random thoughts and things from all saints youth cell groups

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jesus was killed because of who he ate dinner with..

Jesus loved his food. He spent a lot of his time eating and drinking with people. Pretty much anyone really. Didn't matter who they were. And it was his mealime habits that got him into more than a bit of trouble...why?

First, it didn't matter who you were, what you'd done or how you were living. Jesus still ate with them. When the religious elite saw this, they were outraged. To them, to eat with anybody and everyone was shameful and disgusting. In fact Jesus was "labelled" as a "glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners" " (Matt 11: 19) So if you've ever had people say you eat too much and been accused of liking your alcohol a bit too much then you're in very good company!

Why did he do this? What was he trying to achieve? Scot McKnight says..

"No one, it hardly needs to be said, would be left unchanged; no one would be unchallenged; everyone would learn at this table with Jesus that life will be given a new foundation and a new set of relationships. Everyone and everything will find its proper place in relationship to God’s new work in the kingdom; anything that challenges the leadership of Jesus and thwarts the kingdom of God will be challenged. No one comes to the table of Jesus on their own terms; the table of Jesus lives out the terms of Jesus. Those terms offend and those terms redeem."

Redemption!

Jesus loved people. He loved people because people are made in the image of God, and loved by God made to know and love God. Sin (more than just "being naughty" remember) breaks the relationship that we were made to know and enjoy with God, with each other and with our world. Jesus mission was to fix those relationships and to fix broken people by bringing them into a new community that God was building in Jesus.

Think about what this means for us in the places we find ourselves everyday, and in our cell. The Kingdom of God is not an exclusive club for the people who look like they have it all sorted. It means mixing with people we find difficult. It means loving people who we normally wouldn't mix with. It's hard but we can do it, when we know that we're all sinners saved by grace, seeking to follow Jesus. Next time you come to Communion (which is basically a meal with Jesus) have a look around and look at all the different sorts of people from all different ages and background that Jesus invites to eat with him. Then thank God for Jesus, that it is because of his life, death and resurrection that we can know unconditional forgiveness and acceptance with the God who made us, regardless of who we are or what we've done. Even you and me.

"Jesus overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit" Mark 2: 17


For more on Jesus unusual eating habits have a look at Conrad Gempf's book "Mealtime habits if the Messiah: 40 Encounters with Jesus"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Resurrection!

As Easter is pretty much round the corner, I'll be posting some stuff up to help us think about the resurrection in particular and exploring what it means for us and the world. We can sometimes focus so much on the Cross (which is absolutely crucial!), that the resurrection can sometimes seem like a "and they lived happily ever after" type ending. Yet is is absolutely crucial in the plan of God to renew the world.

So to kick us off, here's a quote from Tom Wright, the Bish of Durham..


(T)he resurrection stories in the four Gospels aren't about going to heaven when you die. In fact, there is almost nothing about "going to heaven when you die" in the whole New Testament. Being "citizens of heaven" (Philippians 3.20) doesn't mean you're supposed to end up there. Many of the Philippians were Roman citizens, but Rome didn't want them back when they retired. Their job was to bring Roman culture to Philippi. That's the point which all the Gospels actually make, in their own ways. Jesus is risen, therefore God's new world has begun. Jesus is risen, therefore Israel and the world have been redeemed. Jesus is risen, therefore his followers have a new job to do. And what is that new job? To bring the life of heaven to birth in actual, physical, earthly reality…Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of God's new project, not to snatch people away from earth to heaven, but to colonize earth with the life of heaven...With Easter, God's new creation is launched upon a surprised world, pointing ahead to the renewal, the redemption, the rebirth of the entire creation.