use of the Old Testament in the Gospels

This is a shortened version of a paper I wrote in 2011 for Theological Study. I have recently been looking further into the fulfilment of the Old Testament by the new and edited this slighted for sharing (changed a few sentences to make it sound a little less academic). I have left the reference markers in there but removed the several pages of reference listings. Happy to share if anyone is interested, or needs an insomnia cure.

The Old Testament was the scripture of the Jewish people (1) at the time of Christ structured (unlike in the modern Christian Canon of the Old Testament) into the Law (the five books of Moses) the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people, as the initial emphasis of Christ’s saving mission on earth (2) were generally well versed in the scriptures and it flows logically that this common point of reference would be used heavily by Christ and his disciples as they ministered to them.

New Testament writers also follow the practice of utilising the words already penned by others in the history of the Scriptures, recognition that the Old Testament has a clarity they could not improve on. (3) This approach is continued in Orthodox tradition in the manner of referring to the Scripture and Church Fathers.

Christians often overlook the importance of these references, halting their attention at the authority of those quoting without considering the origin of the quotes. However, as these Old Testament works are are understood as the direct communication between God and his people these quotations, particularly as they relate to events show the authority of God in the New Testament, as the “New Testament writers firmly believed that what they were witnessing was exactly what the Old Testament spoke about.” (4)

This article will look at a General review of Old Testament usage in each of the Four Gospels, usage for Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy and as a Revelation of Old Testament types.

General review of Old Testament usage in the Four Gospels

Matthew

With the Gospel of St Matthew being directed at the Jews (5) and it’s main objective being to “to prove to the Jews that Jesus Christ is precisely that Messiah Whom the Old Testament prophets had predicted”6 it is not surprising that it contains much in the way of direct scriptural reference to the Old Testament. The amount of scriptural references that a close enough for biblical commentators to consider as quotations is fifty-five, whereas the the remaining three Gospels number fifty-five.(7) These considerable links to the Old Testament help form a solid transition from the Old Testament to the New and have led to the thought that this had some bearing on it’s placement as the first of the Gospels. (8)

Even as early as St Matthew expounds his infancy narrative there are direct references to prophecies in the book of Isaiah. (9) As the Angel of the Lord explains to Joseph the circumstances of Mary’s conception the words used “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(10) are all taken from Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.”(11).

Further on we come to an explicit reference (12) to the place of the Saviour’s birth, referencing the Old Testament prophecy of Micah: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah,Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(13)

In several instances St Matthew explicitly states his quotation of the Old Testament, the first (14) of which occurs during his account of Herrod’s Massacre and his reference of the Prophet Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”(15)

St Matthew’s Gospel also contains one of the more interesting practices of joining the quotations of several prophets together. “Matthew 24:15–31 contains references to Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Dt. 13:1–3; Isa. 34:4; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; and Isa. 27:13.”(16) This is a long passage spoken by Christ where these prophecies are interwoven in a dialogue about his second coming referencing the scriptures they were familiar with as shown in historical writings.(17)

Mark

St Mark’s Gospel is less endowed with direct quotations from the Jewish scripture, namely as his main focus is on a “strong and clear narration of Christ’s miracles, emphasizing through them God’s heavenly greatness and omnipotence”(18). Mark does maintain the key Old Testament reference of John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”(19) recalling the speech of the Prophet Isaiah.

In his response to criticism of His disciples by the Scribes and Pharisee’s Christ quotes the Prophet Isaiah also, bringing into question the amount of faith in their hearts as opposed to them “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(20)”

In the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his passion, the people praise his arrival using the psalmody of their Jewish tradition. The praise in the verse “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:”(21) coming straight from the Psalms. (22)

At his trial, answering the question of the high priest, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”(23), Christ answers directly “I am: hand ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”, (24) using the scriptural references to both Psalms (25) and Daniel (26) to place His authority.

