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Preaching on the Transfiguration

The lectionary gospel reading tomorrow, the last Sunday before Lent, is Matt 17.1–9, Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration. There some important things to note in relation to this passage as we think about preaching on it.

All three Synoptic accounts place this immediately after Peter’s confession of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus then starts to talk about his betrayal and death. They seem to want us to hold these two truths together: that the Son of Man is one who is humble and obedient even to death, and yet he is also the one spoken of in Daniel 7 where he comes to the Ancient of Days and receives a kingdom that will never end. Both of these are true about Jesus, and both must be held together. This is made clear by the final saying of Jesus in the previous pericope (section):

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Is Liberalism anti-Semitic?

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, is the longest-serving Primate in the Anglican Communion. Yesterday, on the Sunday before his retirement, he was the preacher on the Radio 4 Sunday Morning worship, in which he talked about Jesus’ sacrifice for us which is illuminated, but can never be exhausted, by examples of human sacrifice. He […]

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Can we preach bad news? Should we?

I have generally observed a striking divide between theological traditions in relation to whether the gospel is in fact ‘good news’ (as the word ‘gospel’ tells us—a ‘good spell’ or word), or whether we need to start with the ‘bad news’ of sin and judgement before we can say anything good. The NT gives a somewhat […]

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Is the story of Epiphany credible?

The Feast of the Epiphany in the church’s liturgical calendar is based on the events of Matt 2.1–12, the visit of the ‘wise men’ from the East to the infant Jesus. There are plenty of things about the story which might make us instinctively treat it as just another part of the constellation of Christmas traditions, […]

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Interpreting the sheep and the goats in Matt 25

Jesus’ ‘parable’ of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25.31–46 is very well known and widely misinterpreted. It forms one part of the extended teaching about ‘the end’ distinctive to Matthew (compared with Mark and Luke). It is most commonly interpreted as an injunction to help the poor; most Christians (in the West at least) read […]

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Resources for preaching on Matthew

With Advent we have the beginning of a new liturgical year, and the gospel for continuous reading is Matthew. Now is a good time to think about the resources we will need for preaching, reading and studying for the year ahead, and these are some of the things I have found helpful. John Proctor’s Grove […]

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Does grace despise virtue?

In our mid-size group in our church we are using the Pilgrim Course to study the Lord’s Prayer. This week we were reflecting on ‘Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’, and we were directed to explore the so-called parable of the Prodigal Son (really, the parable of the Forgiving […]

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Did Jesus heal the centurion’s gay lover?

At the end of May, Jeffrey John, Dean of St Alban’s, preached at Liverpool Cathedral on the healing of the centurion’s servant in Luke 7. You can listen to the sermon on the Cathedral’s Soundcloud stream. John is a consummate orator, and he begins with a story from his teenager years, when his vicar refers to […]

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What is the meaning of the Ascension?

What would you identify as the climax and completion of Jesus’ life and ministry? Surprisingly, this is not a trivial question. One of the key differences between John and the synoptic gospels is that, where the synoptics portray the crucifixion as a necessary but incomplete act on the way to the resurrection, John portrays it […]

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