Good Friday 2017 - 3 Hour Devotion Address

The First Address:  John 12:1-19

At the beginning of our devotion this afternoon we find ourselves at the beginning of John’s account of the passion of Jesus. Today this word passion has a different meaning to how we use it in the context of the Christian faith so let’s firstly set down what it means for us as we gather now:

The passion means: the sufferings of Christ leading up to and including his death on the cross.

There is quite a lot of disagreement about where the story of his passion begins but today we take it as beginning here in Bethany at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, brother and sisters, friends of Christ and the Lazarus we know as the one whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

This story holds much within it for us as we ponder the person of Jesus, and what he is about to face and suffer.

There is an overriding sense of extravagance pervading this story. Jesus had called Lazarus out of the tomb of death and given him back to his sisters. What greater gift could he have given them or indeed Lazarus himself? We could think of no greater, more overwhelming gift, I am sure. 

And in response 3Mary takes a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them  with her hair. Yes it is over the top in a way but at the same time, when we consider what Jesus had done for Lazarus is it all that overgenerous really. 

In another place we read this:

26For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew:16:26)

Here Mary does show a response in return for her brother’s life and it has to be extravagant and costly.  

Jesus had come into the world bringing new life to all who would believe in him and in a way Lazarus represents all of us who have received that new life. Jesus pays for that new life with his own blood, his own life. A costly gift, to which Mary responds with something also of great cost. 

Her fragrant pound of nard, her service, her love, her devotion. As Lazarus stands in the place of all of God’s people who have received new life through Jesus, Mary stands also in the place of all who have responded in a real way to that new life. Giving to Jesus in a loving extravagant way, the way of humble service, and of worship. 

Both the figures of Lazarus and Mary then call on us to consider our relationship to Jesus. Do we understand, accept and embrace the new life that Jesus gains for us through his sacrifice? And how do we respond to it?

What about our service to God? Are we happy and content with what we do for God’s church? Do we have that fragrance of extravagance in our love and service towards God? 

This passage also reminds us that the religious leaders also plot to get rid of Lazarus. They cannot bear to have a witness to Jesus’ life-giving power at large in their community. The life of a faithful Christian challenges others. Sometimes it results in persecution and trouble even within one’s family. It always has from the beginning. And today in 2017 it seems to be getting harder and harder to maintain a Christian ethic in western society. And in many countries around the world Christians are still persecuted, silenced and killed.

We don’t know what happened to Lazarus but given what happened to Jesus it might not have been good. Some scholars have said that this plot against Lazarus is included in the gospel to reflect the persecution of the early Church and that may well be the case.

The last part of the reading gives the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the Palm Sunday reading. We are told that he comes into the city not as an invading warrior leader but in peace, riding on a donkey. Again Lazarus is mentioned. Jesus’ raising of his friend is given by John as the reason that so many people come out to see him, to greet him and cheer him on.

It is so like the faith of many who come to Christ for a short time, hoping that a quick blessing, one uplifting sermon, a few prayers, an act of Holy Communion is all that is needed for a change in their fortune. And when this does not happen they quickly fall away. What is needed is a change of heart, a rejection of all that is evil and false and unjust, and to love God and to love one’s neighbour. This is a new life with a new king, yes, not in the sense of a new earthly ruler, but a new source of authority and judgement.

The people greet him as a miracle worker and a king who will change everything in their favour. The Pharisees are distressed that they are losing their following and their influence.“The whole world has gone after him” they say. This will not do.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is such a confronting scene knowing what happens only a short time later. An enthusiastic welcome before the coming cruel rejection.

As Jesus comes into my life, how do I welcome him? What do I expect? A new life? I can and I should expect a new life in Christ. That’s why Jesus came into this world – to bring that new life to all. Not everyone who is offered it will accept but I will. 4in him was life,*and the life was the light of all people. He comes into this world to bring new life for me and will pay for that costly gift with his own life.

Lazarus received new life. Mary responds with extravagance, the crowd welcome the miracle worker as king with selfish and superficial hopes and the Pharisees reject the gift altogether. Which of them speaks to us today? All of them? Which one is closest to my reaction? 

