A meditation for Holy Tuesday

in Colwall Village Hall

Frankincense, the second gift at Epiphany, is a pure form of incense and when burned it produces a fragrant smoke which traditionally symbolises God, so in this second meditation we shall be thinking about Jesus as the Son of God. As this is a meditation there will be three periods of silence and to start you off on the first one I want you to think about Jesus the man. In fact, the title that Jesus most often uses about himself is “Son of Man”, a title which appears frequently in the book of the Prophet Ezekiel and is meant to stand as a representative man. One example of Jesus using this title is in one of my favourite stories in the Bible, which is that of Zacchaeus who climbed up a tree to see Jesus of Nazareth passing by and Jesus went and dined with him that night. This caused Zacchaeus to give up all his sinful ways as a tax gatherer, at which Jesus commented that salvation had come to his house. For this man too is a son of Abraham, he said, and the Son of Man has come to seek and save what is lost. So Jesus is a representative man like Adam but unlike Adam, a real man. A man who was born, lived and died as any man lives and dies. Jesus was often tired and hungry and was tempted as we are but without sin. Jesus knows what it is like to be a man in this sinful world and to endure and triumph over its fallen nature. So we will spend the next two or three minutes in silence reflecting on Jesus the man.

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We have Jesus The Son of Man, but the title we most often use ourselves is Jesus the Son of God. But what do we mean by that? That title was first given by John the Baptist when he saw the Spirit descending on Jesus at His baptism, “This is the son of God, God’s chosen one”. Now we are not going to get to the bottom of this title because it involves something about the nature of God, who is and will always be unknowable. But we can see something of the power of God from the miracles which Jesus performed. Personally, I don’t think Jesus could perform miracles as a little boy, I think it was a power given to him at his baptism. In fact if you read the Bible carefully Jesus does not perform miracles at all, God does – but Jesus is sufficiently close to God to be sure that they will happen. In fact, miracles should be understood not so much symbols of God’s power as messages. The miracles are not meant to change the course of history but, as a result of our understanding the message, we are. And the message of Jesus’ miracles is that Jesus is indeed God’s chosen one.

Now this reinforces another aspect of Jesus the Son of God in that his teaching comes from God. We are so familiar with the teaching that we fail to appreciate sometimes how revolutionary it was. It went well beyond the demands of the Jewish law and was totally foreign both to the Roman and Greek culture which surrounded him. If we take it seriously it is revolutionary today too. This is a revelation of the nature of God. So now we can spend two or three minutes in silence reflecting on Jesus the Son of God, the embodiment of the gospel message.

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The final title of Jesus I would like you to think about is from the first chapter of John’s gospel. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.” How enigmatic that all is! But let us not get hung up on cosmology. John is looking at Jesus and seeing something more. To the question, what is life all about he would answer, Jesus. To the question what is the point of it all, he would answer, Jesus. So let us spend our final two or three minutes thinking on those questions.

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In the introduction to his gospel, John goes on to say, “So the Word became flesh; he came to dwell among us and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” This is the Easter message – not sombre but beautiful. Let us thank God that that is so.