March 26th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian March 26th 2017Matthew 13:24-43

We live in a quick fix world, wanting solutions at our fingertips. In Matthew chapter 11 people wanted to know if Jesus really was the Messiah when there were so many being faced. In verse 35 Matthew links the parables to the prophet; we are to know God through the teaching of the parables, ‘This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”’ (Matthew 13: 35).
In this passage we have three parables of encouragement:
in times of trouble (The parable of the Weeds)
when there is little growth (The Parable of the Mustard Seed)
when the good work seems to be hidden (The Parable of the Leaven).

  • The Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13: 24-33 & 36-43).

In this parable we see the challenge of troubles. Matthew probably refers to a weed that resembles wheat and is very plentiful today in Israel, the seed of wild rice grasses. The difference between the weed and wheat is only noticeable when they mature. When the servants first notice the weeds they question the quality of the seed. When they are told it’s been planted by the enemy they want to get rid of it. The master wants to restrain the servants, letting both plants grow together. Over time they will be identifiable. Today we have the church against the world. Later Jesus will send His reapers, His angels. Jesus identifies Himself as the sower, the enemy is the devil and the field is the world. Some teach we should welcome all into the church, we shouldn’t be worried about purity, church discipline is not to be thought of too much. This is entirely unscriptural. Jesus teaches how important church discipline is. Jesus says there is to be no immediate judgement. A premature judgement will ruin the crop. God’s way is to have the gospel preached to an unbelieving world whilst the enemy does his work. God has permitted the church and evil to grow together. A harvest will come at the end of the age, when there will be eternal judgement, ‘The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 13:41-42). However, be encouraged, ‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.’ (Matthew 13:43).

  • The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13: 31-32): Smallness

The second parable is about the smallness of the kingdom, when there seems to be little growth. The mustard seed is small, we feel ourselves so small, wanting to be bigger. We may look to super churches, wanting our own church to be bigger. However, small things can have a big impact. Jesus encourages His disciples by telling them the kingdom will grow. Size is not important but growth. From small beginnings there is growth, just as Daniel saw the kingdom’s growth to include many nations. Christ’s kingdom is such; we may have small beginnings but there is always growth when you have the Holy Spirit. Here is a living seed, very small, but awakened. It grew. We may feel our days are small, this cuts our desire to preach the gospel, reduces our resolve to move forward. It can narrow our vision, we become satisfied with our smallness. But Jesus says there will be growth. Our God is gracious, be encouraged. He will build His church. We must keep on preaching the gospel, believing others will be saved. Expect growth because Jesus has determined there will be growth. Be encouraged!

  • The Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13:33) Hiddenness

This parable has caused a lot of controversy; in the Old Testament leaven was associated with evil. Many have taken this parable as corruption of the church, and that a new, pure church needs to be started. However, there is only one church – God’s people redeemed by Christ. The world encapsulates false churches and we must have nothing to do with them. Part of the challenge of living with the weeds is to be discerning. The New Testament church remains under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There will be no corruption of the true church. Biblical symbolism does not always have the same meaning in all circumstances. Look at the context.

Jesus is encouraging His disciples here. In this parable there is a small amount of leaven, of yeast. There is a lack of outward and obvious success. The woman in this parable hid the leaven in the mixture. The word of God is within, we are to hide the word of God in our hearts. We must seek the Holy Spirit deep down in our hearts, keep it treasured. The word of God must change us from within. Don’t be concerned for outward success, seek from within. Is there a work of grace going on in our hearts?

The three parables are parables of encouragement. There is no quick fix, no sweeping away of unbelief. In spite of smallness, Christ’s kingdom will come on earth. None will be able to stop its flow, until the end of the age when there will be righteous judgement.

 

March 17th 2017: Ian Middlemist

Ian - March 17Joshua 6: The ‘Battle’ of Jericho

The gospel message can be summed up in the words, ‘In my place condemned He stood; sealed my pardon with His blood.’  He’s done it all for us! We find that in the history of God’s people, from Adam and Eve being provided with garments, the provision of the Ark for Noah, the rescue of Lot, God providing for Joseph, Jacob and family, to the land given to the Israelites, as promised.

The amazing thing in Joshua 6, the Battle of Jericho, is that there was no battle! God gave Jericho into Joshua’s hands. In the New Testament, in Hebrews, we read the wall of Jericho fell down by faith, it was the Lord who did it all, ‘By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.’ (Hebrews 11:30).

Joshua 6 is a wonderful narrative of a great victory – the grace of God working and the powerful judgement of the Lord. Jericho was not a particularly large city, about 7 acres in total. It was a strong fortress. It was shut up, secure, no-one could go in or out, ‘Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in.’ (Joshua 6:1).