What we simply must recall today is that as Jesus comes from Bethany into Jerusalem, bringing new life and bravely facing up to those who will ultimately reject and crucify him, it’s not just a story - he really does come for me.


The Second Address:  John 13:1-31

We now focus on experiences of contrasts, surprise and revolution. The setting is one of holiness and religious festival. For John this is no Passover feast, but rather the day before. Still the disciples gather in the shadow of the Passover festival. Much like the Christmas Eve, I suppose.  

We are presented with this gathering of Jesus and his disciples, which will see Jesus express amazing divine love for them - while at the same time, being on the receiving end of cruel and heartless betrayal from Judas.

John the Evangelist does not accept the explanations of Judas that seem to surface regularly at this time of the year, that he was misunderstood and really a fine fellow. John says that the devil puts the act of betrayal into the heart of Judas. It is an act of evil and is to be understood as such. 

In this account of the Last Supper, we do not hear of the bread and wine being blessed by Jesus which is the foundation of today’s Eucharist but instead the focus is on the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus.

This is no normal washing of the feet which would normally take place at the beginning of a meal. Maybe none of the disciples or their followers volunteered to do such a menial task because they felt it was beneath them – or maybe it was simply to emphasise what would be an amazing demonstration and teaching to follow. Jesus gets up from his place, as host at the meal, in the middle of the celebration, adopts the dress and role of a lowly slave and washes the feet of those present. 

Reflecting on this moment, I can see Jesus being so frustrated that the disciples had been content to eat with feet dirty and stained from the day’s travel rather than at least one of them offer the others this humble service. So Jesus decides to teach them by his actions.

Normally foot washing would take place at the start but here it is ‘during supper’. And what Jesus does is truly revolutionary. The model for living as a true disciple of Jesus is radical humility. As one special example of divine love, Jesus teaches radical humility – that as followers of Jesus, we should make humility and service of others a part of who we are. There is no question about this, no quibbling. There is no place for pride or feelings of racial or social superiority among the people of God.

This is so revolutionary that at first Peter cannot accept it. He cannot allow Jesus to debase himself by taking on this role of a lowly servant. He does not offer to take his place, but he does not want Jesus to stoop this low and to upset the order of things. Eventually Jesus prevails. He speaks of their being washed (which may again speak to the early church because they had not been baptised). So Peter meekly accepts his place in the revolution.

But Jesus knows that even in the act of teaching the disciples the way of life they are called by God to live, even offering Judas something to eat with his own hands, that he will be betrayed. Yet another reminder that there will always be opposition to the gospel in this imperfect world.

Now Jesus becomes more open about what is to take place and he says to the gathering that he will be betrayed. It doesn’t sit right that the disciples seem more interested in who it is that will betray Jesus than in stopping the betrayal from happening. But that is what happened.

The disciple whom Jesus loved is the one Peter asks to find out. Now surely Jesus loved all the disciples. But this person is the subject of a lot of guessing. Is it John who writes the gospel and so identifies himself in this way? Is it Mary Magdalene who has been a more recent suggestion? 

But, Is the mysterious way that this disciple is identified all about drawing you and me into the story? Maybe this person is meant to be me or you. This disciple was very close to Jesus and reclines next to him at the meal. Is it our goal to be close to Jesus’ heart like that? To hear whispers from Jesus about life in general and to witness all that Jesus does. In this gospel the disciple whom Jesus loved is a witness to the crucifixion and also resurrection. We are called to be witnesses to Jesus in this world of precisely things.

Lastly, what do we say about Judas? I’ve already mentioned him in that John shows him as a tool of Satan. He had obviously been one who had presented falsely to his companions. At this very late stage none of the disciples knew it was he who would betray Jesus. Jesus speaks of the devil as the father of lies. And Judas was full of falsehood. So in contrast to the way of life that Jesus calls us to live, deceit and lies lead to death, spiritual and physical. A very solemn lesson there for everyone.

John also calls Judas a thief and earlier has said of him … he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.

I don’t know if you have had much to do with thieves, but I have had a few encounters with them. If someone is in need and they ask for help, I would always help them within reason. There would be no need to steal. Judas stole because he could, because he had access to money and no one apparently checked up on him. It is just another example of his character, so marred and disfigured by sin and evil that he thought it was OK to steal from the disciples. He had lost his sense of right and wrong.

