Weekly Bible Notes, 16th June 2002
11th Sunday in Ordinary TimeYear A. Colour: Green
Opening Verse of Scripture—Psalm 100:5
The Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Collect Prayer for the Day—before we read, we pray
Almighty God, you have broken the tyranny of sin and have sent the Spirit of your Son into our hearts whereby we call you Father: give us grace to dedicate our freedom to your service, that we and all creation may be brought to the glorious liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
First Bible ReadingRomans 5:1-8
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (This is the word of the Lord—Thanks be to God)
Second Bible Reading Matthew 9:35-10:8
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." (This is the Gospel of Christ—Praise to Christ our Lord)
Post Communion Prayer
O God, whose beauty is beyond our imagining and whose power we cannot
comprehend: show us your glory as for as we can know it, and shield us from
knowing more than we can bear until we may look upon you without fear;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Commentary: Sheep Without a Shepherd
The phrase, sheep without a shepherd, is reminiscent of many Old Testament passages that portray God's people as a flock neglected by its shepherd. Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel present 'David' as the future good shepherd of Israel. In the gospel reading we see Jesus being presented as the promised 'David', the Messiah and, as the agrarian allegory continues, He calls others to assist Him in the task of bringing in the harvest.
The disciples are to pray for labourers. Our instincts might be very different. How would we set about building a team to achieve great things? Would we pray for labourers or would we look to recruit great preachers, sharp thinkers, competent administrators, visionaries who could lead the church forward?
How interesting then, that Jesus calls us to pray for common labourers. What a great reminder that while God can use talented people, most of His work gets done by ordinary, nearly anonymous, behind-the-scenes, faithful disciples. We know nearly nothing from the scriptures about many of the early disciples. Legend and tradition fill some of the gaps, but we have no way to judge their reliability. Most of the apostles were probably very ordinary. If we're not careful we might conclude that the lesser-known apostles achieved little, but that is unwarranted. Today, ordinary, unsung Christians do most of the church's work, and it is quite possible that ordinary, unsung apostles served both faithfully and effectively in the work of the early church.
After detailing Jesus' teaching on the sermon on the mount, Matthew devotes 2 chapters to Jesus' message of proclaiming and extending the kingdom through healing and wholeness. Jesus then authorises, commissions and sends out the 12 to declare the Kingdom of God is at hand and that through Him healing and wholeness and a restored relationship (peace) with God is possible. To declare that just at the right time, while we were still sinners, Christ died for all. Not everyone that Jesus encountered was hostile; many were inquisitive, misinformed or uninformed people looking for freedom, healing, wholeness, hope and purpose. They were like sheep without a shepherd. And there were many of them.
Bringing in the harvest was a labour intensive task. If not enough workers could be found for the work then some of the harvest would be inevitably lost. Jesus commands that we should ask the Father to send out workers into the harvest field of our society. Bringing in that harvest is a labour intensive task too, one to which we are all called. Called as ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Meditation: Who are our 'sheep'?
One theologian (Barclay) has commented, "The Pharisees saw the common people as chaff to be destroyed and burned up; Jesus saw them as a harvest to be reaped and saved. The Pharisees in their pride looked for the destruction of sinners; Jesus in His love died for the salvation of sinners". Jesus' observation that the sheep have no shepherd is a damning critique of the Pharisees, who should have been their shepherds. Whose shepherds should we be?
Hymns (Mission Praise)
- Rejoice the Lord is King, 575
- God forgave my sin, 181 (after confession)
- Come on and celebrate, 99
- Amazing grace, 31
- I cannot tell, 266
Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead
God our Father, you sent your Son to us: grant that filled with your Spirit we may be renewed in faith, and inspired in hope and love, to spread the Gospel of your kingdom to all people; through Christ our Lord. Amen
Heavenly Father, we pray for those who have gone to other countries with the good news of Jesus; when their work is difficult and tiring, make them strong; when they are lonely and homesick, remind them that you are with them; when they are uncertain what to do, guide them. Keep us all diligent in our prayer for them. Amen
When we forget you love and your grace. loving God, and live our lives as though you are not here, relying on ourselves, forgetting to be thankful; speak to us, challenge us, nudge us and help us to remember that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Amen
Christ the good shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep, draw you and all who hear His voice to be one flock within one fold, and the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you and remain with you always. Amen
|First Reading:||Romans 5:1-8|
|Second Reading:||Matthew 9:35-10:8|
|Commentary:||Sheep without a shepherd|
|Meditation:||Who are our 'sheep'?|
|Prayers:||for Sunday and the week ahead|
|Sermon:||Sheep without a shepherd|