This was a classic siege. Jericho was on the road to the mountains. It geographically affected the tactics; if Israel was to capture the hill country, it needed to defeat Jericho. Joshua’s strategy began and ended with the Lord. Yes, there were armed men, but they were followed by priests carrying huge trumpets, not swords. The trumpets were the ones used to announce the year of Jubilee throughout the land – the presence of God’s kingdom. The Ark of the Covenant was prominent as they were marching, behind which were armed men and the people. The people’s whole focus was centred on the power and presence of God.

When we think of the cross of Jesus Christ, how could a man, bleeding and dying, destroy the dark powers of Satan? How could the cross destroy sin and death? In Joshua 6 we see an example in what God does again and again in the history of redemption. Our weapons are not swords, it is our humble Christian testimony of our broken and fragmented lives lived in unity with Christ. Our great weapon is prayer. God takes the foolish things of this world and confounds the mighty and strong.

The salvation of Rahab. How was Rahab delivered? ‘But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.’ (Joshua 6:25). She was saved because she hid the men who Joshua had sent. She didn’t merit salvation, ‘You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way.’ (James 2:24-25). Rahab demonstrated her faith in the amazing promise the spies had brought her. She was brought out with her faith (Joshua 6:23).

Because she was unclean she was set outside the camp, then brought back in because she was now clean, fully part of the people of God. In chapter 2 it seems as if the spies knocked on a door and there, by chance, stood Rahab. Rahab herself explained that this wasn’t the situation (Joshua 2:10). She had heard of Yahweh, the eternal God of great deeds. The citizens of Jericho had heard of what the Lord had done but only Rahab believed and wanted a sure sign. She pleaded for God to have mercy on her.

David, in Psalm 51, also pleads for mercy, ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!’ (Psalm 51:1-2). Rahab’s family was the only family to turn in faith, that He might show mercy on them. If you appeal to God’s grace you can be saved, the arms of the Lord will welcome you. Rahab received mercy from a gracious God.

There is something deeply disturbing about what happened to the city of Jericho. The people were slaughtered – women and children. Only gold and silver were taken out for the treasury of the Lord. The scriptures have set this up – it’s not covered up, it’s spelt out in detail. It’s a totally righteous judgement. Jericho was ‘shut up’ (Joshua 6:1). If the city opened up its gates and pleaded for mercy, then mercy it would have received. But the people’s hearts were hardened and would have nothing to do with God. The worst judgement – hell’s eternal agony for all who reject Him. When we see our Saviour crying out, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46), we begin to appreciate the depth of the righteousness of God.

When Christ comes, this is how it will be: when Jesus heals He restores. He will utterly destroy everything that stands in His way. The wall of sin is broken down by the cross. We live in gospel days. Today is the day of salvation. But death is near. People are interested in the materialistic things of this world, but the judgement of God is coming, there is no escape. We long for our friends to take hold of the promises of God. We must pray that they might be rescued from the coming judgement.

 

 

 

12th March 2017: Pete Hilder

John 6: 1-40

Pete Hilder - March 2017The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is in all four gospels. Here, in John 6, we read of three miracles: Jesus feeds the 5,000, Jesus walks on water and is verse 21 the disciples were teleported to their destination. The disciples had rowed for hours, making little progress, then Jesus teleports their boat, ‘Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.’ (John 6:21). The disciples had experiences three miracles, now the crowd expected one.

As they arose the next day the crowd wondered where Jesus was. Only one boat had left and that just had the disciples in. Where did Jesus go? Knowing the disciples were in Capernaum, the crowd decided to go travel there in boats. They put effort in to find Jesus. ‘When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”’ (John 6:25). This may have had a tinge of annoyance. They wanted Jesus as their king but He had wandered off. ‘Perceiving then that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.’ (John 6:15). Jesus, in His answer, doesn’t seem to be very impressed, ‘Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”’ (John 6:26). They were seeking Him but their motives were wrong; they wanted an experience. They wanted more of what they had. We can be like that – searching for the experience. Jesus uses the bread as a spiritual picture, ‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal.’ (John 6:27).


If you wanted bread today you would need money. The people talk about labouring for God, ‘Then they said to Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”’ (John 6:28). Jesus says no-one can earn this blessing. ‘Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”’ (John 6:29). God requires us to believe, we can’t earn this bread. We must trust in the Son. It is a gift we cannot buy.