We must all guard against this disorientation by staying as close as we can to Jesus, just like the beloved disciple, through worship and prayer and through listening to his word.

Judas, maybe even taking that morsel of bread with him goes out into the darkness away from the light of world. He steps out of the room of fellowship and the love of God and it is night. 

Jesus will indeed be betrayed. Judas will do his work. Jesus will go to the cross in the most terrible of circumstances for me.


The Third Address: John 15:16-16:3

One of the criticisms that we members of the Christian church face at the hands of our media oriented society is that we live in an artificial world where we take refuge from the troubles that confront everyone else, and where we shelter within the confines of our overactive imaginations.

These are the criticisms of those never enter a real church, and who have never heard our earnest prayers for this world in such great need and turmoil as it is now.

Jesus refers to the world hating himself and his followers and before we go any further it is necessary to understand what he means by that. One of the best known verses of scripture is John 3:16 and also 3:17 where which read as follows: John 3:16-17

16 ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life’.

17 ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him’.

In these verses and in others as well, we learn that the world is not God’s enemy. God does not hate the world. God came into the world because he loves the world and to save the world.

But as we go through John’s Gospel ‘the world’ can be interpreted in a different way with a different meaning. The world that hates Jesus is made up of the people who oppose Jesus – the religious leaders and those who help them to crucify Jesus.

At the very beginning of the Gospel in vv 1:10-12 we read that:

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own,* and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,

It’s this sense of the world that Jesus refers to here in Ch 15. Those who did not know him and did not accept him. 

It is very possible that Jesus’ warnings about the hatred of the world are directed at his first followers who faced much persecution in the early years of the Church. How could it be that in following this man of peace and healing they could be treated so badly, rejected, marginalised, imprisoned and even killed. We only have to read the accounts from St Paul himself about his own attitude to Christians in these very early days.

Luke tells us in Acts that Paul was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, (and he) went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)

Christianity, the name we now give to the Jesus movement and of which we are all members, challenges, or should challenge the established order of society whenever and wherever it is unjust or corrupt or morally wrong. The church does not exist to perpetuate wrongdoing or to obstruct justice. 

So when members of the Church speak out on ethical or moral or social justice matters, we will ruffle feathers and upset the powerful. This is how it should be. This is our calling and our purpose. This is what we call the prophetic tradition.

And there will be consequences for us. We will be mocked and we will be targeted in all the ways that hurt us. Yes there are people like Fr Chris Riley and Fr Bob McGuire who manage to overcome the media bias against the Church but people like them are few. Thank God for them.

But for the most part, members of the church face a society today in which we are told that we may not publicly support anything other than purely secular views on things like gay marriage and euthanasia and even economic rationalism.

We are mocked and marginalised still and we are now even being excluded from teaching CRE in schools in this state.

For me this is the point which is most telling when it comes to rejection of Jesus and us by the world:

The world does not know Jesus. If they did they would embrace him. If the world knew the Jesus that we know, they would be drawn to him through his self-sacrificial love. There is nothing that binds people together more than when one makes a sacrifice for another.  

There is a little French town not far from Paris called Villers-Bretonneux. On March 21, 1918, the Germans launched an offensive against the town and intended to separate the French and British forces. Australian soldiers were given the job to prevent the offensive. The carnage was terrible but on ANZAC day 1918 they were successful.

In the town now, apart from an amazing memorial with the names of over 11,000 soldiers missing in Action and 1089 headstones, there is an abundance of the bond that was formed between Australia and that little village. In the centre of the village there is a street called "Rue de Melbourne" and a school called "Victoria".

This primary school, inaugurated on ANZAC Day, 1927, was built with the pennies and shillings donated by school-children in Victoria. Ever since then, every classroom and the village’s Community Hall have all displayed a sign which reads, "N’Oublions Jamais l’Australie" - "Let Us Never Forget Australia".

Where sacrifice is received with appreciation it is remembered. But so many loud voices of our age have not accepted the sacrifice of Jesus and so they do not accept him. And they do not accept his church or anything we say.

