Sermon Notes + Quotes:
We study through books of the Bible here at The Village Chapel. We have extra copies. If you didn’t bring one with you and you’d like one to follow along. Would you just raise your hand up real high? It’s always helpful, I think, to have the text in front of you since we do this verse by verse, chapter by chapter and book by book.
The study is called ‘The King and His Kingdom’ and we are looking at the eyewitness account of a man formerly known as Levi the tax collector, one of the disciples of Jesus. This is the first book of the New Testament.
He, Levi, a Jewish man, writing we think with a Jewish audience in mind because he does quote the Old Testament close to a hundred times, and connects the dots between the Old Testament and this person, Jesus, who is the King, and this is His kingdom that we are studying about as we go through the text.
I am going to call this week’s study ‘The Three Essentials of the Flourishing Soul’. There are more than three essentials, but we are going to highlight three out of this text here. As I read through it, you can just follow along in your copy of the Bible, or if you have one online or something like that, so you will be able to see if you can pick these out. We will treat it like Where’s Waldo, or Highlights Magazine. See if you can dig in that way.
We are going to attempt to clarify and answer, if we can or manage, some questions:
- Why did the claims of Jesus become sources of such great tension between Him and the religious leaders of the day?
- Why was there tension there?
- What did Jesus say are some of the essentials for our souls’ flourishing, what is Jesus’ view on that?
- How do Jesus’ teachings on such matters still speak to the deepest longings of our hearts today?
I will remind you that our last study, which we just ended with those beautiful three verses of the last bit of chapter eleven, I will put them up on the screen so you can see them again, but Jesus answered that question, ‘Where can we find rest for our souls?’
Interestingly, He did not point to a desert mountain hideaway. He did not point to a luxury cruise ship getaway in telling us where we could find rest for our souls. Jesus did not point to a faddish religious philosophy, a popular self-help book or a new approach to self-discovery. Jesus had the audacity to point to Himself.
Here is what he said to the disciples. It is up there on the screen. Would you read it along with me?
“Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
There are a couple of things I want to point out there, which we did not have time to get to last week. Hopefully, I will be able to not only do this little bit of a review in stepping back, but it will launch us forward into what we see in chapter twelve here.
Notice that there are two kinds of rests noted. There is a rest that is given and a rest that is found. We are to be engaged with God, in a relationship with God. It is living and active and He offers it as a gift, this rest that we so long for. All of us are exhausted at some point. All of us are stretched thin like too little butter over too much bread as Bilbo Baggins says, and we feel that. It is not just a bit of doctrine or dogma. It is an existential reality for some of us from time to time. If it is not yours right now, just wait, it is coming.
There is a rest that is given, but there is also a rest that is found. That found rest, that is for your souls. Jesus says that this is found in Him, by you taking His yoke upon you and by learning from Him. Are you doing that?
We have so many resources available to us in our day and time. I walk into my own library at my home. I probably have a couple thousand books in there. I am not hurting for something to read. I am not hurting for research resources for preaching. I am not hurting for devotional resources at all. They are plenty and available. The question is, do I engage with God?
When you come here, you can walk through the door. You can be distracted by what someone is wearing, or how someone smells, or if you get a close talker. Have you ever had a close talker in church? Close talkers, those people, they always have halitosis. It is kind of a breath problem and yet they really want to be right in your grill, don’t they? But when you come through the door, what is your purpose in being here? Is it just checking a box culturally, or are you seeking to encounter God, to worship God, to express yourself to God and to receive from God? These are great questions. I look at those verses and I just love those verses. As I say, some of the sweetest promises in the New Testament are right there.
