Friday 24 April 2020

                        Luke 24 v.13./35
When this passage begins it is Easter Sunday and God had raised Jesus from the dead. Many people who have no faith, or like many people even within the Church, find this story hard to believe.  Islam does not believe this story because they have a tomb for their leader, and point out Christianity has none to prove its belief. Such however is the strength not the weakness, for if there was a tomb there would be no Christianity, for our whole faith teaches and rests, on the fact Jesus died on the Cross, and rose to new life. Our Bible tells us, with God all is possible.

Following his resurrection, the Apostles met in a room behind locked doors, terrified in fear for their lives. Jesus came and proved his risen being, and the Apostles went out in his strength.

Two followers of Jesus were walking along a road when they were joined by Jesus.  They did not know who He was, but they got into conversation, telling Jesus of events that had happened.  They had a conversation in which Jesus amazed them by his knowledge. The men begged Jesus to stay with them to have a meal. Jesus had shown his courtesy by not forcing himself, but waiting for an invitation from them. Jesus is still standing outside the door of many people’s hearts waiting for an invitation to come in, when he will gladly enter and be with them.

It was sad they did not know who Jesus was, but least they had the chance to find out.   It is even sadder that now when there is so much opportunity to know Jesus, few even have the interest to learn about him, which means they never get to know.

A further lesson is given to us, in that is shown the benefit of Christians meeting and talking together.  Our minds are opened and broadened as collective thoughts lead to a deeper understanding of the faith and increase fellowship. If we just read our Bibles alone and pray in private, we miss the chance to learn fully and should be encouraging and getting encouraged.

The Bible states, ’they that love the Lord speak often together and they shall be mine says the Lord’. The Bible also states, ‘we should seek to build each other up, for whatever is in your heart, the mouth speaks’
Of course, to so many people, even men and women holding high Offices in the Church, this story is too much for them to believe; O ye of little faith. An Archbishop is quoted as saying we can’t expect people to believe in the resurrection story.

 When anyone comes to doubt this story, just remember those Apostles were prepared to risk their lives by proclaiming Jesus, and faced persecution, beatings and death.

Hardy men do not so act without conviction, and don’t invent a story.  They were like Peter and the others, who eventually were put to death for praising their Lord and yours.

Over the ages many men and women have given their lives to go out across the world, and still do so, facing all manner of hazards and danger to do the same. Many others of us have given up lucrative careers, and been pleased to do so to carry on the faith; a lot have been brilliant minded people who would only have done so with a true faith and deep conviction too.

The disciples had met behind locked doors for fear of being attacked, when Jesus came in amongst them.  The eleven men there were those who had shamelessly denied and fled from Him, denying they knew Him, yet Jesus was prepared to forgive them.  This shows us that no one is too bad to be forgiven and offered salvation.

Jesus showed them His hands and feet to convince them of His real presence, and we know from John’s gospel that Thomas was not present and would not believe without proof.  There are many people who just cannot accept that Jesus was physically resurrected, even some holding high office in the Church.

Here we have testimony from men who lived with Jesus and gave us statements that Jesus was real, objective and physical, and we must be prepared to believe them over some academic sitting in a study somewhere, looking for some objection, and probably the chance to make a (dubious) name for himself. 

Those disciples were hard men, not likely to be deluded or kidded by an impostor.  The Apostles Creed states ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body’ not ‘I believe in the resurrection of Jesus’. No one should recite the Creed if they cannot accept the physical resurrection.

An Anglican priest has no justification for doubting this.  All ordained clergy swear to accept the Articles of the Church of England, one of which states’ Christ did surely rise again from the dead and took again his body with flesh bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man‘s nature’.  We are bound to honour this, for the Bible expects us to believe in the solid, tangible resurrection. If we are going to be faithful to Jesus we must be prepared to believe He conquered death and as Lord of heaven and earth is One who can give life to the dead.  It was long part of the plan of God that all that took place should have done so.

We are told that Jesus ate fish with them and instructed them in the Scriptures.  He promises to send the Holy Spirit, but they are to stay in Jerusalem until they are filled with power.  He then ascended back to His Father in heaven. 

An awesome duty has been placed on the Church to continue the mission Jesus gave to those first Apostles, that they were to take the gospel to all people.  Jesus wanted us to tell that forgiveness is real, and available to those who will accept Him as Saviour. 

