Archive for March, 2015


March 30th, 2015
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Luke 22:39 -65

 39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives,

This was his habit.

The Mount of Olives has a Messianic significance in Zechariah 14; on that day his feet will stand on the Mt of Olives.

and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,

 Kneeling prayer drawers special attention to submissiveness in prayer as well as the urgency or intensity of the prayer itself. Prayer is our safe place with God.

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

 Ironically if Jesus embraces the cup in obedience to the divine purpose, he will aslo acept the fate willed for him by Satan.

43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

 Jesus confirms God’s sovereignty. He is portrayed like an athlete so earnestly engaged in the contest that he sweats profusely.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

The portrayal of their failure is not a damning one – it was not final nor fatal.

47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Previously the crowd usually was a buffer between Jesus and the authorities. This time it has a different motivation.

Jesus has struggled in prayer and comes from it in a state of calm mastery.

The disciples who have been sleeping are filled with agitation and misapprehension.

Kiss was a sign of genuineness openness to Jesus and reception. Judas treachery is thus betrayed as a betrayal of intimacy.

Jesus is in control as the master of the situation. The only other words to his own are addressed as Lord from one of his disciples. No one else is quoted.

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

This crowd is hostile – from the leadership of the Temple.

The disciples misconstrue who is in charge of this progression of events.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Jesus response shows how far they have overstepped themselves. His healing reminds us that his divine ministry involved healing.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?

Jesus is not a person of violence. He has shown this by healing the violence of the disciples. But they have come with weapons showing that are ready for violence, confirming what Jesus said about the Jewish leadership.

He is not a bandit. He has always taught the love of enemies.

53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

Darkness is symbolic of the authority of Satan. The Temple authorities are instruments of Satan.

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

A servant girl – one of only peripheral status in the Mediterranean world. This is to Peter’s shame.

58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

His loss of kinship with Jesus’ followers.

59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

It was in Galilee that Simon was called Peter and followed Jesus. Thus everything central to Peter’s construction of his new identity since becoming a follower of Jesus he has now thrust aside.

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Jean Vanier:

Peter went through four crisis while following Jesus. I imagine it was a crisis when Jesus called him: part of him must have regretted leaving his family and trade. But his love for Jesus and his hope enabled him to get over this.

Then there was the crisis when he discovered that Jesus was not as he would have wanted him. He would have preferred a Jesus who was prophetic and messianic, who didn’t insist on washing the disciples’ feet, who didn’t speak of dying.

The greatest crisis was when Jesus became weak and died.

Then, Peter denied him –and that was the crisis when he lost all the illusions about himself.

62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter’s begins his turning back through weeping.

63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.

Jesus had talked about this throughout his ministry, directly and in parables. He also referred to the rejection of God’s prophets.

Let’s see how rejected Jesus was.

 It starts with his disciples, particularly Peter and the chapter ends with those guarding Jesus leading to the official rejection of him by the leaders of Israel and the occupying powers.

 Notice how the early church described this:

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Message for the Day


March 27th, 2015
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First Message

 In the next reading reflect on the relationship of physical bread and our temporary physical life.

 What is the significance of Jesus as the bread of heaven?

 If we know we have eternal life how does this affect the way we live now?

 John 6:25-59

 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’]”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[b] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

This chapter is all about us believing in several things: that Jesus is sent from heaven by God and it is in fleshly existence he becomes a sacrifice for us all. We are to live in the effect of that sacrifice which is eternal life which is to be in a relationship with God, totally abiding in him.

 Hebrews 2:14-16

 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—

 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

 The fear of death means that we see our life running out. It creates an anxiety, even despair, about lost opportunities or disappointments. But Jesus us saying he is the source of real life that no one can take from us.

 Do we live now free from this fear and thus are liberated by Christ’s sacrifice.

There is something very noble in Jesus sacrifice which can lift our lives to a higher plain.

 Hebrews 12:2

 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 The way Jesus entered his death becomes a model for us. He had given himself totally for our benefit. When death came he was ready because of the life lived for others. His life would be a gift that brought the joyous anticipation of what God was doing with us.

 And thus if we live in him, the bread of life, we too can face death with the same confidence.

 To complete this message I would like to play Mozart’s Ave Verum.

 Can we see that in Christ’s suffering and death a foretaste of our own trial in death?