Let’s move right into chapter twelve, remembering that Matthew did not stop at, ‘My yoke is easy, and my load is light, or my burden is light’. He did not stop there and think, ‘I wonder what chapter twelve will be?’. No, the chapter assignments were much, much later when the English Bibles were being printed up and the verses were assigned even later than that. Those are just so we can navigate and find our way through the text. Matthew just rolls right on through. That is why he says, “At that time,” because it connects, doesn’t it? “At that time,” what time? At the time Jesus was saying these kinds of things, or at least somewhere near that time. It is broad, “At that time.” It is a broad statement, but it does connect to what Jesus just said and we are told an interesting thing here,
“Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields and his disciples became hungry and began to eat or to pick rather the heads of the grain and to eat. When the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, ‘Behold, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.’ But he said to them, ‘Have you not read what David did? [King David, someone they revered, someone in their history that they looked up to]. Have you not read what King David did when he became hungry? He and his companions, [this is a reference to First Samuel twenty-one, which we have studied together when we did the study of First Samuel], “‘how he, [David,] entered the House of God. They ate the consecrated bread which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with Him, but for the priests alone. Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent.'”
How do they break the Sabbath? They lift something heavier than a fig when they lift the animal carcass to offer the sacrifice, when they move the furniture in the temple around to accommodate the worship of God and the sacrifices of God’s people. If you are just going to be a rule follower, they are literally breaking some of the rules. So, it is another case where those in leadership are saying, ‘Rules for thee but not for me,’ or is there something else we need to learn here? Jesus then goes on, “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.”
Right about now, if you were watching this on a screen, the face, the heads of each of those religious leaders would begin to boil. Their skin would pop with bubbles. Steam would be coming out of their ears and their nose. Their eyes would be bleeding. They would be so mad, so angry, so upset that He would say something like this, that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what this means, “I desire compassion and not a sacrifice,” quoting from Hosea chapter six, “you would not have condemned the innocent”. Here is Jesus pronouncing and declaring His disciples as innocent for what they did, as is the same for David, and the same for the priests in the temple when they did the sacrificial work on the Sabbath.
Then their heads do explode with the next verse, it goes all over the place,
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Poof. This is just the temple and the Sabbath, are you kidding? “Departing From there, He went into their synagogue, and behold, there was a man with a withered hand, and they questioned Him, [meaning Jesus, saying,] ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”
Matthew tells us what their motive is, in order that they might accuse Him. This was written several years after, and there was plenty of time to dialogue with people who were there. There was plenty of time to talk with people like Nicodemus, with people like Joseph of Arimathea, or even on the Sanhedrin Council and could have said, ‘yeah, we were all talking about that. Yeah no, we wanted to catch Him in something, so we could discredit Him’.
“He said to them, what man shall there be among you who shall have one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep, so then it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath?”
This is reminding us that Biblical anthropology is not neutral. In God’s eyes, humanity, the only part of creation that He created in His image, that is of greater value than cockroaches or than other parts of His creation, such as inanimate objects like rocks or water. Biblical anthropology has a different view. With the privilege of being created in the image of God comes a responsibility for creation care, a responsibility for us to bear the family image, a challenge, if you will, to all of us.
So, there He is, Jesus, they present this possibility of healing someone on the Sabbath to Him in order, they might accuse Him, and He says to them, “if you had a sheep that fell in, you would lift it out.” That certainly would be against their Sabbath rules as they had dressed them out.
Verse thirteen, “then He says to the man, [turns to this nameless man], ‘Stretch out your hand.’ and He stretched it out and it was restored to normal like the other one,” [not three months of physical therapy, not six months of physical therapy, but right there, right in front of their eyes on the Sabbath, stretches it out and literally is now made the same, made whole, if you will, on the Sabbath.] “The Pharisees went out. They counseled together against Him, [Jesus], as to how they might destroy Him. [They wanted to discredit Him in verse ten, and now they want to destroy Him in verse fourteen]. “Jesus aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed him and he healed them,” [say it…ALL].
I love the all’s of the Bible. That is a great word to circle. How many did He heal on that occasion? All of them. Did He do it that way every time? No. We will visit the pool of Bethesda again where He healed one man out of what would have likely been thousands, maybe a few hundred at least and He healed just one person. But here, we are told by Matthew on this occasion, that many followed Him. I do not know what many means, but it is many. It is not one, it is not two, it is many, and He healed all of them. Then He warned them not to make Him known, in order that, what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, (this is Him quoting Isaiah forty-two) might be fulfilled in his saying,
“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved and whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my spirit upon Him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.” [This is God the Father predicting the Messiah coming and what is going to happen through the Messiah.] He will proclaim this justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. A battered reed, He will not break off, [That is so beautiful, right there.] a smoldering wick he will not put out.”
