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August 2016

The crumbs under thy table

Matthew 15:21-28 It is, perhaps, Thomas Cranmer’s most famous prayer.  Known as The Prayer of Humble Access, it is said prior to receiving the Lord’s Supper: “We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy […]

The head of John the Baptist

Mark 6:14-29 TS Eliot said “human kind cannot bear very much reality.”  This story plumbs the violent depths of that truth. John the Baptist was a shining light.  He was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.  Jesus called him the greatest man born of woman (Matthew 11:11).  As the summation of all the prophets […]

Pearl of great price

Matthew 13:44-52 Recently a friend emailed me with a question.  He’s not yet a Christian but he’s been attending Bible studies for a while.  The previous night they had used Christian-sounding language that he didn’t understand.  He wrote: “They asked me if I had ever ‘given my life to God.’  I was unsure.  What does […]

Fell by the wayside

Matthew 13:1-17 Yesterday we encountered a mystery.  Jesus declares His word publicly – that is, for all.  But also He also proclaims it to a particular audience – not everyone has ears to hear.  You might think that Jesus takes a laissez-faire attitude to this phenomenon.  But no, He pleads “He that hath ears, let […]

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear

Matthew 13:1-17 Having ears is one thing.  Having ears to hear is another. Back in Moses’ day he lamented the spiritual deafness of the people: “And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto […]

Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden

Matthew 11:20-30 Jesus has hit something of a brick wall in His evangelism (Matthew 11:20-24).  He brings the living and life-giving word of God.  He answers every question with the wisdom of heaven.  He performs the mighty works of God.  He is like a little oasis of paradise walking around planet earth.  Everything that He […]

Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37 It’s one of the most famous stories Jesus ever told.  A beautiful stranger helps a man left for dead when his own people disdain and forsake him. Those who ignore his sufferings are Levites and Priests – the holiest of the holy.  The stranger is a Samaritan – from that race of hated […]

My name is Legion: for we are many

Mark 5:1-20 Can people really change? Perhaps we think that, superficially, there can be a make-over.  But what about an abiding shift for good in the core of a person?  Mark chapter 5 gives us such a picture.  In the beginning we meet a man described like this: “A man with an unclean spirit, Who […]

The friend of sinners

Luke 7:18-35 The world is always judging Jesus.  At His birth much was made of His name (Matthew 1:18-25).  At His death the key issue was His identity (Matthew 26:63-65).  And the central question of the Gospels is “What think ye of Christ?”  (Matthew 22:42). Sometimes the labels He attracted were true and well-meant, as […]

Shout it from the rooftops

Matthew 10:26-33 I was recently talking about open-air preaching.  Someone responded: “Do you have to bother people with this stuff? Can’t you just stick inside the churches.” This man (not a Christian) perfectly expresses the spirit of the age.  We are happy with privatised beliefs.  We are content that folks practice their personal piety behind […]