The final complete quotation in Mark comes in the Lord’s final moments as he cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(27)” quoting the Psalms (28). This was recognized by those around him who mocked him believing he was calling Elijah.

Luke

In the Gospel of St Luke the direct quotations are not as lengthy than in Matthew or Mark, rather a one or two verses at most are generally used in this manner. (29) While St Luke was a convert to Judaism (30) he is very familiar with much of the canon of Hebrew scripture “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (31).

The majority of quotations in Luke are inclosed in the speech of others, in fact all but the first three. (32) Not surprisingly Christ quotes a significant number of these starting with his rebuke of the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. (33)

Although Luke’s direct references are shorter and less prevalent than those in the first two Gospels, there is no shortage of allusion to the Old Testament which some have listed at 449, with this allusion in a first century Jewish context being none the less important than direct reference. (34)

Luke also carries the linkage between Christ and the “Wisdom of God” (35) in the Old Testament and firmly presents that by the allusions and references that announce and witness to Christ’s arrival and mission are proof of their divine ordination.(36)

Similar to Mark there is a direct quotation in the account of Christ’s final moments where the Lord cries out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (37) as with the former a quote from the Psalms; asserting God’s plan for salvation and the voluntary nature of Christ’s death to fulfil this plan. (38)

John

The timeline of John’s Gospel differs from the others in that it starts with the pre-eternal birth of the Son of God39. These first seven verses in John parallel the creation story in the same location in the book of Genesis but giving these concurrent ideas a more elevated purpose in the New Testament.(40)

The closer the narrative of John’s Gospel moves towards Christ’s death on the Cross the greater the emphasis of the Old Testament reference to the fulfilment of scripture and significant stress on the notion that the rejection of Christ by the Jews strongly achieves this. (41)

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has direct quotation in John as in other Gospels, both in the manner of His entry42 and the praises from the people.(43)

When Christ encountered criticism from the Pharisees in the temple regarding Him bearing his own witness44 both parties reference the Jewish Tradition that no person may be a witness to their own works (45). The response of Jesus to this is rejection of the Pharisees judgment of Him as an ordinary man and the reference of His Father as the witness to His authority. (46)

Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy

Both in the narration of the Gospel authors themselves and the quotations directly from Christ’s teachings Old Testament references are used to highlight the the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the words or actions of Christ. From the early references around Christ’s conception, as mentioned above, where the birthplace of the Messiah is shown to be that mentioned in Isaiah, not to mention Herod’s massacre, the Gospel author’s point out how these early events fulfil the Jewish “Messianic Hope”. (47) This highlighting of prophecy serves to highlight the revealing of the Messiah to His people.

One of the earliest open displays of Christ’s succumbing to the fulfilment of scripture comes at his Baptism at the Jordan. Despite St John the Baptists initial refusal to baptize him, 48Jesus insists “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil call righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (49) so that the essential nature of God’s determination is shown. (50)

Many examples of prophetic fulfilment have been outlined in the discussion of the Four Gospels above.

Revelation of Old Testament types

Scriptural references for the elaboration of typology are common in the Gospels (and indeed the remainder of the New Testament). In Christian theology these typological references are seen not only to maintain the original historical context but extend their significance greater than the Old Testament example alone. (51) Many of these typologies relate directly to Christ or His actions.

Christ is seen as the new Adam, with the first human being made in the image of the Word. (52) In Mark’s Gospel this is shown in the wild beasts acknowledging Christ’s sovereignty over them. (53) This typology is also alluded to by tradition by the location of the crucifixion as being that where the first human reposed (54).

