Jesus the Comforter

John 11 New International Version

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

3Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

The story of the illness, death, and resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) provides the context for this hymn for those who are grieving deeply over the death of a loved one. Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary had sent word for their friend Jesus to come when Lazarus was ill. But Jesus took his time, finally arriving “too late,” and joining the grieving sisters who said, “If only you had been here…..” Jesus also grieved; he loved all three of them. The text ends with a prayer that the risen Christ still speak to those whose grief is raw and to assure us all “from your empty tomb…that life never dies.” This text is the first of sixteen hymn-like choral pieces in the collection The Last Journey: Songs for the time of grieving (GIA), with texts and music prepared by John Bell of the Iona Community. Each piece is also available separately from GIA. Some texts, like this one, were co-written with Graham Maule. The tunes were composed or arranged by John Bell, usually for organ, and often with a descant instrument. Bell’s original tune published with this text was named PALMER, but a note at the end says that “other tunes, such as ROCKINGHAM, may be used if the text is to be sung by a congregation.” That old beloved tune is well suited to this text, and in Lift Up Your Hearts, there is even a link to a psalm often sung at funerals: ROCKINGHAM is used again with a setting of Psalm 116 that includes the line, “His saints the LORD delights to save; their death is precious in his sight.” 

O Christ, you wept when grief was raw,
and felt for those who mourned a friend;
come close to where we would not be
and hold us numbed by this life’s end


The well-loved voice is silent now
and we have much we meant to say;
collect our lost and wandering words
and keep them till the endless day.


We try to hold what is not here
and fear for what we do not know.
Oh, take our hands in yours, good Lord,
and free us to let our friend go.


In all our loneliness and doubt,
beyond what we can realize,
address us from your empty tomb
and tell us that life never ends.

Calvary

John 19:15 – 27

 New International Version 

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareththe king of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”Image result for Calvary

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”[a]

So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine
A wondrous beauty I see
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died
To pardon and sanctify me

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away
Where His glory forever I’ll share

A Story of Love

Luke 2 New International Version

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

  1. Wonderful story of love;
    Tell it to me again;
    Wonderful story of love;
    Wake the immortal strain!
    Angels with rapture announce it,
    Shepherds with wonder receive it;
    Sinner, oh, won’t you believe it?
    Wonderful story of love.
    • Refrain:
      Wonderful! Wonderful!
      Wonderful, wonderful story of love.
  2. Wonderful story of love;
    Though you are far away;
    Wonderful story of love;
    Still He doth call today;
    Calling from Calvary’s mountain,
    Down from the crystal-bright fountain,
    E’en from the dawn of creation,
    Wonderful story of love.
  3. Wonderful story of love;
    Jesus provides a rest;
    Wonderful story of love;
    For all the pure and blest,
    Rest in those mansions above us,
    With those who’ve gone on before us,
    Singing the rapturous chorus,
    Wonderful story of love.

Jesus Wept

John 11 New International Version

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Verse 1
O Christ, You wept when grief was raw,
and felt for those who mourned their friend;
Come close to where we would not be
and hold us, hold us, hold us,
hold us numbed by this life’s end.

Verse 2
The well-loved voice is silent now
and we have much we meant to say;
collect our lost and wandering words
and keep them, keep them, keep them,
keep them till the endless day.

Verse 3
We try to hold what is not here
and fear for what we do not know;
Oh, take our hands in Yours, good Lord,
and free us, free us, free us,
free us to let our friend go.

Verse 4
In all our loneliness and doubt
through what we cannot realise,
address us from Your empty tomb
and tell us, tell us, tell us,
tell us that life never dies.

Our walk with God

Luke 10:40-42

But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.” The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a wonderful hymn written by  The­o­dore H. Kitch­ing, in the Sal­va­tion Ar­my’s War Cry, Feb­ru­ary 6, 1915. The words were sung at the au­thor’s fun­er­al at Clap­ton Con­gress Hall in 1930. It’s one of these hymn where the words just seem to match the tune, with the words being so meaningful (especially the last verse) and the tune being played with devotion what else can I say.Image result for Walking with God

How wonderful it is to walk with God
Along the road that holy men have trod;
How wonderful it is to hear Him say:
Fear not, have faith, ’tis I who lead the way!

