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Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s

Mark 12:13-44 In chess terms they call it a “fork”.  Your opponent puts you in a position where, whatever you do, you will lose a piece.  The Pharisees and Herodians (not a natural alliance) gang up on Jesus “to catch Him in His words.” (Mark 12:13) “They say unto him, Master, we know that thou […]

Out of the mouths of babes

Psalm 8; Matthew 21:1-17 We might think of today’s phrase as an ancient equivalent of “Kids say the darnedest things.”  But Jesus was making a deeper point.  He wasn’t just pointing us to children.  He was encouraging us to child-like-ness.  It is not only infants, but more generally the simple trusters in Jesus whose surprising wisdom […]

Den of thieves

Matthew 21:12-17 Perhaps this question seems to belong to another age, but it’s very worth asking: Where can sinners take shelter from the wrath of God? It might sound old fashioned and out of touch with today’s world.  But if so, perhaps it’s we who are out of touch with reality.  The word of God […]

Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass

Zechariah 9:9-13; Matthew 21:1-11 In the Old Testament book of Zechariah there are two commands to rejoice.  Once it says: “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion:  for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.  And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, […]

Many are called but few are chosen

Matthew 22:1-14 …So the handsome prince married his beautiful bride and they all lived happily ever after.  Do you believe in fairytales?  I say “fairytales” – it’s a bit deeper than that.  It runs in our cultural bloodstream. It courses through our literature, our music, our films, our deepest values in life.  We have this […]

The last shall be first and the first last

Matthew 20:1-16 Have you ever discovered a co-worker’s salary?  How did it affect you?  It can be deeply destabilising. There are good reasons that offices issue their payslips in sealed envelopes.  Knowing the wages of fellow labourers can inspire volatile jealousy and tear a workplace apart.  But why should it? Well, human beings are incurable […]

A millstone around your neck

Matthew 18:1-9 A heavy burden weighing you down.  Inescapable.  And probably self-inflicted.  That’s how we think of a millstone around our necks.  A job, a relationship, an ongoing commitment – these things can often be called “millstones around our neck.” But when Jesus said it, He wasn’t referring to a wearisome inconvenience. He was speaking […]

Jesus wept

John 11:1-46 How do you handle death? Broadly speaking, people either deny it or they befriend it. Denial is the majority option.  “Life is for the living” we say and we put death out of our minds.  As best we can.  But it will come out in other ways.  Hebrews 2 says we are “subject […]


Matthew 19:27-30 The new birth is absolutely critical.  That was Jesus’ teaching in John 3 – “Ye must be born again!” But often, when we think of the new birth, we imagine that it is only individuals who need regeneration.  But in Matthew 19, Jesus had something much bigger in mind: “Then answered Peter and […]

Camel through the eye of a needle

Matthew 19:16-26 Jesus was always using comic imagery to make His points. If you know the Lord and don’t speak of Him, it’s like using a bucket as a lamp shade. If you’re a hypocrite, you’re like a tutting eye doctor, blinded by a plank of four by two. If you’re trying to be good […]