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Gave up the ghost

Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30 –   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 […]

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do

Luke 23:26-43 On one occasion I spoke with an atheist who made a repeated claim: “Jesus was a hypocrite.”  No matter how many times I asked him for evidence, he couldn’t point to any.  Plenty in me.  Plenty in himself. Innumerable instances in Christian history.  But none in Christ Himself. That’s quite astonishing really.  Hypocrisy […]

Hail, King of the Jews!

Matthew 27:27-31; Philippians 2:5-11 When you think of a martyr’s death, you might picture dignified suffering, noble sacrifice, perhaps a reluctantly admiring crowd, some final, well chosen words of grace and wisdom.  We often imagine a certain glory to martyrdom.  But that only goes to show we don’t know what we’re talking about. Richard Wurmbrand […]

Crown of thorns

Matthew 27:27-44 What does it mean for Jesus to be Redeemer? What does it mean that He is Saviour of the world? Some people have a gospel that depicts the Son of God swooping down to snatch a lucky few from damnation.  Souls are saved and saved out of the world into another realm.  The […]

Pilate washed his hands

Matthew 27:11-26 The trial of Jesus has everything backwards.  The Judge of the world is in the dock.  The Truth is cross-examined.   The Righteous One is pronounced guilty. As we saw last time, the people act as judge and jury, while at times Pilate seems more like a public defender.  Now in this verse, […]

Crucify him, crucify him

Luke 23:1-25 In 1963, Stanley Milgram’s experiment asked anonymous participants to deliver increasingly severe electric shocks to subjects in the next room. Unbeknownst to the participants, the shocks were not real.  But had they been, they may have been fatal.  The great majority of participants delivered the shocks, even though there were screams of great […]

My kingdom is not of this world

John 18:12-40 The myth of violence powerfully shapes our view of the world.  We imagine that force must be met with greater force if anything is to be achieved.  And of course we tell ourselves that the greater force is justified if it’s done in the name of some greater good.  Most Hollywood blockbusters follow […]

Thirty pieces of silver

Matthew 26:14-16, 47-56 What would motivate Judas to betray the Son of God?  Theories abound. Many reconstruct a supposed political radicalism.  Perhaps he was disenchanted by Christ’s non-violence.  Judas, we imagine, had been hoping for an uprising and was so disappointed by Christ’s way of peace that he sold Him out. That’s a fascinating supposition. […]

Betrayed with a kiss

Luke 22:47-53 If ever there was a man who could call himself the elect of the elect, it was Judas. He was not only Jewish, he was, in all probability, from the tribe of Judah.  Certainly his name means “Judah” – which refers not simply to the southern kingdom of Israel but also to the […]

The Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak

Matthew 26:36-46 My teenage years were haunted by Gethsemane.  For a serious-minded 14 year old, this was the ultimate display of godly devotion.  Here was Christ leading the way in the school of prayer – showing us how to “give it all up for God.”  In desperation He prostrates Himself before the Father, He pours […]