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Showing posts from March, 2008

Easter 2008

JOHN 20:1-18
Our bible reading today focuses on two people: The disciple who Jesus loved (who is identified with John, but could in fact be anyone) and Mary Magdalene.

It is the story of how they came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.

1. There is the disciple who Jesus loved.
He believes because of the facts.

He gets to the tomb first, stands outside while Peter goes in, and then he himself goes in.

And he is convinced.

He is convinced by the empty tomb
the grave clothes

The empty tomb in itself is no evidence. The body of Jesus could easily have been removed. That is what Mary thought.

But in fact the tomb was not empty: There were the grave clothes. The head cloth is lying in the place it should have been – just as if Jesus had materialised through it; and the strips of linen were lying elsewhere – as if they had been thrown off.

For John it was a combination of the absence of the body of Jesus and of the presence of the grave clothes.

It is hard to imagine what could h…

Palm Sunday 2008

Matthew 21:1-11

It is often noted that Jesus could have come into Jerusalem as a conquering warrior.

It was what people desired: the hero, the Messiah: the one who would evict the Romans, who would solve their problems and give them what they wanted.

But Jesus chooses instead to come into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

And in doing so, Jesus declares three things

1. That he is Messiah, God's King who is coming to God's city in order to reign.

He fulfils the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 - which says that the Messiah will come riding on a donkey
And he receives the people's praise: if there is anything ambiguous about the riding on a donkey, there is nothing ambiguous about the people's praise. They are acclaiming him descendant of David, the greatest King in Israel's history; David was the prototype for the Messiah who is to come. And so the people declare Jesus to be King and Messiah: "Hosanna to the Son of David"

2. The nature of his kingship

- that he is th…

The Cross

Mark 15:1-20
1. The cross shows us what human beings can do to other human beings

We like to think of ourselves as civilized

At the LIFE exhibition, talking with the children and asking them what some of the differences are between the time when Jesus lived then and now. And one of the children said, ‘We don’t do the sort of things that they did then. We don’t crucify people’.

I wish that were true. Certainly it is not normal in our society – but then our society has had 1000 years of Christian teaching. The values of tolerance and mercy have grown because there are men and women – people like Wilberforce, and Elizabeth Fry and Shaftesbury – who have taken the teaching of the bible seriously, and because – up to now – a great deal of Jesus’ teaching is enshrined in our law. It will be interesting to see, for instance, how society develops as you begin to demand tolerance from people, but give them no reason for tolerance.

The problem is that we only need to look at other societies, eve…