HYMN Almost Persuaded
1 ‘Almost persuaded’ now to believe;
‘Almost persuaded:’ Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say?
‘Go, Spirit, go Thy way:
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call,’
2 ‘Almost persuaded:’ come, come today!
‘Almost persuaded:’ turn not away!
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear,
O wanderer, come!
3 ‘Almost persuaded:’ harvest is past!
‘Almost persuaded:’ doom comes at last!
‘Almost’ can not avail;
‘Almost’ is but to fail:
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
READING – Matthew 13: 24-30, 47-52
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
The Parable of the Net
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
The Wheat & the Tares The Parable of the Net
Jesus answers for us this evening an age old problem: namely : Why does God allow bad things to happen. Some people wonder why there are earthquakes and why there is famine or the Covid 19 virus. Some people look at the Church and see a whole load of hypocrites coming regularly – people who are only Christians on a Sunday!
Why DOES God allow all these strange things to go on ?
Well Jesus told two simple stories to illustrate – to paint a picture – to show what God is up to: The first story is quite probably something out of the daily gazette of Jesus day. One man hates his farmer neighbour, so he goes out at night, just after his neighbour has sown his wheat seed and the wicked man sows weeds along with the wheat. Now, when the farmer realises that his field has been upset he has two options – he can go out and try to uproot the weeds as early as possible – or he can wait till harvest time. Neither is an easy option. However, because these weeds look so like wheat while they are little plants, it would be difficult to identify the weeds amongst the wheat. There is the added problem that in pulling up the weeds whose roots are intertwined with the wheat, almost certainly damage will result to the good plants. NO – the only option is to wait till harvest time and then take out the weeds at that stage – and burn them! The other story is like this one. It comes from the fishing world. Fishing methods change from time to time – but the seine net which is pictured here is still in use: floats on top of the water – weights on the bottom of the net. The boat sweeps round and the net gathers all sorts of fish in it.
The good fish, the ones that can be eaten, are kept to one side to be sold – the others, and all the other rubbish is thrown away. Only a fisherman can tell which fish are good for eating and which are not.
Now, what has all this got to do with God? Well, again, Jesus very helpfully explains one of the parables for us. Christians are like the good wheat or the good fish, but we live among a whole lot of weeds and bad fish. It would be impossible for us to tell which were God’s people and which were not (but Jesus says that we don’t have to worry about THAT – He and the angels will do the sorting out at the appropriate time). We all look alike; but Christians are fundamentally different from everyone else. Even the Church is mixed – there are true followers of Jesus here – and those who are not – and God knows the difference!
And whereas some might grow up alongside genuine believers all their days on earth and fool them all – be sure there will be a day of reckoning – a day when weeds and wheat will be separated – a day when the bad fish will be thrown out. Jesus teaching was nothing if not controversial – but He had to explain to people why there are such bad folks in the Church and out of it – and why He allows good and bad to live alongside each other.
SO :- Don’t be surprised when a Church person bites your nose off for something – don’t be surprised when a Church member refuses to speak to you or is nasty to you, or talks about you behind your back; don’t worry if you see a Churchy person doing something awful. Jesus tells us to expect it. But we must make very sure that WE are not that person – it may be that we’ve been fooling ourselves! Are you wheat? Or are you a weed? The difference will be visible more and more as your life shows fruit – good or bad.
Hymn Day of judgment! Day of wonder
(YouTube from 16min.28sec – 18min.50sec)
1 Day of judgment! Day of wonder!
Listen to the trumpet’s sound,
louder than the voice of thunder,
echoes all creation round:
God of mercy, God of glory,
may we then in Christ be found.
2 See the Judge, our nature wearing,
with the angel he outsoars.
Those who wait for Christ’s appearing
then shall sing, ‘This God is ours!’
Gracious Saviour, Lord of glory,
own us in that day as yours.
3 At God’s call we shall awaken,
to the bidding of the Lord;
every nation will be shaken
by God’s own eternal word;
friend of sinners, Christ in glory,
intercede for us with God.
4 And to those who have confessed him,
loved and served the Lord below,
Christ will say, ‘Come now, you blessèd,
see the kingdom I bestow’.
God of mercy, friend of sinners,
we shall then your glory know.