How often do you feel like a battered reed, a bent reed? I was out cutting some of these Hydrangeas, I think, you see out here in the lobby. I was cutting some of those. We have a little deck of those, way too many of them around our house, and so I was cutting some of them and some of the thinner ones would bend like that. Then I thought, ‘I don’t want to waste it. That reed has got such a great flower on it.’ I thought, ‘Duct tape’ Duct tape kills the beauty, but saves the bent reed. Here is Jesus. He is not going to break off a battered reed, and a smoldering wick He will not blow out.
A smoldering wick, gentle and lowly He is, right? “A bruised reed he will not break off. A smoldering wick he will not put out”. It is so beautiful the way He says this, “until He leads justice to victory.” Most of us would say, we love justice. We want there to be justice in this world. What does it look like? It looks like things being set right someday and this is the promise of Jesus.
That is why the Christian faith is so forward looking. So forward looking as to almost be impervious to the fears and anxieties of the present, not totally impervious, of course, but nonetheless, looking forward with so much confidence in who He is and His promise that we know the final outcome is good because it is His.
He is the one who controls the final outcome. He leads justice to victory. In His name, the Gentiles will hope. That would have been yet the third thing that made these religious leaders’ heads explode. They were the chosen people, not Gentiles. They woke up every morning and they would just pray, ‘Ah, thank God that I’m not a dog,’ and they would say, ‘I’m not a dog, a woman or a Gentile,’ and that is just the way it was back then. In his name, the Gentiles, the outsiders, even those others, repugnant others, they will hope. It is what Jesus is saying, and it is kind of shocking, but it is also wonderful, isn’t it?
I want to look as we explore this passage at three essential themes for a flourishing soul. They are wrapped up in some of what we read here, rest, worship, and hope. Before I explore this though, let me just say a prayer to ask the Lord to help all of us to learn through this extraordinary invitation, these remarkable claims of Jesus, this prescription for the opportunity for a flourishing soul.
‘God, our Father, you who make all things work together for the good of those who love. Seize our hearts this morning with a breathtaking wonder of your presence, the comforting piece of your spirit. Give us a confident trust in our Savior, King Jesus, that thereby being turned aside from all temptations, anxieties, and fears, we may walk faithfully with our Redeemer, taking His yoke upon us, learning from Him. Where in Him alone, our true rest may be found. Give us a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power and a more confident assurance of your love for us, in Jesus’ name, amen and amen.’
So, these three themes you might say, ‘I do not really see that there,’ or, ‘I see some of that there, but not all of it there’. These three themes, as I meditated on this text this week and tried to try to ask myself the question like, ‘how does this impact our lives today and the way we experience our relationship with God?’ These interesting places He goes, some of these symbols, some of these rituals that the ancient Jews were practicing, are all wrapped up in these twenty-one verses.
There is much to discuss about the Sabbath, and the word Sabbath means ‘rest’. The ten times the Sabbath is mentioned in the book of Matthew, eight of them are in this chapter alone. So, it must be considered as a primary theme for what the Lord is trying to communicate to us in chapter twelve. The idea of rest, the idea of a context for our rest. Where is that context where we can rest? Now, a lot of you, maybe you have … how many of you are light sensitive? Where you cannot sleep very well if there is too much light? I am a little bit that way. My wife, Kim, is that way. She has got those serious bomber blinders that she puts on and they are great. They block everything out and she has good darkness to fall asleep in. You might have a neighbor who has a barking dog. You might have some people in your neighborhood who drive by with loud cars or loud music or whatever. You might be able to think of physical reasons why you did not get to sleep. How many of you can sleep on an airplane? Anybody got that gift on an airplane; you can fall right out? I do not have this gift. I covet your gift. I want this. Kim does that too. She brings her visors on the airplane, puts them on. And they say to that annoying person next to her, ‘Do not even think about talking to me’. She is well equipped for rest on that.
