SERMON OF THE WEEK
- SERMON OF THE WEEK
September 4, 2011
Next Sunday is the 3rd Sunday after Assumption.
Subject: The Temple Tax Issue
Gospel Reading: Mathew 17:24-27.
"24After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-dragma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?". 25"Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty
and taxes�from their own sons or from others?" 26"From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. 27"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours."
Jesus and his disciples were in Capernaum, Peter's home town. There the tax collectors came to Peter. They then asked Peter, "Doesn't your teacher pay the tax?". This was the tax collected for the upkeep
of the Jerusalem temple. The money was used to support all the temple services.
This question from the tax collectors was probably a test to see how supportive was Jesus to the Temple services. Peter answered, "Yes." When he and Jesus were in the house away from the tax collectors, Jesus asked Peter, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of earth collect taxes, from their sons or from strangers?" There are kings on earth who run their kingdoms with money raised from taxes. Their taxes are collected not from the king's children, but from the rest of the citizens. The analogy pictures God as the king and the temple services as the running of the kingdom. This makes a comparison between king's sons and strangers.
Peter answers, "From strangers." That is, kings collect taxes from citizens who are not part of the royal family. Jesus said to Peter, "That's right, then the sons are exempt from taxes." Jesus says to Peter, "So that we don't want to offend them, give it to them for you and me." Jesus is the Lord of the temple, therefore did not owe tax. Jesus took this opportunity to teach what ought to be practically the right thing to do to avoid embarrassments. Jesus said, "So that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. When you open its mouth, you will find a coin. Take that and give it to them for your sake and mine."
In this example, Jesus shows us how to deal with a situation where we
are conflicted with and don't know what to do. Regardless of what the right answer may be, do the thing that is necessary to avoid embarrassments. Sometimes the 'right' is less important than to maintain good relationships with others. It is not necessary to force our right on others when we know it will only damage our reputation or relationships in someone else's eyes.
Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
- SERMON OF THE WEEK
January 8, 2012
Next Sunday is the first Sunday after the baptism of our Lord (or "Danaha" -January 6th)). Gospel reading is from Mathew 4:12-22.
Theme: "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men" - (Mathew4:18)
"Jesus Begins to Preach
12 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
15 Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles
16 the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.[a]
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will send you out to fish for people. 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him." (Mathew 4:12-22)
The central core purpose of Christian life is outlined in these verses: Evangelize, Incorporate, and Disciple. Jesus says, go therefore and make disciples of all nations; evangelize with the strength of the gospel and teach the world about the kingdom of God; and follow me, I will make you fishers of men.
As Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brother casting a net into the sea. They were fisherman. Jesus said to the, "Follow me, and I Will make you fishers of men."
In order to understand this command, we need to look at the following questions.
(1) What does it mean to follow Jesus? Follow me is an invitation to the believer for services. The decision to follow Jesus is not a simple task. It is to set aside one's personal goals and pleasures in order to embrace the purposes for which God created us. The purpose is to know God in a personal way and make disciples by teaching them Christ's commandments. To follow Christ means to give up personal affections, goals and priorities.
When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, their goal was to become successful fishermen. In asking them to forsake their goal, Jesus commanded them to follow him and would make them fishers of men's souls.
(2) How does one become fishers of men? When Jesus told Peter to cast his nets on the other side of the boat, then Peter said "Master, we have fished all night and caught nothing." But when they used the very effective method of using the light of Jesus, fish were attracted to it.
(3) How to fish for Christ? Jesus uses an effective method to draw people to himself. Apostle John quotes Jesus in 8:12, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but in the light of life."
Just as the fish is attracted to the light of the disciples, God wants people to be attracted to his light shining through the disciples. The light of every believer is the presence of Jesus in their lives. Paul says in Corinthians 4:6-7, "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness and who has shown in their hearts to give the lights of the glory of God."