In John’s Gospel the recounting of St John the Baptist’s proclamation of Christ as the “Lamb of God” links Him to the replacement of the sacrificial lamb of temple worship and the prophecy of Isaiah where the Messiah is “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth”.(55) This rendition also types the lamb God calls Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son.(56)

There is also significant Davidic typology, particularly in the Gospel of John (57) where references to Psalms in which David is speaking are used. (58)

The revelation of the Old Testament types started in the Gospels then expands itself through the New Testament especially throughout the Pauline writings and the Apocalypse of John. (59)

Conclusion

Old Testament references occur frequently in the New Testament and particularly in the four Gospels. Even with the different objectives and audiences of the four different Gospels the use of Old Testament reference either by direct quotation or allusion is frequent whether by the recorded words and actions of Christ, the usage of the authors themselves or others with whom Christ and the Apostles interacted.

These references are critical to share in context the arrival of the Messiah with the people of the time, highlight the fulfilment of prophecy to them and to the generations to come and provides to this day a revelation of the Old Testament to the Church in light of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Church has recgnized this fullfillement with the sybolic usage of a man or angel (for Matthew), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke) and an Eagle (for John) itself a reference to the “mysterious chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel at the river Chebar”. (60)

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Aug 25 / Sept 7 – Parable of the wicked husbandmen

4

33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: 34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. 35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. 37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. 39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. 40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? 41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? [Matthew 21:33-42 KJV]

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

How often do we remember God in our daily activities? How often do we take into account the will of God for our lives when we make decisions or react poorly to the actions of others? In the current world climate we have waves of violence being inflicted on others and their lives turned upside down in the name of progress, democracy, a religious state or just plain greed. We may all see this and cry out, share statements on social media and complain around the water cooler. But what do we do in our own lives?

No doubt we react as the world does, sternly and with a “proportional response”. We have forgotten the spirit of our WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) wristbands that are now lost in a drawer or keeping some important papers nicely rolled up. Most likely we would give into our passions and take wild offense, lashing out and playing the victim.

In this weeks Sunday Gospel, we see in parable form quite the opposite. We are brought to a “householder” that has built a winery and let it out to a group to manage. This was not a bare patch of earth, but a fully planted vineyard with all the facilities necessary to protect the harvest and cultivate it for the future. The “husbandmen” had been provided for in every way, their only task for the agreement they had made was to share the first fruits with the overseer and make a successful living.

Twice this householder sent servants and they were beaten and slain. Then his son was sent and again, at the thought of taking over the inheritance the wicked men took the son outside the vineyard and murdered him.

St John Chrysostom, in his homily #68 on Matthew, shares with us the rich typology of the householder with that of God’s relationship with Israel; Christ is speaking to many including Chief Priests in the temple [Matt 21:23], learned Jews who knew the scripture and presented to them a situation as had been given them as they left Egypt for the promised land, ” planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower” little was left for them to do but tend as stewards and worship. They were sent prophets to guide them and to share with them the word of the Lord, but like the servants in the parable they met often with criticism, distrust and an unpleasant ending.

And “He sent His servants,” that is, the prophets, “to receive the fruit;” that is, their obedience, the proof of it by their works. But they even here showed their wickedness, not only by failing to give the fruit, after having enjoyed so much care, which was the sign of idleness, but also by showing anger towards them that came. For they that had not to give when they owed, should not have been indignant, nor angry, but should have entreated. But they not only were indignant, but even filled their hands with blood, and while deserving punishment, themselves inflicted punishment. [St John Chrysostom Homily 68 on Matthew]

The typology here is evident, down to the taking of the “son” outside of the vineyard to be slain.

What will we do when God comes to ask us for our “first fruits”? Will we have offered him our prayer and worship? Will we have taken care for our neighbour and fed the hungry?Rather than a rubber band that is now in our drawer somewhere let us inscribe Christ in our hearts with prayer and repentance and look for His image in all we meet.

Glory to Jesus Christ

use of the Old Testament in the Gospels

This is a shortened version of a paper I wrote in 2011 for Theological Study. I have recently been looking further into the fulfilment of the Old Testament by the new and edited this slighted for sharing (changed a few sentences to make it sound a little less academic). I have left the reference markers in there but removed the several pages of reference listings. Happy to share if anyone is interested, or needs an insomnia cure.

The Old Testament was the scripture of the Jewish people (1) at the time of Christ structured (unlike in the modern Christian Canon of the Old Testament) into the Law (the five books of Moses) the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people, as the initial emphasis of Christ’s saving mission on earth (2) were generally well versed in the scriptures and it flows logically that this common point of reference would be used heavily by Christ and his disciples as they ministered to them.

New Testament writers also follow the practice of utilising the words already penned by others in the history of the Scriptures, recognition that the Old Testament has a clarity they could not improve on. (3) This approach is continued in Orthodox tradition in the manner of referring to the Scripture and Church Fathers.

Christians often overlook the importance of these references, halting their attention at the authority of those quoting without considering the origin of the quotes. However, as these Old Testament works are are understood as the direct communication between God and his people these quotations, particularly as they relate to events show the authority of God in the New Testament, as the “New Testament writers firmly believed that what they were witnessing was exactly what the Old Testament spoke about.” (4)

This article will look at a General review of Old Testament usage in each of the Four Gospels, usage for Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy and as a Revelation of Old Testament types.

General review of Old Testament usage in the Four Gospels

Matthew

With the Gospel of St Matthew being directed at the Jews (5) and it’s main objective being to “to prove to the Jews that Jesus Christ is precisely that Messiah Whom the Old Testament prophets had predicted”6 it is not surprising that it contains much in the way of direct scriptural reference to the Old Testament. The amount of scriptural references that a close enough for biblical commentators to consider as quotations is fifty-five, whereas the the remaining three Gospels number fifty-five.(7) These considerable links to the Old Testament help form a solid transition from the Old Testament to the New and have led to the thought that this had some bearing on it’s placement as the first of the Gospels. (8)

Even as early as St Matthew expounds his infancy narrative there are direct references to prophecies in the book of Isaiah. (9) As the Angel of the Lord explains to Joseph the circumstances of Mary’s conception the words used “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(10) are all taken from Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.”(11).

Further on we come to an explicit reference (12) to the place of the Saviour’s birth, referencing the Old Testament prophecy of Micah: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah,Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(13)

In several instances St Matthew explicitly states his quotation of the Old Testament, the first (14) of which occurs during his account of Herrod’s Massacre and his reference of the Prophet Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”(15)

St Matthew’s Gospel also contains one of the more interesting practices of joining the quotations of several prophets together. “Matthew 24:15–31 contains references to Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Dt. 13:1–3; Isa. 34:4; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; and Isa. 27:13.”(16) This is a long passage spoken by Christ where these prophecies are interwoven in a dialogue about his second coming referencing the scriptures they were familiar with as shown in historical writings.(17)

Mark

St Mark’s Gospel is less endowed with direct quotations from the Jewish scripture, namely as his main focus is on a “strong and clear narration of Christ’s miracles, emphasizing through them God’s heavenly greatness and omnipotence”(18). Mark does maintain the key Old Testament reference of John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”(19) recalling the speech of the Prophet Isaiah.

In his response to criticism of His disciples by the Scribes and Pharisee’s Christ quotes the Prophet Isaiah also, bringing into question the amount of faith in their hearts as opposed to them “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(20)”

In the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his passion, the people praise his arrival using the psalmody of their Jewish tradition. The praise in the verse “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:”(21) coming straight from the Psalms. (22)

At his trial, answering the question of the high priest, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”(23), Christ answers directly “I am: hand ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”, (24) using the scriptural references to both Psalms (25) and Daniel (26) to place His authority.

The final complete quotation in Mark comes in the Lord’s final moments as he cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(27)” quoting the Psalms (28). This was recognized by those around him who mocked him believing he was calling Elijah.

Luke

In the Gospel of St Luke the direct quotations are not as lengthy than in Matthew or Mark, rather a one or two verses at most are generally used in this manner. (29) While St Luke was a convert to Judaism (30) he is very familiar with much of the canon of Hebrew scripture “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (31).

