David anointed King / Jesus Appears to his Disciples: June 1st 2021

2 Samuel 1:1-2:7

A man escaped from the Israelite camp and told David that Saul and his son Jonathan were dead. The man brought Saul’s crown and his arm-band with him. David and his men mourned, wept and fasted (2 Sam. 1:12). However, David was not comfortable about some aspects of the man’s story. The messenger admitted he was an Amalekite and David had just come back from slaughtering the Amalekites. He also claimed to have finished off the mortally wounded Saul, which was a lie, presumably to win favour with David. Even though Saul had frequently tried to kill him, David still respected God’s anointed king and did not approve of anyone lifting a sword against him (2 Sam. 1:14). David ordered that the hapless messenger should be killed in punishment for allegedly killing Saul.

David lamented the death of Saul and Jonathan: ‘How the mighty have fallen!’ (2 Sam. 1:19). He especially grieved for Jonathan. They had a pure loving friendship, which is exceedingly rare these days (2 Sam. 1:26). Jonathan had loved David as himself (1 Sam. 18:3). Jesus told us that we were to love our neighbour as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-39) and he demonstrated how God extended this type of love to the whole world.

Eventually, David asked the Lord whether he should visit Judah. God told him to go to Hebron. David took his wives and his men there and settled in Hebron and its towns. He was anointed king of Judah (2 Sam.2:4).

David sent an encouraging message to the town of Jabesh Gilead to thank them for burying Saul (2 Sam. 2:6-7).

The king of Israel was dead, long live David the king – just of Judah so far but it was a good start.

John 20:10-31

Mary Magdalene stayed at the tomb crying after Peter and John had gone back to their homes. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had delivered Mary from a terrible demonic oppression and, as a result, she loved Jesus tremendously and was one of his most devoted followers. She was the sister of Lazarus and Martha and had previously wet Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7:38), drying them with her hair. She had recently anointed his feet again in preparation for his burial in her own house in Bethany (John 12:3). We should all have a tender love for Jesus like Mary Magdalene had, being forever grateful that he has wiped away our sins and longing to spend time with him.

Mary looked inside the tomb and saw two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had been. They did not understand why she was crying. The knew about Jesus’ resurrection and so expected the world to be rejoicing. Turning around, she thought the gardener was standing there but it was Jesus. Jesus’ first word after being resurrected was ‘Mary’ (John 20:16). Jesus knows us all as individuals and calls out our names so we can come to him and be saved.

Jesus reiterated that we can now call God our Father. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus, co-heirs with Christ (John 20:17). Mary joyfully took this good news back to the disciples. She had seen the resurrected living Lord.

The disciples had locked themselves in. They were quaking ‘for fear of the Jews’ (John 20:19). They weren’t going to get far in spreading the gospel with this attitude and so Jesus appeared to them and breathed on them to give them the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). The Holy Spirit at Pentecost would later empower them to become supercharged, powerful apostles. At our baptism, which might have happened to us as infants, we receive both the Holy Spirit and a supernatural seal on our hearts flagging that we belong to God. However, this small deposit of the Holy Spirit may not burst into flames and energise us until we experience our own personal Pentecost – the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’. We need to pray directly to the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, on a daily basis and ask him to fire up all his gifts within us so we can be the best witness we can be to the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

The disciples were overjoyed to see Jesus again. Jesus took away their terror and gave them peace (John 20:19). He was sending them out into the world, once he had empowered them with the Holy Spirit. just as the Father had sent him (John 20:21).