Today, there is a best before date’ on a packet of bread. We check the label to see if it’s fresh and will taste good. Jesus says, ‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you (v.27). Jesus speaks of a different bread, a bread that endures, it goes on for eternity, never needing to be replaced. But the crowd aren’t satisfied, ‘So they said to Him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?”’ (John 6:30).  They want a guarantee. We can’t have a guarantee for a loaf of bread from a baker. The people wanted proof. They want heavenly bread that Moses gave, ‘Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”’ (John 6:31). They had their own idea of how they wanted God to save them. We can be just like this ourselves, wishing we could have seen miracles during Jesus’ time. We want stipulate the way we want God to provide for us.

The manufacturer and the brand name. May be sometimes we go somewhere and have a really nice slice of bread or cake and we want the recipe or want to know what shop it came from. Jesus is saying to the people, ‘you’ve got the wrong manufacturer.’ ‘Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”’ (John 6:32). It wasn’t Moses who gave the bread, but God. We need to realise there’s something far more special and wonderful to get right with God. ‘This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds o this bread will live forever.”’ (John 6:58). Ultimately, the bread of Moses did not save the people. We are to take the real heavenly bread – Jesus’ bread – the brand name we’re after. Jesus says, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’ (John 6:35). He is the food we need for our souls.

Most of us have bread every day. If we lives in a less well-off culture we’d probably eat more bread, but we have more choice. Bread is a staple food. It equals life. This is the case spiritually speaking, it doesn’t cost anything, it endures. If we don’t have this bread we will starve. There is no other way of feeding our souls and sustaining a spiritual life. We must receive this bread.

What are the benefits of this bread? If you look at the details on the packet, you see the goodness and energy it provides. The benefits of Jesus’ bread is far more, it has wonderful spiritual benefits.

  • You shall not go hungry if you receive Jesus Christ. Spiritually speaking you won’t require anything else (v.35)
  • You will never thirst. (v. 35)
  • You’ll never be driven away from God, you’ll be welcomed in. (v. 37)
  • You’ll never be lost, you’ll be saved, secure. (v.39)
  • You’ll be raise up on the last day, it leads to the resurrection.

(v. 39)

  • You will have eternal life (v.40).

Isn’t this the quest of humanity? It is freely offered to you, a bread that gives eternal life. It has unique benefits, nothing else comes close.

Perhaps you’ve been let down. Sometimes food looks great but it lets us down, it hasn’t lived up to our expectations. But this bread has the name of the Father and the Son on it. He guarantees it. Jesus Christ, the bread of life, fulfils all of the above. Nobody can snatch us away, God is all powerful to do the things He has promised.

 

5th March 2017: Alan Davison

Luke 3:23 – 4:15: Satan tempts Jesus

alan davison march 17In our culture family trees are very popular. The Bible uses genealogies a lot. They were very important to the Jews; even in the time of Jesus, Salvation was thought to be dependent on being a Jew.

The temptation of Christ, as well as His baptism, are very important aspects of the gospels, being recorded in three of the synoptic gospels.. Luke alone inserts this genealogy between the baptism of Jesus and His temptation. Luke wants to make the point that Adam was the son of God. He did not have biological parents, therefore we can genuinely think of him as a son of God. Jesus is referred to as the last Adam, ‘And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.’ (1 Corinthians 15:45-56 NKJV). We see both Adam and Jesus were tempted by Satan. Jesus overcomes but Adam fell.

At the beginning of Luke 4 Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads Jesus in His ministry, not into temptation. The Holy Spirit is present with Jesus during the temptations. It comes immediately after His baptism, where the Spirit is also present. There is a parallel in our own lives; we have a spiritual feeling that uplifts us. Satan attacks but the Holy Spirit is always present to help us.

The temptations are recorded in a different order in Matthew and Luke, but this is not important. What is important in both gospel records have the same details, are upheld and complement each other.

‘Being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.’ (Luke 4:2). 40 days is the practical limit for human endurance to go without food. Jesus responds with scripture to all of the temptations. He specifically quotes from Deuteronomy (the repetition of the law, used to explain laws to the lay men).

‘And the devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”’ (Luke 4:3). At first glance the temptation is about food, but it’s really about trust. Adam was tempted by food, this also was really about trust. Jesus’ trust is in the Father is being tested here, “If you are the Son of God.” Jesus, of course, responds with scripture, But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ (Luke 4:4). In the Garden of Eden, Eve did not quote exactly what God said, she didn’t fully trust in God but listened to Satan. Jesus’ response allowed no manoeuvre for Satan. Jesus was never really alone, neither are we.

Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountHolyain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”’ (Luke 4:5-7). Satan offers Jesus authority over all the kingdoms of the world. At the start of Job, notice that Satan cannot act until God allows him to. Satan opposes God. He is a powerful being – don’t underestimate him but don’t overate him. Satan offers Jesus absolute political and military authority. Many of Israel would have been happy with this but it would elevate Satan above God. Jesus rebukes Satan before quoting scripture. He will not only trust God the Father, but all the glory goes to the Father. ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ (Luke 4:8). The coming of Jesus has changed the balance of power forever. Jesus gave power and authority to His disciples. We too can submit to God, in the name of Jesus, and have power over Satan. ‘Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.’ (James 4:7).

In Revelation 20 we read a long description of Satan’s efforts to rally against God, but it is all over in 2 verses (Revelation 20:9-10). Satan is so easily dealt with. For us, as believers, worshipping anything but God doesn’t make sense. To serve God is to be absolutely committed to Him and Him alone. Anything else is spiritual adultery.

‘Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’ (Luke 4:9-11). Satan’s final attempt – he offered Jesus a good reputation. He wants Jesus to put Himself first, even finding the nerve to quote a scripture. Satan quotes from Psalm 92: 11-12 ‘For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ However, when quoting, Satan deliberately leaves out the words, ‘In all ways.’ This changes the context of what he is quoting. Psalm 91 speaks of walking along a path, being supported as a friend would, giving you a shoulder to lean on. This psalm actually speaks of God’s care and attention, abiding in God’s will and not seeking our own way. We should seek for what God wants us to do.

God makes clear the sanctity of life. We do not deserve certain things. ‘Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of every man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”’ (Genesis 9:5-6). Pride leads to destruction. ‘By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.’ (Proverbs 13:10). Strife comes because of our pride.

 The word ‘tempt’ could also be translated as ‘test.’ Jesus rejects the temptation, ‘And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”’ (Luke 4:12). Jesus will not test His Father. Satan then retreats but seeks an opportune time to return again, ‘Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.’ (Luke 4:13). When we are tempted we too are to turn to the scriptures, to God. He provides His own way. We may also have opportunities to receive accolades and awards, but He alone is worthy to receive honour. Give glory to God. It is also good to have a good reputation but we ought to take care less we become proud.

Our original father, Adam, failed at the first temptation. We are all sinners because Adam sinned first. But Jesus resisted every temptation. He did so by using things which are available for us to use – He used the scriptures. Praise His Name.

26th February 2017: Ian Middlemist

ian-feb-17Ian preached from Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus walks on water.

There is no safety net in the Christian life, only eyes fixed upon Jesus Christ will save us. Ian gave three points on this scripture:

  • The Christ of Creation
  • A power to bestow
  • A faith to grow.
  • The Christ of Creation:

The disciples have been sent out after a great things has taken place – the feeding of the 5,000. Crowds were wanting the Saviour’s attention but He wants to withdraw, by himself, to pray. So the disciples were told to go out into the boat on the Sea of Galilee. A storm arose. There was a previous occasion, in Matthew chapter 8, where there was another storm. The storm here is very different. In chapter 8 the disciples were afraid for their lives. Here, in chapter 14 they are not so afraid of dying. In chapter 8 Jesus is in the boat. Here, initially, Jesus is nowhere to be seen. In chapter 8 all the disciples are named as being ‘of little faith.’ Here, in chapter 14, Peter receives special attention. Whilst all the disciples are important, there are times when Jesus’ focus is on one only. The Saviour is capable of dealing with the whole as well as the individual. He wants to do a work in our life, He cares about you.

In the storm, during the fourth watch, between 3 and 6 a.m., is often when the greatest trials take place; our struggles are often in the middle of the night. The night hours just seem to go on and on. The disciples had been struggling in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. God doesn’t let us rest, there is always more to be done – to teach us more and more lessons because of His great love for us. What brought fear to the disciples? ‘But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. (Matthew 14:26). The disciples thought this was a ghost but it was none other than the great I am.

They were terrified, shaken to the core because of the ‘ghost’ they saw on the water. We are reminded of Psalm 77:16 ‘When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.’ The forces of nature are putty in God’s hands, they are under His sovereign authority.

  • A power to bestow:

Jesus reveals Himself, ‘But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.’ (Matthew 14:27). Jesus reveals Himself as a man of peace (Take heart), a man of power (I am), and a man of potential (Do not be afraid).

