“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into the harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

When Jesus saw the crowds we are told that he was moved to compassion. He saw that they were sheep without a shepherd and therefore were vulnerable to attack and being misled- far from this inspiring anger and judgement; in this context it inspired compassion and concern. So he instructs his disciples; the harvest is plentiful, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out harvest workers. Jesus looks at the shepherd less mob and he immediately sees at least some of them as being ripe for the harvest, all that is needed is harvest workers ready to go and harvest a ready crop.

The problem at this point is not that people are not ready to hear, but rather that workers cannot be found to meet the ready harvest. So, Jesus instructs his disciples to that this situation is so dire that what is needed is divine intervention. So he instructs them to pray that God will raise up harvest workers, raise up people to take up the calling of following Christ and serve him. So friends, pray, pray, pray that God would consistently raise up people to work in his vineyard, to go in Jesus name and be a part of the Jesus mission. Of course, it at least a little interesting that immediately after this instruction- Jesus himself appoints 12 harvest workers. Watch out as you pray this prayer because the Spirit of course will no doubt knock on your heart first- calling you to go out in Jesus name and be a part of his harvesting work.

Grace and peace from Paul

When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. Mark 11:15

Can you picture the scene? Jesus was not authorised to do this, or was he? When his authority was challenged by the Jewish leaders he told them the parable of the naughty farmers at the vineyard. The main idea behind the parable is that although Jesus had God’s authority to do what he did, he would be rejected by the Jewish leaders and killed. Amazingly their rejection of Jesus was the means by which he would save all people from the sin of rejecting God.

Why does Jesus then quote Psalm 118? Jesus uses the image of the stone to represent the Jews rejection of his authority. The tradition story is that the capstone for Solomon’s temple was made at the quarry and sent to Jerusalem. Originally the builders misunderstood what it was for, rejected it and put it aside. When the most important stone for the whole temple was ordered by the builders, the quarry said it was already delivered. In fact,

‘the stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ Mark 12:10

The most important stone in a building was rejected. We are no longer rejected by God because Christ was rejected for us.

Let us remember this as we think about Easter

Grace and peace from Paul

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33-34)

These words are taken from Jesus’ famous ‘sermon on the mount’, and they come at the end of some teaching concerning anxiety. In keeping with the teachings of Jesus- he does not simply summon us to ditch anxiety but he calls us to put something else in its place. What is that something else? The something else in this case is the pursuing of God’s kingdom and his righteousness. What does this mean? Well simply this- Jesus is calling us to live for God’s kingdom, receive the free gift of God’s righteousness and not be anxious. Perhaps easier said than done and yet helpful. So many people are crippled and stifled by anxiety of every kind.

Jesus does not stop there though- he goes onto summon us his followers to not worry about tomorrow but to let it worry about itself. What does he mean by this? I think he is saying rather forcefully that worry is always to be deferred. The day of worry is never to come, because tomorrow doesn’t ever arrive. Yes but how- well Jesus calls us to live our lives one day at a time. Worry and anxiety usually come when we project ourselves into the future. We are rarely anxious for today; it is the future that bothers us. So says Jesus restricts your concerns to today and you can defeat anxiety.

Grace and peace from Marcus (Philippians 4:6-7)

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
(Matthew 7:1-5)

We all, I think, have a capacity to be more aware of others faults than our own. Jesus is saying his disciples that they are to be slow to judge others, recognising the fact that God has been patient and gracious with us so we need to extend that same grace to others. He then uses the rather comical picture of a spec and a plank to highlight that we can easily find fault with others and be blissfully unaware of our own flaws and faults. Jesus says- before you make any comment to a brother and sister about their brokenness, look at your own heart and search and see if any fault lay with you. This for example is so important in conflict situations. When things “heat up” we can make all sorts of judgements about others, all the while doing some pretty broken stuff ourselves. So says Jesus, look at your own heart, test yourself and see. As the Peace Wise course says- “you are a hundred percent responsible for your part in a conflict.” So even if you are responsible for a relatively small thing, still it ought to be acknowledged, confessed and sort forgiveness for, before we do anything about our brother or sisters spec. May God grant you his grace in order that you might be a blessed peacemaker who walks in humility and love.

Grace and peace from Marcus

Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1a)

The scriptures tell us to imitate God. What do they mean by that? Well in its context, Paul is talking to the Christian community in Ephesus and he is instructing them how to live as children of the light. To that end he says- “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love,  just as Christ has loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 4:32-5:2). So in what ways is Paul asking us to imitate God? We are to imitate God by being compassionate and kind. We are to imitate God by forgiving one another, why because others serve it- no because that is what Christ has done for us. You and me, if we are in Christ Jesus are, “dearly loved children”. We are not orphans, we are loved by God. So we should live as dearly loved children by imitating our Father and offering forward, forgiveness compassion and love.

So, meditate on the love God has for you- marvel at it, let it undo you. Be like John who said- “how great the love the father has lavished on us, so that we should be called children of God,” and as you do that may the Lord impart to you a love for others that overflows from a full heart.

Grace and peace from Marcus