Monthly Message Mar 2018

An Easter encouragement – part one

Two disciples were walking home from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the evening of the day Jesus rose from the dead.  They were dejected, disillusioned, disappointed.  They had invested a lot in following the man whom they had believed to be the Messiah. He had been quite unique, so wonderful, so hopeful, so promising, so mighty, so effective.  But the chief priests and rulers had handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he had been crucified.  So here were two disillusioned men who had lost faith in their object of hope, for they had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.

That’s despair for you, that’s abject disappointment and there are many today who suffer like that.  Maybe some of us can identify with those two on their way home to Emmaus.  If so, there is a glimmer of hope.  There was for them for they had heard rumours! They had heard reports that Jesus was alive. Was what they had heard actually true, or perhaps too good to be true, or too true to be ignored?  No doubt they wanted to believe what they were hearing but as yet they had nothing to encourage them to do so. What of us today? Maybe there is hope after all, maybe Jesus is real, even actually alive today.

Then amazingly “Jesus himself came up and walked along with them”. As they got into conversation with this ‘stranger’ they told him what had happened to their Master in Jerusalem, and then gently, but firmly, Jesus rebuked their slowness to believe everything the prophets had said about the Messiah and then he showed them from the Scriptures the things about himself they should have known.

Jesus came to these two disciples at the point of their extremity.  They had nowhere to go and no-one to hope in. Jesus is not an additive to life, another satisfaction to place alongside other rival satisfactions. He is life itself, he is satisfaction itself, and it is only when he is allowed to mean everything that he can mean anything at all.  He challenged their slowness to believe by drawing their attention to the prophecies about himself in all the Prophets and in all the Scriptures. They had been among his followers and yet their understanding of him was so shallow.  This challenges us to ask if we play with our faith, picking and choosing the aspects we like or find comfortable, or do we have hearts and minds that are open to receive everything that he wants to give us of his truth, his power, his life?

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

 

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

Monthly Message Feb 2018

Can there be anything more encouraging than to know that, in our weakness, in our sin, in our struggle with temptation, in our doubt or despair, none other than Jesus Christ himself intercedes for us, and that that intercession really is effective?  Moreover, Christ is not pleading passionately before a stony, reluctant God.  Not a bit of it!  He is the enthroned Priest-King whose will is exactly in line with the Father’s. So he asks whatever he wills from his heavenly Father (and ours) who always hears and always grants his request.  He and the Father are one, so what he asks is what the Father is willing and wanting to grant. In fact, as has been said, “Our Lord’s life in heaven is His prayer.”

But what is the nature and content of this intercessory prayer, made on our behalf?  We have a clue from two instances of Christ’s prayers when on earth, both of which took place on the same night, the night of his betrayal.  To Simon Peter he said, “I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus had prayed for Simon Peter that his faith would be strong, that he would repent when he fell, and that consequently he would strengthen and encourage his brothers.  Then John 17 gives us the prayer that is commonly called Christ’s high priestly prayer, where he prays for his disciples and for those who would believe through them.  (That includes us!)  He prays:

  • for our protection from the evil one, and the full measure of his joy in us.
  • that we may be “set apart” by the truth of God’s word.
  • for a oneness that testifies to the incarnate Christ, and God’s love for the world.
  • for us ultimately to share his glory, and continually experience God’s love.

So, by his intercession, “he is able to save completely those who come to God through him.”  His work of salvation was completed on the Cross, but it is being continually applied from the Throne. F.F. Bruce wrote: “His once-completed self-offering is utterly acceptable and efficacious; his contact with the Father is immediate and unbroken; his priestly ministry on his people’s behalf is never-ending, and therefore the salvation which he secures to them is absolute.”

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

 

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus

Monthly Message Jan 2018

Although very late in the month – a happy New Year to you!  May it be a year in which you are especially conscious of the Lord’s presence with you in whatever you do and wherever you go.

As Jesus’ ministry progressed there were many occasions when his presence was an encouragement, instilling courage into otherwise fearful hearts.  Both Matthew and Mark record the story of Jesus stilling the storm on the lake, a story that illustrates how futile it is to be afraid in his presence.  There he was in the boat with his disciples, and he was fast asleep.  A sudden storm blew up, threatening the boat.  The disciples woke him. “Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”  Jesus must have detected an element of panic in their voices, for he referred to their ‘little faith’ and their being ‘afraid’.  “We’re going to drown!” hardly sounds like a statement born of faith and trust.  Yet if, as they declared, he was ‘Lord’ were they not safe?  Just as safe as he was?  There is a strange illogicality in saying, in the same breath, both “Lord!” and “We’re going to drown!”  Christians need be constantly aware that, whatever the outward circumstances may seem to be and to suggest, we are secure when we are in the presence of the Master.  And when are we not in that presence?

Plans are well in progress for this year’s Bible Focus, so if you haven’t already done so, do put Saturday 29th September in your diary.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Warmest greetings in Christ,

Tony Mason

 

Chairman, Saffron Walden Bible Focus