It is our expectation and the expectation of Jesus that the world will hate us and oppose us as it did him.

Our best response is to continue to boldly tell the world of his love, his forgiveness and his sacrifice and pray with all our might that through the work of the Holy Spirit the world will listen.


The Fourth Address: John 18:1-12

We come now to another turning point in the gospel. Jesus will now be taken by forces hostile to him who will mistreat and eventually kill him. 

John’s story of Jesus’ arrest is like that in none of the other gospels. As we have already noted, there is no agony in the garden, and no disappointment in disciples who cannot stay awake to pray with Jesus. And there is no kiss from the betraying Judas. 

Judas has done his work. He will play no part in what takes place here. He simply stands with the soldiers. He witnesses the result of his greed and his treachery – his desire to be equal or superior to Jesus – his belief in his own wisdom rather than the wisdom of God. He will witness what all this leads to – pain, humiliation and death. We will not hear from John the story of Judas’ suicide. John the Evangelist seemed to have no sympathy for him.

The arresting party comes at night. They are working against the light of the world so of course they come at night so that no one will see or know what they are doing. This is an often used motif in John, the darkness against the light. And here again we see Jesus under personal threat from opposing forces under the cover of darkness.

What we are presented with is a majestic and powerful Jesus, who chooses to be taken away by the soldiers from this place in the garden familiar to Jesus and his group of disciples and so also familiar to Judas.

Although we often exonerate the Roman occupiers from any responsibility in Jesus’ death here it is emphasised that he is arrested by none other than a Roman military force, a detachment of soldiers as well as Temple police. This may be John’s way of saying that as the Romans ruled the world at that time, the whole world was involved in sending Jesus to the cross.

The message is here that although they are at the point of sending Jesus to his death, they really don’t have a clue about who he is or what he is about. They come to arrest him armed with weapons. Jesus had never been violent at all. Perhaps they mistakenly expected a fight. Peter had a sword though and attacks the high priest’s slave, and we all know he cuts off his ear. But Jesus immediately brings this brief show of resistance to an end.

Perhaps the most striking point of this passage is the control Jesus has of the situation. He is not afraid in the slightest. He is not a fearful agonising Jesus, identified by the mole Judas with the kiss of death. It is a confrontation not only of this prophet Jesus and the forces that have turned out to capture him, on another plane it is the beginning of the decisive battle between the power of God and life and the powers of evil and death.

Instead, Jesus approaches the soldiers and brazenly askes them who they are looking for. As if he didn’t know! In fact, we read in v4 that he very much knew all that was to happen to him. Incredibly when he identifies himself it is they who are afraid and who fall to the ground in a mixture of awe and fear.

It is not surprising that they do that. For Jesus uses words that would frighten anyone who knew the scriptures, the story of the burning bush or verses from the prophet Isaiah when God is said to have referred to himself as “I am”. The Greek words ego eimi. As Jesus twice uses these words “I am he” given all that had gone before, it is totally conceivable that at least the Jewish Police who were there with the Roman soldiers would have been shocked to the core to hear Jesus say this.

Whether or not anyone expresses their feelings here, the soldiers with all the earthly power and authority at their fingertips dissolve in the presence of the divine Son of God. It is almost comical that he has to ask the same question again. The soldiers gather their wits and eventually arrest Jesus and take him away.

Jesus goes willingly, he goes without being forced or tricked. Even as a prisoner the way John presents the arrest to us, Jesus is in charge. His words are telling:

Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

He has come this far, he must go through what the Father has called on him to do and he will.

Although Jesus is bound by the soldiers, now in their hands and under their direction, we have been forcefully informed that he goes with them only because this is the divine will. Jesus will go to his trials because this is the will of God and certainly not Judas and certainly not the Pharisees and chief priests and elders.

John’s Jesus reminds his thoughtful readers that this man being captured and taken away is the good shepherd. Remember Jesus’ words? The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. And Jesus will lay down his life, while saving the life of his disciples. All of his remaining disciples escape being arrested and killed, at least for a time. It is one of those illustrations that John uses. When Jesus finally lays down his life, all his faithful followers for all time, will be saved and find new life through his sacrifice. 