Most people of course will never confess to being a sinner, they are confident in the misplaced belief that as long as they help others, and are honest and kind, they have a ready made passport to heaven. 
If you were about to board a plane to America from London when an announcement was made that there was just a very small chance of the plane crossing the Atlantic safely, would you still board.  Why then doubt the Word of God? (the Bible)

The Church has too often not lived up to our Lord’s expectations.  The doctrine of heaven and hell is widely rejected as being positively unacceptable, with claims actually being made that all will be in heaven when they die.  It is accepted that men like Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein etc, may not, but it cannot be told what will happen to them or where they will end up if there is  no hell. 

The purpose of the Church is to proclaim the teachings of Jesus Christ, this is given in all four gospels, and if the Church does not rest on Scripture it has no function in life, and any such Church which does not proclaim that should be avoided.

Sunday 19 April 2020

John 20:19-25 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Gospel passage for this Sunday is the story of Jesus appearance to His Apostles in the Upper Room on the evening of the first Easter Sunday. 

The Apostles were in the Upper Room terrified, in fear for their lives.  This was because rumours had been spread around Jerusalem that they must have stolen the body and they feared the authorities might take action against them. 

The doors were firmly shut yet Jesus appeared in the room to their amazement, but also joy. Jesus was giving a demonstration in confirmation He was alive.   This was no animation of a corpse; it was Jesus in a new form of being which could pass through doors.

You can imagine the reaction of the Apostles who must have thought they were hallucinating, for most people do at some time have visions, especially if you are longing for someone whom you never expected to see.  The Apostles were delighted to see the Lord however.

Jesus greeted them with the traditional Jewish greeting Shalom, words which mean not only ‘peace be with you’, but every kind of blessing.  He then showed them His hands and side to prove that it was the same Jesus they had known when they were with Him, but by showing His wounds it verified that this was the Jesus who had been on the Cross and was now an alive person.

At this first meeting of Jesus with the Apostles, Thomas was not present but he was told by the other Apostles what had taken place, and Thomas being known for his scepticism refused to believe them.  He stated he would never believe they had seen Jesus unless he placed his hand and finger in the wounds.

Thomas was just an ordinary bloke who didn’t know the full story and wanted proof. A week later however he is back with them in the Upper Room when Jesus again appears and Thomas realises his lack of faith and makes the confession with the deeply committed words, ‘my Lord and my God’.  AND he never did put his hand or finger near Jesus’ wounds.

Jesus then said words which resonate powerfully today.  ‘Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.’ 
We must not criticise Thomas, it must have been hard to believe that someone so cruelly put to death should appear alive, it was a unique act in all history and people do have imaginary visions. 

Jesus wanted to show the Apostles, and by extension to Christians through the ages, that His was a tangible bodily resurrection, and there was much evidence to prove so.  The resurrection has been attested to by witnesses both inside and out of the Church.  It has never been doubted there was an empty tomb, so where did the body go.  Would men risk their lives without confidence and personal experience?

We are so lucky in having such wonderful technology which few of us can explain how it works, but we believe because we see it.  Why challenge the God who made the earth as being incapable of anything just because you don’t understand how he did it.  This is what separates true believers from fake; faith means believing what you can’t see or explain.    

Our Lord then commissioned them to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything he had commanded, and gave them the power to proclaim absolution to those worthy and to refuse those who were not.  

This is what the church of Jesus Christ is fundamentally and essentially here for; preaching the gospel Jesus left us, abandoning all fancy ideas of pleasing society. We don’t go saying the Bible states, but I have a better idea, we say exactly what Jesus said, so that indirectly what we say is Jesus speaking.

In the absence of any charismatic person at the head of the Church nationally, each Church has to have its own agenda for carrying out our Lord’s command.

The first essential is to recognise we are in a war against the combined forces of secularism, humanism and the LGBT lobby, all of which seek to restrict, eradicate or amend the gospel we are charged with preaching. We have in fact to be on a war footing, and be equally aggressive in spreading our message.

God wants us to be the feet and hands and voice of Jesus.  I believe one essential practice for the Church is to emulate business.  Firms spend millions of pounds advertising, so it must pay off or they wouldn’t do so. Much of what little advertising the Church does is banal and unappealing, except perhaps to its own people.