The majority of quotations in Luke are inclosed in the speech of others, in fact all but the first three. (32) Not surprisingly Christ quotes a significant number of these starting with his rebuke of the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. (33)

Although Luke’s direct references are shorter and less prevalent than those in the first two Gospels, there is no shortage of allusion to the Old Testament which some have listed at 449, with this allusion in a first century Jewish context being none the less important than direct reference. (34)

Luke also carries the linkage between Christ and the “Wisdom of God” (35) in the Old Testament and firmly presents that by the allusions and references that announce and witness to Christ’s arrival and mission are proof of their divine ordination.(36)

Similar to Mark there is a direct quotation in the account of Christ’s final moments where the Lord cries out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (37) as with the former a quote from the Psalms; asserting God’s plan for salvation and the voluntary nature of Christ’s death to fulfil this plan. (38)

John

The timeline of John’s Gospel differs from the others in that it starts with the pre-eternal birth of the Son of God39. These first seven verses in John parallel the creation story in the same location in the book of Genesis but giving these concurrent ideas a more elevated purpose in the New Testament.(40)

The closer the narrative of John’s Gospel moves towards Christ’s death on the Cross the greater the emphasis of the Old Testament reference to the fulfilment of scripture and significant stress on the notion that the rejection of Christ by the Jews strongly achieves this. (41)

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has direct quotation in John as in other Gospels, both in the manner of His entry42 and the praises from the people.(43)

When Christ encountered criticism from the Pharisees in the temple regarding Him bearing his own witness44 both parties reference the Jewish Tradition that no person may be a witness to their own works (45). The response of Jesus to this is rejection of the Pharisees judgment of Him as an ordinary man and the reference of His Father as the witness to His authority. (46)

Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy

Both in the narration of the Gospel authors themselves and the quotations directly from Christ’s teachings Old Testament references are used to highlight the the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the words or actions of Christ. From the early references around Christ’s conception, as mentioned above, where the birthplace of the Messiah is shown to be that mentioned in Isaiah, not to mention Herod’s massacre, the Gospel author’s point out how these early events fulfil the Jewish “Messianic Hope”. (47) This highlighting of prophecy serves to highlight the revealing of the Messiah to His people.

One of the earliest open displays of Christ’s succumbing to the fulfilment of scripture comes at his Baptism at the Jordan. Despite St John the Baptists initial refusal to baptize him, 48Jesus insists “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil call righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (49) so that the essential nature of God’s determination is shown. (50)

Many examples of prophetic fulfilment have been outlined in the discussion of the Four Gospels above.

Revelation of Old Testament types

Scriptural references for the elaboration of typology are common in the Gospels (and indeed the remainder of the New Testament). In Christian theology these typological references are seen not only to maintain the original historical context but extend their significance greater than the Old Testament example alone. (51) Many of these typologies relate directly to Christ or His actions.

Christ is seen as the new Adam, with the first human being made in the image of the Word. (52) In Mark’s Gospel this is shown in the wild beasts acknowledging Christ’s sovereignty over them. (53) This typology is also alluded to by tradition by the location of the crucifixion as being that where the first human reposed (54).

In John’s Gospel the recounting of St John the Baptist’s proclamation of Christ as the “Lamb of God” links Him to the replacement of the sacrificial lamb of temple worship and the prophecy of Isaiah where the Messiah is “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth”.(55) This rendition also types the lamb God calls Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son.(56)

There is also significant Davidic typology, particularly in the Gospel of John (57) where references to Psalms in which David is speaking are used. (58)

The revelation of the Old Testament types started in the Gospels then expands itself through the New Testament especially throughout the Pauline writings and the Apocalypse of John. (59)

Conclusion

Old Testament references occur frequently in the New Testament and particularly in the four Gospels. Even with the different objectives and audiences of the four different Gospels the use of Old Testament reference either by direct quotation or allusion is frequent whether by the recorded words and actions of Christ, the usage of the authors themselves or others with whom Christ and the Apostles interacted.