(4) What does it require to follow Jesus? It is a call that requires complete and immediate attachment to God. Peter and Andrew "left their nets." James and John left their father. The requirement for following Jesus are not the same for everyone. Basically it is the willingness to exchange their affections, goals and priorities in life.
Peter was a disciple who actually left everything to follow Jesus. However, he failed Jesus by denying him on the night of Jesus' arrest. A few days later, Peter with some of his disciples decided to go for fishing. They got out to do the fishing but couldn't catch a single fish. Jesus calls them from the shore and ends up performing a miracle by filling their nets with fish. After they have enjoyed a fish breakfast together, Jesus comes up to Peter and asks, "Do you love me more than these fish, nets, and the bread?
All of us can also imagine Jesus asking us the same question. Jesus may mention our family, all our assets, cash, position, career and all that. Do we love Jesus more than all our possessions?
Jesus wants us to respond something like, "Yes, Lord. I love you more than all my possessions. And I want to prove it with my actions. I am prepared to follow you, for I am your disciple.
Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
- SERMON OF THE WEEK
September 30, 2012
Next Sunday, September 30, is the third Sunday after Sleebo. Gospel reading is from Mark 2:23-28.
Theme: "Was Sabbath made for man or man made for Sabbath?"
Message: God's laws are not for control and domination. God did not give us his commands to show who is the boss. He gave us his laws for our benefit. Jesus makes that very clear in this gospel.
The term "Sabbath" is derived from the Hebrew word "Shabbat", which means, "to cease". Those who observe Sabbath generally regard it as a day of rest and respect for God for having completed the creation in six days as well as to commemorate Jewish redemption from slavery in Egypt. The so-called "Sabbatical leave" is thought to have its origin mandated also from this concept. The Pharisees were very traditionalists in observing the Sabbath because of its roots in the Old Testament teachings. .
One day as Jesus and his disciples were walking through a grain field on a Sabbath day, the disciples started to pluck some heads of grain to satisfy their hunger. The Pharisees happened to observe this and complained to Jesus about the actions of his disciples. It was assumed, as their teacher, Jesus was responsible for their behavior. The Pharisees viewed picking grain on a Sabbath day was a violation of the rule prescribed in Exodus 20: 8-11 which states, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the Sabbath day is a Sabbath to the Lord. On it you shall not do any work."
Jesus responded by citing the example of King David from 1 Samuel 21:1-16, David who was fleeing from Saul took and ate the consecrated bread from the house of God. The consecrated bread was to be eaten only by the priest, yet David who was hungry and in need of food was allowed as an exception by the high-priest Abiathar. That was on a Sabbath day. In opting for David, the Pharisees thereby exonerated the activities of Jesus' disciples. Jesus cited David's action as a precedent. When David ate the consecrated bread, he was hungry and it would be admittedly a lawful act. Jesus said the disciples ate grain because they were hungry, something the law of God permits.
Jesus then continued to respond by discussing the purpose of Sabbath. Human beings were not created to observe the Sabbath, but Sabbath was created for their benefit. Sabbath is not an end in itself but only a means to achieve a goal. Sabbath was originally given to men for rest and recreation. When properly observed, it would be a joy. But the Pharisees had made it a terrible burden for people to bear. None of God's laws were intended to be interpreted to hurt people, rather it was to help them. Jesus addressed the charges by stating that the Sabbath was not meant to restrict necessities. It was made to serve people, not for the people to serve Sabbath.
Sabbath has been essentially a Jewish practice, not a Christian way of life. It has been a Jewish practice to commemorate Jewish people's redemption from slavery in Egypt. It also commemorates God's creation of the universe, and on the seventh day God rested (or ceased) from his work. Sabbath is fasting one day a week. It is a weekly practice of "stilling" ourselves and taking rest, so that during rest we have a still soul and be able to remember what is important that God wants us to have in life. Treat it as a gift from God.
Prepared by: Rev. Dr. V. Kurian Thomas Valiyaparambil