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Hiding your light under a bushel

Jesus used comedy.  A lot.  Jewish comedy.  Naturally. The juxtaposition of contrasting images was central to Jesus’ communication.  He would often show up the absurdity of our lives by placing two incongruous states side by side.  The resulting shock is the stuff of comedy, and of good preaching! Here’s today’s comic imagery: “Ye are the […]

Ye are the light of the world

How can Jesus call us the light of the world? If you ask your average non-Christian how they think of the church, “Light of the world” is unlikely to feature in their response.  Surely Christians are inconsequential, impotent – dim.  Or perhaps they are compromised by hypocrisy – murky.  Or maybe the church is an […]

The salt of the earth

If we call someone “the salt of the earth” we usually mean they’re real, honest, straight-talking, uncomplicated and dependable.  Jesus had something else in mind.  Although figuring out what exactly is not easy. Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with the beatitudes in which He proclaims the present-tense blessedness of His disciples.  These are […]

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The beatitudes describe the life of the King and therefore the life of the kingdom.  They begin and end speaking of who the kingdom “belongs” to – the poor in spirit (v3) and the persecuted (v10).  And in between there seems to be a progression.  We might imagine a story going something like this: I […]

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God

To be the child of a great ruler is an incredible privilege.  Others can grab precious minutes with your father if they are very important.  But you, without any of their qualifications, belong at the very heart of power. Others will call him King or President, you will call him Daddy.  And, if it’s a hereditary […]

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God

– I see through you. – My eyes are open. – I long to see the world. If a person has experienced their fair share of impurity we might say they’ve “seen it all.”  On the other hand, we call the naive person “blinkered”:  “Those innocents – bless ’em – they’re blind to real life.”  We imagine that the person with a […]

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

We all know the sayings: —  Credit where none is due. —  Don’t get mad, get reconciled. —  God helps those who are helpless themselves. —  Every lunch is a free lunch. —  It’s a dog help dog world. —  Survival of the feeblest… Alright I made those ones up. But if they sound ridiculous, […]

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled

—  Righteousness – the goodness of God. —  Righteousness – the blessed life in action. —  Righteousness – setting the world to rights. When seen in its true light, righteousness is incredibly attractive.  And incredibly elusive. From its first mention in the bible, “righteousness” is a consuming passion.  In Genesis 15, Abraham is taken outside […]

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

In The Life of Brian we join the outskirts of Christ’s audience for the sermon on the mount.  “The meek shall inherit the earth” filters through to one listener: “Oh that’s nice innit, I’m glad they get something cos they have a hell of a time.” It’s a brilliant line.  But Jesus isn’t throwing out a […]

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted

What could be more nonsensical than this?  Or insensitive?  “Blessed are they that mourn”? In my Greek lexicons the word that invariably appears next to “Blessed” is “Happy”.  It’s a word denoting a prosperous and favourble condition.  Some dictionaries list “blissful” as a synonym!  So how on earth can Jesus call mourners “blessed”? Well it’s […]