Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 9 2013 - John 6:1-21 – They saw Jesus approaching

It had been a hard day for the disciples. They had ministered to the needs of as many as ten thousand people and had cleared up the mess left after their picnic. And while they were busy clearing up and sending the people off home, Jesus had cleared off to spend time by himself somewhere up the mountain. As night fell and it began to get cold, the disciples had decided to go home to Capernaum. They got back into the boat and began to row across the lake. But by the time they had got to the middle of the lake they were being tossed about by a violent storm. They were alone and in the dark.

But a three or four mile stretch of rough water could not prevent Jesus from coming to the aid of his disciples: "They saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.' Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading" (John 6:19-21).

There are times when the going is rough; times when we seem to struggle through the day and maybe even through the night making little headway; times when the Saviour seems far from us. We need the assurance that there is nothing that can keep him from us. In our times of deepest trial he is right there with us, encouraging us with the words, "'It is I; do not be afraid."

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ... No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39, New Living Translation)

Yet there are many times when we do not feel that Christ is close; do not feel that his love surrounds us. We feel abandoned and alone; left to clear up the mess made by others while Jesus has gone off into a place of peace and safety. It is at such times that we need to remember that his ascension into heaven is not an abandonment of us; he is no longer with us bodily, precisely that he might be with us in the presence and power of his Spirit.

Paul encourages the young Christians in Thessalonica with the words, “The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one… May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:3,5). God’s strength and protection are ours as we persevere in following Christ. But we have strength to persevere only as our hearts are turned towards God in seeking to understand and appreciate his love for us. The habit of the directed heart will teach us to be conscious of Christ’s presence with us, even in the time of trial.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of the risen Saviour, direct my heart to fasten upon God’s love for me in Christ that I may go on following him. And when the road is rough and steep, or the storms threaten to overwhelm me, help me to fix my eyes on Jesus and to know his strength in my weakness.

May 9 2019 - 2 Samuel 12 – Solomon / Jedidiah

Nathan the prophet was sent to David to deliver a word from the Lord concerning David's conduct. But he does not deliver the word directly; instead he tells David a story about a rich man who robs a poor man of his precious ewe lamb. David is filled with anger when he hears the story; "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity" (2 Samuel 12:5-6). Nathan then delivers the shocking verdict, "You are the man!" (12:7).

Nathan reminds David of all that God had done for him and his ingratitude and wickedness in stealing Uriah's wife and having Uriah killed. As a result David will experience warfare from within his own household. David should not doubt that the Lord is able to forgive his sin, but equally he must know that sin has consequences; the son that Bathsheba has born him will die.

It is easy for us to identify sin in others and even to be full of righteous anger over the things that others have done. At such moments we need to search our own hearts; could it be that we are guilty of similar sins and need to hear God's verdict "You are the person!"? Our anger over the wrongdoing of others should lead us to conviction of our own sin and to repentance.

We should not doubt that God forgives our sin – forgives it completely for Jesus sake. Nevertheless sin has the most terrible consequences. A moment of folly can result in generations of hurt – wounded relationships, broken marriages, damaged lives... Our righteous anger needs to be directed into a careful guarding of our own hearts that we might not sin against God and damage those he has created in his image, particularly those we love.

Bathsheba's child is ill and despite David's urgent prayers the child dies. Only then does David get up, wash himself and go to God's house to worship. Probably it was at this time that he composed Psalm 51 and used it in his worship of God: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions…"

And God was gracious to David. Bathsheba bore him a second son whom they named Solomon. We read, "The LORD loved him; and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah [loved by the Lord]" (1 Samuel 12:25).

God has a way of bringing good out of evil. This never excuses evil, as the death of Bathsheba's first son shows very clearly. Nevertheless, the Lord is unfailing in his love and compassion, mercy and forgiveness: "Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).

I want to switch to a scene in a garden where Jesus prostrates himself and cries out in anguish to God his Father that he may be spared the horrors of the cross. Jesus also is submissive to the will of the Father. He is Jedidiah – loved by God. Yet now it is this beloved Son who faces death for our sin. He dies that we might be forgiven; he is risen and lives forever as Lord and Saviour. Through his death and resurrection the unfailing love and forgiveness of God are poured out into our lives; we too are Jedidiah – loved by the Lord.

Righteous Father, help us to hear what you are saying to us through your word. We are filled with righteous anger and sorrow over the conduct of David and so many other characters in Scripture. Help us to see that we are made of the same stuff as them. Help us to see our own sin – its ingratitude, its offence against you and the damage it does to ourselves and to others. Thank you that your own Son died because of our sin but lives forever to be our Saviour. We recognise that we often fail to be the person you want us to be. But we rejoice that we are loved by you and accepted in your beloved Son.

Peter Misselbrook