A radical message

“…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.’” (Luke 3:1-9 NET)

John caused quite a stir when he began preaching and baptising. Can you imagine what that would have been like? For the past 400 years there had not been a prophet in Israel. The country had been invaded many times but no word from God. And then this ‘wild’ man began to preach what might have been considered a ‘harsh’ message. Can you imagine being called the “offspring of vipers”? Continue reading “A radical message”

David’s last words

A person’s last words seem to be significant to people. The last words of Leonardo Da Vinci were reported to be: “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” Groucho Marx gave one last witty remark: “This is no way to live!” And the last words reported to have been spoken by Winston Churchill were: “I’m bored with it all” – and nine days late he died at the age of 90.

Contrast those last words with those of King David, as recorded in 2 Samuel 23
Continue reading “David’s last words”

People can misunderstand

The transfiguration of Jesus must have been an amazing sight for Peter, James, and John. Still, the significance of the event could be misunderstood.

Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone until after he was raised from the dead (Matthew 17:9). Why weren’t the other disciples to know? Why keep the knowledge from them?

The reason was probably simple: people can misunderstand. Continue reading “People can misunderstand”

Who was he?

People today are divided in their consideration of who Jesus is. Some believe that he was a good teacher, but that is as far as they are willing to consider him. Others believe he was an imposter. Some even believe that he never existed. Still others maintain that he is who he said he was: the Messiah and the son of God.

That people are divided in their view of Jesus today should not surprise us when we realize that even when Jesus lived on the earth people were divided over who he was. Continue reading “Who was he?”

Who is this man?

Jesus was travelling through Samaria with his disciples. While his disciples went into the city to buy something to eat, Jesus sat down at the well. A woman came to draw water.

Jesus surprised the woman by asking her for something to drink. This was surprising to the woman for two reasons. First, this man was speaking to her, a woman, in public – that just wasn’t done. And secondly, this man was a Jew and she was a Samaritan – Jews did not have time for Samaritans. So she asked him, “How can you – a Jew – ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water to drink?” (John 4:9 NET). Continue reading “Who is this man?”

The Kingdom

Behold the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21).

The Jews of the first century made a fundamental mistake. They expected the Messiah to come to earth and establish a physical, earthly kingdom.

Jesus was, it seems, always trying to tamp this expectation down. When he fed the five thousand, they tried to make him king, and he had to escape their poorly directed fervor (John 6:15). When Pilate asked whether he was a king, he had to explain that his kingdom was “not of this world” (John 18:36). Continue reading “The Kingdom”

What should we do?

It is late May, the Day of Pentecost. The past few months have been momentous. Almost two months ago the prophet from Nazareth was executed – crucified – by the Romans, although we hear it was instigated by the Jewish leaders. Yet within days many of his followers were saying that he had come back from the dead. Some claimed to have seen him within the past few weeks! You can’t help but wonder what might happen at Pentecost.

Jews from all over the world have come home for this great Jewish festival. It is now about nine o’clock on Sunday morning. Many have gathered for the morning sacrifice and prayers. Suddenly, we hear the sound of a great gust of wind but, strangely, we can’t feel even a breeze stirring the air. Continue reading “What should we do?”

Who got what?

Jacob’s life was nearing its end. Like his father before him, it was time to give the family blessing before he died. “Jacob called for his sons and said, ‘Gather together so I can tell you what will happen to you in the future. Assemble and listen, you sons of Jacob; listen to Israel, your father.’” (Genesis 49:1-2 NET). Although it was his blessing to his sons, like Isaac’s blessing there contained an element of the prophetic about it – he would be stating what would happen in their future. Continue reading “Who got what?”