were added to their number!!
Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
As I lthought about these verses, I realized that this is what Jesus did. He invited all of us – crippled, lame, blind, and poor – those who could never repay Him, those who could never hope to reach Him on our own. “Come”, He said, “Welcome to the banquet, welcome to the kingdom, welcome to abundant life.
Our thoughts, our prayers, our lives should be flooded and running over with gratefulness.
Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”
The Jews had been awaiting a Messiah for hundreds of years – one who would overthrow the Romans and establish a kingdom. Then comes Jesus, and he preaches that the kingdom of God is an attitude of the heart – repentance, changing one’s mind, turning from the darkness of sin to God.
Here, he explains the growth of the kingdom of God. It is not a military takeover or a sudden overthrow of the establishment. It starts small, and grows into something large and wonderful. How prophetic these words are, as Christianity began with twelve, and now only God can count the number, both here, and those gone before us.
This is a chapter of reassurance, confidence and love. Follow the progression with me.
vs. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennes: Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
***Not forgotten by God
vs. 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
***A man’s life is not the story of his wealth and possesions.
vs. 24 Consider the ravens; they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
***God feeds the birds. His Son died for us. How much more precious we are than birds.
vs. 29 & 30 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
***Our Father, the God of the Universe, knows our needs
vs. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
***Our Father, the God of the Universe, is pleased to give us the kingdom.
God values us, provides for our needs, and in the end, He is pleased to give us the kingdom.
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”
A blind person is unable to receive light through their eyes, so their world is dark, without color, form or shape. When we were without Christ it was the same. Our spiritual man was unable to receive the light of truth, and we were in darkness of sin. When Christ comes into our hearts through salvation, the darkness of sin is washed away, and the light of truth fills us with light from the inside out. Look at verse 36 again. If we are so lighted, we cannot help but draw others to Christ.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Notice the choice of words. It is not, “the one who helped him”, or “the one who called others to assist the man.” It is “the one who had mercy on him”. The Samaritan saw the wounded man’s need as greater than his own plans. Samaritans and Jews did not associate with each other, but he laid aside his prejudice to rescue a fellow human being from a situation where the wounded man could not rescue himself.
Are other people’s needs greater than our schedules, our prejudices, our plans?
Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” He replied, “You give the something to eat.” They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish – unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”
What makes this event amazing is that the disciples have just returned from a trip where they have been performing miraculous feats. (vs. 3-6). They went without provisions, totally dependent on God. He gave them power and authority. He provided for them. Faced with feeding the crowd, though, they don’t know what to do.
Aren’t we like this? God will answer a specific prayer in our lives, or provide for a specific need, and the next time there is a conflict or trial, we wonder what we will do. Perhaps we need to keep a record: a journal of sorts. Something that chronicles the wonderful things that God has done in our lives – answered prayers, needs provided, unexpected blessings. Then we can look back on those times and be encouraged to trust Him to take care of whatever is happening in the present.
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
What does it take to produce a good crop, like wheat, for instance? There is tilling the soil, making the furrows, fertilizing, planting the seed, watering (or praying for rain if you are dry-land farming), weed control, picking the perfect day for harvesting, making sure the equipment is ready, hiring your harvest crew, and planning for crop storage that is safe and will protect the crop from damage.
Jesus picked a perfect analogy for the process of reaching people for God. It takes great perseverace to be a farmer. Sometimes, it takes great perseverance to be a soul winner. There are some people we invest in for years in the hope we may win them to Christ – this takes great perseverance. We plant the seed (the Word of God), and we trust God for the harvest.
Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk,and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and p:raised God. “A great prophet has appreared among us”, they said. “God has come to help his people.”
This is the Christmas story as well. The Good News, the story of salvation: God has come to help His people. Entering human history, God the Son, clothed in humanity has come to offer all men an eternal relationship with the Living God. The birth of Jesus led to the cross where Jesus died for the sin of all mankind, and then to the tomb where he was raised to life. Truly it is Good News, and what a great season to celebrate it and share it. Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king.