Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, Money, Eyes
I am having lunch today with Je Vais. He became my friend three years ago and now he is off abroad for a new job. I will miss him. He has an infectious laugh and a servant heart. Many are the times he has lifted my spirits.
Was it Shakespeare who said that parting was such sweet sorrow? Yes, Juliet said it to Romeo. Saying “goodbye” is easy when friendship is shallow, but hard when friendship is deep. I am looking forward to lunch with Je Vais in one sense, but not in another. We will not break bread again together for – who knows how long?
Was this how Jesus felt at the last supper? A kind of pain mixed with joy? The pain produced by impending separation, but joy produced by reflection on the shared love between him and his disciples. He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15, NIV). His eagerness motivated by love, not just destiny. He is with his friends, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15.15).
Je Vais referred to this on Sunday when he shared his thoughts on the communion. A deeper grasp of the meaning of that last meal is made clear when we contemplate the sweet pain of saying “goodbye” to dear friends.
Our lunch today will be painfully sweet, but I am glad it will be so. Any other set of emotions would be un-Christian.
The oscars took place last night. In a year or two very few people will remember who won what. Except the winners, and those they love. Parents of Oscar recipients will be bragging about their children’s success for many a long year. And why not? We’d all do the same. Well, I would.
Bragging has its bad side and its good side. Someone once said we should gossip the gospel. I think we should also ‘brag’ the gospel. How do we do that? There are potential pitfalls. We are not to boast about ourselves, “so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:29 NIV11-GK). Paul also warns us, “So then, no more boasting about human leaders!” (1 Corinthians 3:21 NIV11-GK).
If we are going to boast, in what should we boast and how should we boast? Three tips follow:
BBC radio broadcast a programme called “Witness”. I came across it only recently – and love it. Eye-witness accounts are used to illuminate significant historic events. The first one I listened to was that of a British soldier captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore in 1942. His name is Maurice Naylor. The whole story is captivating, but one incident stood out to me.
His health was failing due to malnutrition and the many tropical diseases from which he suffered. His best friend appeared one day with three eggs – an unimaginable luxury in the prison camp. He gave them to Maurice to help him recover, and left – never to be seen again. What an impressive sacrifice. The eggs that saved Maurice might have saved his friend if he had kept them to himself.
Why did this story grab my attention? Because my wife’s grandfather suffered a very similar fate as a Japanese prisoner of war for several years. I think about his experiences often, though he died before I knew his granddaughter. Two things stand out for me.
According to this article, two children racked up a whopping £3,200 bill on their father’s iPhone. That puts my own children’s bills into perspective. We once had to pay for a fire extinguisher to be re-filled. But that’s a story for another day.
The big phone bill story puts me in mind of my ‘bill’ with God. It’s a bill I can never hope to pay. But it has been paid for me. “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15 NIV11-GK). His death as a ransom has set me free from my debt to God.
What impact can this have on me? Three thoughts: