Welcome to the third Romans 15:8 blog of 2021. I am writing this a few days before Palm Sunday and the start of ‘Holy Week’. There is much for us to look forward to and to reflect upon during this period (for example, see book review later in this blog).
In terms of this reflection, I was helped by the sermon notes from Christ Church Jerusalem for Palm Sunday; Aaron Eime introduces Holy Week with these words: “Palm Sunday marks the first day in Holy Week and the last week in Lent. Holy week is an eight-day festival similar to the eight-day festivals of Passover, Sukkot (Tabernacles) and Hanukkah. During this eight-day period, many biblical prophecies, hopes and dreams were fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah.” He then goes on to share the following insight: “The Passion of Christ is another name for Holy Week. Passion comes from the same Latin root for “suffer or endure”. The word patience also comes from the same Latin root. Much of the world now lacks patience, with so many of our inventions geared towards immediate gratification. Similarly, segments of the Christianity focus only on the immediate joy and enthusiasm of Resurrection Sunday and ignore Good Friday. Yet we disciples of Messiah have much to learn from his Passion.”
I hope you enjoy reflecting on this latest blog, and if you know other church leaders who would like to sign up do please encourage them to do so. It is a real blessing to see this network expanding. In terms of the network expanding, I understand that our colleagues in CMJ Israel now have a direct link from the CMJ Israel website to the Romans 15:8 blogs. So if you are reading this via your link with CMJ Israel or as an international visitor a very warm welcome to you and please sign up if you can.
With sincere greetings in these testing times.
Ministry News Update
This month has seen a number of ‘online’ teaching events, including my opportunity to preach 3 times, twice at Haverhill Congregational Church and once at my home church in Linton.
Also, this month saw the publication of the latest News and Views (from the UK and Israel) and the latest Olive Press Research Paper (Issue 44, 2021) Keeping the Vision …. Retelling the story for each generation! - The continuing chronicle of CMJ’s Bible Comes To Life Exhibition. This OPRP is written by Paul and Janey Hames and it is a wonderful read enhanced by some great historical and contemporary photos.
This month as we reflect on Holy Week, I would like to recommend a little book (you can read it comfortably at one sitting) which packs a big punch. The book is The Cross in Four Words by Kevin DeYoung, Richard Coekin and Yannick Christos-Wahab (The Good Book Company, 2020). This book explores and invites us to marvel at the death of Christ on the cross. Here we begin to see the redemptive love of God at work. This redemptive love is shaped by four key words; Freedom, Forgiveness, Justice and Purpose.
Monthly Memory Verse
As He drew near and saw Jerusalem, He wept over her, saying “If only you had recognised this day the things that lead to shalom! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42). Verse quoted from the Messianic Jewish Family Bible - Tree of Life Version.
Teaching Reflection of the Month
From time to time, I enjoy reading articles/papers posted on the Academia Education website www.acedemia.edu. The most recent papers I have seen deal with the ‘interface’ between Christianity and Judaism. I would like to draw your attention to two papers written by mission practitioners who are well known to us within CMJ and who have both been the main speaker at previous CMJ conferences. The first is by Richard Harvey and is titled The Impact of Christianity on the Development of Messianic Jewish Thought. The second is by Richard (you don’t need to be named Richard to contribute papers in this area but obviously it helps!) Gibson and is titled Discuss and Evaluate both the problems and benefits of a bilateral ecclesiology.
The paper I am currently reading is by David Wright and it is titled The Trinity – A Hebrew concept presented in a Graeco-Roman Context. This paper touches on some of the issues which will be raised in our celebration of Holy Week and which I also raised in my book on Christology - Walking an Ancient Path (Glory to Glory Publications, 2016). As I re-read my book I was struck by the concluding paragraphs. I have placed an edited version of these paragraphs below, I hope you find this encouraging and a stimulus for on-going study. You may even like to buy my book – available from the CMJ UK shop! www.cmj.org.uk/shop
...Paul also rejects the various theological constructs, available to him, such as Tritheism, Unitarianism, Modalism, Adoptionism and syncretistic polytheism. These theological constructs (and their numerous variations) were freely available in the rich eschatological and theological mix provided by late Second Temple Judaism(s) and its engagement with the wider pagan world. Yet Paul (and all the NT writers) again rejects all the available theological options, and he and others push forward into new territory based on new revelation. There is a clear rejection of easier and perhaps more ostensibly logical and well-trodden paths by stressing, again and again, the real human suffering and humanity of Jesus, alongside His essential divine character and Spirit-empowered actions. There is a richness of revelation as the Apostle communicates a contemporary and faithful ‘yes’ to all he has experienced in encountering the risen Lord and yielding to His Spirit, while remaining faithful to all the revelation of the past which prevents him from violating Biblical monotheism and entering into idolatry.
Paul’s Christology teaches that we cannot have an unmediated relationship with God the Father, the mediator is Jesus. God in Christ rescues us not be displaying anything human but by restoring by grace. This enables us to enjoy being in Christ and being adopted as children of God. Let me give to Paul the final word, by quoting from a text which is sometimes spoken of as the New Testament Shema:
...yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things came, and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:6)