Friday, April 20, 2007


The Today programme on BBC Radio 4 grills politicians, academics, lawyers et al on a daily basis. The intimidating presenters never seem to be lost for words! As each specialist arrives, the presenters greet them with a barrage of insightful questions.

It reminds me of the scene in Matthew 22. The Lord Jesus is in Jerusalem, his Messianic credentials are being examined closely by the authorities. Three different groups of people ask him "old chestnut" questions, to which they are sure there cannot be right answers ... and the Messiah confounds them all!

First up, the political question. "Should we pay taxes to Caesar?" What an issue to raise in Jerusalem, hotbed of Jewish fundamentalism and yet centre of occupying Roman administration! He would have to offend someone, whether he answered yes or no. So what did He reply? "Give Caesar what belongs to him. Give God what belongs to Him." Wow! That's more than playing with a straight bat! That's knocking the hapless interrogators for six!

Second, the hypothetical question. Rather more academic. "If a woman is widowed seven times, after marrying seven brothers one-at-a-time, who will she be married to in the resurrection?" (Questioner almost falls over laughing ... how ridiculous to consider the resurrection to be anything more than metaphorical!) The sniggers soon stop. The Messiah sternly points out that God describes Himself as "I am the God of Abraham," 400 years after Abraham's death. Abraham lives! God is the God of the living! Not the dead! Resurrection is literal. Life is eternal. Marriage is only temporary, unnecessary in heaven.

Third, the legal question. "Which is the greatest of God's laws?" asks an earnest lawyer. "Love God," says the Messiah, the only one who ever lived up to this law. And there's more ... "Love your neighbour," says the Messiah, the one who showed the greatest neighbourly love when He gave His life up so that His fellow humans could have their sins forgiven by His Father God.

No more questions from the audience. The Messiah has silenced his critics.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Gospel Haiku

Christ died for our sins
From the grave He rose again
Jesus Christ is Lord


This haiku is a celebration of the Christian message
of Easter. The first line is taken from 1 Corinthians 15:3, which Paul states as the basic truth of his evangelistic message. The middle line is a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 15:4, regarding the resurrection which is a central tenet of the Christian faith. ("If Christ is not alive, your faith is meaningless" - Paul again - 1 Corinthians 15:17.) The final line is a direct quotation from Philippians 2:10-11.

The haiku follows the traditional syllabic pattern of 5/7/5, based on the Japanese hokku pattern. I hope this shows that the Christian message can (and must) be relayed across the world with respect to cultural conventions, although without compromising the raw power of the Gospel.

Each line describes a Christian belief that is firmly embedded in history. (1) Christ died on the cross at Calvary. (2) He rose from the dead three days later. No-one disputes that the tomb was empty! Although unbelievers have attempted to perpetrate alternative explanations, the original resurrection story still withstands careful scrutiny. (3) One day everyone will have to acknowledge the universal dominion of Jesus Christ. God has appointed this future day already. Some will bow grudgingly as a precursor to their judgment. Others will bow willingly in anticipation of His kingdom.