Rev Dr Peter Barnes (MA, BD, Dip.Ed, ThD), is a Presbyterian minister who has served in Vanuatu, Nambucca River & Revesby (NSW). He also lectures in Church History at the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney and is the Editor of the Australian Presbyterian. Come and hear him speak on;
Sunday April 10: COMBINED SERVICE 5pm @ BSE College Theatre Auditorium, Ellis Street, Flora Hill
Tuesday April 12: PREACHING CONFERENCE (Augustine, Baxter, Simeon & Lloyd-Jones) @ St John’s Church Hall, 9:45am-3pm (BYO/buy lunch) and the meeting of the CHRISTIAN UNION La Trobe Universty, Circular Lecture Theatre, 5:30pm.
In Matthew 28:6, we find the words of the angel, ‘He is not here, He is risen’. In this world filled with news, the news of the resurrection of Jesus must be the best news of all. Why is that? For a start it is the best news because it is true. The confirming accounts of the four gospel writers, the evidence of the empty tomb and the dramatic change in the life of the disciples. all point to the certainty of what took place. It is also the best news because it most welcome. The disciples were cowring in fear after Jesus’ death, but news of His resurrection filled their lives with joy and hope. Then also it is the best news, because it proves God’s promises are true. These include those He has made about the offer of salvation to all who believe in Jesus, His Son, and also about the eternal destiny of those who believe in Him. His resurrection will be the basis for their resurrection! Believers have an eternal hope because of the resurrection of Jesus.
When Jesus spent time in the garden of Gethsemane, as recorded in Matthew 26:36-46, He faced an hour of enormous anguish that required angelic help to recover from. What took place in Gethsemane? What caused His soul to be ‘troubled to the point of death?’ And how is it that we can speak of the ‘victory’ of His time in the garden? What had He come to do there and how is it linked to His death on the cross? Matthew gives us answers to all these questions and more!
After Jesus made a clear declaration of who He was on Palm Sunday, then righted the wrongs of the Temple, Matthew 21: 18-22 records this curious incident of the fig tree which he cursed. Going up to the tree which was covered in green leaves, Jesus expected to find figs, but there were none. As a result Jesus cursed the tree and it withered and died. The disciples were amazed at what took place, so Jesus reminded them that faith filled prayer can move mountains. The cursing of the tree has puzzled many, but it stands in the Bible as a picture of what was true of Israel at that time. All leaves, but no fruit, just hypocritical religion. This ‘fruit-less-ness’ is linked of course to ‘faith-less-ness’. Where there is no faith, there will be no fruit! The challenge for us is to be people who are full of faith and fruit and empty of hypocrisy (the ‘greeen leaves’ of religion).
After Jesus made a clear declaration of who He was on Palm Sunday, in Matthew 21:12-17, He set out to make an even clearer statement the following morning, when he entered the Temple, and overthrew the moneychangers and the market that had become part and parcel of religious life, instead of being a place of prayer for all nations. Following these events which would have incensed the Jewish authorities, Matthew tells us that Jesus healed many outcasts and welcomed the praise of little children. The Bible tells us that when left to ourselves, man corrupts the worship of God and turns it into something that suits. It also tells us that when Jesus returns, He will cleanse the whole world, separating the sheep from the goats and the chaff from the wheat. Again, Jesus forces us to give a response to Him.
When Jesus rode in to Jeruslaem on a donkey as recorded in Matthew 21:1-11, He made a very deliberate statement. It was the start of the last week of His life. He knew what was going to happen to Him on the Friday. yet, to make a point and to draw attention to Himself, and to show that He was the King foretold in the Old Testament, Jesus rode that day to varied responses from the crowds. Some like the Pharisees, totaly rejected Him. Others were forced to ask the question ‘Who is this’? And many others proclaimed Him as the great prophet. Still, others believed in Him as Lord. The claims Jesus made still challenge and divide today. He may be the most worthy of Kings to serve, but is He your King?
Easter is not that far away! Our Easter services at St John’s will be held on Friday March 25th (Good Friday) at 9:30am with a retiring offering for PresAID and hot cross buns to follow, and then also on Sunday March 27th (Easter Sunday) at 10:30am with morning tea to follow. Come and join us!