Well, to think that I almost didn’t write yesterday’s post, because my relatively few friends on Facebook had said it all… Since then I’ve trawled through over a total of 700 comments (and counting), between this blog, the Drum (on ABC) and various friends’ FB links. Today I am going to attempt a few follow ups. (more…)
This is a great reflection on the temptation of Jesus in the desert by Byron Yawn, and a worked example of how to mis-apply Jesus’ actions to ourselves, and in so doing domesticate them entirely.
Seriously. What’s the assumed application of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness? By assumed I mean – What have we been told (over years of preaching) this event is about? Is it not usually offered as a set of “principles” on how Christians can resist temptation? Or to put that another way, it’s about us. But honestly, is this really what’s happening at this moment? Is Jesus really offering an example how we can personally resist the temptation of the devil? Is this a tutorial for daily living? Of course not! A “how to” on resisting temptation is a secondary application at best if not tertiary. He’s not telling us to do anything. He’s actually doing it for us. There is something much greater under way in this moment. More importantly, do we need to be standing within view of the actual site to realize how misguided our take on it is?
I have heard the claim that Jesus never died on the cross many times over the years, in person, in the press, on the web and via social media. Here is my reply. (more…)
Perhaps some of the most famous words ever spoken on the topic of holiness by a pastor came from Robert Murray McCheyne. He said,
It’s the central claim of Christianity: Jesus is alive.
Not just that his memory lives on in people’s hearts. Not that his teaching still inspires people today. But that Jesus rose from the dead—flesh and blood, in time and space. (more…)
My favourite Easter hymn is “Man of Sorrows” by Philipp Bliss (1838-1876). Its first line and title comes from the most famous Old Testament prophecy of all, one of Isaiah’s so-called Servant Songs. (more…)
I’m reading the Bible through, chronologically this time. I’ve just got to Leviticus: the shoal that’s wrecked a million Bible reading plans (at least, it did mine when I was a teenager). Once again, as I read this hard part of God’s word, it seeps into my skin and reshapes my insides.
There’s something beautiful about Leviticus. Sometimes, like those 3D pictures, you have to blur your eyes to see it. As you persevere through the bewildering details (split hooves? a sore with white hairs in it? two materials woven into one?) you begin to sense the outlines. Laws that protect life and relationships. Laws that forbid detestable practices and depraved worship. Laws that uphold justice and provide for the poor.1
There’s also something terrifying about Leviticus. (more…)
Paul Barnett—New Testament scholar, author, former bishop of North Sydney—on 5 epiphanies he has had over his 55 years of being a Christian regarding the historical reliability of the New Testament.
So why are these men who fill the pages of Josephus forgotten today and Jesus is a household word? It’s because history is full of people who blaze briefly like comets and are then forgotten. But Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man who forgave sins, who healed the sick and raised the dead, who entered Jerusalem as its Messiah-king, whose teaching on love and forgiveness was profound and unheard of, and who himself was resurrected from the dead. Without the resurrection Jesus would have been just another mistaken prophet whose death guaranteed his relegation to obscurity, like the shadowy figure of the Teacher of Righteousness, the founder of the Dead Sea Sect, whose name we do not even know.
As Paul concludes, “I could not reject the historical reliability of the New Testament, even if I wanted to”.
This Christmas the American Atheists have posted a large billboard in Times Square New York. It has two pictures: one of Santa Claus and the other of Jesus on the cross. The captions under the pictures are “Keep the Merry” and “Dump the Myth”. Apart from having the captions under the wrong pictures, the sentiment is one I agree with. (more…)
I cannot believe how often educated people pull out the claim that Jesus probably never existed. Except that it’s not PC to say so, it really deserves the title of Old Wives Tale! (more…)
Maybe you’re a people-pleaser (like I am), and like to be liked by the smart and the sensible. If that’s you, then I wonder if Jesus’ words in John 7 will cut you like they did me this morning. (more…)
In the middle of the classic Christmas hymn ‘Away in a Manger’, there is this one line that doesn’t quite ring true. The second stanza tells us, “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes / But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes”. Did baby Jesus really not cry? The hymn author was likely thinking that Jesus did not cry because he was perfect and divine. But does a crying baby Jesus detract from his divinity? I think not, but a non-crying baby Jesus detracts from his humanity. (more…)
Last Saturday, the ‘Good Weekend’ magazine published by the Sydney Morning Herald (and the Melbourne Age?), ran an article by Fenella Souter entitled “Truth, Lies and Santa Claus: Exploding the Myths of Christmas” (not available online). (more…)