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The keys of the kingdom

Matthew 16:13-20 Once you’ve been through the screening process your work may assign you a pass, a swipe card and the keys.  Now you’re in.  Now you’re trusted. And now you can bring others in too.  You have the keys. Well in Matthew chapter 16, Jesus gives to Peter the keys of the kingdom of […]

I am the bread of life

John 6:35-59 Yesterday we saw Jesus in amongst a clamouring, needy mob.  Though He was grieving, though He was hungry, though He wanted space to rest with His friends, yet He serves.  When He sees the crowd – like sheep without a shepherd – He has compassion on them (Mark 6:34). The disciples want to […]

Feeding the five thousand

Mark 6:30-44 Are you ever overwhelmed by grief?  By crowds?  By needs? Jesus and the disciples were facing all three in Mark chapter 6. They have just learnt of John the Baptist’s beheading (cf Matthew 14:13). In response, Jesus says to them: “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for […]

Dives and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31 This story is often studied to discover the “what” of judgement.  Yet it seems most in keeping with the context and content to read it as a parable.  And, though we will learn much about the nature of judgement, undoubtedly it was the “who” of judgement that would have shocked Jesus’ hearers: “There […]

He was lost and is found

Luke 15:11-32 We left off from Jesus’ parable with the older son refusing to join the joy. How will the father respond?  A slap for this petulant upstart?  Frog-march him into the party?  That’s not his style.  Instead, in verse 31, he boils down the whole issue to a single word: “Son” Son!  You might […]

The fatted calf

Luke 15:11-32 When the prodigal came home, they killed the fatted calf. From the father, it was the most lavish gesture of reconciliation.  He would publicly welcome, celebrate and eat with his lost son. For the younger son, it was the most incredible token of the father’s forgiveness.  The father from whom he had only […]

Safe and sound

Luke 15:11-32 Every story has a turning point?  What’s the turning point of the Prodigal Son? Perhaps we think it’s in the pigsty.  There he is, hungry and helpless, and the prodigal hatches a plan… “When he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, […]

Far country

Luke 15:11-32 Who is easier to get into heaven – a good person or a bad person? That was my opening line for a talk given recently.  The occasion was a lunchtime concert held at my church.  We were halfway through a recital of Gilbert and Sullivan’s finest and I was given 5 minutes to […]

Prodigal son

Luke 15:11-32 The world divides into two camps – sinners and slaves. The sinners love freedom.  The slaves love respect.  The sinners opt out of the system to discover themselves.  The slaves opt in to prove themselves. When sinners are upset they riot or hold protest rock concerts.  When slaves are upset they write stern letters to […]

Lost sheep

Luke 15:1-10 Kevin’s mother might complain to her friend:  “I’m afraid since his girlfriend left him, Kevin’s been completely direction-less.  A bit of a lost sheep really.” But it’s not just Kevin.  The Bible puts that label on a much broader constituency.  Often the people of God are called “sheep without a shepherd” (e.g. Numbers […]