What is the context for the rest that your soul is desiring, and what do we see here about the context for rest? Very important, I think it is worship.
Now, you might think there is not much here about worship, but of course, the temple is mentioned, and the temple is the focus of worship in the New Testament time, and the Old Testament time as well. I love going to the ruins of the temple mounds and being able to touch stones that are hundreds or even a couple thousands of years old. It is not magic, but it is just interesting to me that for the Jews, this was indeed the center, the place. Place is so important in worship for them. I am not saying that it is not important, but I also pose the question of what is the object of your worship?
It appears to me that if they get to the place where they worship the building, that might enrage them if He were to say, ‘Something greater than the temple is here.’ That might enrage them. When I was growing up, the church I went to was a very conservative church in many ways, and the furniture inside the sanctuary was sacred in some way. Again, I am not trying to diminish having reverence and being grown up in our thoughts and all that sort of thing, but there is a thin line of when we move into worshiping the building.
I felt like we had an opportunity to learn that over the last couple of years when we could not come to the building, and the test of whether we worshiped the building was how mad we might have gotten that we could not come to the building. At least I felt that for me, it was a question that pressed in on me. The building, there is nothing wrong with the building. There is nothing wrong with having the building, just as there was nothing wrong with having the temple. God gave them much instruction about the use of the temple, but what is the object of our worship? We will be constantly dissatisfied if the object of our worship is not God Himself. Anything, even good things that replace God will put us in a place where we will get upset that Jesus claims to be greater than that thing.
Then there is this hope. So, we really have the context for rest, the object of our worship, and I think the source of our hope is also here, especially that beautiful last verse twenty-one. It is so amazing. Why? Because I’m a Gentile. You may or may not be, but I am. My mom swears we are 1/32 portion Israeli. She wants to be Jewish so bad. All right, mom. She’s watching right now. So, mom, maybe we have 1/32 of us as Jewish. That’s right. It is possible. But our hope is not in being Jewish. Our hope is in the one who offers salvation to everyone on the planet, no matter where they were born, no matter what race.
This is the most inclusive religion on the planet. You understand that. Because it is not just for the people from this nation, or this zip code, or that race. The Christian faith puts an offer out that is an offer to all, anyone who will repent and believe. It is not an unfolding of a list of rules to follow. It is just an offer, and it is an offer of hope, hope in the Lord.
Now there are a couple things I thought you might enjoy knowing about, and I have a few minutes left. So, as I say, this is the first mention of the Sabbath in the New Testament and eight times in this chapter ten of Matthew, but the Sabbath itself is referenced one hundred thirty-eight times throughout the Bible, seventy-eight in the Old Testament, sixty in the New Testament.
Certainly, the Sabbath is observed on the seventh day of the week for Jews which would be sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. God’s laws concerning the Sabbath, His spoken laws concerning the Sabbath, go all the way back if you want to read some of those, specifically Exodus chapter twenty, and the fourth of the ten commandments, puts it like this, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy.” It is not just to remember the Sabbath day ‘to stop working’. It is not just ‘take a day off’. Most of us work five days a week in our culture, and some people are talking about four days a week. If you are going to follow exactly the rules of this ancient law, it would be that you would work six days a week and you would keep the Sabbath day holy. From the collective four Gospel records, we see how conflict of the Sabbath will be at the center of all this tension, a lot of this tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day. Already in the first century, ancient rabbis had come up with hundreds of diverse applications for God’s Old Testament, Sabbath law.
Here, the religious leaders said to Jesus that His disciples had done that which was not lawful on the Sabbath, but was it unlawful or was it just nontraditional? Although the expression, ‘The Law’ was used in reference to the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Old Testament, it was also a term which could refer just to ‘The Ten Commandments’ or sometimes it is a reference to the entire Old Testament. In addition, the first century Jews sometimes would use the law to refer to the interpretations and traditions of the scribes and Pharisees. These interpretations and traditions were called Midrashim. They were like the rabbinic commentaries of Old Testament scripture.
