Matthew 14-16

Matthew 16:1-12: Your Verdict

Sun, 25/03/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

“It’s time to consider your verdict.”

So says the judge to the members of a jury after all the evidence has been heard and summed up.

If you’ve ever served on a jury, you’ll know that you then retire to a special room to consider the evidence you’ve heard. You mustn’t be swayed by anything outside. Reports in the media. You can’t look up the defendant on Facebook. You mustn’t discuss the case at home. The evidence you’ve heard should be enough to reach a verdict. Your task is to consider that evidence.

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Matthew 15:21-29: Food in All Directions

Sun, 11/03/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

One of the crises in the modern world is hunger. Actually, it’s not new: There have always been people who are desperately hungry. In parts of Africa, crops have failed year on year, often because of a lack of rain. But even in our own country, some struggle to find enough to eat.

It’s Mothering Sunday. Even more desperate than hunger in general is the mother who cannot feed her children, or who feeds them by not eating enough herself. It’s a sad scene, and one that is far more common, and maybe far closer to home, than we often realise.

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Matthew 15:21-28: Dogfood

Sun, 25/02/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

I wonder what you made of that story.

Many people find it a hard one to read. I don’t know how you picture Jesus.

To some, Jesus was a bit of a hippy. Long hair. Goatee beard. Watching butterflies flap around the field.

Charles Wesley wrote a hymn for children entitled “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”. The hymn actually has moderately rich content. But for many people the title of that hymn sums up the Jesus they picture. Meek and mild.

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Matthew 15:1-20 (part 2): External ceremonies

Sun, 18/02/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Last week, we were thinking about how easily a religion can become a clique. An exclusive club, that leaves you feeling left out if you’re not one of the initiated ones.

Judaism was never meant to be exclusive. God gave his people great privilege, so that they might share this with all the nations. But instead of sharing those privileges, they’d hoarded them.

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Matthew 15:1-20 (part 1): Human traditions

Sun, 11/02/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Religions can make for very exclusive clubs. A clique. It can be hard to break in from outside. All kinds of little signals that you don’t belong. You don’t know how things are done around here. So it’s hard to fit in.

Ancient Judaism was never meant to be a clique. God’s plan was for the people of Israel to be a light to the nations. Their privileges were meant to be shared. Instead, they’d become something to feel superior about. Which meant it was hard for those who were not Jews to break in, to become part of God’s people.

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Matthew 14:22-36: Stay in the Boat!

Sun, 28/01/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

Many of us know from experience that the waters of life are not always calm. Things can get decidedly choppy.

A number of us have had the experience of Jesus being with us and looking after us in the stormy times. But others would say that those times have been even harder because Jesus has felt absent.

Today’s Bible story is for everyone who’s known a season when their life is like rowing into the wind. And for everyone who will ever have such a season. Which means all of us.

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Matthew 14:13-21: Not Bring and Share

Sun, 21/01/2018 - 10:30 -- James Oakley

What do you make of the person of Jesus? To many he was little more than one of the great figures of history. A good teacher, who said some memorable and wise things. Some doubt he even existed. To Christians, he’s much more than a good teacher. He’s our Lord and our God. Our Saviour and our King.

To work out what you make of him, you’d need to look at the evidence. It’s something many people have never done. Look at the evidence for Jesus’ claims.

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