Our Annual Naval Service (held this morning) was attended by members of the ex-Navalmen’s Club of Bendigo and District, along with their special guest, Russell Pettis, Lieutenant RANR Rtd, National President of the Naval Association of Australia, and Naval Cadets of the TS Bendigo. Rev Philip Burns preached on Jonah 1:1-17 (you can listen to or download the message, just to the right of this post) and a yummy morning tea in the hall was enjoyed by all!
While many regard the story of Jonah as told in Jonah 1:1-17, as just a ‘whale tale’, the Bible presents it as fact. While the details of the story are summed up, by the following headings; God said ‘go’, Jonah said ‘no’, the wind went ‘blow’, the sailors went ‘throw’ and the fish went ‘swallow’, Jesus also added ‘so’… He made it clear in Matthew 12 that not only was the tale of Jonah true, but it also pointed to his own death and resurrection as the means of salvation. Those who heard Jesus did not believe him and those who hear the gospel today also face the same hurdle of unbelief.
In Matthew 5:21-26, Jesus addressed the question of the right understanding of the sixth commandment, ‘You shall not kill’. While the Pharisees were content to understand that they had obeyed this commandment by refraining from the physical act of murder, Jesus took it a whole lot deeper. He pointed out that the real problem is with the root cause of anger in our hearts, which can lead to murdering people by our tongue and also having difficult and real conflict within our relationships. Thankfully Jesus died for murderers and for those who sin with their tongues too and there is grace for all who fall short!
In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus addressed the question of where he stood in relation to the Old Testament, particularly the Law of Moses. This is a question that troubled many in his time and continues to trouble people today. Jesus said that he came to fulfill the Law, not be in opposition to it. More than that, Jesus upheld the Old Testament as being the Word of God and taught that the standard of righteousness we need in order to enter God’s Kingdom has to be greater than that of the Scribes and Pharisees – that is, it needs to be a true (not hypocritical) righteousness that comes to us by God’s grace and so is not merely outward but inward.
In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus used the image of ‘light’ to illustrate what He expects His followers to be. God calls us in the Bible to come to the light, to receive the light and to live in His light. We can ever only be what He wants us to be as the light of the world, but reflecting the One who is the true light of the world – Jesus. While there are many reasons why we may want to hide our witness to Jesus (such as fear) this does not negate our responsibility. The gospel has brought us light and now we are called to share that light to a world in darkness.