The Perfume of Death

This Easter, I am taking us ‘inside’ several encounters Jesus had near his death. This first one takes place just days before the Last Supper.

My fingers shake ever so slightly as I slip—unseen—into Simon’s house. I can hear the laughter coming from the back, and I grip the jar a little tighter. At home, the idea had seemed perfect. What better way to show my love and devotion than to pour out my most precious possession on him who has saved me…loved me…healed me? Yet in this unfamiliar house full of men, my resolve wavers. What will his disciples think? What will my brother Lazarus think? And Martha? Will she wear that disapproving pout for the next few days, the one that—without saying a word—shouts, ‘you are such a fool, Mary’? Continue reading

Simeon’s Awe & Anna’s Praise

Christmas Devotion 2

Our Christmases are busy, bustling times. It’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of the miracle we celebrate: God coming into our midst. Even two thousand years ago in Israel—where people debated and discussed the Promised Messiah—there were few who truly recognised him. But step back into time with me and take a look at two who did.

My fingers graze against the rough walls as I climb the temple steps. I pause at the top to catch my breath, and look back over the sprawl of Jerusalem. In my youth I would have bounded up those steps two at a time, so keen was I to enter Yahweh’s courts. I’m still keen, Lord, just a little slower. The gate ahead of me leads to the broad Court of the Gentiles. Continue reading

A Star, a Journey and a Heavenly King

Christmas Devotional (1)

“There,” Melchior pointed to a small cluster of mud-brick houses. “We have found him!”

Could it be? Was the greatest of all Kings to be found here, in this dusty, ramshackle village?

I thought back over the long journey that had brought us here. I remembered the first time I looked up at the night sky and saw the star, unlike any I had ever seen before. From that first moment, gazing on its brightness in the western sky, I knew that it was an omen of great significance. Our nights were spent studying the star; our days, discussing and debating its meaning. We poured over our own ancient writings, but all to no avail. Continue reading

Hurt? Grieving? Lost? So was This Man…

All around me there are hurting people. One of my friend’s is undergoing cancer treatment. Another lies seriously ill in ICU. Others are dealing with grief that wraps its icy fingers around their hearts long after those around them have forgotten and moved on. Some are facing the betrayal of a spouse; others are struggling to overcome childhood hurts and abuse.

My own struggles are not this big, but—even then—navigating everyday life leaves me feeling lost and depleted sometimes. Continue reading

Water or Wine? Man or Messiah?

On the fourth day of Master Simeon’s wedding feast, the wine ran out. We’d seen it coming, of course. The day before, my brother Jehu had hurried back to the kitchen with an empty wine jug in his hand, his forehead creased with worry. He rushed over to count the remaining wine skins and then silently beckoned me over.

“We’re not going to have enough,” he whispered. Continue reading

Come and See!

God created us to have fellowship with Him; it’s the only thing that can truly satisfy us. We gain a glimpse of how it was intended to look when we watch God walking with Adam in the Garden of Eden. We all know the story though. Sin crept in and broke that intimate friendship.

But Jesus came to reinstate, through his death on the cross, that deep friendship with God. Even while he was on earth, we start to see this fellowship restored. There is a bible story that tells of one perfect day spent with Jesus. Continue reading

Dust Drawings

I struggled to free myself of the tight grip on both my arms, pulling me through Jerusalem’s narrow streets. My thoughts whirled wildly, trying to make sense of what had just happened. One moment I had been warm and safe in Eli’s arms, and the next I was being dragged from the bed by men with leering eyes. I turned to look for Eli; surely he would come to my rescue? But there was no sight of him; all I saw were the disdainful glances of people pressing forward to catch a look at me. And I heard a single word rippling through the crowd: adulteress. Continue reading

Follow Me

I bend down and feel for the money bag at my feet. It’s heavier than normal for this time of the day. I’ve had the usual quota of ‘poor harvest’ stories, of course, but generally people know I mean business. Pay your taxes or suffer the consequence, that’s my motto. There’s the odd person who comes in and tries to play the ‘we grew up together’ card. Yet, I always remind myself of how they treat me once I leave this booth. To them I am the scum of the earth. Continue reading