Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries


The Key to Gaining the Kingdom  audio

Matt 5:1-15 

What does the word blessed – or bless-ed mean to you? I remember it was the closest thing to a swear word that my mother used to use: – “Those blessed ants are back in the kitchen!” More seriously though, it’s used to describe saints – “Blessed Saint Patrick”, “The Blessed Virgin Mary. If an ordinary person is described as blessed we generally mean they’re enjoying good fortune; God has been kind to them; they’ve received the rewards for their good life.

But what does Jesus mean when he describes this list of people as blessed? What did his hearers understand by it?

As we so often find in English the one word can mean various things, depending on the context. But in Hebrew and Greek there were two different words used for blessed. The first was used when you were talking about God doing something good for you. e.g. “The Lord bless you and keep you” is a prayer that God will look after you and bring you prosperity” But the other word that’s used speaks of a state of blessedness, or being at rest, at peace. It’s a bit like the idea of “Shalom”.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem  audio

Matt 21:1-27 

Everyone likes a parade don’t they? Whether it’s the Moomba Parade or the Anzac Day Parade, or the Grand Final Parade, we all love to get out and watch our heroes. Probably for some Australians the greatest parades are when the Queen comes to visit - or these days William and Kate. People come out in their thousands with flags to wave, cheering as they pass by. 

Well that’s a bit like what happened when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. The city was buzzing. The word had got around. Jesus, the great teacher and healer was coming to Jerusalem, despite the danger from the Jewish leaders. Word was that he'd even been talking about death, predicting that he was going to be crucified, and saying that people had to be willing to take up their cross if they wanted to follow him. But that hadn’t stopped him from teaching and healing people and he was still arguing with the Pharisees.

So when Jesus came to Bethphage, a small village at the top of the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem, the crowds were ready. When he appeared at the gates of Jerusalem riding a donkey they got really excited. They took off their cloaks and threw them on the ground in front of him. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. They started crying out "Hosanna". That is: "God save you". Just like Australians waving their flags and crying out "God save the Queen" as she drives by. But notice they call him the Son of David. They clearly recognised that here was the one they’d been waiting for. They may well have been hoping for a showdown with the Romans, because they also cried out "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord " Jesus’ arrival on a donkey would have reminded them of the arrival of Solomon, as he rode into Jerusalem on David’s own mule, to claim the crown. Perhaps they thought that here at last was the one whom God had sent to oppose the Roman occupation. So they were very excited.

The Workers in the Vineyard  audio

Matt 20:1-19 

We read this parable and perhaps the first thing we ask ourselves is “Why doesn’t the landowner act fairly?” Then we think, “If this is a parable of the Kingdom of God does it mean that God doesn’t act fairly?” Well let’s think about that question as we go through the passage together.

Something that struck me when I looked at this parable of the workers in the vineyard is that it just seems to pop up in the middle of a series of narratives as Jesus moves towards Jerusalem, without any introduction. Why has Matthew put it here?

Well, partly the problem is that someone, centuries ago, decided to put a chapter break between v30 of the previous chapter and this parable. If you look back at that final verse of the chapter then forward to v16 of this chapter you find they’re the same. That phrase, “the last will be first, and the first will be last” forms a bracket around this parable. What does that tell us? It says that this parable follows on from what’s happened just before.

Who is the Greatest in the Kingdom?    audio

Matt 20:20-34 

I had to get a new pair of glasses a few years back. These weren’t everyday glasses. These were ones that are made so I can see what’s on my computer screen without ending up with a cricked neck. They’re fantastic. They make the characters on the screen look perfectly in focus. They just have one drawback. If I forget to change them over when I leave my office I can’t see anything clearly unless it’s right in front of me. It’s not that I’m totally blind. It’s just that everything is blurred.

Of course being unable to see things clearly doesn’t just apply to physical sight, does it? There’s an even worse affliction of sight that some people suffer from. That’s the sort of blurred vision that comes from prejudice or from unthinking acceptance of a particular set of presuppositions or perhaps from listening to too much talk back radio. For example it’s the sort of blindness that might prevent us from understanding the various issues in the debate over asylum seekers or youth gangs. It’s the sort of blindness that leads some people to suggest that the Churches have no right to speak out about social issues.

Well, both of these sorts of blindness appear in Matthew chapter 20. There’s physical blindness in the two blind men, mixed with clear spiritual sight, and there’s spiritual blindness on the part of the disciples and others we meet in this passage.

The Key to Gaining the Kingdom  

Matt 19:13-30 

    You may have seen the newspaper report this week about a group of people in Mt Martha complaining about plans to build a children’s playground in a local park. Apparently they were worried the children would make too much noise and disturb their quiet neighbourhood. A similar thing has happened at the church where I used to be vicar. They’re having a problem at the moment with a neighbour who’s complaining that the children at the church playgroup are too noisy.

And of course it’s true, isn’t it? Children these days are far too noisy! And undisciplined! And disrespectful of their elders! It wasn’t like that in my day! When I was a child we were perfectly behaved!  

I mean, everyone knows that children should be seen and not heard? Don’t they?

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