There were two categories of Midrashim, Halakhic Midrashim and Haggadahic Midrashim. And that Haggadahic dealt with the more narrative portions of the scriptures, whereas the Halakhic Midrashim deals with more like the rules to follow. So eventually the Midrashim would be followed by Mishnah and Talmud in the third century AD. These contain sixty-three track tapes on various subjects of the law. In English, it makes a book of about eight hundred pages. Twenty-four chapters were about Sabbath regulations. The rabbis who wrote the Talmud established thirty-nine categories of work that cannot be performed on the Sabbath according to their view of the Hebrew Bible. These include cooking, (some of you are saying to yourselves, ‘Amen. Let me get some Sabbath.’) They include washing clothes, constructing, repairing, writing, making a fire, cutting, fishing and so on. They also added several other activities that could lead to violating the Sabbath. For instance, one should not climb trees on the Sabbath because you need to avoid breaking a twig and violating the rule not to cut anything. Also, you were not allowed to spit on the ground because if you spit on the ground, your spittle might furrow the dirt and that would be considered plowing. Women were not allowed to look in a mirror on the Sabbath because they might see a gray hair and be tempted to pluck it out, and that could be considered harvesting. I do not know why that did not apply to men as well, but for some reason, it did not.
According to William Barclay, the old Scottish Bible commentator quote, this is too long to put up on the screen, “But the law lays it down that the Sabbath day is to be kept holy and that on it no work is to be done.” That’s a great principle, but these Jewish legalists had a passion for definition. They asked what then is work? All kinds of things were classified as work. For instance, to carry a burden on the Sabbath was to work, but next a burden had to be defined. So the scribal law laid it down that a burden is food equal in weight to a dried fig. Enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put on a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye salve, paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, read enough to make a pen and so on and so on and so on, eight hundred pages of applications.
They spent endless hours, as Barclay says, arguing about whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a brooch, or false hair, whether a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth, (and yes, they had them back then) or an artificial limb, or if a man could lift his child on the Sabbath.
Do you see the weight, the burden, the difficulty, the hurdles you had to jump to be approved by the religious leaders of that day? And you thought just getting to church was hard. Oh, rest, where is that in this? According to the scribal interpretation of what the disciples did, they plucked the wheat and that is harvesting. They rubbed it between their hands and that was threshing. They separated the grain from the chaff and that was the work of winnowing. So according to their interpretation of God’s laws, they established human traditions that these disciples went against. In Mark’s Gospel chapter two, Mark records Jesus as saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” I think the Pharisees religious leaders got that backwards.
What are we getting backwards? What is the context for our rest? What is the object of our worship? What are we placing our hope in? These are good questions for us to ask when we read a passage like this. Our rest should be a quiet confidence in Christ versus our own religious practices, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,” verse eight. “Come unto me and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28. And of course, if you take His yoke and learn from Him, you will find rest for your souls.
Secondly, worship. We treasure God’s presence more than anything else, including this building, including the programming, including getting it right in so many different categories. We have all probably been members of churches that got their focus off God, as far as the focus of their worship off God, and for a moment or two, and maybe for a long time, into some aspect of their theology, their philosophy, or their ministry. We do that in the rest of the world as well. There are some people worshiping money, sexuality, and pleasure. They are finding their entire identity and center of life in those categories. That is getting it wrong according to the Bible. We need to treasure God’s presence more than anything else.
Then in our hope, trusting all outcomes to the one who is the loving sovereign Lord over redemption history, a battered reed, a smoldering wick, He is so gentle, He is so tender with you, and with me when we are broken, when we are about as exhausted as we can be, when we think our faith is flickering and about to go out. He is gentle and lowly with you and with me. That happens for all of us at some time, but these religious leaders were making it hard for people to believe, to trust and hope in Christ and in the Gospel. What about us? How do I make it harder for myself even, to trust, to rest in Christ, to redirect the focus of my worship expressed onto the Lord himself?
Let’s get a little help from a few of our older brother, Spurgeon,
“Let your mind be like the mind of Christ and you will find rest unto your souls, a deep rest, a growing rest, a rest found out more and more, an abiding rest, not only which you have found, but which you shall go on to find.”
