When Jesus knew that it was his time to go up to Jerusalem to face the passion and death – why did he choose the festival of Passover? Surely if his actions were going to bring about the ultimate covering over of sins, he would choose the great festival of expiation – the Day of Atonement? What does it mean to be atoned? And what was Jesus doing historically in offering his life in this way on the cross?
Recorded at St Paul’s (6pm & 8am)
Sunday 4, Lent, Year A (Laetare Sunday); John 9.
Paul is often accused of being dry and clinical in his writing – but sometimes he can open us to the most beautiful and stunning statements about the love and mercy of our God. The second reading today – from Romans 5 – provides us with such a statement. He tells us:
But this is how God demonstrates
his own love for us:
the Messiah died for us
while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8
We can look at a number of different scenarios to help unpack what this might mean for us. Each one involves two people walking along a muddy path beside a swollen river during weather like we are having right now. We will then journey with two other people – this time the two disciples who were walking away from Jerusalem towards the village of Emmaus which we find in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24. These two people share with us many insights about the hopes and dreams of ordinary Jewish people in the mid-first century, and how Jesus who joins them along their journey addresses these questions about the significance of the cross and his whole life.
The hope of Israel was not for rescue from the world,
but a rescue plan where redeemed humanity
would once more play the role for which they were designed.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 10am (13 mins)
Sunday 3, Season of Lent, Year A.
Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-42.
When Jesus told the disciples that he was going to suffer and die, or as he does in today’s Gospel, tell them not to speak of the transfiguration vision until after he had been raised from the dead – what was the story that they had in their heads when they would later tell the story of the death of Jesus. Our biblical knowledge is often poor, and it is not usually helped by some of the imagery that Christians have produced over the centuries, especially during the medieval period. Some of that imagery suggests that Jesus does not die out of love, but because God so hated the world that Jesus is killed as a human sacrifice. This is so far from the authentic scriptural witness that we need to journey into the story more deeply to see how to make sense of this, and to discover what Paul meant when he said that Jesus died “in accordance with the scriptures.”
Recorded at Saint Paul’s, 8am (14 mins)
Sunday 2, Lent, Year A. Genesis 12:1-4; Matthew 17:1-9
As we enter into this new season of Lent, the Church offers us very evocative readings to guide our journey. But it seems that there is an even more fundamental truth that lies at the heart of the Christian faith – which is the question of “Why did Jesus die on the cross?” Although the early church tackled many fundamental questions in the first few centuries, such as the nature of the person of Jesus, grace and salvation, as well as looking at questions about Mary and the Holy Trinity, the question as to why Jesus died on the cross, and exactly how this was done “in accordance with the scriptures” as St Paul asserts in 1 Corinthians 15, and which Jesus himself tells the two disciples that join him on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 – the church did not really begin to address this question until it was in the midst of the Protestant reformation. This has also led to strange results which continue to haunt the church today. This series will attempt to look more closely at the scriptures as well as what Jesus himself says about the cross in order to find the ongoing significance and place of the cross for our own lives, and why the church continues to say that by early evening on the first Good Friday, a revolution had begun.
Recorded at Saint Paul’s, 8am (16 mins)
Sunday 1, Lent, Year A.