The raising of Lazarus in John 11

This Sunday, Lent 5 in Year A, we come to the last of our for explorations of Jesus’ encounters with individuals that formed a catechumate in the early church. Next week, on Palm Sunday, we will return to our gospel of the year, Matthew, in the lead in to Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter … Continue Reading

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 … Continue Reading

How should Luke 16.19­–31 shape our view of heaven and hell?

The story of the rich man and Lazarus appears on first reading to depict a detailed ‘map’ of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’, but is this the right way to read it?

First, it is worth noting that the words ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ themselves do not occur in the parable. The NT talks about post-mortem life in a range of ways, not all of them easy to reconcile with one another. Perhaps the most controlling one would be the idea of ‘sleep’ as used by Paul in, for example, 1 Cor 15. ‘Heaven’ in the NT mostly appears to refer to the realm of God’s presence, reign and reality, and the central NT hope is not that we will leave the earth to go to heaven, but that God’s realm will come down to the earth (see Rev 21). (See Tom Wright’s Grove booklet for the most accessible exposition of this.)

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