Sunday 22 November 2015

Bible Book:

"For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth." (v. 37)

John 18:33-37 Sunday 22 November 2015

Psalm: Psalm 93



Violence is never acceptable to the Christian conscience. Notviolence against women (as the Church recalls today on Womenagainst Violence Sunday). Nor violence perpetrated by political ormilitary regimes in struggles for power and control.

Through much of Israel's history the focus of political andmilitary ambition was kingship. Almost without exception, however,kings were a disaster for Israel. Kings could not resist anappetite for power and wealth, or for inappropriate alliances. Theybetrayed the vision of Israel as a community which trusted God toprovide and care for them and who lived justly and simply out ofGod's generosity.

Even so, by the time of Jesus, after centuries without a king,Israel still dreamed of a new king (often called the Messiah) whomGod would raise up for them. Many hoped and even expected that thethrust of such kingship would again be political and military. TheMessiah would expel the Roman imperial power from Palestine.

But Jesus could never be any sort of political king. Heconsistently refused violence to promote his mission. However hisprophetic and charismatic ministry provoked great hostility fromthe Jewish leaders. Jesus met their aggression with love andself-sacrifice. But his enemies could easily pin on Jesus theaccusation that he was wanting to overthrow Roman power. For Jesusannounced his mission in terms of God's kingdom. So it was not muchof a step from that to the Jewish leaders suggesting that heclaimed to be a king, the long-awaited Messiah. Enough to makePilate (the Roman governor of Judea, AD26-36) very suspicious: 'Areyou the king of the Jews?' (v. 33).

Jesus' authority was from God. It had nothing to do with armiesand weapons. If Pilate insisted on calling Jesus a 'king', themeaning must be changed out of all recognition. Jesus' role andcampaign had one purpose only: to testify to the truth - the truthof God's love for all, embodied in Jesus himself. Anyone who ispassionate to discover God's truth hears the voice of Jesus andfollows him.

To Ponder

  • Abuse and violence are extremely distressing aspects of ourlives: we are all capable of a terrifying loss of temper; we allhate to see violence let loose and even more to be its victim. Howcan we talk sensitively and honestly about this in the Church?
  • How can the Church encourage men and women who are outside itsfellowship to become seekers after God's truth?
  • Through what sort of service can you best express, withauthority, the humility and love of Jesus?

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