Thursday, 22 March 2018

The only options: make your choice...

The options to choose are whether Jesus is wicked or insane, or whether he is divine?



Jesus scandalised the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners. He spoke against those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Jesus scandalised them when He suggested that the mercy He showed to sinners was that of God’s own attitude to sinners; by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet. Perhaps even more did He scandalise them by forgiving sins. Only God can forgive sins, so either Jesus was blaspheming or He was speaking the truth and was God.

Only if Jesus is truly divine can He justify such claims that would otherwise be scandal and blasphemy. So all who listen to the Gospel must decide, is Jesus insane/wicked or is He divine – there is no other option if we take the evidence seriously.

Jesus’ divine identity was gradually revealed in what He said. When He said, “He who is not with me is against me”, this could only be taken seriously if Jesus was divine. Similarly when He said, “something greater than Jonah… greater than Solomon”, and something “greater than the Temple” was there. His reminder that David called his Messiah his Lord, was also revealing the Messiah as being divine. But then we come to the gospel of today (Jn 8:51-59) and Jesus then makes it quite plain: “Amen. Amen. I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.” “I AM” was the divine name revealed by God to Moses at the burning bush.

Thus the Sanhedrin had to make a stark choice: was this man the Messiah God, or was Jesus a blasphemer deserving death? They made their choice and Jesus became the victim.

We too must make this choice. We make this choice when we accept the Christian faith as our faith. But we must also make this choice in the moral decisions of daily life. When we choose to sin, we choose to go against the way of Christ, and we thus make Him out to be a liar. Sin is an anti-Christ action, and in that sin we are identifying with the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus. When we resist temptation, we affirm that Jesus is God the Saviour.

Fr Ian

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Two Kingdoms




Many people today who have heard of Jesus, think He is a good chap. “He did lots of good things for people, didn’t he?” they might say. Indeed our Lord did many good works. He healed the sick, He taught the ignorant, He forgave sinners, and He restored lepers. This much most people are willing to accept as evidence of a good man. (In acknowledging this much they are of course conveniently ignoring that He also raised the dead, He exorcised demons, He disturbed as well as comforted, He angered some people until they hated Him, and He also claimed to be divine!)

Christ’s good works were not done however because He was a nice chap. They were signs. His mission was not to eradicate earthly evils: hunger, injustice, illness and death. Jesus performed messianic signs. He came not to abolish all evils on earth, but to free men from the greatest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and daughters. The slavery of sin is the root cause of all forms of human bondage (Jn 8:34-36).

We need as Christians to appreciate that there are two kingdoms. One kingdom is of injustice, hunger, illness, misery, bondage and death – this is the kingdom of Satan. The Good News is that there is another kingdom – the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is justice, generosity, health, blessed happiness, freedom and life eternal. The kingdom of Satan enslaves and it does so through sin. People cannot just merely choose not to do unjust things etc.; they are enslaved into thinking that some things are good when they are actually evil in God’s eyes. They are also enslaved by habits of thinking and habits of deed which cloud their vision and make it difficult to change.

So Jesus performed messianic signs pointing to another reality, but He called on people to repent, and He forgave sins. In some cases He performed exorcisms which freed some people from the domination of demonic powers.

It is therefore no good just battling against injustice, or hunger, or any particular evil, because if one does not go to the root of the problem they will continue to spring up over and over again. The battle we wage as Christians, in Christ’s name and in Christ’s power, is against the principalities and powers of the kingdom of Satan, and it is against sin. We Christians work most of all to free others from their enslavement to sin, and consequently their blindness to what is actually evil.

Fr Ian



DAY NINE (Eve of Pentecost)