These references are critical to share in context the arrival of the Messiah with the people of the time, highlight the fulfilment of prophecy to them and to the generations to come and provides to this day a revelation of the Old Testament to the Church in light of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Church has recgnized this fullfillement with the sybolic usage of a man or angel (for Matthew), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke) and an Eagle (for John) itself a reference to the “mysterious chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel at the river Chebar”. (60)

couple of weeks – proportional response

Found myself in a crazy couple of week spiral that would challenge the strongest of wills, let alone mine. On my way to Singapore for a week of customer and management meetings, back in Australia just in time for a wedding only to wake up the next morning and head off for knee surgery. Perhaps the first wedding I have been to where I will not be touching a celebratory drink so I am in fair shape for the operation.

I came across some prayers for those who are sick last week and tripped over a “Prayer before an operation” no doubt meant to be inserted at the end of a molten or prayer service for the sick. I felt quite pathetic reading this prayer ahead of my knee surgery particularly when I came across the following “granting that he may so endure his sufferings in the flesh that the wounding of his body may serve for the correcting and salvation of his soul”. My goodness.

To start with, as I noted here, this surgery is really self induced. I have not looked after my weight for many a year making my general life and service to the church harder and prone to illness and injury such as that which sends me to the surgeon again now. Sure, life is a little more difficult when you have to hobble around and the simplest things are more difficult and some things are just off the agenda. But I think of the rise to near epidemic proportions of cancer in our society (looking at my prayer list for those who are ill and how many are suffering from this) or at my new friends at our Orthodox Mission in Pakistan who face regular investigation from secret police just for feeding the hungry, and well, doing what Christ asked of us.

Everything in proportion I think. So while I ask God for mercy in my upcoming operation there is a strong need to put this in perspective. The White House would call this a “Proportional Response” but only if it was about whether to fire 10 missiles or 15.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

crossonblood

time to shed

This is an interesting and difficult post for me to write. For as many years as I can remember I have been heavier than I would like to be. With the exception of a health scare in 2008 I have never been able to drop weight significantly for any period of time. There were also a couple of periods in my life where, due to injury, I took a polite jump in weight due to inactivity which didn’t help much.

My job doesn’t help in this respect either. I essentially sit on my backside for more than twelve hours a day on calls, meetings, video, email etc and movement is limited. Of course, the corporation I work for isn’t sitting over my head enforcing laziness and lack of movement, to the contrary there are a myriad of health initiatives freely offered that disappear between breaks in discussions.

Late in 2013 I challenged myself to get moving more in some ways to prepare and survive the next Great Lent. Large man and prostrations do not make a great mixture and I was hoping to drop a few pounds and strengthen the legs up in preparation rather than feeling like a cripple by Pascha. Then I tweaked my knee on an overseas trip and after physiotherapy and almost getting better super-tweaked it again to the point where I could barely walk for a week.

Now I am facing the possibility of knee surgery (one of the previous incidents that packed on the pounds) and really need to look at things critically. While not moving around so much I am replacing one meal a day with one of those horrid protein shakes which is not sustainable but I needed to do something first before thinking too much.

A few weeks of pondering down the tracks I have decided to treat this condition for what I think it really is. An addiction to eating. I searched out some material and found the book Breaking the Chains by Victor Mihailoff and put myself back in a rhythm of actually looking at this spiritually and working at prayer and constant review of myself in attitude as well as on the scales. I have dragged out Rita Madden’s Food Faith & Fasting podcast to revise regularly in parallel.

