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Showing posts from April, 2023

The Four Commandments of Easter

Margaret Sangster Phippen wrote that in the mid 1950s her father, British minister W. E. Sangster, began to notice some uneasiness in his throat and a dragging in his leg. When he went to the doctor, he found that he had an incurable disease that caused progressive muscular atrophy. His muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would fail, his throat would soon become unable to swallow. Sangster threw himself into his work in British home missions, figuring he could still write, and he would have even more time for prayer. “Let me stay in the struggle Lord,” he pleaded. “I don’t mind if I can no longer be a general but give me just a regiment to lead.” He wrote articles and books and helped organize prayer cells throughout England. “I’m only in the kindergarten of suffering,” he told people who pitied him. Gradually Sangster’s legs became useless. His voice went completely. But he could still hold a pen, shakily. On Easter morning, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a lette

Good Friday

“Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46 In a sense, Jesus died just like everyone else has died or will die. A moment came when he breathed his last breath on earth. Then his friends took his body and buried him in a tomb. But there are, of course, some ways that Jesus’ death was different… First, Jesus spent the final moments of his earthly life praying. Luke is the only Gospel that records this saying, perhaps because Luke had a special interest in prayer. Now, I am not saying that Jesus is the only person who ever came to the end of his earthly life in prayer. In fact, in his prayer, Jesus is quoting Psalm 31:5. The quotation was used as part of a Jewish evening prayer; the use of this prayer fits the evening of life just as it fits the evening before sleep. The time of Jesus’ death may have actually been the time of evening prayer, the ninth hour. Jesus set an example that others

Maundy Thursday

  What is glory? The word is used hundreds of times in the Bible, but what does it mean? I like this definition I came across some time ago: “to glorify is to ascribe weight by recognizing real substance”. In one word, glory is praise. The Greek word that is at the root of what we are going to talk about today is  δοξά. From this word we get our English word: doxology, which means “a word of praise”. We sing the doxology in church every Sunday: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”   The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer it gives is: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”   This raises the question: how is God most glorified? I believe that our text for today from John 13:31-38 reveals three answers to that question. Listen for God’s word to you…   When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and

Who Is This?

I have stood on the Mount of Olives and seen the place where Jesus made his so-called Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. If you go to Jerusalem today you can still see the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives with some olive trees that may date back to the time of Jesus or are at least descendants of the first century trees. Beyond the Garden you can also see the Golden Gate. This gate stands over the approximate spot where Jesus would have entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. The present Golden Gate was built around AD 640, but at its base are stones dating to the time of Nehemiah. The story is told that the Muslims sealed this gate because of the Jewish prophecy that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem through this gate. Something tells me that this won’t stop Jesus when he comes back! Also on the Mount of Olives is a Jewish cemetery. The graves are very simple in appearance, being of plain rock in very sandy soil. The Jews do not bring flowers to these graves. Rather, the