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Sermon 10/15/06
  Meanings  - Matthew 13:10-
13

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Meanings

The disciples came and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’” (Matthew 13:10-13)

We were in New York, this week, attending a Memorial Service for my wife Genevieve’s Uncle Nick, at a church in Selden, on Long Island. We were picked up at JFK Airport by cousin Joan, and spent the night at her co-op in Rockville Centre. Then off we went the next day, east on Long Island, past township after township, their names going past as a blur, arriving at the service in the Selden vicinity with minutes to spare. Joan, who confidently drove us out there, returned in the afternoon, but we elected to stay for the night with cousin Barbara’s family. We would return to Joannie’s by train the next day.

Everything was wonderfully uneventful during that return. We got to the westbound train to Jamaica on time because Barbara drove us to the train station and walked us first to the ticket counter and then to the train. Train schedule and tickets in hand, we got off at Jamaica Station and switched trains, traveling east once more, but this time on the train that would take us along the southern part of Long Island. The switch went well – we missed the first train, but then, with the help of a man in a ticket booth, we were at the right track at the right time for the next one. And then we were back at Rockville Centre, where a cab driver got us to Joannie’s for the evening get together with other family members, where we once more met in honor of the memory of Uncle Nick.

It can be difficult when we need to go somewhere and we're in a place we don’t know much about. Maps are very important, a “GPS” (Global Positioning System) is terrific, but it's good to also have the help of friends. Jesus is “the way” (John 14:6) directing His disciples to the “kingdom of heaven,” the place they needed to go. Through the disciples, the writers of the Gospels, He has mapped the way for you and me. We’ve been given the Bible, which is not unlike a GPS map, in that it takes the recorded experiences of those who have been on the journey, and makes what they learned available to us. It can be hard to relate what’s on the screen or map to the places that are racing past in life, and to have a Friend along who will guide you, is very important.

Genevieve’s cousin Joan gave us a lot of information, and so did cousin Barbara and her husband, Gary, who went into his computer and obtained information about train departure times. And that’s the kind of help we need. The Bible can be hard to understand – life zips by, and even when we know where we are supposed to go, it can be tough to know how to get there. And that’s a key reason why we are given God’s Holy Spirit – He comes beside us and relates the “map” to the events of our lives. Initially, He leads us to Jesus, the Messiah, who changes us, so we can begin to understand the languages of the "maps" leading to the “kingdom of heaven.” God’s Holy Spirit is very much like a “GPS” installed inside your heart and mine. He “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). When He is given to us, we are like travelers who now have the right equipment, but may still lack the knowledge to effectively use it. And so we are also given each another. You have abilities in one area and I might know something in another – we were always intended to help each other on life’s journey.

The disciples of Jesus often did not understand fully what He said, and they missed the point many times. The GPS may have said, “turn here,” but events happened quickly, in ways they did not expect, and they would miss the “turn.” But don't underestimate those who became the “disciples” (students, learners) of Jesus – When they heard His command to “Follow Me,” they “immediately left their fishing nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:19-20). They risked their families, their incomes, their very lives to say “yes” to the Son of God. All but one of them gave themselves unconditionally. Those who say “yes” to the Lord in that way are given more than the world can understand. To accept Christ is to receive the Holy Spirit of God. We "see" what we couldn't "see" before. God enables us to begin to know what can NOT be known through merely eyes, ears and intellect. In a world of the blind, we start to “see” the “maps” we have been given. In this place of the deaf, we begin to hear. Best of all – we understand, which comes through the extraordinary mechanism of “faith.” And faith itself is not what we expected. One time I heard it defined, by a pastor, of all people, as “believing what you know is not true.” That’s not faith. The reality is that we believe in Jesus because we KNOW He IS “the truth” (John 14:6). True faith is something created within us and faith itself is incredibly a “substance... the EVIDENCE of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The “blind” in heart can begin to "see."

I remember, years ago, when I began to understand that music had more meaning than I previously thought. Music is poetry of the soul, in which images and emotions are presented to those who hear. Western “Classical” music often portrays something of life. “Clair de Lune” was an attempt by the composer Debussy, to portray in music how he felt when he saw moonlight filtering through trees. The musician Smetana, wrote a piece called the “Moldau” about a river in Europe; portraying its places of calm, the rapids and its beauty – through music. In the “1812 Overture,” by Tchaikovsky, the composer wove together the French and Russian national anthems, conveying the desperate war between Napoleon and the armies of Russia. “Rock and Roll” communicated the lust for personal freedom of one generation, and “rap” music reveals the anger of another.

God the Holy Spirit has been communicating to the people of this earth since the beginning, reaching out in parable form, but also conveying meanings to those who are willing to "know." The Bible contains a record of many of the times God reached out to people and that Book is a living reality for us today. Those who come unconditionally to the Lord, like the disciples did, are given God’s “GPS,” His Holy Spirit and can begin to understand, but those who don’t want the Lord, don’t “know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” for “to them it has not been given” (Matthew 13:10-11).

Here’s a question: Do you WANT to understand life? What it is? What it means? What it's all about? The answer to all parables, all mysteries, is  simply this: He who “knew no sin” became “sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Jesus we see it all. Our part is to believe in Him; to have faith in His character, His honor, His love – We come to God through HIM and what He did.

Dear Lord, You are what life is all about. The meaning of each mystery, every parable is in You. Please forgive my unbelief. I believe and trust in You now. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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