In Matthew 27 and in Mark 15, as Jesus is dying on his cross, he cries out these chilling words:
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
We are told what this means. It means:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
It’s a quote from Psalm 22. What’s happening here? John Dickson says of this cry:
This is not a cry of self-doubt from Christ’s lips, as if he is here questioning his identity and mission. It is his deliberate and agonising identification with the suffering poet of Psalm 22 and therefore, with all those who have cried out to God ‘Why?’. There on the cross, so the Bible insists, God intentionally enters our pain and misery, getting his hands dirty and even bloody....
Posted: 21 March 2011 / 1 Timothy 2:1-3
This Saturday is the NSW State election. As we think about how we use our vote, it would be worth reading a short paper written a couple of years ago by John Dickson (founding director of Centre for Public Christianity), called “How to Vote Christianly!” (pdf).
In short he encourages us to:
Not get into an unthinking voting pattern
Not vote for someone just because they are a Christian, and
Not make economic prosperity the central issue
Vote for others
Vote for the moral health of the community
Vote for the poor and weak
Vote for the gospel, and
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—2...
Posted: 18 March 2011 / John 19:26-27
Our Gravitas series for Lent continues this week as we look at Jesus’ last words on the Cross. In particular, when he speaks to his mother, and to John:
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother… When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25–27 TNIV)
William Barclay says of this:
“There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus in the agony of the cross, in the moment when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of his mother in...
Posted: 16 March 2011
As the carnage from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami moves toward 10,000 dead and beyond, there is a way to pray and act:
1. Be softened to the pain nearby.
The Good Samaritan knew nothing of the calamities in first century Japan, but was commended by the Lord for mercies at hand (Luke 10:25-37).
2. Pray for the followers of Christ in Japan:
That they would be still and know that God is God (Psalm 46:10; 100:3).
- That they would be awakened from the illusion that this life is long or sure or the main point of eternal existence (James 4:14).
- That they would be given a new vision of the supreme value of Christ who promises his followers that famine, nakedness, and death...
Posted: 13 March 2011 / Luke 23:43
On his cross, Jesus responds to a request of a dying rebel: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Writer Max Lucado says: “The only thing more outlandish than the request was that it was granted.” Just try to picture that scene: a political terrorist getting his just reward asking God’s son for eternal life. But as absurd as it may appear, that’s exactly what happened. He who deserved hell got heaven, and we are left with a puzzling riddle. What was Jesus trying to teach us? What was he trying to prove in pardoning this man who had done nothing to deserve it? This is what we are thinking about at Vine Church this afternoon.
Posted: 09 March 2011
Last Sunday we began a new series for Lent (Ash Wednesday (today!) – Easter) titled Gravitas, in which we will look at the seven words Jesus spoke from the cross. Though very few in this city follow what you might call a religious calendar, and that’s OK. But we figure that many follow Christmas and Easter, so why not Lent, which is meant to reflect on our sin and frailty? Lent is a season that is supposed to make us hungry for Easter – hungry for Christ’s death – as forgiveness and cleansing for my sin, and thirsty for Christ’s resurrection as victory over sin and decay. By looking at Jesus seven words from the cross we come to understand what exactly he thought was...Continue Reading
This Sunday at Vine Church we come to the last of six sermons on Jesus parable of the two lost sons. In Jesus’ parable the younger brother goes off into a distant country expecting a better life but is disappointed. He begins to long for home, remembering the food in his father’s house. So do we all. The philosopher Heidegger described this experience with the german word unheimlichkeit. The word translates as “eeriness” or “uncanniness” but literally it means “away from home.” Heidegger is referring to the anxiety and spiritual nausea that comes from never feeling at home in the world. An English word which captures the longing element of this, but not so much the...Continue Reading
Posted: 20 February 2011 / Luke 15
The March, 1965 edition of Life Magazine tells the true story of a young man who was a U.S. soldier missing in action during the Vietnam War. When his family could get no word of him through any official channels, his older brother flew to Vietnam and, risking his life, searched the jungles and the battlefields for his lost brother. It’s said that despite the danger, he was never hurt, because those on both sides had heard of his dedication and respected his quest. Some of them called him, simply, “the brother.” I don’t know what your older brother was like growing up, but this Sunday we get to learn about our true older brother who risked his life to come and find his lost...Continue Reading
Posted: 11 February 2011 / Luke 15:25-32
Blase Pascal, the French Mathematician and philosopher said,
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end… This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
This Sunday we come to the topic: “The Two Ways to Find Happiness”. We are are looking at how younger-brother types seek to find happiness with drugs sex and booze, while older-brother types seek to find happiness in religion, law, and prayer. In the parable of The Two Lost Sons (Luke 15) Jesus explains that both these ways are dead end streets to happiness. Pray with me that as we meditate on Luke 15 this Sunday our...Continue Reading
Posted: 06 February 2011 / Luke 15:14-20
This Sunday we continued our series on Luke 15 by looking at ‘All of Life is Repentance’.
In his novel Popcorn, Ben Elton, through the voice of Bruce, comments sarcastically on our inability to own our faults. He says,
Nothing is anybody’s fault. We don’t do wrong, we have problems. We’re victims, alcoholics, sexaholics . . . Victims! People don’t fail any more. They experience negative success. We are building a culture of gutless, spineless, self-righteous, whining cry-babies who have an excuse for everything and take responsibility for nothing.
As far as I can see, there are only two groups in Australia, who, when they get together, the first thing they do is own...Continue Reading