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Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

Deuteronomy 10:14-22; Matthew 5:7 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 […]

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

Genesis 15:1-6; Matthew 5:6 From the Bible we can think of “righteousness” in these terms: – the goodness of God. – the blessed life in action. – 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 […]

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth

Psalm 37; Matthew 5:5 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 […]

Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted

Psalm 55; Matthew 5:4 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 favourable condition.  Some dictionaries list “blissful” as a synonym!  So how on earth can Jesus call […]

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

Isaiah 61; Matthew 5:3 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 […]

Verily, verily I say unto thee

John 1:35-51 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, […]

Physician, heal thyself

Luke 4:14-30 – The chain-smoker, warning her son about cigarettes… – The bankrupt, lecturing on good business practices… – The divorce-riven church, 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. […]

Fishers of men

Matthew 4:12-22 What images spring to mind when you picture an evangelist? Sometimes we think of an adrenaline junkie, who could sell ice to the eskimos.  Yet when we consider the people who helped us to faith – we are reminded of very different character traits! Simon Peter can be thought of as an arch […]

It is written

Matthew 4:1-11 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 tempts Him to doubt God’s word and eat.  And like Adam the fate of humanity rests on His shoulders. Like Israel, He […]

The heavens opened

Matthew 3:13-17 For us it’s a description of rain (cf Genesis 7:11).  For Ezekiel it enabled 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 opened […]