Palm Sunday 2014

big bang

GOD THE CREATOR, SUSTAINER, SAVIOUR, CARES FOR YOU AND ME.    A 69th birthday in a few days, when I begin my 70th year on planet earth.  I have more time than most previous Palm Sundays to think about the week ahead, and the Easter sermons I expect to preach, two Sundays running!  Grandchildren care will occupy most of this next week, so I need to have my thoughts pretty well sorted….

Matthew 26:51 – one of the disciples slices off the ear of the High Priest’s servant, as Jesus allows himself to be arrested.  Mark’s gospel gives the same detail.  Only Luke records that Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him (and only John records that the disciple was Peter).  Four accounts giving veracity to what had happened, but when Peter dictated his gospel to Mark, why didn’t he own up to his own action?  And, why did only Luke record the healing?  He wasn’t even there.  Is it a detail faithfully recorded from other witness statements, or an embellishment?

The last chapter of Luke’s gospel records a meeting between Jesus, risen from the dead, and Cleopas and an un-named disciple, on the road to Emmaus – another made-up story?  As New Testament translator J.B.Phillips would say “it all has the ring of truth about it” – slight variations maybe, as so often occurs in witness statements but not contradicting each other, and all pointing to the same truth.  More especially, as Jesus explains what is blindingly obvious to any amateur psychologist, that he was guided through his life (and through death) by his understanding of ‘what was said in all the scriptures about himself.’ (Luke 24:27).

Two weeks ago, at the Ahmadiyya Muslim HQ mosque in Morden, I was speaking about a Christian understanding of the Bible and how the Old Testament pointed to the death of Jesus on the cross.  “The entire scriptural story, the great drama of God’s dealing with Israel, came together when the young Jew from Nazareth was nailed up by the Romans and left to die” (Tom Wright, picked up from my Scripture Union Bible reading notes).

As Isaiah the prophet, many centuries before Jesus lived, led by God’s spirit foresaw in such detail the suffering of ‘His servant’ (Isaiah 53), so I realise afresh how God oversees all that happens – even in each of our little lives.  God in a fourth dimension outside creation’s time, in the same way an artist in a three dimensional world is outside a two dimensional picture., who can take infinite time in painting a moment to be frozen on canvas.  The God, of ‘the Big Bang’ – caring for you, for me when He planned the cross, from before creation.  While of course the human Jesus did not have us personally, or our world in mind as he hung on the cross, God outside time, does.

Why?  So that we, with all those other billions given sentient life, could experience His love – with all the awesome freedom of the choice of love, including the terrible consequence of when we choose to love self rather than God.  As William Cowper composed from Olney in his hymn “O for a closer walk with God… The dearest idol I have known, What ere that idol be, Help me to tear it from thy throne, And worship only thee.”

May I use my remaining years in giving God His worth better than here to for.  More perhaps, after the Sunday after Easter…