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A United Nations report on migration was published in , and it points out many economic advantages to trends in migration. Immigrants are aiding their home countries, even when they remain abroad. Approximately billion euros annually are sent as remittances by international workers to family members in their home countries. Immigrant workers also make significant contributions to the economy and culture of the nations where they live.

But migration also has negative consequences - political, financial and social - that often bring reactions from governments which threaten or curtail the rights of migrants and other minorities. Trends in migration further undermine human rights, as in the proliferation of human trafficking - and especially the trafficking of women and children. Economic opportunities in the global North contribute to a long-term "brain drain" from less wealthy nations. Warfare and civil unrest have combined to put whole populations to flight in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East.

International migration, by its definition, is a global issue. And the universal Church of Jesus Christ, in its all-embracing "catholicity", cannot shirk its responsibility to defend the rights of the stranger in every culture. Remember: the people of God were strangers in the land of Egypt, and many live today as strangers in strange lands - struggling to become neighbours.

The World Council of Churches, for its part, works with its member churches and other ecumenical partners to address migration and the changing landscape of church life as Christian communities are affected by migration. This year sees a global consultation on the topic, in which we will seek a unity of commitment and purpose in the whole Church's approach to offering a humane response to the injustices and animosities associated with processes of globalization.

Of course, an essential part of the churches' role in this era of migration is to offer hospitality to all. And so we continue to explore with our partners ways to strengthen the practice of hospitality at all levels of the church, from the global to the local. We must learn to welcome the stranger, every stranger, in a spirit of love and solidarity; to open up our relationships so that we may move from being strangers to being neighbours; to seek that reconciliation inspired by Christ's example which turns perceived enemies into lasting friends.

Many of us are far from the land of our birth, and far from the land of our dreams, but Nelle Morton suggests that this does not mean that we are far from home. And so we are called, even in our "exile", to proclaim God's word, to strive for justice and peace, to seek the welfare of the city where we dwell. The city is prepared, but - for now - the journey is home. And this is our assurance, from the letter to the Ephesians :.

So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens,. Grant that the journeys on which we find ourselves. Bless us with true friends, neighbours and companions,. Lord, have mercy upon us, and send us your peace. This we pray in your Triune name. The experience of separation and change Anyone who has moved hesitantly from one part of the world to another will recognize the exiles' cry in Psalm By the rivers of Babylon - there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.

For there our captors asked us for songs and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion! To the objection that in the Old Exodus the miracles preceded the Red Sea passage and Sinai so the order is lost in the New Exodus idea, the interpreter answers that the arrangement is antithetical for emphasis on the redemptive deliverance of the New Exodus. The miracle of the stilling of the storm Matt.

The Gospel of Mark: God in the Flesh

Ultimately the Old Israel made its journey to the Promised Land. The ultimate was the triumph of the resurrection. This current and popular understanding of the Plan or structure of Matthew has many impressive arguments and many vulnerable points. Whereas John is often clear in an indication of typology bread, water, light, door, sheep, vine, etc. If there is an Exodus motif, it is covered from the casual reader and available only by digging.

Again, the pattern of typology is not consistent. In matter of fact it must be observed that in the Gospels where he is understood as another Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, etc. As a third approach to the Plan of Matthew, observe the emphasis on the idea of King and kingdom. He interpreted the miracles as indication that kingdom powers were present and at work in his presence among men.

The superscription on his cross ironically proclaimed him king of the very people who rejected him.

The following Plan is subjective and without documentation. It is the basic approach to a manuscript now in process of preparation for publication.

Introduction to the Gospel According to St. Mark

The divine plan is seen in the genealogy The divine process is seen in the virgin birth The divine protection is seen in the flight to Egypt and the return to a secluded home in Nazareth. His forerunner , John the Baptizer, prepared the way for him as ancient people built a road to accommodate their king when he came to their territory.

His wilderness temptation left him with one fixed goal-he would set himself to the long hard road of the Suffering Servant Redeemer of God. He established a working base at Capernaum, called his first disciples, and began his public ministry in Galilee. The blessings of discipleship in his kingdom are set out in the Beatitudes They are both for this age and the age to come. The responsibilities of discipleship which grow out of the blessings of discipleship are illustrated by service as salt and as light The lives of kingdom subjects are stressed in the main part of the sermon The standard of righteousness is to go beyond the legal ethic of Judaism Genuine versus hypocritical righteousness is to be practiced in giving, in praying, in fasting The guiding principle of life is to be trusted in the care of a loving God The conclusion of the sermon drives home the necessity of personal righteousness by a series of illustrations: two gates and two roads vss.

