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Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

According to Matthew, Jesus comes as King to bring the true end to exile (Matthew 1:1-17).   He is named as “Saviour” and “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25).  He is the desire of all nations (Matthew 2:1-12) who is also the true Israel – going down into Egypt and rising back up again (Matthew 2:13-23).  He […]

Verily, verily I say unto thee

It’s a phrase that sounds quintessentially “King James” – quintessentially 17th century.  But as with so many “King James” phrases, it originates with Tyndale in the 16th century. “Verily” (meaning truly) translates the word “Amen” which is a Hebrew word left untranslated in the Greek New Testament.  So, most literally, Jesus says “Amen, Amen I […]

Physician heal thyself

The chain-smoker warning her son about cigarettes… The  bankrupt lecturing on good business practices… The church riddled with divorce, preaching ‘family values’ to the culture… In all these situations we might use this saying: “Physician heal thyself.”  We expect that those promoting healing powers should be the best advertisements for their cure.  Well what about […]

Fishers of men

What images spring to mind when you think of an evangelist? Often we think of a bold adrenaline junky who could sell ice to eskimos.  Yet when we think of the people who helped us to faith we usually think of very different character traits! Simon Peter can be thought of as an arch evangelist.  […]

It is written

After His baptism, Christ is driven by the Spirit into the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11) In His battle with Satan, Christ is like Adam, like Israel and like David. Like Adam, the devil confronts Him with audible temptations to doubt God’s word and eat.  And like Adam the fate of humanity rests on His shoulders. Like […]

The heavens opened

For us it’s a description of rain (cf Genesis 7:11).  For Ezekiel it allowed him to see “visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1).  In the Gospels, the heavens open for Jesus in order that He sees the Spirit descend: “Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were […]

Baptism of fire

When the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps went ashore at Gallipoli, it was said to be a baptism of fire for these nations.  Less tragically, a baptism of fire might refer to a stormy first year of marriage or a difficult first match for a football manager.  It is the birthing of something new […]

Shining light

What adjective could be more redundant than “shining” when attached to the word “light”?  What else does a light do?  What else can it do except shine? Surely there’s no such thing as a light that doesn’t shine.  Well you’d think so, wouldn’t you.  But Jesus, as we’ll soon see, speaks of people who “put […]

Turning water into wine

Here is a phrase, like “David and Goliath” or “the writing is on the wall“, that doesn’t strictly occur in the Bible.  Instead it arises as a short-hand to describe a famous story. This story is from John 2:1-11.  It’s the first of Jesus’ miracles as John records them.  And according to verse 11, by […]

Behold the Lamb of God

John the Baptist was a wild and holy prophet whose whole mission in life was to prepare the way for the LORD Jesus.  John was prophesied in the Old Testament as one who would cry out in the wilderness and introduce Jesus to the world.  (Isaiah 40:3ff; Malachi 3:1)  And when his big moment came […]