Jesus told them that if they forgave anyone their sins, they would be forgiven (John 20:23). From this comes the tradition of the Mother Church of believers confessing to a priest their sins so that he will grant them absolution on account of his spiritual authority handed down in an unbroken chain from the first apostles through the laying on of hands. It is wonderful to hear these holy words: ‘God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.‘ It is like receiving a loving embrace from our Father:

Other denominations teach that you can ask God the Father directly for absolution but that would be missing out the human mediation that Jesus stipulated in John 20:23, Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18. The Mother Church teaches that we can ask God directly for absolution in exceptional circumstances – immediate danger of death or a global pandemic – but we have to ask him with ‘perfect contrition’, rather than just a fear of hell, and promise to visit a priest as soon as circumstances allow. Perfect contrition is ‘sorrow for sin arising from perfect love. In perfect contrition the sinner detests sin more than any other evil, because it offends God, who is supremely good and deserving of all human lovehttps://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=35519

‘Doubting’ Thomas missed Jesus’ appearance and refused to believe it happened. A week later, though the doors were locked Jesus came again and stood among the disciples. He told Thomas to stop doubting and believe. As full recognition and faith dawned, Thomas uttered the beautiful phrase: ‘My Lord and my God!’ (John 20:27-28). We should be able to say this with heartfelt thanks when we consider how many times God has rescued us during our lives. Jesus will forgive us too for having doubts. He will demonstrate time and again in our lives that it is not fate, karma or good luck that steers our lives. Jesus is walking with us demonstrating his constant love for us.

We are particularly blessed when we believe based on hearing the gospel alone rather than having to see Jesus with our own eyes (John 20:29).

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples. John listed a sufficient number of major miracles in his gospel for us to believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Belief is a simple choice. I can turn on the TV, watch the news and choose to believe the newscaster. Similarly, we can choose to believe the Bible and the two thousands years of Christian witness. martyrdom and teaching since it was written or think we know better through foolish pride. Belief leads to eternal life. Choosing not to believe leads to eternal separation from God. It really shouldn’t be a difficult decision but the spirit of unbelief is rampant in the world at the moment – just consider how fairly sensible people have refused to believe scientists about the Covid pandemic and made a fuss about social distancing and wearing masks. God solves problems these days through people. He inspired scientists to produce a miracle vaccine. We just have to choose to believe in his provenance.

By believing, we will have life in his name (John 20:31).

Proverbs 13:20-14:4

We should pick our company carefully (Prov.13:20).

Many of the great heroes in the Bible: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Daniel were wealthy men. The righteous will receive a reward (Prov. 13:21). We are all righteous in the sight of God due to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and so we can claim our reward of prosperity.

Poverty isn’t a blessing. We want to be able to help future generations of our family (Prov. 13:22).

Injustice in the world keeps people poor. We should fight for social justice to lift people out of poverty.

God loves us and so will discipline us and allow us to go through trials to refine us like silver, give us endurance, makes us stronger and build our character. No test, no worthwhile testimony.

Devious people despise the Lord (Prov. 14:2). Christians respect his awesome power and love.

Image: National Gallery of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saul Pursues David / Jesus Arrested: May 28th 2021

1 Samuel 21:1-23:29

David visited Ahimelech the priest, at Nob, and asked for food. David lied to Ahimelech and told him he was on a secret mission for the king. Ahimelech did not have any ordinary bread. He had ‘consecrated bread; that had been removed from before the Lord’s presence and replaced by hot bread. This was only meant to be eaten by priests. Also, David had fled from Saul with no weapons and so he also took Goliath’s sword that had been stored there. One of Saul’s servants, Doeg the Edomite, witnessed these things.

David went to Achish, king of Gath, but found he was already too well-known there. The servants referred to him as ‘the king of Israel’ (1 Sam 21:11). David feigned insanity to escape to the cave of Adullam where he gathered four hundred followers. He had a rag-tag army of ‘those who were in distress or in debt or discontented’ (1 Sam 22:2). As Christians, we should welcome all wounded people into our ranks to form the army of Christ.

David sent his parents to safety with the king of Moab and was advised by a prophet to go into the land of Judah.

Saul was told by Doeg that the priest, Ahimelech, had given David provisions and a sword and so he confronted him. Ahimelech was innocent of conspiring against Saul because he had been falsely told by David that he was still working for the king. The king ordered his guards to kill all the priests but they refused. Instead, Doeg killed eighty-five priests and put the whole priestly town of Nob to the sword. Saul had now clearly set himself against God.

Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, escaped to David who realised that Doeg had reported him. However, David knew this would happen and so David felt responsible for the death of all the priests.

The Philistines were attaching the town of Keilah and David asks the Lord, for the first time as a leader, what he should do. God told him to attack the Philistines and save Keilah. The priest that had fled to David, Abiathar, had brought the official priestly ephod (priestly vestment) with him. David’s men were already frightened of Saul and weren’t keen to pick a fight with another nation. David asked God again, who confirmed that He ‘would give the Philistines into your hand’ (1 Sam 23:4). David and his men rescued Keilah, fighting the Philistines and carrying off their livestock.

David, with the priest and the ephod, again asked God the future. God confirmed that if he stayed in Keilah, Saul would come to attack him and the citizens of the town would hand him over. David escaped – now with six hundred men – and kept moving from place to place. Day after day, Saul searched for him but David was able to hide in the desert as he was protected by God.

Saul’s son, Jonathan, went to find David at Horesh. Jonathan loved David so much that he was happy for David to take his birth-right in the future, to become king. Jonathan wanted to be second to him. They made a covenant together before the Lord (1 Sam 23:18). We need to loyally help all our friends when they are being persecuted, particularly those who have no-one else to rely on.

The Ziphites informed Saul that David was hiding in their territory. Saul asked them to come back with definite information as to his location. Saul went off to the desert of Mon and was closing in on David and his men when a messenger arrived and announced that the Philistines were raiding the land (1 Sam 23:27). Saul was diverted to fight the invading forces. It is amazing how God used a pagan nation, the Philistines, to intervene at precisely the right moment to save one of his faithful servants.

John 18:1-24

Judas guided a detachment of soldiers and religious officials to arrest Jesus. When Jesus confirmed his name, ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’ (John 18:6). We should aim to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that evil people cannot stand to be with us and will fall to the floor as we approach. It would be fantastic to be able to deliver people from evil spirits just by walking into a room due to the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit within us.

Jesus did not try to hide or pretend to be someone else. He was proud to be Jesus Christ with the name above all other names (Phil. 2:9). Jesus did not care for his own safety, he handed himself over and wanted all his disciples to be be set free.

Simon Peter cut off the priest’s servant’s ear with a sword. According to Luke, Jesus then healed him (Luke 22:51). The injured man, Malchus, was healed by a saviour he didn’t believe in and wanted to imprison. Jesus wants to heal and forgive all of us, even when we are still working for the devil. By healing Malchis, Jesus also stopped Simon Peter being convicted of violence.

Jesus was struck in the face for speaking the truth. Speaking the truth can bring both physical and mental attacks. However, we have no choice as disciples of Jesus but to bear witness to the truth. We have the Spirit of Truth living within us and he helps us to discern right from wrong.

As baptized, believing Christians we should not worry about what to say when we are prosecuted for our faith. The Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say (Luke 12:11-12).

Proverbs 13:10-19

We should never be too proud to take advice. We can be turned away from death by the teaching of the wise (Prov. 13:14). Ignoring good advice can bring poverty and shame (Prov.13:18). Love and humility can prevent a lot of pointless quarrels.

Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves (Prov. 13:11).

We should always live in hope: hope of having all our prayers granted; hope of enjoying everlasting life in heaven. When God answers our prayers, it is sweet to our souls. We need to persevere in prayer. Endurance will bring character. To combat temporary disappointments we need to live in permanent gratitude. Give God praise and glory for the wonderful gifts he has delivered in our lives.

Many people are hostile to the gospel and do not want to radically change their lifestyles (Prov. 13:19). Praying for our family, friends, colleagues will result in miracles as God works on their hardened hearts and removes the scales from their eyes.

Image: Unterlinden Museum, CC BY 2.0

Up ↑