As he devotes himself to the work of God, Jesus performs miracles of deliverance , He calls sinners to repentance He chooses twelve from among his followers that he may prepare them for a ministry of proclaiming the kingdom He pronounces woes upon those who reject him and his message The kingdom begins as an insignificant thing in the world but it is destined to have its presence known everywhere vss. The kingdom is of such value that one must be willing to give up everything else in order to possess it vss.

The final word in matters of judgment will be that of God as his kingdom purpose is worked out vss. Rich in spiritual treasure is that man who finds in his treasure things both old from Judaism and new from Jesus vss. It is not to be expected that the work of God will go on unopposed. Jesus is rejected at Nazareth He knows the ultimate end of his own life in the report of the death of John the Baptizer Continuing his work in spite of opposition he provides for the needs of his followers and teaches the Twelve the importance of faith in God as one does the work of God There is much friction with the Pharisees and he warns his disciples concerning the Pharisees Now it might be interesting for someone to do, on a future occasion, pulpits of the Bible - strange places and things that the Lord Jesus and prophets and evangelists and apostles used as their pulpit from which to preach the word.

But as far as the Lord Jesus' ministry was concerned, this was a new departure. He had not preached before on a boat, and I would vouch to say that perhaps no one had ever done it as He did it in this particular passage. He is no longer now teaching in the synagogue, as was the accepted means, but was teaching by the lakeside from a boat. Now, it was an ideal venue to preach from, because the shore shelved gently down to the water's edge and made a kind of natural amphitheatre for the crowd to stand on and hear very clearly what the Lord was saying.

But what I want you to notice is that not only was this a practical approach, but it was very unorthodox for Jesus to preach from a boat to a hillside. He had made the orthodox approach already to the people and they had rejected Him in the synagogues, and now He had to take unusual methods to sow the seed of the word of God.

Now I only say this in passing because I think it is very relevant to the day and age in which we live: Jesus was prepared to use new methods in His day. His message did not change, but the method by which He presented it did. Now not every method would have been appropriate, and not every method is appropriate today to use as a medium to preach the word, to present the gospel - but out of the conventional setting, the synagogue, the Lord Jesus moved, because of the hardness and unresponsiveness of people's hearts, out into the open air to be among the people, to fish where the fish were swimming.

John Wesley was for many years a faithful and orthodox servant of the Church of England. Down in Bristol George Whitfield was preaching to miners, to as many as 20, at a time in the open air, and his hearers were being converted by the hundreds. He eventually sent for John Wesley, and Wesley himself said, and listen carefully to his words, I'm quoting him: 'I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit'. The whole business of open-air preaching rather offends him.

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He said himself: 'I could scarcely reconcile myself at first to this strange way', that is, open-air preaching, 'having been all my life, till very lately, of every point related to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been in a church'.

But Wesley realised that Whitfield's method, field-preaching as it was called then, won souls - people were being born again. He responded to that by saying: 'I cannot argue against a matter of fact' - people were being won for the Saviour by unorthodox means in his day and generation. Now I'm sure in the Saviour's day there must have been many orthodox Jews who regarded this new departure as a bit of a stunt or sensationalism, but Jesus was wise enough to know when new methods were necessary, and adventurous enough to use them.

The question I pose to us today is: are we willing, ready, and able in ourselves to use new methods to reach others, methods that are effective in winning the lost, methods that are biblical in their standards and approach, and yet perhaps are new? Now, let's leave that, because Mark then begins to tell us what the Lord Jesus has to say about parables. Now Mark's gospel, as I hope you've learned so far in our studies, is a gospel of action. Mark is 'action man' in the Bible! He is more concerned with the works of the Lord Jesus than the words of the Saviour, and that is borne out in the fact that he records eighteen miracles and only four parables.

But now we're coming to Mark's record of the parables, only four, and it's interesting when you keep in balance the fact that Mark is the action man of service, portraying for us the Servant of the Lord and how we ought to serve in the way of the cross, and now when He comes to give His first parable He gives His disciples an instruction, a lesson in how they can expect to serve the Lord - how they will see God work as they go in service in the lives of men and women. Now such instruction was very necessary and relevant when you consider the diverse responses that they have already received to the message of the Kingdom come in the Lord Jesus.

You remember our study in chapter 3, if you look back at it, verse 28, you see that the Lord Jesus had been blasphemed - that could be forgiven - but then the Holy Spirit had been blasphemed in the hardening of their hearts to His work in their nation and in their own individual lives, and so He faced persecution and opposition externally, and then we see in verse 31 and following that even His own family and friends were beginning to doubt Him and say that He was mad.

These were the diverse and many responses that people had to the message of the Kingdom of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. So what the Lord Jesus is doing in this first parable is to give them a lesson as to what they could expect when they went out to sow the seed of the word of God.

