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She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

You didn’t choose to get born and neither did I.  Only Jesus has ever chosen to be born.  But if such powers were at our disposal, would we have decided upon the path that Jesus took? Surely not.  Surely we would have opted for powerful parents, fabulous wealth, plush surroundings, an easy life. And it’s […]

My soul doth magnify the Lord

How do you feel about musicals?  Many people dislike them because ‘in real life, ordinary folk don’t burst into song.’  Well, hopefully Luke chapter 1 will win over the doubters because here we read, not one, but two examples of spontaneous lyricism! At the end of the chapter (Luke 1:68-80), Zechariah – the father of […]

Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women

Gabriel says to Mary:  “have gratia plena!”  Or at least, that was Jerome’s Latin translation from around 400AD.  In English it would read “Hail Mary, full of grace.”  But that’s not a good translation of Luke 1:28. Jerome’s version sounds as though Mary is a repository of some spiritual substance called grace.  And if we […]

Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Both Joseph and Mary were given strict instructions regarding the name of the Christ-child (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31). Angels had to come – they moved heaven to earth! – just to tell them the vital importance of being “Jesus.” Think of all the advice these first-time parents might have received… “You’re bearing the Son of […]

The unsearchable riches of Christ

What is the message of Christianity for the world?  If you could boil it down, what is the proclamation of the church?  Paul has a wonderful summary in Ephesians 3:8. John Wycliffe translated it: “the vnserchable richessis of Crist”. William Tyndale put it as: “the unsearchable ryches of Christ.” And, in that tradition, the King […]


What would convince the world to believe in God? I once asked an atheist the question: “What would convince you to believe in God?”  He answered: “Until god appears before me as a burning bush or I see his picture on the front of popular science magazines I will remain a non-believer.” It strikes me […]

Damascus Road Experience

It’s shorthand for any dramatic conversion.  People have often said to me that they’re Christians but they’re still waiting for their “Damascus Road Experience.” But they will have to wait for Christ’s return for anything like what Paul experienced.  You see the Damascus Road was not just the conversion of a man, it was the […]

Cut to the heart

When we’re “cut to the heart” it’s usually because we’ve been insulted or betrayed or broken up with. But three times in the book of Acts, the Israelites are ‘cut’ or ‘pricked’ to the heart (Acts 2:37; 5:33; 7:54).  Yet with them it’s different.  Here’s what pricks their hearts: the preaching of the Apostles.  As […]

It is finished

“To die is not a problem when a man has accomplished his historic mission.”  Unfortunately for Leon Trotsky, an icepick cut short his mission to rule Russia.  His death represented a failure.  But Christ would have us believe that His death was a success.  Yet there was absolutely nothing on Good Friday that looked victorious. […]

Gave up the ghost

—  An old car that breaks down for the last time. —  A sports team that knows it can’t win. —  A business that finally calls it quits. In all these situations we’d say they “gave up the ghost.” In the bible, the phrase describes death.  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all said to have […]