The Middle Bit

John 20; 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

Well here we are at Good Friday. Today’s reading includes the resurrection so that’s really two big days in one FDR. It got me thinking about which is the most significant day in the Christian calendar. Also, Geoff mentioned in his sermon last Sunday that the Gospel is heavily leaning towards the theme of God’s Kingdom so I can’t help but notice that Jesus was given a crown of thorns during his crucifixion. The King’s coronation was during his execution – how ironic and yet poetic. Noticing the disciples’ responses to the empty tomb it seems people can have the most diverse reactions to the same facts. Consider Mary Magdalene’s devastated grief versus John’s quiet belief and Thomas’ skepticism. Indeed John frequently juxtaposes trust against disbelief in his gospel and on the day of resurrection it’s treated no differently. I noticed how tenderly Jesus spoke with Mary when he corrected her misunderstanding. I’m not sure what to make of verse 17 where Jesus appeared to be emphasizing our new identification with The Father post-resurrection. I wondered if it was an echo of John 19:27 but I was not convinced…

At many times including Easter I notice my reactions to Roman Catholic crosses that have the little man still on them. I sometimes assume their wearers have forgotten the best bit about Jesus having risen! Which brings me back to the question about which day is more significant – Friday or Sunday? It’s a question that is central to Christian hope – Is there life beyond death? As modern evangelicals we may also need to ask ‘Is there salvation beyond justification (having our sins redeemed)? I got a giggle out of NT Wright’s lecture on the four Gospels when he said we could mistakenly treat the preceding parts of the narrative like the “chips and dips” in the lead-up to the “meal” of death and resurrection. That is of course at odds with Paul in Philippians 2:12 where he recommends “working out our salvation in fear and trembling” viz our Christian life could be a rich and detailed journey. The second reading today from 2 Timothy 4 is the natural ensuing result of Christian life lived well. Specifically to those in leadership but similarly for all of us being faithful to the Gospel requires us to hold firmly to its truth no matter how much we receive opposition from within and without the body of so-called believers. There is no work required of us to become a believer but there is plenty of effort involved in staying faithful. No matter the circumstances (Paul was writing from a dungeon) we must still proclaim the message and persevere as in running a marathon (“There’s no such thing as an easy marathon,” S.Cole 2007, Finishing Well). I love the image of being poured out like drink – so little of his life did Paul hold on to. Instead of measuring my tithes given or number of bibles read I would like to be known more for my efforts, perseverance and purity of faith when my race has run. Until then, let’s keep spurring each other on.

Matthew

Reference: P.H. Towner, ‘The Letters to Timothy And Titus’ (NICNT) in P.G. Apple ‘2 Timothy’.

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4 thoughts on “The Middle Bit

  1. Thanks Matthew for your words of encouragement to spur each other on. As we meet together today may we also encourage others who are commencing the race or visiting our church community.

  2. Thank you Matt, food for thought indeed. Every time I am convicted of lapsing into laziness in my spiritual life, I look at the Cross. At the sacrifice, pain and suffering but also at the power and provision and Presence that are mine in Christ.

  3. Thank you Matt. As to which is more important I cannot give an answer. All I know is that you can’t have one without the other. A child of God needs revelation of both these events. Too many times I’ve known Christians who know that they have been forgiven but don’t know that their eternity has also been settled. What was Christs is ours. Those who believe in the finished work of Christ can rest assured that they too will be in heaven one day. I still remember clearly when the Holy Spirit captured my heart and showed me that all my guilt, sin and shame was placed upon Jesus as He hung on the cross so that i could be free and forgiven. He did that not only for me but for everyone who lives on this earth. This is good news!!!

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