Tag Archives: Jesus

A Hole in History…

If the coming into existence of the Nazarenes, a phenomenon undeniably attested by the New Testament, rips a great hole in history, a hole the shape and size of the Resurrection, what does the secular historian propose to stop it up with?… the birth and rapid rise of the Christian Church… remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the only explanation offered by the Church itself.

C.F.D.Moule (Cambridge), The Phenomenon of the New Testament

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Some helpful thoughts on the Resurrection of Jesus

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This weekend is Easter weekend.

Australians in general love it because it is a four day long weekend, a chance for rest and recreation.

Christians love it even more because it is the very foundation of real rest, the relief from having to wonder about our relationship to the divine, and the ultimate freedom from having to prove ourselves via competition from others (if you want to know how that works, I spoke on this last Sunday, you can listen here).

There have been some very helpful posts leading up to Easter this year, so I thought I point them out.

1. Resurrection and Science

One of the major objections to belief in the resurrection of Jesus has been the thought that is is incompatible with modern science.Dr John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, has written a piece on how a scientist can believe in a ‘miracle’ like the resurrection of Jesus. You can find it here.

2. Resurrection and Sources

Another objection to the resurrection of Jesus is that the accounts in the primary sources, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, found in the Bible, are incompatible with each other. The claim is that, since these accounts mention different things and different people,  they can’t be speaking about the one event, and so therefore they are unreliable.

Dr Peter Bolt, Head of New Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney (and PhD in the world of the first century from Cambridge) has written a piece showing how the different accounts weave together to speak of one narrative. You can read it here.

[Peter will be speaking at St Pauls on Thursday, 15th May 2014, on the evidence for the historical Jesus, his life and actions – all welcome!]

3. Resurrection and Evidence

Finally, here is a helpful piece from Dr William Lane Craig that puts together the case for the resurrection of Jesus.

May you have a safe and meaningful Easter.

[BTW, our services at St Paul’s Castle Hill where I work are Good Friday: 8am & 10am; Easter Sunday 8 & 10am, 5 & 7pm]

He is Risen – He is Risen Indeed!

 

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Gospel of Mark (chapter 1) – performed

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The Shocking Truth of the Passion

 

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“The prediction of Jesus’ passion conceals a great irony, for the suffering and death of the Son of Man will not come, as we would expect, at the hands of godless and wicked people. The suffering of the Son of Man comes rather at the hands of ‘the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law.’ It is not humanity at its worst that will crucify the Son of God but humanity at its absolute best (emphasis mine). The death of Jesus will not be the result of a momentary lapse or aberration of human nature, but rather the result of careful deliberations from respected religious leaders who will justify their actions by the highest standard of law and morality, even believing them to render service to God (John 16:2). Jesus will not be lynched by an enraged mob or beaten to death in a criminal act. He will be arrested with official warrants, and tried and executed by the world’s envy of jurisprudence – the Jewish Sanhedrin and the principia iuris Romanorum.”

James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 254.

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The persistence…

The persistence of Jesus in discovering who touched him rivals the woman’s persistence in reaching Jesus. She wants a cure, a something, whereas Jesus desires a personal encounter with someone. He is not content to dispatch a miracle; he wants to encounter a person.

In the kingdom of God, miracle leads to meeting. Discipleship is not simply getting our needs met; it is being in the very presence of Jesus, being known by him, and following him.

James R.Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 165.

Postscript:

How do we know all the details of the woman with the flow of blood in Mark 5? My guess is that she remained a disciple of Jesus and followed him around along with the other disciples, and in the course of the journeying she shared her background with Peter, who likely forms the primary source for Mark.

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February 27, 2013 · 2:42 am

Was Jesus born in a barn?

A Christmas play

No, probably not.

The popular imagining of the first Christmas, with innkeepers putting up ‘house full’ signs and finally pointing Joseph and Mary to an animal shed out the back, is unlikely to be the way it all happened.

Dr Lynn Cohick, Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, spoke at St Paul’s last Sunday, and pointed out 3 reasons why that popular view of the first Christmas is unlikely:

1. In Middle Eastern culture, there is no way that a town would have not looked after one of their own, let alone a couple expecting a baby. The residents of the town would have done everything they could to accommodate the couple, out of hospitality, and for the honour of their town.

2. Bethlehem did not have hotels as we understand them. Instead, those who could afford them would build a ‘guest room’. The word in Luke’s gospel translated ‘inn’ (katalyma) is elsewhere translated in Luke as ‘upper room’- it was all of these ‘guest rooms’ that were full in the Christmas narrative.

3. Homes in Bethlehem were divided into 2 rooms: one for living/ cooing/ sleeping, and another for the animals. This is similar to modern day Masai homes which have a similar design. Animals were kept inside at night for their welfare and for security.