As we look on, Peter sees his great Saviour. Peter comes naturally to Jesus, wanting to follow his master’s footsteps. He sees the impossible taking place. He is quick thinking and wants to move. ‘And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”’ (Matthew 14:28). He has no doubt that this is Jesus. What Peter is saying is rather, ‘Since it is you …’ He wants to follow His master. Jesus, after all, has told His disciples to do what He does. Peter now takes those first baby steps out of the boat. His eyes are fixed n Jesus, trusting in Jesus that He would keep him afloat. He too, keeps us afloat. What a miracle for Jesus to talk on water, but mightier still to make Peter walk on water. Do you see what great things Jesus will do for those who trust in Him? He will enable us to do those things that we once thought were impossible. He will carry us through the most trying times. Don’t be afraid, He will carry us through. Come to Jesus Christ, don’t hesitate. Give your life to Him.

  • A faith to grow:

We are not intended to walk on water, we are meant to walk on solid ground. We are designed to be on solid ground. Right now, God wants us to be in Penuel, serving Him. This is without doubt where we are meant to be this morning. The thrill of the Christian life is here in Penuel. Peter steps forward, walks on water but then gets into difficulty. Great difficulties will take place when we take our eyes off Jesus. Peter was easily distracted and became afraid – just as we become distracted. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus. Life can be so hard sometimes; we have immense challenges to face. These are the storms of life the scriptures speak of again and again. We need to fix our eyes upon Jesus. This is why coming to church is so good. Don’t be distracted by your circumstances. The trials of life are so tied to the power of Jesus Christ. Peter’s weak flesh gets the better of his willing spirit. Jesus sets His face towards Jerusalem, let’s fix our eyes afresh on Jesus.

We are constantly a mixture of belief and doubt. Jesus is my all, then He’s a big part of my life and then a small part of my life. The over-riding message of the New Testament is Jesus has got us safe and sound. We are precious to Him, even when we doubt He will never leave us, He will never let us go, He will never let us sink. Peter was rescued. Peter learns the message:

fix you eyes on Jesus,
He’s got you, even when you’re sinking.

We are also like Peter; we believe. His faith was small but he did believe. We’re safe because we have a Saviour. Jesus reaches out His hand and takes hold of us every single day. He will give us strength to perform great things in life – to say no to sin and to preach the gospel people aren’t interested in – not because we’re great, but because Jesus Christ alone is great and cares for us.

 

19th February 2017: Gerald Tait

geralt-tait-feb-17We recently welcomed Gerald Tait to take our morning service, when he preached from Luke 2:39-52, which he called ‘The eloquence of silence.’

Following on from the birth of Jesus there is silence until His ministry begins, except for one brief glimpse here. This silence must be respected. The gospels are a presentation of Jesus. Palestine was different in those days to what it is now. Jesus’ family chose to live in Galilee, in Nazareth, that the Old Testament scripture might be fulfilled – He would be a Nazarene. Nazareth had no major roads, it stood in the shelter of the hills where flowers bloomed. Jesus grew here as a child. This influenced Him. He talked about the countryside on many occasions.

This one glimpse of Jesus’ life is like a beacon. The family travelled about 80 miles for the Feast of the Passover in March / April. Thousands of people made a simple booth, a shelter to sleep in. The feast lasted 7 days. They went to the temple and offered sacrifices. Many bought 2 pigeons, unable to buy a lamb. Families reunited to worship in the temple. They would have experienced the wonderful singing of the Levitical choir. In these surroundings the boy Jesus is 12 years old. The service of Bar Mitzvah would have happened, when a boy becomes a man, when he becomes emancipated, no longer under his parents’ control. The interesting thing, when Jesus was found, He was subservient to them, He still obeyed them. His parents missed Him and searched for Him. The last place they looked for Him was God’s house. ‘And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2: 49). Isn’t it true of us, when we are lost, often the last place we go to is God’s house?

Jesus then went back to Nazareth, to this quiet place. ‘For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.’ (Isaiah 53:2).

The eloquence of silence proves authenticity. The story would never have been invented like this; in a fictional world Jesus would have grown up in a palace. The silence stops invention.

It all clicks into place. It’s another 16 years until Jesus comes on to the scene again. John the Baptist prepare the way for Jesus. They grew up as cousins. There comes a time when Jesus comes alongside John and asks him to baptise Him in the Jordan. The silence gives a platform for the great announcement from heaven. When Jesus came out of the water, the heavens break open, ‘And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”’ (Luke 3:22). What could our heavenly Father be well pleased with? The silence of these years prove Jesus’ humility and dignity.

‘Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). Don’t be distracted by the things of this world. Listen and look for Jesus, who will be a blessing to you. His ministry will lift you up, He will lift the broken reed. The greatest discovery we can make is that He is always there to receive us. If we love and know the Lord Jesus He will become such a reality to us that we will hear His voice wherever we are.

On the transfiguration the silence was broken again. From the silence and eloquence of that, we come to the majesty of God. Listen to Him.