In today’s world there are wonderful opportunities through the internet. Many Churches have their own website but often don’t use to advantage, omitting any attempts at evangelising, but including only what has happened since the previous issue and mentioning different people who like to see their efforts recorded.

We have to realise we can’t make a Church grow by just being here, it is just not going to happen. Whereas people will not pick up a magazine and read it, they will look at the internet; so we need to tell them what WE believe, letting them know what they can expect if they attend.

For 16 years I published my Church’s magazine before we were all on computers. I have confidence a Church site to which people can relate to and understand what their message is, can and will do very well within its own area, and stimulate people to respond if it has the right content, and challenges them.

We are on the Lord’s business and have a unique product which no one else can offer, and we have to make sure people hear about it; there is an excellent opportunity to do this via the internet. 

Churches can do this by telling in detail about their services,
what the theme is for each service and who will preach;
 have bible studies;  have transcripts of sermons included;
tell how Christians are being harassed and suffering in this country because of their beliefs; inform on general Christian news; remind them of the blessings they enjoy living in picturesque places with lovely homes, free from the anti social behaviour of the towns, and how a little appreciation to the Almighty would be appropriate.

There is a limerick, Next time you pass the parish church. Please pay a little visit, So when at last you’re carried in, The Lord won’t ask who is it?   

Jesus told Peter, ‘feed my sheep’.  He meant teach the Word of God. Open their minds to the thoughts of God.   People are not thinking the thoughts of God, not looking at life the way God sees it, but following blindly after the fantasies and the illusions of the world. What is necessary is the unfolding of the mind of God in obedience to the word of Jesus: "Teach the word." The weakness of the church flows from a famine of the Word of God.

 Most village residents cherish their parish church, seen as so quintessentially English (so long as they are not required to attend), and we should indicate to them the danger if it is to close; pointing out churches have been closed only to re-open as a place of entertainment or a mosque. (then you would see a protest)

You may well ask, ‘how can we a small suburban church with not a huge congregation, many of whom are perhaps older in years, do very much?’ Hudson Taylor who founded the China Inland Mission was once asked why God had chosen him. Taylor replied `because God wanted someone small.' When God acts it is not in big cathedrals.

An American Christian programme following the September 11th attack on its country asked all its listeners to pray for fifteen minutes a day for fifty days for a revival and to phone in and say where they were from. A coloured pin was then placed on a wall map of the United States at their location. Within days the map was covered as people responded. Most of them were small churches, but they reported new life and new people.

God acted when a Minister came to the small island of Lewis in the Hebrides when people prayed that God would bless them. Evan Roberts a Minister in South Wales prayed and started the Welsh Revival. There are many examples of answered prayer for revival.

Neither is age relevant.  When the Israelites were attacked by the Amalekites, Moses and Aaron were too old to fight, but as the younger men fought, they prayed and every time they did so the Israelites advanced. Older people can play a vital role in revival as one elderly lady discovered.  She prayed constantly for a revival to start in her area. Subsequently it was announced that Billy Graham was to hold a Crusade in a nearby town.

May God Bless you and bring you close to Christ. 

I have been blessed by having people from many nations reading these weekly posts, sharing the gospel as brothers and sisters in Christ. From my starting 8 years ago, the response has been very encouraging, but especially from the United States. Yet I have never known from where exactly, and it would give me much pleasure to know where you are when you read this, just the Country State, town or city.
Every blessing, Eric

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Mary Magdalene

 The Christian Church worldwide has just celebrated Easter, with the glorious story of the resurrection of Jesus.  Today I want you to share with me the story of the most prominent other person involved that first Easter Day, Mary Magdalene

When Jesus was taken to the Cross Mary stood with His mother to watch the awful scene, remaining to see Him placed in the tomb. She was first back at the tomb on Easter morning when of course she found it empty. On Saturday after the Sabbath had concluded, she purchased spices because she hoped to anoint his dead body, she ventured through the darkness to the Garden Tomb, expecting to finish the job of anointing the body of Jesus. Unable to deal with the situation, she ran to tell the Apostles Peter and John when she found Jesus’ body had gone, who then went and confirmed her story.

Mary Magdalene was last at the cross and first at the tomb. This is a high honour that can be said of none of the men who followed Jesus who just went back home.