The good shepherd is not simply a beautiful picture on a plate on our sideboard. It is a man who puts out his hands to be bound and taken away to suffer and die a cruel death – all for me.


The Fifth Address:  John 18:28-19:7

So that we can understand what is going on here, we must turn our minds for a time on to the act of crucifixion.

Not only was it something that was horribly brutal, worse that excruciatingly painful and savage, it also served a purpose. The gospel writers don’t spend time explaining to us the details of what crucifixion entailed because the first readers knew how terrible it was. They knew about the agony of trying to breath with every muscle in one’s body screaming out for relief which never comes. They knew about the uncontrollable flows of bodily fluids that took place and the shame of hanging there naked in public view. They knew that many would use the opportunity to abuse with words and any rubbish they could pick up and throw at those who were displayed as having dared to threaten their Roman rulers. In fact, abusing those being crucified was a way to ingratiate oneself with the powers that be.

This threat of crucifixion hung over a population which was deemed to be expendable and which needed to be disciplined by the sophisticated and cultured Romans. Rebellion would be met with brutal force and put down. The perpetrators would be crucified along with the worst kind of criminals in Roman eyes – slaves that did not know their place or who ran away, pirates who challenged Romans maritime trade, and anyone who spoke against the Emperor.

This is what the Jewish leaders wanted for Jesus; that he be dealt with in a way that shamed him and his supporters to the point where he would be disowned and quickly forgotten – certainly never spoken about in public again. And yet their law did not allow it. Certainly for serious crimes such as sedition at least. It had to be the Romans who judged the case and carried out the sentence. 

There was only one problem. Jesus had committed no crime. Not sedition, not even stealing an apple from a fruit stall. His only crime was to be a voice for truth and for compassion and for justice. He spoke with an authority on the scriptures that the people had never experienced before, which drew their allegiance, their trust and their admiration in a way the religious leaders could never do.

Their hold on the people’s trust was thin and fragile, and it was held in place only by their privileged position and titles - not by the people’s love and admiration. In short they were being humiliated by Jesus in public time and again. And they would not stand for it. They would rid themselves of this troublesome prophet by hook or by crook.

And the situation was so ironic. The Jewish faith revered the words of the prophets. The prophets held a special place in their tradition. They condemned those who had mistreated and killed the great prophets of the past and yet here they commit the very same acts as those they condemned had done. 

Also their devotion to remain ritually clean so that they can eat the Passover, including the paschal lamb, is in contrast to their plan to kill the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world.

Their actions are not peculiar to the Jewish leaders of course. Greed, hypocrisy, and jealousy are found in many a political situation and not only in politics. They are always wrong. They are always damaging – and they always lead to suffering and trouble.

In his time of trial Jesus does not defend himself. He allows the lies and the threats and the injustice of the situation to swallow up his innocence. He will accept the verdict of this Star Chamber, based on all those things we have mentioned. Greed, hypocrisy, and jealousy and outright lies.

Pilate can sense all this but he doesn’t know what to do. It’s one of those times when human wisdom runs out of steam and all we are left with is tyranny and hope that God will act to bring about justice and the right result.

Pilate comes up with a plan that looked good. He is obviously unaware of the actions of the religious leaders in placing loud voices within the crowd to stir up a bloodthirsty herd mentality. He offers them the chance to let Jesus go – to free him with no strings attached as an act of a tradition that probably only he had established (because there is no record of such a tradition elsewhere in the Roman world). 

But there is no turning away from drinking this cup for Jesus. The stirred up agitated crowd call for Barabbas to be freed and not Jesus. “Crucify him!” they shout when Pilate asks what they should do with this man who was labelled the King of the Jews.

John’s irony continues as Jesus is indeed crowned King but with a crown of thorny pain and laceration. A crown that makes the blood flow freely down his battered face. His robe of purple, no doubt covered with spittle and blood and dirt as the mocking ramped up – still it was the robe of a king and was worn by the king of kings. The claim by those who oppose Jesus is that he falsely claims to be king and yet this is exactly what he is. And he is crowned in humiliation but in this very act his true kingship is sealed for all time. His kingdom is not from this world. It is no threat to Rome. There is no valid reason, political, social or judicial to execute Jesus.

