The Shame of the Cross

…he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross

Crucifixion was considered worse than decapitation, being killed by wild animals, or being burnt alive.1 It was considered “a terrible calamity2, it “was a punishment in which the caprice and sadism of the executioners were given full rein;3 it was the supreme Roman punishment. Continue reading “The Shame of the Cross”

Paul’s despair and consolation

“…we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.”

Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthians by mentioning the trials he’d been suffering. He links a few ideas up by the repeated use of some keywords in 2 Cor 1:3-11:

  • Affliction
  • Suffering
  • Consolation

Paul wasn’t hiding the fact that he’d been suffering; instead he was using his experience to make a point  – God had consoled Paul in his suffering, and because of that Paul was now able to console others in the same position. Continue reading “Paul’s despair and consolation”

Jesus at the Feast of Dedication

Taking advantage of opportunities presented

In the Gospel of John we read the following:

Jn 10:22-23 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.1

Which of the Biblical Jewish festivals was the Feast of the Dedication? It turns out it wasn’t a Biblical feast. Continue reading “Jesus at the Feast of Dedication”

The Salt of the Earth

How Christ’s audience would have understood his teaching on the salt of the earth

Very early in the Sermon on the Mount, straight after the opening discourse on the blessings on mourners, peacemakers, and the merciful, Christ used two metaphors to describe what the disciples were to be: they were to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. We’re going to look at the first of these. Continue reading “The Salt of the Earth”

Ascribe to Yahweh

The ancient context of Psalm 29

Through our 21st century, western eyes, Psalm 29 seems to be about how God shows his strength in the natural world. He thunders, he breaks cedar trees, and he sits enthroned on a flood. The psalm also contains language that is not so familiar and gives us the uneasy feeling that we possibly don’t understand it as well we might. For example, God’s voice flashes fire (v7), he makes Lebanon skip like a calf (v6), and he shakes the wilderness of Kadesh (v8) – the significance of these phrases is not obvious. By the end of the psalm we’re not sure exactly what it’s about, but are pretty comfortable that it’s somehow a declaration that God’s power is shown in dramatic weather events like thunder, lightning, and floods. Continue reading “Ascribe to Yahweh”

The Lamp of the Body

How Christ’s audience would have understood his teaching on the eye being the light of the body

Compared to the verses that surround it, Matthew 6:22-23 is hard to understand:

Mt 6:22–23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”1

It is not immediately apparent how the eye is the body’s lamp, or in what sense the eye was said to be healthy/unhealthy, or how a healthy eye results in the body being full of light, or how a body can be full of light at all. Continue reading “The Lamp of the Body”