Pastor Steve here. Thank the Lord for this weather. What a blessing that the sun is shining, and it is not too cold at the moment. If it had been wet and windy it would have felt so much worse. We want to thank God for the amazing answer to prayer that Julie is back home, having been in intensive care. I also thank God for the way he has used the WhatsApp to connect Church people together in prayer on Monday when we heard of the Boris admission to ICU and at Tess’ Wednesday prayer meeting. Many people are joining in with prayers and scriptures. It is very encouraging to see. Don’t forget this evening at 7.30pm (we need to finish by 8.00pm so that we clap our NHS and care workers) we will have communion together using WhatsApp. Please have some bread and juice or water ready. Open up WhatsApp at 7.30pm. There will be a video song from me. Then I will type prayer. You please text in prayers as well. Then there will be a video of blessing the bread. After that you bless your bread and eat it. There will be another video of blessing the juice. Then you bless it and take it. After that we will have a time for people to type in bible verses, prayers etc. I pray it will be a special time for us.
For the last few days God has been giving us a message from the cross which has been very powerful. Let’s see what he wants to highlight today.
As we look at the cross in John’s gospel, we are appalled by the suffering and pain that Jesus endures. But we also see the magnitude and power of what the cross did for us. There is a physical and a spiritual aspect that comes into focus. In the next 2 messages we will look at the relational aspect. On that terrible scene of the three crosses at Golgotha there are some astonishingly tender moments in the midst of the darkness. In John’s Gospel 19: 26 – 27 we read:
When Jesus therefore saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing by He said to His mother: ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple: ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Jesus is in unimaginable pain. He is surrounded by Roman soldiers indifferent to him; a crowd that mocks him and Pharisees who hurl abuse at him. Yet, at this moment he looks and his mother, Mary, and John the disciple standing next to her. What rises in him as he sees them close by? It is not self-pity, or sorrow or despair, or even sadness at his mother’s grief. He sees a need. He knew that Mary would be devastated and unable to survive this. He knew she need support and care. He also knew she would need a home now. So he said to Mary ‘Woman behold your son. Look mother, John is your son now. Stay close to him. Let him become a son to you whom you can love, and walk with, whom you can depend on.’
Then he turns to John and says ‘Behold your mother. Take Mary as your mother now. Look after her. Be a loving, faithful, committed, son to her John.’ We read then that John took her to his house from that hour onwards. What incredible love! Nailed to a cross, carrying sickness and sin, enduring abuse and torment, Jesus sees Mary and John. He sees a need. He responds by exhorting them to enter a new relationship and take care of one another. He knew Mary would need John, and John would need Mary. Even from the cross Jesus was ministering and taking care of people he loved. He was showing the vital importance of people taking care of each other.
This is the message from the cross that God is giving us today. He says to us; ‘Behold; look at the person you are standing next to. Open your eyes and really begin to see them. See their value and beauty. See their need. See them as a true brother and sister; mother or father. You are in a family now. Then he says: ‘Love them. Take them to your home. Take care of them. Share you heart and life with them. Be a true brother/sister/mum/dad/son to them. Hasn’t this been going on in our Church and our nation more now than ever before? People have been calling each other, texting, emailing, every day. They have been getting shopping, making sure they are OK. The level of love and care in relationships has risen massively. Why? Because people matter more than programs. More than meetings. More than progress. The Church; the world is full of people. Christ died for people. Maybe, in this crisis the Lord is building a new kind of Church; a Church full of people that care and look out for one another as a priority. A Church of people committed and covenanted to one another.
Today my dear brother/sister, think of the people in your Church family and hear the words of Jesus from the cross: ‘Behold your brother; behold your sister. Love them. Look out for them. Take care of them. You’re all in my family now.’
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus. I am sorry that often I am self-absorbed. Or I am so busy with business I forget to really see the people in my Church family. I hear you call from the cross to look out for them and look after them. Please give me eyes to see them as you see them, a heart to love them as you love them, and hands to help them as you help them.
Today pray for those in our community who are lonely and in need today. Ask God to send people to help them, and maybe you might be one of them.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. Please take time during the day to read the gospel accounts and take time to meditate on the cross.