Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Jesus who spans all the ages

"Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him " (John 12:41)

On the first Easter Sunday evening the risen Jesus was explaining to two friends on the Emmaus Road ‘what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself’ (Luke 24:27).  Among many passages, he must certainly have referred seven hundred years back to the great vision of Isaiah chapter 6, that began: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.”

For the apostle John quotes words from Isaiah’s very vision in his twelfth chapter, and then comments, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.’

The Pre-Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity!  We read about God the Father in Scripture that ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him’ (John 1:18 KJV).   

This explains those occasions when – in the Old Testament – the Lord God revealed Himself. It was not the Father who was being made visible, but the Son, who is eternally with Him.

Sometimes this Figure appears and speaks as ‘The Angel of the Lord’ (that is, ‘the Sent One’). As contrasted with AN angel of the Lord (who would be a created heavenly being), THE Angel of the Lord speaks and acts as only God can! Among the many references, check Genesis 22:11,12; Genesis 32;30; Exodus 3:2-6;  Numbers 12:4-8; Judges 2:1-3; Judges 13:22.

Have we taken it in? Jesus did not begin half-way through history. He is from the Beginning.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Foundations of a Nation

When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11: 3)

The uprooting of old-time values, corruption in high quarters, the advance of unbelief, the rise of tyranny; it was little different when David the psalmist was living - under threat from King Saul.  So what CAN the righteous do, when foundations are being rocked?

1.  Stand firmly – don’t get isolated

David turns on those who were urging him (v.1) to ‘flee like a bird’ from the pressures – to a mountain escape.  True – it was ‘the upright in heart’ (v.2) who were the prime target of beaurocratic evil …. but David would stay involved!

2. See clearly – don’t get short-sighted

The true ‘foundations’ of human society can never be ultimately identified as its achievements, its circumstances, or as the twists and turns of its fortunes, and David knew this.  In our own day, petrol prices, education, the economy are but the scaffolding of a nation – and we dare not confuse scaffolding with Foundations!  To do so is to lose the main plot completely.  The Psalmist sees – above all – the Lord on His throne (v.4-6), examining, ruling, judging.  It is THAT Foundation that can never change.  Political leaders and Heads of State who think in this long-term way are the best assets a nation can ever have.

3. Live uprightly – don’t get intimidated

It is the ‘upright’ who live in God’s ‘righteous’ way (v. 7) who will see His face.  Don’t cave in, then, keep going!  Such people, by their prayers, their lifestyle and their godly service have more influence on the true foundations of a nation than anyone else around. 


Saturday, 11 April 2015

You Can’t Stop Jesus

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen” (Matthew 28:5,6)

Well! The guards were flattened, the tomb was opened and the way cleared for the coming of the women who would be the first witnesses of the Easter event. The fact is, You Can’t Stop Jesus.

Don’t be puzzled by the little differences between the four Gospel writers. After all, when did the battle of Waterloo begin? “At ten o’clock,’ said the Duke of Wellington. “At half past eleven,” said General Alava. “At twelve,” according to Napoleon and Drouet, his commander. “At one!” said Marshall Ney. Basically it depended upon where you were standing as to how - and when - you saw the events unroll. So it is with the Gospels.

Here was the forming of the new Jesus movement.

1. It started with the loyal remnant – the women. On Friday, they had been last at the Cross. Now, they’re first at the tomb. What a reward!

2. It continued with the futile resistance (v. 11-15). An attempt is made by the religious authorities to bribe the guards to keep quiet. Always money, with the enemies of Jesus. But those who try to stop Jesus, with money, bribery – or indeed violence and persecution - will always be left eventually coughing in the exhaust of a resurrection movement and that is for ever!

3. It re-groups with the great commission. Verse 16 takes us to a mountain rendezvous in Galilee. Nothing less than the divine government of the whole universe is in the hands of the risen God-Man, Jesus Christ! Read verse 18. What a claim! – “all authority.” What a mandate! – “all nations.” What a pledge! – “always"


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Imagine ….

"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20)

“I feel so sorry for you lot!” laughed the taxi driver. “After all your beliefs and church activities; you’ll finally find there’s nothing there!”

I laughed too. But then I began to turn the tables. “Imagine that you were right and I was deluded,” I said, “I’m still the winner! Here I am (in my delusion, according to you) convinced that all life makes sense; believing that God loves me, that Jesus is alive and has given me forgiveness, companionship and lasting purpose.

“Then,” I added, “I go confidently to my grave, believing - in my delusion – that I had established my relationship with a God-centred universe that makes sense, and that with Christ my life had service, real satisfaction and significance built into it; that I’m going to beat death and live for ever!  On top of that, if you the materialist are indeed right and I am wrong, then according to your theory I would go out eventually into a blank…. and wouldn’t even have the disappointment of knowing I was deluded!”

“But you” - I said – “If I am right and YOU are wrong, you are in for the most appalling shock. Here you are, not sure what real life is all about, living off your own batteries, trying to keep your chin up in a hard, competitive world, heading towards retirement and staving off ill-health and advancing old age as best you can. Then comes the end – when you find yourself confronted by the very Person you chose to ignore all your life, and realise that everything you were – and ever lived for – was a total waste of what you were born for. ”

Our taxi drive ended cheerfully. But just imagining these things, I said, can start anyone thinking again. Anyway there’s no delusion!