Showing posts from March, 2018

Sermons: Then and Now

Hebrews. Romans. Revelation. What do these books of the New Testament have in common?   Maybe their shared similarity is that all of them can be rather confusing at times. Even those who study these books at great length find it difficult to sort through the complex arguments and symbols. Another common factor might be their length. Among the letters of the New Testament, these are the longest books (along with 1 Corinthians). To read them requires extra effort, a will to stay with them and keep reading. This is no small feat in a world of short attention spans. However, there is yet one other element which links them together: their sermonic quality. Many commentators believe that Hebrews is an early sermon copied down, and both Romans and Revelation possess the rhetorical qualities of early church preaching, qualities made more apparent when they were read aloud to the congregation. In each of these there is a desire to expound some aspect of the Gospel whether the fact of Jesus’

Coming to the Light

John 3:16-21 It was one of those moments which most parents know well: the child was quiet and that meant that nothing good was happening. My sister-in-law searched the house, and she came to the bathroom. The door was closed and locked. She knocked. “I’m in here.” “What are you doing?” my sister-in-law asked. “I’m using the bathroom.” A little suspiciously, my sister-in-law asked a follow-up question, “Where is the cat?” “He’s in here with me.” My sister-in-law paused. “What are you doing?” she asked again. Silence. “I’m painting the cat.” By the time my sister-in-law got the door open, my niece had painted the cat and the toilet and the wall with blue fingernail polish. Why did my niece go to the bathroom and lock herself in to paint the cat? If it was such a good and fun idea, why not do it in the living room where everybody else was? Why not just ask her mom’s permission? The answer, of course, is that she was doing something which she knew that she should not do, so she sou

Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk

Mark 8:27-9:8 We have here an important series of exchanges, three episodes which flow together in such a way that they provide mutual insight. This is the beauty of Scripture, and I want to walk through them before drawing out a lesson for us. In the first episode, we have Peter’s famous confession of Jesus. Jesus has been with his disciples for some time, and he decides to pose two questions to them. First, he asks who people say that he is, to which the disciples reply with various answers of historical and prophetic significance. Of course, none of these is correct, but what people think of Jesus does not matter much at the moment. Jesus then asks who the disciples think he is, to which Peter replies, “You are the Christ” (8:29). Peter hits it right on the nose, the truth of the matter spoken plainly. Then comes the next episode which betrays Peter’s confession, effectively losing all of the brownie points which he just earned. Since the disciples now know that Jesus is the