Day 119

“That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:13)

I chose this verse today because this was the story which our young people acted out at Sunday School this week. This scene has a great significance at our church for several reasons.

Shortly after the church was built, the south transept was converted into a side chapel. It was called the Lady Chapel and featured a large painting of the Road to Emmaus. Years later, the Lady Chapel was moved into the Chancel area of the church (the bit up at the east end). This scene was featured again, picked out in a stone motif in the middle of the wall.

The story, in brief is this:

Jesus has been crucified. His followers are distraught. As two of them are travelling away from Jerusalem, they meet a stranger. This man talks to them about the the scriptures. They listen intently. Night closes in and they invite him to stay for a meal. It is only when he breaks the bread at the start of the meal that they finally realise who he is. It is Jesus! Just then, he vanishes.

For Christians, this story has enormous significance. We need to treat every stranger with respect and love. Because every one of them is Jesus, figuratively.

In another passage Jesus says that whatever Christians do for the least of his brothers and sisters, we do it for him.

Day 118

“It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened.” (Luke 24:10)

I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure that Luke is the only Gospel writer who mentions this many women who went to the tomb of Jesus. I know the two Marys are mentioned in the other Gospels, but there is a whole group of women here.

This is the account of that Sunday morning. The tomb is empty, the stone has been rolled away. The angels tell the women that Jesus is not there. They run back to tell the other apostles.

So what are the men folk up to this morning? Probably asleep, of wondering where their breakfast is? Or, more likely, grief-stricken and numb. Jesus has gone. Crucified and buried. It’s easy to imagine their disbelief at the women’s words.

But they should have had more faith.

I don’t see this as a simple “women are right and men are wrong” statement. It’s all about faith. Seeing is believing, isn’t it? The women had seen the empty tomb. The men had not. Later in this chapter, Peter runs to the empty tomb to see for himself.

But happy are those who believe but have not seen…

The 117th Day of the Year

“Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.” (Proverbs 14:7)

Ah, Proverbs. Every one a gem!

What sort of things do foolish people talk about? Well, basically, they talk a load of rubbish. Think of radio DJs with no music to play. In fact, that’s a poor analogy because it’s hard to talk while planning music, preparing the next song, listening to the director in one hear and the music in the other ear. Radio DJs have a tricky job. Harder than it seems.

So who talks MORE rubbish than that?

Politicians? I had a go at them last week, so let’s leave them to one side today.

Shop workers. What’s hard about working in a shop? All they have to do is scan stuff while making inane chatter about the price of eggs. But, in fact, they need to be able to operate a computerised till. Be able to deal with difficult customers. Know about the stock. Understand what problems some people might have with their shopping and how to help them. Coping with customers and their foibles, day after day after day… You know what? More respect for shop workers.

So who should we stay away from? How to spot a fool?

You can’t tell by looking. That’s what this verse is about. Listen to them. Does what they are saying make sense?

No?

Congratulations, you’ve found a fool!

Day 116

“(Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies before, became friends that day.)” (Luke 23:12 NLT)

Now this is something I had not realised before. In every version of this scene in the questioning of Jesus, I had assumed that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod because he was exasperated, or annoyed or simply out of his depth. But it seems that he did it to curry favour with the King.

So why would sending Jesus to Herod be such a good move for Pilate? We have to say it is because Herod wanted to meet Jesus. Maybe he wanted to mock him, as the soldiers had done. In another verse in this passage, that is what happened. But why?

Remember what John the Baptist said to Herod? He accused Herod of sinning because he had married his brother’s wife. So perhaps, all this time, Herod had been holding a grudge and who better to take it out on? He had already executed John. So he is probably over the moon to find who else but John’s cousin standing on front of him.

But Herod is not stupid. He knows that the religious leaders have plans of their own. Whoever gets Jesus killed will be in a whole world of trouble. At that time, as now, Jerusalem is a mixing pot of different religions and groups. Each vying for power. There is no peace, only an uneasy truce.

Jesus is a trouble maker, that’s true, but he is a trouble maker who will probably just fade away… Isn’t he?

Who would be foolish enough to have him killed? Not Herod, certainly.

So he sends Jesus back to Pilate. And as a gesture of thanks, they become friends.

So Pilate can now safely wash his hands of Jesus and when he is recalled to Rome, he is assured of a good position in the government with Herod by his side.

Sounds like a plan…

Day 115

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (Proverbs 14:4 NLT)

There’s an old Yorkshire saying: “Where there’s muck there’s brass.” Muck is a euphemism for poo. Brass is a Yorkshire expression meaning money. So, in other words: if you have only got poo, you can make money from it.

I think that’s what this verse from Proverbs is saying as well. A clean stable would not have any muck in it, right? So if your stable is full of poo, then there are some animals there. But without any animals, you can’t do any work.

Jesus has a lot to say about harvests. But I don’t think that analogy fits in this case. Jesus’ harvests are usually the human sort, who need to be told the Good News of the resurrection. This harvest is the literal one. And a harvest is a valuable thing.

So without any poo, you can’t do any work. No poo = no money!

How clean is your stable?

Day 114

“The dagger went so deep that the handle disappeared beneath the king’s fat. So Ehud did not pull out the dagger, and the king’s bowels emptied.” (Judges 3:22 NLT)

I haven’t used an Old Testament verse for a while. Not through choice, but they simply haven’t jumped out at me.

But this one is different. We have left the account of Joshua behind. And the time of peace for the Israelites. A long time has passed and now God has instructed a series of Judges to rule over the Israelite people.

Ehud is someone I’ve never heard of before, and he is just one of lots of judges. I’m looking forward to learning about more of them in the coming days.

What a bloody time they are having. And all because they are not following God’s laws (and Moses’ laws too).

When will they ever learn?