Starting in Advent 2009, we began the three year Vision4Life programe, the first year of which focuses on the Bible.
GOSPELS IN A WEEKEND
Three of us went to the URC Windermere Centre at the end of January for “Gospels in a Weekend” led by Lawrence Moore, the Centre Director.. For someone who does not know their Bible as well as they should, this was a fascinating weekend. We learnt in detail the reasons why each of the four Gospels came to be written, We heard that Mark’s Gospel was probably the first to be written using a document of the sayings of Jesus. This was written around AD65 and is, most likely, based on Simon Peter’s memoirs starting with the preaching of John the Baptist. Matthew and Luke were written about AD72-73 and both would have had a copy of Matthew’s writings. Matthew was written for Jewish Christians and referred back to the Old Testament and emphasises the fulfilment of the Jewish Law. Luke was written for Gentiles and had no need to account for the past. Both Gospels begin with the birth of Jesus. John’s was the last Gospel to be written – around AD90 – and begins with the Creation with Jesus being present at the very beginning. They are not eyewitness accounts but four evangelists giving the Good News in their own way. Thus the incidents in each Gospel cannot be joined together like a jigsaw puzzle as each writer moves the incidents around to suit the audiences they were writing for. In this Vision4Life Bible Year this course was a fascinating insight into the Gospels.
FAVOURITE BIBLE PASSAGES
We invited readers of the last edition to write about their favourite Bible passages and say why. To date none have arrived so I include what I put forward, when put on the spot with the same invitation at the “Gospels in a Weekend” course last month. Given only a few moments to think I opted for the Parable of the Good Samaritan (St Luke 10 : 25 – 37 ) It’s a passage of Scripture that we’ve all heard many times. As with many of His parables we realise that Jesus was a marvellous story-teller, and that His stories have layer upon layer of deeper significance and meaning. On the surface it is clearly a graphic demonstration of the meaning of Christian neighbourliness. To his listeners the fact Jesus chose a Samaritan to help the victim would have been shocking, as Jews and Samaritans hated each other, whereas the behaviour of the Priest and the Levite might well have seemed reasonable as they were observing the Law by avoiding ritual uncleanliness
If we stop to think about it, this familiar parable should still shock us today for the clear duty of neighbourliness it lays on us, as well as the rejection of religious hypocrisy and ethnic stereotyping.