Mary was too distraught to leave the scene not realising Jesus had risen, but who indeed would ever have imagined a dead man rising back to life? She went on believing even when she didn’t understand.

When someone we love dies suddenly, we don’t really know how to deal with it. Those of us who have been through such a time can understand how Mary must have felt. She loved Jesus as she loved living and she was a loyal supporter. Death does not destroy or end love, it just takes another form.

As she stood there weeping, two angels in white were sitting in the place where Jesus had been and asked her why she was crying. She told them it was because Jesus had been taken away, and then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus, she thought He was the gardener. She wanted to know where the body had been removed to so she could go and carry it back, ignoring the fact she did not have the strength to do so or a place to put it.

Mary never took her eyes off the tomb which is why she did not at first recognise Jesus. But the tomb or grave is not where our loved ones are, that is just where the worn out body is, the real person who has been a follower of Jesus is with him in heaven.

When Mary heard Jesus call to her, ‘Mary,’ she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher) and she wanted to cling to him. She recognised Him and went to embrace Him, but He told her to stop clinging to him. Perhaps she knelt down and wrapped her arms around his feet so that he would never leave. In Jesus, Mary had found a man she could love and trust. But she was clinging to that which she must give up.

Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."’

Jesus told Mary to go and tell the disciples, and all who claim to be Christians are expected to do what Mary did, and proclaim their faith. Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her”

It became for Mary to be the first Christian witness and this is the very essence of Christianity, to be able to say you have met the Lord. A lot of people can say they know about Jesus, fewer can say they have met him and he is now part of their lives.

Jesus came to Mary in a personal way and will do to all who sincerely seek him. For over two thousand years the hearts of millions of men and women have been touched and they have realised that Jesus can be with them as they face life’s burdens.

All believers do not have the same degree of faith or hope. It is however a fact of life that those who turn closely to Jesus will find most of his Spirit in their lives.

We find in this story that fear and worry is pointless. How often are we anxious and upset about something when there is no real need? Pray for patience and faith and let God act in his own good time.

Although Mary Magdalene plays an important role in the life of Christ, we know surprisingly little about her. Mary came from the fishing village of Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. She was one of a group of women who became followers of Christ during his earthly ministry. She and the other women joined themselves to Jesus and his apostles and followed them from village to village; offering financial support and helping them in various ways, so as a wealthy woman she may have been a business woman.

Before she met Jesus, she was totally enslaved by demonic powers, but Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary. How she got into this sad condition the Bible does not say and it does no good to speculate. But we may be certain that if one demon is terrible, seven demons must be seven times worse. No doubt her condition was well known to others. Perhaps she acted in such a way as to cause these wild stories to circulate. There is no evidence whatsoever to substantiate wild speculation she was an immoral woman, or married to Jesus. Whatever it was, it caused her to love Jesus deeply, accept Him as Lord and Saviour, and made her vow to follow Him wherever He went.

When Christ set her free, he liberated her from the evil impulses that had kept her chained figuratively and perhaps literally. She is living proof that those whom Jesus sets free they really are freed.

There is a lesson for all of us in this story. Our Lord can be close to us even if we cannot see Him. It is often the case when we feel abandoned and sad He is closest to us, so we must trust that He never will leave us to face life without Him. People tend to give up on God too quickly and feel they can face life in their own strength only to find they fail miserably.

Perhaps Jesus did not want Mary to recognize him at first so that he could teach her an important truth. She had to learn that he is always present even when he is invisible to us humans. From this we learn that our Lord is often closest to us when we feel the most alone. Many times while going through a dark valley, we think God has abandoned us, but if only our eyes could be opened, we would see the Lord walking with us every step of the way. Just because we don’t see him doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

Christ bestowed great honour on her because she loved him so deeply and so devotedly. Strident feminists make claims that Christianity is anti-women, but clearly remember it was to a woman Jesus first revealed himself after his resurrection, and to be the first Christian witness. It was to another humble young Jewish girl also named Mary that God bestowed the white rose of virginity with the red rose of maternity, and women have been treated and adored ever since in Christianity in a way no other religion can claim. We encourage our women to display their beauty, not hide it.