1st century Middle Eastern middle eastern floor plan, as per Kenneth Bailey (I don’t think it’s his Lego, though…)

So what happened?

Joseph and Mary stayed with another peasant family, who had no room in their normal living quarters or guests space, but accommodated them under the same roof in the best way they could.

Dr Cohick’s observations drew from Kenneth Bailey’s work on understanding Jesus through aide Eastern eyes – you can read some of his work on the Luke Christmas passages here.

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Can we all just get along? Guy Sebastian and peace on earth

I have been a long time admirer of Guy Sebastian. I watched him win Australian Idol all those years ago, and I have always been impressed by his vocal skills. The Memphis Album is a favourite.

I was fascinated to hear his new song performed on TV the other night. The words are below:

Some only want some shelter
Someone a mansion in the sky
Some want a thousand virgins
Some move battle with their mind

[Pre-Chorus]
And when all the worlds collide
All they know is too divide
And it’s easy if their faceless
To hate the other side
And the others caught between
Are the only ones to bleed
And the ones they leave behind
Can only sit and cry

[Chorus]
Dear God, dear soul
Dear Mary , Mohammed
Can we just get along
Can we just get along
Dear heart, dear life
Dear soldier, dear martyr
Where did we go wrong,
Can we all just get along

[Verse]
Some set fire to crosses
Some fight the right to cross their dream
Some don’t believe at all
But do anything to make the news

[Pre-Chorus]
And when all the worlds collide
All they know is too divide
And it’s easy if their faceless
To hate the other side
And the others caught between
Are the only ones to bleed
And the ones they leave behind
Can only sit and cry

[Chorus]
Dear God, dear soul
Dear Mary , Mohammed
Can we just get along
Can we just get along
Dear heart, dear life
Dear soldier, dear martyr
Where did we go wrong,
Can we all just get along

[Bridge]
Maybe if we’d work together
We’d already have a heaven here on earth

I was fascinated by this song because it is essentially John Lennon’s “Imagine” in a new dress for 2012. It is born of the same angst – a burden that has arisen by looking around the world and seeing all the fighting, and observing that lots of the fighting is done by people who claim to be religious (although I note the reference to people who don’t believe anything but do anything to get on the news). This sort of thinking leads to people dying, and people crying.

In many ways I feel the same, as does the average Aussie, I reckon. Why all the fighting? Is it really all that important? Can’t we all just stop it and get along, and talk about the cricket for a change? I mean, how long has Ponting got anyway?… And so the song is likely to go gang-busters here in Australia, because it will appeal to the Aussie sense of not-taking-yourself-too-seriously, urging people to pull-their-heads-in and get on with living life.

I’d love to endorse the message, but if you scratch just a little bit under the lyrics, I’m not sure it will stand under the burden of its own message. Mohammed said there was one way to Allah, and it was through him. Mary apparently will get you round about access to God, though Protestants would dispute her role in accessing the divine. Atheists think the very idea of asking any of these for peace is like talking to the fairies at the bottom of the garden. And none of those reckon that they can just give up their way of thinking any more now than when Lennon’s anthem debuted.

May I humbly suggest another way? The answer lies in Guy’s line: ‘Where did we go wrong?’ A possible answer: according to Jesus, humanity was created with 2 primary operating instructions. 1. Love God above else. 2. Love others as you love yourself. Guy has noted that we are really bad at the 2nd one as a human race, but its not because people believe in God. It’s because they don’t believe in him enough.

This Christmas, Jesus will be celebrated as the ‘Prince of Peace.’ This is not only because he makes relationship with the Maker possible again, but also because from that relationship flows a changed attitude to relationship with others. True followers of Jesus don’t give up on the idea of truth, but they love as they have been loved, and they give up assertion of self in favour of serving others as they have been served by Jesus. Those who don’t just aren’t taking it seriously enough, or being true to their confession.

I long for peace, but I’m not sure that pretending all the religions can just get along is the answer. For mine, it lies in following the way of the Prince of Peace.

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5 reasons why singing the praises of JESUS is not stupid, boring or ‘old school’

 

In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom we made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4 [NIV]

  1. Jesus is the final and definitive revelation of God and all reality to us.
  2. When we sing to Jesus, we are singing to the Creator of all things.
  3. When God wanted to reveal what he was like, Jesus was the answer – we see Jesus, we see God, as God wanted us to see him and know him.
  4. He is the one who continues to keep all things going right now, this very instant, including the breath in my lungs to utter a phrase or the movement in my fingertips to type these words.
  5. He did the work of sacrifice to overcome the train-wreck that I made and continue to make of honouring God, when he died for my sins on the cross and rose again from the dead.

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