Jesus: Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? (Mark 3:20-35)

So He gives the parable of the sower and the seed, but then He explains the purpose of parables and, having diverged away from the main parable to do that, He then returns to give the point of the parable. Now I try to be as honest as I can when I'm reading and studying the word of God, and I have to say that, looking at this account over the years, I first thought it strange and even unnatural for the Lord to interject an explanation of what parables are right in the middle of giving one. Does that not seem strange to you? Indeed, before He even gives the interpretation of it, He talks about what parables are all about, and He seems to do that exclusively to the disciples.

Now a critic, and there's plenty of those around, might say: 'Lord, You're going off on a tangent'. If He was standing in a preaching class, they might say: 'You're digressing from the subject, You're in danger of losing the main point, stay on track! So what I'm really saying is: a parable is not an allegory, and that is a mistake many people make.

What's an allegory? Well, an allegory is a story where there is symbolism, and the symbols represent something. A parable is not an allegory, every symbol in a parable doesn't necessarily have to represent something. Sometimes the symbols do, but not always - but sometimes we can get sidetracked by the symbols and miss the main point of what the Lord Jesus Christ was saying!

So a parable is not like 'Pilgrim's Progress', where the intention of the author is that everything has meaning, but a parable is used to communicate mainly one point. So let me say to you: when you study the parables, when you read in your daily devotions and so on, don't get too bogged down with the details of a parable and then miss the main point. If you get the main point, you'll see how the other details are related to it. One author puts it like this - and I'm spending time on this to help you in your daily readings and your study and listening to preaching - he puts it like this: 'Therefore what we must look for in a parable is not a situation in which every detail stands for something, we must look for a situation in which one great idea leaps out and shines like a flash of lightning.

It is always wrong to attempt to make every detail of a parable mean something, it is always right to say 'What one idea would flash into a man's mind when he heard this story for the first time? Have you got it? What would he think? What impression would he be left with?


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Not when he read, or studied, or memorised the parable, but when he heard it - he couldn't press 'rewind' and play it all over again, he heard it once. What was his thought? Well, that's what a parable is, it's not an allegory, it is a comparison with mainly one truth being communicated. Now why, to answer the second question, did the Lord Jesus use parables? Well, the writer I quoted gives a number of reasons, and they're very helpful.

Let me share them with you, there're four reasons he gives: one, it caught the attention of the listener. He is not writing a book now, it's not a novel, it's not a biblical letter or a prophecy, it is a spoken parable. He has not a fixed congregation sitting in pews or in the synagogue, He has a moving target, people in the open air who could stay or leave at will.

The parable caught their attention, and Jesus knew that the way to keep people was often to tell them a story. It caught attention. Secondly, the people of Jesus' day were familiar with parables. The Jewish leaders would have recognized them, some parables are in the Old Testament - you think of David caught in adultery, and you remember that God brought Nathan to him to further convict him, and he told the parable about the man with the wee lamb.

The rabbis used parables themselves in their own writings and teachings, so the people were familiar with them. He was using language that they worked with in the past.

Mark 1 – The Beginning of the Gospel

It caught their attention, they were familiar with parables, and then thirdly - and this is very important: Jesus was making abstract ideas concrete. Let me repeat that: He was making abstract ideas concrete. Let me explain: very few people can grasp abstract ideas. Maybe you're even saying 'I don't know even what you're talking about, let alone Let me illustrate it to you. We could talk about beauty - and I could say I'm a very handsome man and all the rest! We could abstractly discuss what we feel is the definition of beauty, but then someone comes along and says: 'Well, there's David Legge, if you want to know what's handsome and beautiful, well there he is!

Where you can point at something and say: this is a beautiful flower, this is a beautiful bird, this is a wonderful landscape, the beauty becomes clear because you have made the abstract concrete. The New Testament does this, when the New Testament talks about faith it talks about a man, Abraham, isn't that right? So faith becomes flesh, and from the experience of this man we see, not in abstract but in concrete form, personified what faith is in life.

A parable does that, Jesus was the master teacher, He knew the people's minds could not cope with just purely abstract ideas, but He put them in stories that they might understand. Now that is interesting, indeed more so, there's something in that for all of us who communicate God's word. Then fourthly, not only did it catch their attention, and were the people already familiar with these parables, and He was making abstract ideas concrete, but we see that the virtue of the parable is that it compelled the people to think for themselves. What I mean is - well, the worst way, for instance, to help a child with their homework is to do the homework for them, isn't that right?

Because they'll never learn! You see the truth enshrined within the parable had a double impact, in that the person felt they had discovered the truth themselves when they worked it out! Jesus didn't want to make men's minds lazy, and He didn't want to take away responsibility from people, but He is encouraging them into an active pursuit of the truth. He is wanting to lay responsibility on them.

