Through the Bible in a Year – January 25

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Job 1-3; John 21; Psalm 34

The final chapter of John ties up a loose end, yet it is no mere coda. It expresses the Life that was and is and shall be.
the story of the reconciliation of Peter grows out of that old story in the Garden – but the outcome is dramatically different.

Here, perhaps more than anywhere else in Scripture is the Clue. Here we see that the death of Christ is no mere ‘fixing that which went wrong’. Peter, like our forebears of old, chose to know him not. Not to eat from the tree of Life, but that of knowledge of Good and Evil – not identifying himself with Christ whose Word is Life, but choosing a life for himself. And there are no tears of remorse. There is just the plain fact of his denial, a seemingly closed door.
Peter is naked, and ‘heard that it was the Lord’, and grabbed for his figleaves. We are too alert to that Old story – we too hide for shame, as we have always done, since the beginning. But Jesus reveals this is something New, or rather an alternative path that was always present in creation – although for a while the path to it was barred by the presence of the Cherubim – by the Presence of the Living God Himself – the way to that Tree, Life is opened, and no one will close it.
The way of Jesus is extraordinary to us. There is no call for sorrow, to prove we are sorry so that we might be ‘forgiven’, but with an eternal watch on our future behaviour.

Peter expresses no contrition, only that deep deep shame in the Presence of the Living One which the One who Lives for ever has come to Heal.
Peter comes to Christ. Christ asks him the Only question that matters – do you Love me?

Do you Love Me?

Through the Bible in a Year – January 24

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 48-50; John 20; Psalm 33

And so we come once more to the beginning. A Man and a Woman in the garden – deep archetypes of Life and also Life giving. The Church with her ‘Rabboni’. But there is far more. Christian faith is often reduced to ‘a second chance’, a ‘new start’ – we tend in the words of the author Dallas Willard, towards ‘a gospel of sin management’ – but something of far greater significance is revealed here. This is no New beginning, starting over. If it were then what cause now two thousand years later would we have for any hope?
In our culture, dominated by the clock, we understand time ‘like an ever rolling stream’, progressing from ‘The Beginning’ and moving towards ‘The End?’. So talk of new beginnings are just that, of always going back to the beginning, in seemingly endless and increasingly hopeless cycles. (In a horrible irony, our culturally unique understanding of human progress is based on this assumption of how time works).
But ours is not the only way of Knowing time and this gospel reveals something far more profound. That the Life which is in Christ is Eternal. Christ in the garden with Mary Reveals all of our Chronological time in a moment. In the deep ‘past’ of Eden, the distant ‘future’ of The New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God is Now – Present.
And we are invited to Life in that Present – Knowing God – Loving and Loved – One with each other and Him, Now. Eternally. The Life of Worship and prayer that we enjoy together, One in Him, is to inhabit that Life.

In a sense what this reveals is shown in the Parable of the Prodigal, where the younger son ‘came to his senses’ – to See things as they are, if dimly. When we inhabit the Eternal we come to Know as we are fully Known – our Home is Always with the Father. To Live in this moment is to come Home.

Through the Bible in a Year – January 23

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 46-47; John 19; Psalm 32

Our Psalm today requires much by way of meditation – that prayerful ‘chewing’ upon the Word in prayer that brings forth Life. For it is a text of truthfulness. Scripture throughout bears witness to the Truth – sometimes it is veiled, the revelation of Christ does not lie on the surface for all to see – but occasionally it is seen in all its glory. In other places, as in this Psalm, we are led into truth. The Psalmist declares, ‘Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven’. He then speaks of his own experience which has led him to this happy realisation – how he was wasting away in trying as our forebears did of old in the garden, to hide the reality of his life from God. But then he comes into the Light – we may well say he comes to Christ – and learns the blessed release of Openness, of Truthfulness.

As we first meditate upon the ‘Proposition’ – happy are those whose sins are forgiven – it may well be alien to us. We may accept it as the Word of God, but it is alien. It is a Fact which we accept in trust, but we have not yet become acquainted with it – we have not ourselves experienced this truth. We may not yet have come to the point where the fact of our own existence in its sinfulness has been any burden to us. But as He comes close to us, this state of affairs cannot pertain, we must either come to the light or flee ever deeper into the darkness. As he becomes ever more clear the crisis comes to a head.

And so Everything is brought to the point of Judgement. We see in Pilate a growing panic as the one who Is the Truth stands before him – the conflict between Light and Dark is exposed – the Light is brought out once more and the darkness os revealed for what it is – a refusal to come into the light. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ We cannot bear the light!!!

Pilate comes to see that for all his worldly power – he cannot do the right – he is given a choice – he is told where his authority comes from, but he refuses to step into it. He does not believe.

It is in this supreme revelation of the Truth of our existence in Christ, that the door to our forgiveness is thrown open wide. As Death is brought out into the open, Life is poured out.

As we wrestle ourselves with God, as had Jacob, who now in a most extraordinary turn, blesses Pharaoh, all this is brought to the fore in our lives. The Truth of Christ is made present to us, and we too have the opportunity offered to us of the fullest healing of who we are.

Truth is revealed to be Personal – a Person – the one who sets us free.

“Blessed are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Happy are those  . . . in whose spirit is no deceit – who have stepped out of darkness and into light

Who know Christ, and are themselves Known, Apprehended, and Freed by Him

 

Through the Bible in a Year – January 22

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 44-45; John 18; Psalm 31

I hope that as we have journeyed thus far, I have encouraged you to seek the deep patterns in Holy Scripture, that this book is of a whole, that past present and future are found in a single line, or even a word.

John in particular is always most careful with his words – it is as though years of reflection upon the Glory of God in Jesus Christ, of resting upon his breast has enabled him to distill all of that Glory into almost every phrase. And so we come once more to where we began – to a garden – which Jesus and his disciples enter.

Of course That garden, the one of old had had set at it the cherubim and a sword flaming to guard the way to the tree of life.

So the one who Is in himself Life – the root of Jesse – who will be born upon the tree enters this garden. He enters The Garden – the path is not blocked – a Gate has been made. We note that He, with his disciples do not bring any torches, for the Light is still with them.

Then in ghastly parody, comes the betrayer, with soldiers and priests – with their own ‘flaming swords’ and there is a confrontation. One somewhat akin to that of Dagon with the Ark of the Covenant in Samuel – the Ark above which rose the cherubim – whose very presence threw the parodic god of the Philistines to the ground.

Thus the revelation of Glory which the darkness cannot overcome, the one who dwells among the cherubim, The one who Is and who watches over The Gate for the sheep, throws all the darkness to the ground. The darkness cannot overcome it, even in This moment..

Through the Bible in a Year – January 21

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 42-43; John 17; Psalm 30

The seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel reveals the very heart of the gospel – that we might know the Father and the Son. We so often express salvation in terms of being ‘saved from’, like Lot’s wife we are to ready to look behind. That which we are saved from is not worth a moments consideration. Rather the work of Jesus is to reconcile us to God, not in some forensic sense, but to restore the realtionship which our first ancestor knew – of profound intimacy and love – “that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them” And that as we are drawn into that by the love of God in Christ, so we are as his people drawn together in such love, ‘that the world may know’

Jesus at prayer – read this – meditate upon it – respond in praise and adoration – and abide in this Love