Mary had loved Jesus in life, now she loved him in death. She served him in life, now she meant to serve him in death. She was there at the tomb, alone, because death could not destroy her love, and Jesus acknowledged such love.
We make the claim that the empty tomb is the greatest proofs of the Resurrection, yet Mary wept, and bishops today still doubt.

Jesus would soon ascend to the Father to take his place at the right hand of God. From there he will intercede for his followers and will be with them and comfort them through the Holy Spirit. He will be closer to them in the future than he has been in the past. If he stays on the earth, his ministry will be limited to the few who see him face to face. He must leave the few so he can save the many, which includes all of us who follow him today. On that day Mary could touch him. Once ascended, we can all have his presence through faith and prayer and worship.

We are called to do as Mary did—to run and tell all who will listen that we have seen Jesus! And we can say to Jesus, take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.

Saturday 11 April 2020

Easter Sunday

This Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as countless millions have done so over the centuries, but we face a battle to proclaim our message as secular extremists try to create a spiritual vacuum. Our message is that Jesus Christ is the One who died on a Cross for the forgiveness of our sins and rose again on the third day. That is unique feat which no other religion can match.

The story begins with Mary Magdelene, the one who loved Jesus dearly because of the help He had given her, being last at the Cross and first at the tomb crying bitterly. She ran for Peter who with John ran to the tomb, and John being the younger got their first, but he let Peter enter the tomb being the stronger character. They realised Jesus must have risen as He had foretold, for there were no clothes present.

We notice here two believers, one gentle and reserved as John, whilst Peter was always more impulsive and decisive, each revealing their devotion in different ways. There is room for all characters in the Church.

The men left the scene, but Mary stayed, she loved Jesus when He was alive and then was too grieved to leave. Mary was the last person to stay with Jesus at the Cross and first to go to His tomb. This was a testimony to her loyalty for none of the men stayed. She remained sobbing, but she was rewarded when she became the first person to meet the risen Lord. We see that those who are loyal to Christ are honoured by Him, and those who are most true will have most communion with Him

As she wept, she saw two angels in white, and they asked why she was weeping. She said it was because they had taken away the Lord, and she did not know where they had laid him. She then turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus asked her, why she was weeping and who was she looking for. Supposing him to be the gardener, she told him she was looking for the Lord and wanted to find his body so she could take it away. It was rather optimistic and unrealistic for to expect herself, a frail woman, to carry a dead man’s body any distance. Jesus the identified Himself and told her to go and tell His disciples, so making her to become the first Christian witness.

According to the other gospel accounts, other women besides Mary went to the tomb early that morning. It is sometimes claimed that the Bible accounts cannot be true because of variations in the gospels; that in fact only offers credibility. If everyone here this morning was given a piece of paper and told to go home and write an account of what happened from the beginning of the service until the time you left I guarantee when you later compared all the writings no two would be the same, yet no one could doubt you were here. Any lawyer will confirm that when two witnesses offer an identical statement there is an immediate suspicion they have colluded.

This is what Easter is all about, the real spiritual message that Jesus rose from the dead, not the money making enterprise it has become. Easter is celebrated to remind us that when our days on this earth are over, we have the assurance we shall live with our Lord if we have accepted Him as Saviour. The resurrection is the foundation of Christianity.

Whilst there is much about our faith that is respected by people who are not practising Christians, such as being forgiven of sin, hearing that God is love (very popular), but they think that is a free for all without any commitment. They will come to Church for a baptism and make all sorts of promises simply because it is a necessary requirement, but they don’t take things seriously or literally. Things are not made any easier by the irresponsible liberals within the Church who themselves question much of the faith.

If someone had said a hundred years ago that we could sit in our homes and by watching a box in the corner of the room show events then happening on the other side of the world; or that by taking a small handset pressing a few buttons you could speak to someone in any part of the world they would have been deemed to be insane. Yet it happens every day by man’s efforts, and we still question what the Almighty God can achieve.

If Easter had not happened; if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then we have no faith. Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus. This has been proclaimed down the ages and if not true, the Bible writers would have lied and millions of people would have made great sacrifices in the cause of the faith in vain. Why would educated men like Paul, and down to earth fishermen, lie when they had nothing to gain by doing so? Paul had a brilliant mind, one of the finest minds of his day and was a determined opponent of Christianity, yet God convinced him and in consequence Paul suffered very much for the sake of the gospel.