In other words, 'Here's the message, can you work it out? Do you see what the Lord is doing? He's compelling people to think about their souls. Now, let's see how He does this in this parable. We will deal with three things in the time that remains: first, He delivers the parable in verses , look down at it; then He defines a parable in general in verses ; and then He decodes the parable itself that He gave in verses , in verses So first of all He delivers this parable, the sower, the seed and the soil. Now perhaps, as the Lord Jesus was in that boat, He actually saw a sower busy sowing seed in the fields within His own sight, and He says 'Behold', literally 'Look', 'the sower went out to sow'.

In verses He says some seed fell by the wayside, and that ground was too hard for the seed to penetrate. Many believe it was the place where people walked, the tramp, tramp, tramp of their feet made the ground even harder, and so the seed just fell and lay there, and then the birds of the air came and snatched the seed away and ate it. The wayside soil, then in verses 5 and 6 there is the stony ground. That was ground that had a thin layer of dirt covering a bedrock, and so it was shallow earth, and that shallow earth prevented the seed from taking deep root - and so it had no root, essentially, and just perished.

Then in verse 7 we read of the thorny ground - there's the wayside soil, the stony ground, and the thorny ground. The thorny ground had thornbushes that cut the seed off from nourishment, and the sunlight from getting in and causing it to grow. So literally the seed and the little sprout was choked by the weeds and the thorns and the thistles. The wayside soil, the stony ground, the thorny ground, and then in verses 8 and 9 the good ground - and this was deep, fertile soil with conditions that were favourable for production of the seed into fruit eventually.

We read that some produced thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred. He delivers a parable, and then He does this detour in verses 10 and 12, and we read there that when the disciples were with Him alone, the disciples asked the Lord: 'Master, why do You speak in parables?

St. George's Episcopal Church, York Harbor | Sermons

This is deeply informative, pay attention, He explained to them that only those with receptive hearts were permitted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God - that's what He says. Now a 'mystery' in the New Testament is a truth that was previously unknown, that can be only known by special revelation. So the Lord Jesus is coming as God's ultimate revelation, He is bringing the truth of the Kingdom of God in Himself, and He's telling them that those with receptive hearts are those that are permitted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom.

So in other words, God reveals His family secrets to those whose hearts are open to Him. However, the converse of that is that the truth is hidden from those who reject the light given to them. Look at verses 10 to 12, verse 'Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are outside, all these things are done in parables', verse 12, 'That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them'.

Now that's a quotation, verse 12, from Isaiah chapter 6 verses 9 and 10, and that might seem harsh, what the prophet Isaiah is saying and what the Lord Jesus is quoting - that people should see, and yet not see; should hear, and yet not truly hear; should conceive in their mind, and yet not really understand with their heart what the Lord is saying, what God's word means. But you've got to keep this in the context of the whole of not only this gospel, but the whole of the Old Testament, this is being spoken about the Jewish people who had had the great privilege of the oracles of God, and the prophets of God, and the priests of God, and they have rejected the Messiah of God who had now come to them in the Lord Jesus - and because they had spurned the Light of the world, Jesus is saying they will not see the light of the word.

It's basically akin to what we were talking about concerning the unpardonable sin , that it was a hardening of heart to everything that God's Spirit had been saying to them up until this moment, and they had gone one step too far. So when the heart is hard, when it is unresponsive, not receiving, not wanting, it gets harder and the seed is snatched. But when the heart is open it receives not only what God is saying, but receives more, and more, and more of light.

So the Lord defines a parable, let me sum it up like this: a parable has two effects, and they are both opposite effects. On the one hand it makes truth more clear to those who are willing to hear, have you got it? First it makes truth more clear to those who are willing to hear, and yet on the other side of the coin it makes truth more obscure to those who lack spiritual concern.

The best way to summarise it is the way the Lord did in verse 9: 'He that has ears to hear, let him hear'. A parable tests the spiritual responsiveness of the soul. Now, I have wee bit more to say this morning, but I want to ask you as God's people - and perhaps those who are here who are not believers yet - how do you receive God's word? Does it cause you too long for more, or do you shut your heart? That has a great knock-on effect to your ultimate spiritual destiny, because the more you close your heart and harden your heart, the less light, the less word, the less truth you'll be able to receive and respond to.

Then thirdly and finally, He decodes a parable. He has delivered it, He has defined what a parable is, what it's for, and now He decodes the actual parable that is given here in verses 13 to Now we could go into great detail looking at this parable, but we're not going to do that this week, we'll do it next week - but basically He said that some people's hearts are hard, some people's hearts are shallow, some people's hearts are crowded by other things, and some people's hearts are ready to bear fruit. The reason why I'm not looking at these particular soils this morning is that I want us to get the main point of the parable - sometimes we jump right away into the interpretation and miss the main point!