You see, he is saying to give yourself a break when you have run out of gas. Give yourself a break and look to Him, look to Jesus. Do not expect that just because you accepted Christ a long time ago, or you decided or something a long time ago, that moment was meant to be just the end of it all. No, that is not the end of it all.
The clock continues to tick. We lift the empty hands of faith, and we continue to receive rest from Jesus. We continue to find rest in Him as we take His yoke upon us and learn from Him. Jaroslav Pelikan I’ve quoted before,
“Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living, whereas tradition is the living faith of the dead.”
Tradition is okay. It’s the ism that’s the problem. These Pharisees, these religious leaders were in the ism category because it was really their rabbinical interpretations and applications of God’s Sabbath law that was pressing them to accuse Jesus’ disciples of having broken the Sabbath law. Where is your rest? Where is your worship directed? Where is your hope sourced in?
Pharisaic righteousness was an outward conformity to human traditions. Christian righteousness is an inward conformity of mind and heart to the revealed will of God. You see how Jesus keeps pressing it back to the heart? The religious leaders of the day wanted to be about the minutiae of the Sabbath law and judging how you stacked up against following all of that. They made it so difficult. You could not even leave your house. This is the fascinating thing to me. You could not even leave your house for more than 1,100 meters, and so they got around their own law by tying a rope to their house and remaining connected to their house. However, when they made this accusation to Jesus, He was in the grain fields with His disciples. They are picking the grain. They are pinching it and they are eating it. That is where they accuse, so I want to ask the question, how did they get there? How did they get there if they did not break their own tradition to leave their house to go out into the field and accuse Jesus and His disciples of doing this? Pharisaic righteousness was outward conformity, and it was usually quite short sided.
I will close with this quote from my favorite all-time Bible teachers, a guy named Steve Brown.
“One of the great dangers for Christians in the world is that we are far, far too religious. We go to religious movies. We read religious books. We associate with religious people. We eat religious cookies, and we wear religious underwear that is far too tight”
And so were these scribes and Pharisees. Do not get me wrong, I am religious too, but the Holy Spirit is not, in that way. It is so important for us to keep that in mind. The house of God should never be more important than the God of the house. The Sabbath should never be more important than the Lord of the Sabbath. So, when Jesus comes and makes these claims, “Come to me and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon, you learn from me, and you will find rest for your souls.” Two kinds of rest. That is great. Two sources, two ways to sort … are you sourcing that? Have you come to Him? Good question. I don’t know. I have no way of knowing. Are you seeking rest from Him? Have you taken His yoke upon you?
Identifying completely with Him, walking right alongside Him like two cattle would under the same yoke, going where He goes, seeing what He sees, crying over what He cries over, rejoicing in what He rejoices, it is so important for us to keep all of that in mind.
I am going to close a second time and this quote is by J.C. Ryle.
“We make a great mistake if we do not encourage the very first movements of a soul towards Christ, Let the ignorant world scoff and mock if he wants to. We may be sure that bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are very precious in our Lord’s eyes.”
If that is you today in the room, if that is you today online, why not turn to Him? He is gentle and lowly. He is offering rest for your souls. He is offering the only, truly satisfying worship you will ever give to anything or anyone. Why? Because He is the only one worthy of our worship. So, for your experience of worshiping to be complete, to be satisfying, it cannot be something finite. It has got to be the infinite God who you worship.
No matter where you are from, Jew or Gentile, no matter what nation, no matter what people group, no matter how far you have run from Him, He offers you the hope of His salvation that is sourced in Him. It is a gift He gives to you and to me. Let’s turn to Him.
“Lord, thank you for this passage. Thank you for all the promise that it holds out to us. Thank you for the wideness in your mercy, that you love people from every tribe, tongue, people group and nation. Thank you, Lord, for the kindness and tenderness of making this offer to each one of us. This offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. Pray that you would come move on our hearts, transform us and may this good seed of the word find fertile soil in our hearts and minds. May it dig roots and bear fruit in our lives for the glory of Jesus and His name. Amen and amen.”