Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
26 April 2020
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
We cannot meet together in one place, but we can still pray together and study the Bible together – over the phone or online. Please do take up these opportunities!
Chosen by Don and Beryl – Thank you!
Matthew’s Gospel is renowned for ending with the Great Commission:
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”Matthew 28:18-20
Yet, equally important, is the Great Commandment:
“He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment”Matt 22:37-38 ESV
… meaning, we are to love God with all that we are and have. However, we cannot just leave it there, because Jesus then added:
‘a second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets’Matt 22:39-40
Wow! Remarkable-All the OT depends on these two commandments! cf.
“Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law”Romans 13:10
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’”Gal 5:14
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ you are doing right”James 2:8
Oh my, I’m feeling really challenged here! Jesus is teaching us that as important as it is to love God, it is equally important to love our neighbour. And we know that in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus pushed the boundaries right out to include “everyone” in answering the question: “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ He replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’ But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’
In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”
‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”Luke 10:25-37
(Note the detail Jesus gives about all the things this Samaritan did for this Jewish man – can you count fourteen things he did?). In the light of this, some might dismiss the rest of the OT with the mantra, “All you need is love, forget the rest”. Rather, love is the main principle through which everything else is interpreted and carried out.
According to Jesus, geographical location does not define who my neighbour is but those to whom we show mercy, love and compassion, which should be everyone! He also taught:
“‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”Matt 5:43-44
Love for enemies being a reflection of God’s character; cf.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”Romans 5:8-10
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”Ephesians 5:1-2
We often read that Jesus was moved with compassion before He acted, e.g.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”Matt 9:36
Jesus could have looked on these multitudes with judgement because like all of us they were sinners, enemies, but He looked on them with compassion, with love – God is love!
The word “compassion” is explained by R. T. France:
Jesus’ response is described by a strongly emotional Greek verb, ‘splanchizomai’, which speaks of a warm, compassionate response to need. No single English term does justice to it: compassion, pity, sympathy, and fellow feeling all convey part of it, but “His heart went out” perhaps represents more fully the emotional force of the underlying metaphor of a “gut response” … there is not only sympathy with a person’s need; emotion results in caring and effective action … It is a verb which describes the Jesus of the gospel stories in a nutshell.
R. T. France “The Gospel of Matthew” NICNT
As I read this, I thought of a mother’s response to their child who is in great difficulty, her heart goes out to her child. Such is Jesus’ heart towards people, especially to those in need. What did He see when He looked on them, not their sins, their shortcomings (yes I am sure He could clearly see them) but this, that they were “harassed and helpless” (oppressed, exhausted, lacking direction), likened to “sheep without a shepherd” (frequently used in the OT for the relationship between God and His people) meaning He saw that they were spiritually in a mess and lacked spiritual direction and leadership. And His solution to this spiritual mess was to tell His disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out workers into the harvest field:
“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.’”Matt 9:37
“And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick”Matt 14:14
Again when we look at the context of this particular verse it adds to the depth of Jesus’ compassion. He, and the disciples had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded (Matt 14:1-12) so understandably He withdrew, by boat, to a quiet place. However, the crowds heard about it and ran ahead of them (just what you don’t need when you are mourning the loss of a loved one!). What was Jesus reaction when He saw the large crowd? “He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matt 14:14); Mark expands on this:
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”Mark 6:34
His motivation for feeding the four thousand, likely a Gentile crowd, was the same:
“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way,”Matthew 15:32
So because they were hungry, He had compassion on them and fed them!
“Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed”;Mark 1:41
“However, Jesus did not permit him, [the demon possessed man He had restored to his right mind], but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you””Mark 5:19
“And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”Mark 9:22
And Jesus did (Mark 9:23-29).
“When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep”;Luke 7:13
There is so much more to this subject of loving God and loving our neighbour that we need to continue with it next week.
How do we look at people? Do we look at them like Jesus does, with compassion? Do we then act out of a heart of compassion towards people?
“Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your great love towards us. We thank You for the example of Jesus who looked on people with deep compassion and acted out of a heart of compassion towards them. We thank You that we have greatly benefitted, in many ways, from Your love and compassion. Help us the more to look upon others with deep compassion and reach out to help them in their need. Father, raise up more labourers to help us at Bethel especially a Children and Families’ Worker and a Youth Worker. We also commit the building to You Lord – Your will be done!
Lord we pray for your comfort for all those who are mourning the loss of loved ones.
We pray for all those suffering from Covid-19: Lord, strengthen them and heal them. Protect each one of us from this virulent disease. Lord we pray for adequate supplies of PPE for NHS Staff; Care Workers, and all those working on the front-line. Lord as a nation let each and everyone observe the guidelines.
Heavenly Father, in this day and age when so many marriages are breaking down, Lord bless and strengthen all marriages and that all these attempts to further weaken marriage, such as ‘quickie divorce’ etc would come to nothing.
Father, in Jesus Christ’s name pour out Your Holy Spirit in a heaven-sent revival, and build Your Church. Lord Jesus, may Your second coming be soon, for Your Glory Lord.