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Have we got the schedule for Easter wrong?

Have you ever sat and read through the gospel accounts of Passion Week, and tried to work out chronologically what is happening? And have you done that with the four gospels? (It is easiest to do that latter using a synopsis, either in print or using this one online.) If you do, you might notice several things.

Though there are variations in wording and in some details, there is a striking agreement between all four gospels in the order of the main events during the week.
The events at the beginning of the week around Palm Sunday, and at the end of the week around the crucifixion seem very busy, yet the middle seems very quiet—the issue of the ‘silent Wednesday’.
The main issue on which the gospel accounts disagree on the order of events is in relation to the denials of Peter by Jesus, which come earlier in Luke’s gospel, and are spread out in John’s gospel.
Jesus’ trial is more detailed, with more people involved in different phases in John than in the Matthew and Mark, the latter two treating it in quite a compressed way as more or less a single event.
The synoptics claim explicitly that the last supper was some form of Passover meal (which must happen after the lambs are sacrificed), whilst John makes no mention of this, and appears to have Jesus crucified at the moment that the Passover lambs are sacrificed.

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What is the evidence for the resurrection?

When considering the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, we need to separate two issues. First, what are the historical facts that require an explanation? And, second, what is the best, most plausible, explanation for those facts? What are the facts to consider in relation to the resurrection? First, Jesus died on the cross, a victim of […]

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Did Jesus die to ‘satisfy God’s wrath’?

Four years ago I commented on the well-known hymn (which you might have sung yesterday), ‘In Christ Alone’ by Stuart Townend. This had been prompted by the decision in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to drop the  hymn because the song’s authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God. The original lyrics say that “on […]

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Palm Sunday according to Matthew

It is always a relief when we celebrate Palm Sunday from Matthew or Mark’s account. Luke 19.36 in his account talks only the garments, and does not mention palm branches, so in those years we have to call it Garment Sunday (which doesn’t have the same ring about it). In fact it is only John, […]

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How do we give and receive love? (John 13)

The new edition of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God has just been published, and this is the third part of my contribution reflection on John 11–13. Acceptable service (John 13:1–17) Why do we find it so difficult to be served by others? Because it draws unwelcome attention to us? Or because we don’t feel we deserve the attention? […]

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The compassion of God in John 11

The new edition of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God has just been published, and this is the first part of my contribution reflection on John 11–13. Even to the casual reader, John’s gospel seems to be in two halves. In the first, we have a series of seven ‘signs’ performed by Jesus (including the water into […]

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How many times did Jesus visit Jerusalem?

One of the obvious differences in chronology between John’s gospel and the ‘Synoptics’ (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is that John gives an account of Jesus in Jerusalem on four different occasions, two during a Passover (John 2.13, 12.12), one during an unnamed festival (John 5.1) and one at Hannukah (John 10.22). (The third Passover is […]

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What is the pastoral impact of eschatology?

In my new Grove booklet on eschatology, after outlining eschatological expectation in Old and New Testaments, I end my reflecting on the pastoral implications of what we have found.There are many aspects of Christian living which are affected by our understanding of eschatology, and where misunderstanding creates serious obstacles both within the church and at […]

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Why don’t we talk about the end of the world more?

My latest Grove Booklet is now available and it offers an overview of eschatology—beliefs about the end things—starting with background ideas in the Old Testament and looking at the key issues in the Gospels, Paul and Revelation. My introduction explains why this is such an important issue. Eschatology, meaning ‘understanding of last things,’ is of […]

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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 […]

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