Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Dilemma of Thomas

“I am the way, the truth and the life”   (John 14:6)

These words were given by the world’s greatest Teacher in answer to the question posed by one of His twelve disciples, Thomas.  It has been the quest of millions of people.

The Greek thinker Plato was so massive, that all future strides in western thought were later described as a series of ‘footnotes to Plato.’  Yet even Plato was forced to acknowledge, ‘The Father of the world is hard to discover, and when discovered cannot be communicated.’  The same insight has been acknowledged by devotees of other belief-systems - that the deity they seek to worship reveals nothing of his true nature and character; only the commands he insists must be obeyed.  

When it comes to ‘finding God’ there seem to have been as many ways devised as there are people.  In Katmandhu there are more gods than people, and more temples than houses.  In the face of such plurality, is there a single, convincing system of thought that can point the way through – and unite humanity?

The contention of the Christian faith is Yes – but that we are utterly reliant upon the revelation made directly from heaven in the Person of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.  All we need to do is acknowledge that we have been on the wrong road, and then by faith join that divine Freeway by a slip road that is marked ‘Calvary’s Cross.’

And there is no other way, for Jesus told Thomas, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Be encouraged!  Though Christ is the one road to the Father, there are many roads to Christ – and people all over the world, by the hundreds and thousands daily are coming to Him, from a mass of different languages, dress codes, personal circumstances and religious backgrounds.  And some from complete atheism.


Saturday, 20 August 2016

He says it … He does it … He is it!

“I am the resurrection and the life”  (John 11:25)

Here in John’s Gospel is Jesus, standing at the graveside of a much-loved friend who has been in the tomb for four long days.  Jesus is more than a godly miracle-worker.  His style is utterly different from that of an itinerant wonder-worker who might perhaps have boasted, “I can turn water into wine, I can stop storms, I can multiply bread; Listen – I can even do resurrections!”

No, Christ is more than someone who dispenses wonderful gifts.  He IS the Gift itself – being the original source of all life.  You don’t come to Jesus for gifts.  You come because He is Jesus!  He is the one and only universal Resurrection and the Life.  He says it, He does it, He is it!

At the tomb, they’re weeping – and Jesus weeps too.  So He doesn’t look down upon our sorrows in calm detachment; He has emotions too.  A friend of mine described her sense of outrage as the coffin of her father was lowered into the ground.  Something inside her was shouting, ‘That’s my DADDY!’ What a difference it makes that Jesus, Lord of all life, shares the grief of His friends at these epic moments.

In our story, Lazarus, the dead friend, was raised.  Here was the demonstration of Christ’s authority over Old Man Death.  It was apparent in every one of His commands that wonderful day: “Take away the stone!....Lazarus, come out1….  Take off the grave clothes and let him go!”  This was not THE Resurrection.  Lazarus would die again one day.  But the event took place – as Jesus phrased it in His prayer to the Father above “that they may believe that You sent Me.  ”It was also  something of a curtain-raiser for what was to come – Christ’s own historic, bodily resurrection – the prototype for every one of those who follow Him through this life and into the next – never to die again!



Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Protection, Direction, Satisfaction

“I am the good shepherd”  (John 10:11)

A young woman, lured by a businessman, went missing in Britain – and a nationwide hunt went up for her.  Eventually she was found in a confused state at Basingstoke railway station.  Interestingly she told the press, “I didn’t know I was lost until I was found.”

This is the unknowing spiritual state of many who are far from God.  Christ has come for them – and he is the only ‘shepherd’ who can both find and lead them in a safe direction.  Many leaders in the past could only be described as ‘shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture” (Jeremiah 23:1)  We can identify such shepherds today – even within the Church.  In Jesus’ time it was the Pharisees who were the ‘thieves and robbers’ described in John chapter 10.  They were no more than ‘hired hands,’ who – at the first sign of trouble – were up and away.

The ‘good’ Shepherd gives protection, direction and satisfaction to God’s flock.  He knows each one of the flock by name – and they know Him well enough to recognise and trust His voice; never that of a ‘stranger’ – be it from whatever background.

In our family we knew this as young children, growing up on the lower slopes of Mount Kenya.  We got to know Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymn, ‘God will take care of you.’  Here is the ‘night-time’ verse:  

God will take care of you; all through the night
Jesus the Shepherd, His little one keeps;
Darkness to Him is the same as the light;
He never slumbers and He never sleeps.

Has there ever been any belief-system in the world which got anywhere near thinking of its leader as a good shepherd, who knows and cares for his followers personally – even to the extent of laying down his life?  Speak to this one – as YOUR Shepherd – at this very moment!   


Thursday, 4 August 2016

Only One Way In

“I am the door”  (John 10:7 KJV)

The ancient city of Troy, made famous by Homer’s account of the Trojan War, had but one door. You could keep circling its walls – but there was only one way in.  In our passage, Jesus is taking the image, not so much of a city, but of a middle-eastern sheep pen…. yet the principle is the same - there is only one way in.

‘The door’…. the very gateway to life and safety – but why can’t it be a case of ‘One God – many doors’?  ANSWER: No other ‘doorway’ can compare with that provided by the person of Jesus.  Have any other candidates for the position beaten humanity’s enemy, Death?  Can any other applicants deal with the problem of Guilt – that keeps sinners excluded?  Are there any other aspirants who are morally flawless?  If not, they are going to be in desperate need of a safe entry themselves!

It can only be this one Person …. And he is big enough to take in people from every strata of society. Further: while Jesus is the only door to God, there are many doors to Jesus!  I was driving once, and I gave a lift to a man of another belief-system.  We got on well.  “I dare to think,” I said, as we finally parted, “that your present beliefs will one day act for you as a stepping-stone – towards Christ himself.”

QUESTION: What exactly do I have to do, to enter in at Christ, the Door?  The answer: simply come - in a prayer of your own words.  Tell him that you are sorry for the wrongs in your life for which He died on the Cross, and that you are now doing an ‘about turn’ from every other possible door to God, and coming to Him as the only door.  Then – for His reply to your prayer - look at words of His in the Bible … at John ‘s Gospel, chapter 6, verse 37: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”  Let this be Day One of your new life as a follower of Jesus!

For someone, this is your moment, today.  Echo Charlotte Elliott’s famous hymn: “And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!”