Posted on: 8th April 2019
““I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.””
What is in your attic? The daytime television programme encourages people to see if there is ‘cash’ in it. My attic is full of boxes. Each year we fill a memory box of all the amazing art work, projects, school books and cards from that year. In there go medals, certificates, achievements, clearing the way for the next season of success. These mementos of life will, I am led to believe, will fill our years of retirement with joy as we recall our early family experiences; looking back on the life we lived.
As we approach Holy Week, we are considering the words of Jesus, “I am the life”. Consider these words and the experiences that followed. Jesus is life, yet he died on the cross. I love how the New Testament writers record the real life examples of the responses to Jesus’ death.
John records of himself that he comforted Mary as they watched him on the cross (John 19:25). In John 18, we read of Judas who betrayed Jesus and Peter denied knowing him, three times. In Acts we read of Peter leading the early church, after he was restored by the resurrected Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. We read in Acts 1 of the pain and hurt that Judas felt, unable to continue with life and the decision he made.
Judas reminds me of a story from a Welsh, farming village. Two young men left their farm one day, climbed to a neighbouring village, stole some sheep and returned home. This practice continued until they were caught. The punishment was that they were branded on their foreheads, S.T. (Sheep Thief), and expelled from their community. One left and got a ship, for a distant land where no one knew what he had done. Whenever he met someone new, they asked him about the mark on his head. He never found any peace or acceptance and his wrong choices followed him for the rest of his short life.
The second young man turned to the local priest, who found him a place to stay and gave him the job of maintaining the church and the grounds. Over time, the young man was able to help members of the community, the elderly and the youth. He became a support and help to others. One day, he overheard some children talking. “Who’s that man over there? Why does it say ST on his head?” said one child. “That’s easy,” said the other. “He’s the Saint. He helps everyone!”
We know the end of the Easter story. Jesus’ death and resurrection became the only way to a relationship with God. My prayer for you this week is that you consider your choice and response to this message, as we reflect on the responses of John, Peter, Judas and the two young men.
Posted on: 31st March 2017
“For God so loved the World that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Over the past term we have looked at the accounts and stories of the Old Testament, we have seen different characteristics of God and noticed how the Israelites and the surrounding people responded to certain circumstances and situations depending on their faith. However, we have seen through all the accounts these two themes:
- The Israelites faithfulness
- God love
Maybe we should take a pause there and just reflect on these two themes, firstly the faithfulness of the Israelites. The Israelites were called somethings in their time and yes, they had their downfalls but one thing remained throughout their story, their faithfulness. No matter the human leader, their priests, their situation, they always returned to looking to God. It wasn’t like it was just one group of people over 100 years either, we are talking about generation after generation seeking God in all they do.
The bible in 1 John 4 v 19 says: We love because God first loved us. The Israelites faithfulness was purely from a place of response to God’s love for them, from the miracles they had seen happen with their predecessors. Even Adam and Eve knew God’s love surrounded them; they were made in love, perfect love, they were made in God’s image (Genesis 1 v 27).
The bible tells us that God is Love (1 John 4 v 8). So, if we are made in image, surely we are also made in love? The bible also tells us thatperfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4 v 18). It tells us that we are more than conquers through Him who loves us (Romans 8 v 37). But most of all, the bible continuously directs us back to one point, that love has won.
God’s love won over death and still has the victory.
This year on Thursday April 12th we will remember the night that Jesus had supper, what we now call communion with his friends, and then he went out to the Garden of Gethsemane with his friends to pray. There, he was betrayed by one of his friends who handed him over to the officials, he was carried away. On the Friday morning, what we now know as Good Friday, Jesus was held in front of romans who handed him over to the Jews. The Romans found no ground to convict him of any crime or even punish him but the Jews jeered that his was claiming to be God and to crucify him. That is what the officials did; they freed a criminal and let Jesus go to the cross. On that day, Jesus was crucified, posed between two criminals, but that’s not where the story ends. See as Jesus breathed his last breath, there was a cry from heaven, the sky turned black and the curtain in the temple was torn (this is where they separated God into a small area in the temple). Some say the ground shook; some say it was a mighty storm, whatever it was the story was not over yet. Next week in our Easter service we will be both morning the dead of Jesus on the cross but celebrating the fact that through God’s love He defeated death. Now that is real love!
God is Love, and His love is very different from human love. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.
For God so loved the World that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3 v 16).