This is going to be a long haul mixed with a hectic work year and possibly some surgery. With God’s help hopefully I can become a shadow of my former self and be more helpful to Him.

q

a more orthodox logos (update)

Further to my previous article, I tripped over a feed on Twitter (@LogosOrthodox) which is described as “Scripture-study software for ministry, teaching, and personal devotion. Discover the ancient faith of the Orthodox Church with @Logos Bible Software.”

So it seems that the trend of more evangelicals looking back to the writings of the Ancient Fathers along with no doubt many Orthodox wanting acccess to this information and the tools for Bible study is being positive to their bottom line, and had become more important. Many of the items in the feed are in pre-pub status (meaning they are to be produced, and you can bid on them now for future use) but the bid prices are quite reasonable.

Have a look at the @LogosOrthodox feed and get on the bandwagon, it will benefit us all.

I have been a user of the bible study software logos for some time now. First, back when I was protestant I used it as a tool for putting together bible studies and for some study that I did. More recently (a year or two back when I started looking to take an Orthodox Theology course) I purchased a version to help prepare for exams and write essays.

Given that the market for the software would mostly be evangelical protestant there was little Orthodox material save for a pack of Early Church Fathers. More recently I purchased the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture – and I am glad I did as it doesn’t seem to be sold by them anymore.

This, along with more translations of the scriptures than one would of thought possible still makes it quite a powerful package, once I worked out how to narrow the searches down to a collection of texts that were Orthodox in nature.

Today I got a delightful surprise in my inbox to find another set of Orthodox literature in pre-publication, 10 volumes of the Popular Patristics Series published by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press. I do own many of these in paperback but it will be a welcome addition to the searchable material. I also am waiting since late last year for the Works of St. Cyril of Alexandria to be completed.

Logos is a very powerful tool, and citing passages from it in essays can be quite easy once you get the hang of it. If you cut & paste in the write way into MS-Word, the footnotes instantly pop into the footer of the document.

We seem finally to be getting more Orthodox material in electronic formats from many publishers. i am soon going to put together a list of what I have found so far for my Kindle in case others are interested.

Holy Week and Pascha: a time to share the love of Jesus Christ

As we leave Great Lent for the I would like to suggest a switch to a more external focus. Holy Week is our final leg in the voyage to the Holy Pascha of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but how often do we take this time to reaqlize that He came for the salvation of all.

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We tend to be worried about juggling our work and church commitments, transporting ourselves and family, perparing the final items for our Paschal Feast; what better time than the Feast of Feasts to focus on sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those who may not know Him, or know the church he established through his Apostles.

How can we do this? Should be go knocking randomly on doors and stand in the street ringing bells? Perhaps not. These are the actions that lead the Orthodox world to shy away from Evangelism. What we need is to share the love through discipleship rather than through the pen (or sword). Some may feel shy to answer questions on their faith.

Some simple suggestions for sharing the love of Christ over the coming weeks:

*Invite some of your friends to the start of the Paschal service, or the vespers Sunday night (joyous but short and sweet)
*Having a Paschal meal with friends and family, invite some non-Orthodox friends to break the fast or later on during the Paschal period. Scared about lots of questions? Ask you Priest or Deacon over for dinner as well 😉
*Many of us due to our Eastern heritage cook enough food in case the entire Mother Church is coming for dinner; take some Paschal items into the office to share with colleagues and drop an email around describing what they are and inviting people to share with you.
*Learn more about the detail of your faith or give a book to an inquiring friend (such as)
Support some local or global missions giving others the resources to spread the love of Christ (examples: ROCOR mission in Pakistan, Fund For Assistance, OCMC)

For the law is old,
but the word is new.
The type is provisional,
but grace is everlasting.
The sheep is perishable,
but the Lord,
not broken as a lamb but raised up as God,
is imperishable.
For though led to the slaughter like a sheep,
he was no sheep.
Though speechless as a lamb,
neither yet was he a lamb.
For there was once a type, but now the reality has appeared.
Melito of Sardis

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Just some short ideas to think about. May you all have a profitable Holy Week and a joyous Pascha!