 Think, therefore, of the “Ave verum” as a short drama: Mozart wanted us to leave a performance of the piece, concluding that we must do something substantial with our life, so as to leave this world a better place than it would have been, had we not lived. Can you die, “with a smile on your face”?

 We like Jesus have done our Father’s will for others.

 Mozart challenges us to understand how the future governs our present actions. We will all go through the trial of death. How we have lived will be shown at that time.

The simplicity is the sort that Arthur Schnabel famously described as too simple for children and too difficult for adults

 Mozart – Ave verum corpus K.618 – (The Sixteen, Christophers) English translation HD . To view please click here.


Jesus’ death is just around the corner. His rejection and suffering is central to the unfolding of the divine purpose.


1 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,

Passover, ULB means that 100,000s will be present. An association between national deliverance and the death of Jesus.

2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus,for they were afraid of the people.

The gap between the people and the leaders is again highlighted.

3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

The Temple authorities are in conflict with him in alliance with Satan, though thinking they are serving God.

Opportune time is linked to Satan’s departure after the temptation account.

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.

The Passover brings to the fore the idea of sacrifice.

8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

John and Peter fulfill the role of table servants preparing for the Passover. This contrast later with Judas’ betrayal and the competition for positions between the disciples.

9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

Jesus is no helpless victim but actually setting in motion the chain of events that will lead to him being separated from the crowds that protected him from the authorities..

Passover was a family affair. Jesus disciples are now seen as kin. He is the head of the household that includes his closest followers.

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus points to the relationship between the Passover and the kingdom of God. This points to the fact that his death is not the final act but a greater fulfillment lies ahead. The celebration of the Passover encompasses past, present and future – it anticipated a second exodus. Jesus at the transfiguration spoke of his departure or exodus.

Even though what Jesus is saying and exemplifying at the table looks forward to the fulfillment of salvation, and the immediate presence of the kingdom in his mission, there is a future fulfillment.

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

This is a foundational covenant making event. He exemplifies the servant role among them in death. He exercises his authority as a table servant. And so should they. Jesus is assuring his audience that what he is about to suffer will fulfill a greater purpose than the whims of human agents.

The Passover gives meaning to this scene but the Passover needs reinterpretation – which is not self evident in the Passover celebration itself.

The image of the cup has a strong reference to judgement. Blood poured out signifies violent death.

The words in “remembrance of me” mean that we look back so as to see how these events impact today and our future. Also it helps us to understand the significance of his own life and death in obedience to God on behalf of others.

But the example of Jesus in the passover and the example of Jesus in other meals will have a powerful effect on the behaviour of the church with regard to several matters.

Jesus’ own table manners should bring forth these responses: his openness to outsiders, his behaviour as servant, his indifference toward issues of status, honour and the like – so these features of his life would come to be embodied in the community of those who call him Lord.

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Message for the Day

Luke 21(2)

March 24th, 2015
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First Message

 It is important to see how magnificent was the temple when Jesus walked and taught in it. It helps us to see the context of Jesus last week in Jerusalem.

 I would like to link to a 3 dimensional presentation on the Temple.

 Before I do I need to refer to the Red Heifer ceremony mentioned in the video.The application of the ceremony around the Red Heifer illustrates the authority of the Temple over first century Jewish life. The red heifer (Hebrew: פרהאדומה‎; parah adumah), also known as a red cow, was a sacrifice in the Bible, the ashes of which were used for the ritual purification of those who had come into contact with a corpse.

 The way it was done in Jesus’ time also helps to show how conscientious the religious elite were to the Torah and the gulf between them and Jesus.

 Numbers 19:1-22

1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke.

The Book of Numbers stipulates that the animal must be red in color, without blemish, and it must not have been used to perform work.

3 Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence.

The heifer is then ritually slaughtered.

4 Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. 5 While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. 6 The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. 7 After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. 8 The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

9 “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.

It was burned outside of the camp .

10 The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening. This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the foreigners residing among them.

11 “Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. 12 They must purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean. 13 If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse, they defile the Lord’s tabernacle. They must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, they are unclean; their uncleanness remains on them.

14 “This is the law that applies when a person dies in a tent: Anyone who enters the tent and anyone who is in it will be unclean for seven days, 15 and every open container without a lid fastened on it will be unclean.

16 “Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.

17 “For the unclean person, put some ashes from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water over them. 18 Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or anyone who has been killed or anyone who has died a natural death. 19 The man who is clean is to sprinkle those who are unclean on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify them. Those who are being cleansed must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and that evening they will be clean.

