Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom’


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

Church and the Kingdom

December 8th, 2014
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The church is the people of God. They are the subjects of the kingdom.

 The kingdom is perfect, but the church is not.

As we said before we are a limited witness of the Kingdom. We too often are flawed, reflecting the problems of this world. Our knowledge of God is limited, often subjectively influenced by the culture we live in. And even the good we endeavour to do can be unwise or unsustainable or even if good, can be overwhelmed by evil and made temporary.

Yet it is through the church God calls people to himself. That is the miracle of grace.

At first, the church was made up of faithful remnants of ancient Israel who believed that Jesus fulfilled the promises made to them as God’s Messiah and Redeemer. But almost immediately, beginning with Pentecost, the people of God expanded to include all nations, tongues and ethnicities (ethnoi). The people of God thus became international, fulfilling God’s promises to bless all nations through Israel and to pour out the Spirit upon all people.

God planted churches throughout the world. We are instructed that wherever we go to share the good news. There are no boundaries, no one is to be avoided—it is inclusive.

One multinational people, meeting or gathering in numerous local congregations. The church gathers around Christ and his Word, being drawn by his Spirit as God works through those called to preach and teach. They then pass on the good news of Christ and his present and coming kingdom.

It is an honour to be included among God’s people.

 1 Peter 2:9-10

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

According to Peter, the church is an international priesthood who declare praises of him, not itself.

This people will not be ideal, will not be perfect. In fact, in our human weakness, we are a witness to God’s mercy.

This comes out especially in the parable of the gathering of fish in the net.

Matthew 13:47-49

47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.

49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous

A bit like the Exodus: a mixed multitude.

Some who have been a part of the community will not have come under Christ’s rule and reign but rather have refused to repent and receive the grace of God’s forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit.

Others will be inconsistent in their response to the working of Christ in submission to his word.

All will have to fight the fight of faith every day. So the life of this church community will be mixed, not ideal, not pure. It will need to repent—and be continually renewed and restored. God’s mercy revealed in Christ is what it is living in.

Living between the times of Christ’s first coming and his second coming has another important implication.

It means that everyone is on a spiritual journey. God is not finished with anyone in drawing them to himself and in changing them to trust him more and more and receive his grace and new life every moment of every day. We are a new creation in him.

Yet, we cannot know ahead of time who will turn out to be weeds or bad fish (to use Jesus’ imagery). God has to do the final sorting himself, in his own time. It is not up to us to speed up (or slow down) the process. We are not the final judges here and now.

Rather, we are to remain faithful and patiently discerning while hopeful of God’s work in everyone by his Word and Spirit.

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Message for the Day ,

Living in Hope

November 25th, 2014
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So far we’ve looked at how Jesus is central to the kingdom of God and how the kingdom is now present where the Spirit is working, but more fully to come.We live between two ages.

Last time we saw the extremes of triumphalism where people feel they are building the Kingdom, or even building something for God – a sort of heroic Christianity. And the other extreme, quietism, which says since we can’t eradicate evil and we are too weak,we just sit and wait in our communities, making sure we are not contaminated by the world.

There is a backwards and forwards between these polarities in all groups to one degree or another. Some are more idealistic – others see themselves as more realistic.

The realist will sometimes say: What’s the big deal about helping a few people in a world in which billions are suffering? Of course that is not how we feel about our life or the life of our children.

So how do we live in this present evil world?

Hope is at the heart of the answer to this question.

Note Paul’s words of encouragement in the book of Romans:

Romans 8:18-24

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

The invisible reality of hope.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

It is real but now not seen.This hope is not wishful thinking. Notice “the will be liberated”.

1 John 3:1-3:

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

 Again it is not now seen but it is still true and one day everyone will see what we are. And that is like Jesus. Everything we will be is now true in him. The reality is in him.

3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

 The hope is in him. Not ourselves or our church’s programs.

The message regarding the kingdom is essentially one of hope—hope for ourselves and for all of God’s creation. The pain, suffering and horrors that we experience in this present evil age are, thankfully, coming to an end. Evil has no future in the kingdom of God.

Jesus Christ himself is not only the first word but also the last word. Therefore, we need not worry about where things will ultimately end up. We know. We can count on it. God will put everything right, and all those willing to humbly receive it will know it and experience it one day. It is, as we say, “a done deal.”

The new age is coming with Jesus Christ as its resurrected Creator, Lord and Savior. God’s original purposes will be completed. The glory of God will fill the whole earth with his light, life, love and utter goodness.

And we will be vindicated—proven right and not fools—for having counted on and lived by that hope.

Colossians 3:1-4

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 What then will the end, the return of Christ, accomplish? Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior now. He is reigning. But that kingdom is now hidden. The full effects of his reign are not exhibited in the present evil age.

When Christ returns, the reality of the kingdom will have its full effect. Christ’s second coming or appearance (his parousia) will be a revelation, manifestation, uncovering (an apocalypsis) of the truth and reality of who he is and what he has accomplished.

The glory of it all will shine forth everywhere so that it will have its full effect. The time for partial witness will be completed. The kingdom of God will no longer be hidden at all. There will be no more need for witness, for we will all stand before the reality itself. That’s what Christ’s return will accomplish.

We are not tasked with overcoming the gap between the present world and the ideal of God’s world.

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Message for the Day