How wonderful it is to talk with God
When cares sweep o’er my spirit like a flood;
How wonderful it is to hear His voice,
For when He speaks the desert lands rejoice!

How wonderful it is to praise my God,
Who comforts and protects me with His rod;
How wonderful to praise him every hour,
My heart attuned to sing His wondrous power!

How wonderful it is to fight for God,
And point poor sinners to the precious blood;
How wonderful it is to wield His sword
’Gainst sin, the enemy of Christ, my Lord!

How wonderful ’twill be to live with God
When I have crossed death’s deep and swelling flood;
How wonderful to see Him face to face
When I have fought the fight and won the race!

That Sacred Hill

John 19 New International Version 

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

“They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.”[a]

So this is what the soldiers did.

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Guiding Star

Matthew 2 New International Version – UK

The Magi visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written:

‘“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.”[b]

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  1. As with gladness men of old
    Did the guiding star behold,
    As with joy they hailed its light,
    Leading onward, beaming bright;
    So, most gracious Lord, may we
    Evermore be led to Thee.
  2. As with joyful steps they sped
    To that lowly manger bed,
    There to bend the knee before
    Him whom heav’n and earth adore;
    So may we, with willing feet,
    Ever seek Thy mercy seat.
  3. As they offered gifts most rare
    At that manger rude and bare;
    So may we with holy joy,
    Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
    All our costliest treasures bring,
    Christ, to Thee, our heav’nly King.
  4. Holy Jesus, every day
    Keep us in the narrow way;
    And, when earthly things are past,
    Bring our ransomed souls at last
    Where they need no star to guide,
    Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

Last night I was out Carolling with my local Salvation Army Band & Songsters. It was when we were asked to sing the above carol that I made the connection with ‘The Mercy Seat’(for those of you who do not know about The Salvation Army it has what is basically a piece of wood which acts as a place of prayer).

I also began to realise as I got into the next two verses that I suppose you could call this a prayer at Christmas time or anytime really.

Note: I aim to bring you Christmas blogs between 24th – 26th December and one will be a video.

God Bless!

The Journey to Bethlehem

Luke 2:1-20 New International Version

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Can you imagine the distance Mary & Joseph had to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem (about 90 odd miles) on mostly hot days with only a donkey as a way of transport, no cars, buses, trains or planes to get there. What we must remember is it is with God’s guidance they both arrived in Bethlehem safely

How far is it to Bethlehem?
Not very far.
Shall we find the stable room
Lit by a star?
Can we see the little Child?
Is He within?
If we lift the wooden latch
May we go in?
May we stroke the creatures there
Ox, ass, or sheep?
May we peep like them and see
Jesus asleep?
If we touch His tiny hand
Will He awake?
Will He know we’ve come so far
Just for His sake?
Great kings have precious gifts
And we have naught
Little smiles and little tears
Are all we brought.
For all weary children
Mary must weep
Here, on His bed of straw
Sleep, children, sleep.
God in His mother’s arms
Babes in the byre
Sleep, as they sleep who find
Their heart’s desire.

Faith

Luke 2 New International Version 

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

How far is it to Bethlehem? 
Not very far. 
Shall we find the stable room 
Lit by a star?

Can we see the little Child? 
Is He within? 
If we lift the wooden latch 
May we go in? 

May we stroke the creatures there 
Ox, ass, or sheep? 
May we peep like them and see 
Jesus asleep?

If we touch His tiny hand 
Will He awake? 
Will He know we’ve come so far 
Just for His sake?

Great kings have precious gifts 
And we have naught 
Little smiles and little tears 
Are all we brought.

For all weary children 
Mary must weep 
Here, on His bed of straw 
Sleep, children, sleep.

God in His mother’s arms 
Babes in the byre 
Sleep, as they sleep who find 
Their heart’s desire.

Expect the Messiah

Matthew 13:53-58 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

A prophet without honour

53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his home town, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. 55 ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ 57 And they took offence at him.

But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.