In order to purify a person who has become ritually contaminated by contact with a corpse, water from the vessel is sprinkled on him, using a bunch of hyssop, on the third and seventh day of the purification process.

In the days of the Temple in Jerusalem, the water must be “living” i.e. spring water. This is a stronger requirement than for a ritual bath. Rainwater accumulated in a cistern is permitted for a mikveh, but cannot be used in the Red Heifer ceremony. Water for the ritual came from the Pool of Siloam.

The ceremony involved was complex and detailed. To ensure complete ritual purity of those involved, enormous care was taken to ensure that no-one involved in the Red Heifer ceremony could have had any contact with the dead or any form of ritual impurity, and implements were made of materials, such as stone, which in Jewish Law do not act as carriers for ritual impurities.

The Mishnah recounts that children were used to draw and carry the water for the ceremony, children born and reared in isolation for the specific purpose of ensuring that they never came into contact with a corpse:

There were courtyards in Jerusalem built over [the virgin] rock and below them a hollow [was made] lest there might be a grave in the depths, and pregnant women were brought and bore their children there, and there they reared them. And oxen were brought, and on their backs were laid doors on top of which sat the children with cups of stone in their hands. When they arrived in Shiloah [the children] alighted, and filled [the cups with water], and mounted, and again sat on the doors
—Mishna Parah 3:2

There are various other requirements, such as natural birth.

20 But if those who are unclean do not purify themselves, they must be cut off from the community, because they have defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on them, and they are unclean. 21 This is a lasting ordinance for them.

“The man who sprinkles the water of cleansing must also wash his clothes, and anyone who touches the water of cleansing will be unclean till evening. 22 Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.”

The priest who performs the ritual then becomes ritually unclean, and must then bathe himself and his clothes in a ritual bath. He is deemed impure until evening.

Various other devices were used, including a causeway from the Temple Mount to the Mount of Olives so that the Heifer and accompanying priests would not come in contact with a grave.

According to the Mishnah, the ceremony of the burning of the red heifer itself took place on the Mount of Olives. A ritually pure priest slaughtered the heifer, and sprinkled of its blood in the direction of the Temple seven times. The Red Heifer was then burnt on a pyre, together with crimson dyed wool, hyssop, and cedar wood.

As you watch the next video on the Temple reflect on how Jesus behaved as he touched lepers, dead bodies and their biers. How he was unconcerned about the unclean status of a person. How freely he was calling people to come to him as the source of living waters, the real temple.

 Also reflect on the degrees of nearness in the Temple.  Jesus had all the barriers removed within himself as God and Man. No degrees of nearness – all had equal access to him, Jew, Gentile, male and female – he was the only mediator between man and God. No warning signs telling people to be careful but instead we are told to come boldly.

 No wonder he challenged the whole, sensory overwhelming system. It would take a gift of God to believe that he was the true temple and the other would disappear.

 Virtual tour in Jerusalem, on Herod’s Temple Mount To watch please click here.


How do we view the events in Luke21 in the light of prophecy

I think we have an idea now of how central the temple was to the life of Israel.

It was impossible to contemplate it being destroyed. The world as they knew would not exist.

D.A. Carson, a New Testament scholar, begins his commentary on Matthew 24 with the following words: “Few chapters of the Bible have called forth more disagreement among interpreters than Matthew 24 and its parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21. The history of the interpretation of this chapter is immensely complex” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, volume 8, page 488).

As we try to understand what Jesus was saying in this chapter, we would do well to approach it with caution. We have already given the broader context of Jesus setting the stage for what appeared to be to the disciples a showdown in Jerusalem between himself and the religious authorities.

Our first message shows the utter scrupulous obedience of the elite to the tradition at the time of Jesus. No wonder he offended them!

 During the time Jesus was explaining that he was to suffer at Jerusalem, he took Peter, James and John up a high mountain. There, they experienced the transfiguration This of itself must have made the disciples wonder whether the establishment of the kingdom of God was close at hand.

 Then came the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, in which Jesus rode into the city on a donkey. The entire city was stirred, wondering what would happen as Jesus arrived. In Jerusalem, he overturned the moneylender’s tables and took other actions to demonstrate his messianic authority “Who is this?” people asked in response

The disciples must have become increasingly puzzled, curious and anxious about the things Jesus was saying. Was he about to proclaim himself?

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Message for the Day