Through centuries that have followed, brilliant men and women have experienced the same fellowship and power in their lives, in addition to peace of mind. They were not simple minded people, but some of the greatest scholars of their day who have forsaken the chance of earning great wealth in other professions, in order to serve God and His Church.

If Jesus had not been raised there would be nor forgiveness, we would have no future, but the evidence is overwhelming in favour. First century witnesses and documents tell. We have testimony from men present at that time that the resurrection of Jesus was real, objective and physical, This is what the Church has always believed in over two thousand years of Christian witness that has sustained the hearts of millions.

The Apostles Creed does not say I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the spiritual resurrection of Jesus, it says I believed in the resurrection of the body; the physical, tangible bodily resurrection.

After the resurrection we find the Apostles preaching openly and fearlessly, and suffering violently for doing so. Men do not invent stories to be put in prison and get beaten up, or hung on a cross like Peter.

When the stone was rolled away, it let not only Jesus out, but let Him into our hearts. The resurrection happened 2,000 years ago, but the risen Lord Jesus has continued to meet with those who seek him ever since

Let us always remember that Jesus never changes, He is the same yesterday to today for ever, and will take care of all who believe and put their trust in Him
You are invited to mae a personal comment.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the Passover festival having just raised Lazarus from the dead, and was receiving an enthusiastic welcome from crowds of people gathered for the event. This was the major festival held annually to remember how God saved Israel. This was Jerusalem’s big annual religious festival: we might compare the Passover to our Christmas, when the Churches attract many people who attend not so much from a religious attitude, but see it as a social event.
At such a time as this, many non-Jews would go to the city to join in the celebrations. Some Greeks were amongst the crowds who had heard of Jesus, and were determined to meet Him. They were from a settlement in the North of Galilee and went to Philip who came from near their area, and said to him, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus’.
 Having heard the stories of what Jesus had done, they realised something was missing from their lives and wanted to receive from Him that something. When they said they wanted to see Jesus, they were in fact seeking a meeting with Him.
These were sincere people, not sightseers anxious to see a celebrity figure; they didn’t want to see the temple or any other prominent figure. They said, "Sir, we want to see Jesus."    
The word see here has the sense of ‘have a meeting with, being able to talk with Him’.  Like so many people today, these Greeks were not content with what they had in their own lives; they must have felt there was something missing. They thought there must be more to life than they had experienced, and were searching for the truth.
These words, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus were the words the preacher used in his address when I was ordained.  They are carved on the pulpits of numerous evangelical Churches in both England and the United States to remind the preacher that his duty is to teach about Jesus Christ; not to entertain, or engage in politics, nor speak about climate change, nor be intimidated by political correctness, remembering he is there to bring people closer to God, and there is no other way people can come to God, except through Jesus Christ.  The Bible states, ‘how can they believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?’ 

Sometimes preachers confuse the pulpit with a theatre stage.  I have witnessed slide shows, drama, and guessing games.   I believe such action from the pulpit lowers people’s respect and reverence for the Church, even if they feel amused at the time.
 When Jesus was told of the Greeks’ request He was pleased and responded immediately. He had not gone to Jerusalem to enter for the same purpose as the crowds had in mind; events were building up and were leading to the time of our Lord’s road to the Cross. When He heard a group of people were genuinely seeking Him, He said, ‘The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.’  Jesus said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
When He met those Greeks, it was as the first sign that the gospel was to go to all the world, and part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the Gentiles, the symbol of the great harvest for which He came. If He had not died, we probably would not know any more about Him for He would have just been another figure of history, of no greater significance than any other great religious leader. Because of the cross, He was able to do something He could never have done otherwise.
Jesus was glorified when his hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross which was then lifted up causing him to bleed and suffocate to death.    Crucifixion was the most prolonged, painful and horrific form of execution ever invented by man. 
Jesus said this was His greatest hour.  The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified, who died in the place of His people, taking the punishment, so they could be forgiven.    This is what Christianity is all about. This is the centre of what it means to be a Christian. 
He went on to say "Truly, truly, I say to you." Whenever Jesus used those words, it meant that He was going to say something important. Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone." He was pointing out that when a seed died it brought forth fruit. 

