Holy Communion Thursday 29 April 2010
Reading Acts 13: 13 – 25
From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”
Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled for forty years. After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
“From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Saviour Jesus, as he promised. Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
Gospel John 13: 16 – 20
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal
16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
18"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfil the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'
19"I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me."
21After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."
Last 2 weeks, Acts 5, 8 now 13. Philip and Ethiopian reading Isaiah. Christological exegesis of Isaiah 53 – suffering servant – Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth.
Followed by conversion of Saul – preaching in Damascus – Jews plot to kill Saul and his escape by night.
Back to Peter. Raises Tabitha, a believer in Joppa, from apparent death. Peter sent for by centurion Cornelius – had vision of unclean animals lowered in large sheet – mission to Gentiles starts – gift of Holy Spirit poured out on Jews and Gentiles alike. Peter reports back to church in Jerusalem what has happened.
James brother of John is killed, and Peter imprisoned. Peter miraculously freed. Barnabas and Saul commissioned by the church and are sent out on mission, starting in Cyprus. We catch up with them in Antioch. Saul renamed Paul thereafter – preached in synagogue. Long sermon about OT and how events and prophecy foretold coming of Jesus. Initially Paul invited back, but driven out from the region.
Gospel from John 13 also contains prophecy. Seems obscure, but starts with reference to foot washing. Now that you know these things, you will be blest if you do them.
Then Jesus changes subject. Predicts his own death. Treason of Judas preoccupies John: He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me... [quotation from Psalms] I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.
Both Acts and John passages very dark in a way – persecution, betrayal, death – yet in midst of suffering there is hope – mission of Paul and growth of church against background of persecution – betrayal and death of Jesus leads to our redemption and salvation.
Problem of suffering is a perennial one. Why does suffering seem to be essential part of human condition? Does God cause us to suffer? What is the point of it all? It’s clear we come closer to God through suffering. Delve deeper into ourselves when we are in pain. Maybe come out of a time of suffering with a renewed vision of what we are.
If Jesus himself no stranger to suffering why should we be? His history, and that of early church is filled with suffering, but although it is a mystery to us, it is what is beyond it that is the key, and often the only comfort when we are in the midst of it.