Finally we hear that the chief priests and elders are encouraged enough to shout their demands for crucifixion themselves. Their cleverness in organising others to do their work has been used up and now they are emboldened to call out themselves:

 ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ they shout…, and they prevail.

In John’s gospel we do not find any reference to Jesus’ kingly robes being taken from him.  He will go to his death as the Shepherd King, laying down his life for his sheep.

We should remember as we approach the cross today, that Jesus endures all this, the pain, the shame, the injustice – for me.


The Sixth Address: John 19:8-30

This man Pontius Pilate. An enigmatic figure who at times we hate and at other times we pity, despite ourselves. He seems trapped – but how could that be?  Didn’t he have the power to release Jesus?  Of course he did. He was the governor. So why did he not? How could he send an innocent man to his death?

Many have tried to explain this conundrum.

  • As an upper-class Roman, Pilate wouldn't have put much value on the life of a lower-class Jew like Jesus. People like this were just not important.
  • The question of guilt or innocence was probably of little importance to Pilate. During his time as governor, he must have sent many innocent people to their deaths. Jesus would just be one more.
  • Because of previous difficulties with riots and uprisings, Pilate would have wanted to take strong action against anyone who might be a potential threat to the stability of the country. A man like Jesus, who had a large number of followers, could have appeared to be such a threat.
  • Pilate sometimes needed the collaboration of the Jewish leaders on other matters. To try to stay on good terms with them, he would have paid attention to their wishes in this case.

Yet he was clearly afraid. Clearly there was something different about this Jew. It’s possible that Pilate sensed that this man from Nazareth was of God. And his death would not be the end of things. There would be consequences, but Pilate could not say what they would be. His desperation to release Jesus does not bear fruit. Jesus had known and accepted his fate long before. 

The chief priests continue to call relentlessly for Jesus’ crucifixion and theirdesperation is indeed fruitful for that is what happens. 

Forced to carry his own cross, Jesus makes his way to Golgotha where he is crucified with bandits on both side and an inscription over his head, Jesus of Nazareth,* the King of the Jews.’  It is written in Latin, Hebrew and Greek so that people from the whole known world would read who this was. 

Jesus is crucified as a king, in perhaps the greatest irony of all time. Meant in irony by his captors but the force of that irony fell on them because it was true.

What we are witnessing here is the battle of two kingdoms. The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of human beings represented here by the power of Rome. Rome was a mighty power but Jesus is neither forced nor tricked nor intimidated into giving in to its demands to fight or flee or defend himself.

The Kingdom of God will see Jesus, the godly king resists the urge to fight back, to name the liars, to condemn the hypocrites, to complain bitterly about his mistreatment. He simply accepts these things and he, HE, will not continue the cycle of violence, hate and lies. The terrible reign of sin ends with him.  

True, the Romans will still be there, largely unchanged. But from this time onwards, all who come to know Jesus Christ, who believe in him, and who accept the truth about his death and coming resurrection will be free from the power of sin and death.

He dies like many other criminals died by crucifixion. His pain and humiliation are terrible. The soldiers even take his only possessions away, his clothes and his seamless robe and they gamble for it as the psalmist wrote in Ps 22.

So what does this death mean for me? Does it mean that to follow Jesus is to follow a way of persecution and pain? For some this is the case. It has been said in recent years that around the world Christians are the most persecuted people of all.

In Western Society we are mocked as being deluded or childish, believing in fairy tales and we are scolded for accepting the moral guidelines of today’s society in which anything goes, anything is right if you happen to think it is or if celebrities we see in the media believe it to be so.

In countries where Christians are in the minority, they are often targeted with violence and legal persecution through the laws of the land.  

So why should we follow in the path of the crucified one? The answer is life. For Jesus does not undergo this suffering in vain. For him it is not the end and because of Jesus passion death is not the end for us either.  

And for the Christian there is only one life. To live a life of hate and sin and violence and greed, and revenge is not life at all. 

For the Christian there is only one life – the life of love – for God and neighbour. The life described in Matthew’s beatitudes:

3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

8 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

10 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely* on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This is life and to win that life, to offer it to all the people of this world, Jesus goes to the cross and to his death. He does all this for me.