As Christians were martyred for the faith, so the Church grew, and He was here meaning that He was like the grain of wheat, and unless He went to the cross, His whole purpose in coming to earth will have been in vain. He knew what He had to face, and that He is going to be glorified through the sacrifice the cross, because by that cruel death, the way to forgiveness for all believers was made possible. If He had not made the sacrifice on the Cross, you and I and everybody else, could not have forgiveness. His death meant eternal life for all who believed in Him. 
The Jews would not have understood what Jesus meant, and nor do a lot of people now. For them the Son of Man conveyed an image of someone who would lead to world conquest and so attain glory, but Jesus meant it was time for Him to make the supreme sacrifice for the world by dying on the Cross so bringing glory to Him and to God. 
Jesus said the one who loves their life will lose it. He was referring to those who live solely for themselves, and out to get as much as they can without thought for others. Christians generally are called to put service of the Lord first, and indeed there are many men and women who could have followed brilliant careers for rich rewards, but chose to go on mission fields far away from their homeland and work for very little.
In v 27, we see the humanity of Jesus displayed when He expressed his fear at the thought of the Cross, but was ready to give obedience to God and suffer much pain, which would ultimately lead to triumph. God spoke to Jesus in His hour of torment, just as He did at His baptism and when on the Mount of Transfiguration. God is always ready to give strength when we seek it for the tasks we face in His name and cause.
As Jesus sits in the condemned cell contemplating his death, it is hard.  Just because he knew it was God’s will, didn’t make it easy.    His heart was troubled.  And if Jesus was that stressed out, why are we surprised when the Christian life seems tough and hard.  Jesus never promised it would be anything else.  We follow a crucified Lord who said:  follow me.  A soldier follows his commander, and we follow our Commander in chief.
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." The crowd that was there heard it and said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.   Jesus told them, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine’.  Jesus was meaning this showed the intimate and unbroken union He had with God the Father    
Let us think for a few moments how this relates to us in our time.  Maybe something has happened in your life to make you think things are not as you had hoped.  Perhaps the thought of drawing close to God seems attractive, and you would like to meet with Jesus.  Sometimes people can come to Church for years and then they hear a word which makes them think there may be something more for them.   
If and when we want to see Jesus, He is ready waiting to meet us in our Bibles; obviously not in the physical sense, but an equally powerful way, and we can meet Him whenever we want to without restriction. Jesus is waiting with open arms for all who want to follow him.

God still speaks directly to us to encourage us and will respond to the seeker.  If you have loved ones in your family or amongst your friends who are not saved, keep praying for them that they may come and see Jesus.   God is always ready to give strength when we seek it for the tasks we face in His name and cause.

At the cross, Jesus underwent the judgement we deserve and paid our debt to God. His death gives us hope of everlasting life with Him one day. He wants to give us that hope in our life today. He alone can give you that new life that can never fade, and you can find that new life by meeting Jesus.
 People in these high pressure days are so often weary and depressed, and looking for that spiritual something. People are looking for something beyond themselves, looking for a way that gets the most out of life, yet carrying a load of guilt, fear and worry. So many men and women these days are doing things, and behaving in a way that once would never have been thought of, so carrying all sorts of moral problems.  Then they feel guilty and ashamed, become troubled in mind and turn to drink and/or drugs.  Jesus said, ‘come unto me all you are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Everyone today has to decide how to respond to Christ. People can be attracted to Christianity by its morals but won’t commit themselves to Christ Himself.  For many the price is too high, for it would mean giving up some of the world’s standards and ways.  Nor is an emotional attachment to the Church is what our Lord is seeking.
Jesus made it clear that following him could be costly;  it was more than just saying I am a Christian. Friends, even family may take a different approach to you, but there cannot be a crown without the Cross.
Jesus is called the King of Kings, but unlike an earthly king who is dressed in fine robes for a coronation, Jesus was dressed in an old worn robe for a crucifixion.

A day is coming when we will all see Jesus. The Bible says everyone will assemble before Him as He sits on the judgement throne. Some will go one way with the goats, some the other way with the sheep. We will have either joy in the after life with Jesus, or eternity with the lost. The criterion is how we respond whilst we are here on earth. The bible says ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the time of salvation’. It will be too late after we have died, and no amount of intercession will then save us. 

May we ever be like the Greeks in our passage today and want to see Jesus and seek Him with all our hearts.