Monday, 18 September 2006

from glory to golgotha

The third temptation in the desert revolves around the question of a sign: if the Lord throws himself from the pinnacle of the temple, the angels will bear him up and he will sustain no injury. It is often assumed that what is envisaged here is some demonstrative portent to impress others with the glory of Christ. But as Barth points out, there were no others present. The sign was a sign for himself, for his own reassurance. The temptation was of the utmost gravity: to say, 'The real question is my own sonship - to make sure of that and forget all else and all others and all service until that is absolutely clear'. It is a temptation to which all of us are liable and to which the only answer is the attitude of John Bunyan, prepared to die for the gospel, 'come heaven, come hell'.
- p48

If for us to live is Christ, then declares Paul, to die is gain. What an extraordinary thing to say! But Paul meant it. He had a desire, a strong desire to depart this life. Why? Not because of world weariness. He had learned to be content. It was again, Christ. For most of us, death is terrifying because it separates us irreparably from those we love. For Paul, it was different. Christ was the One he loved above all else and above all others. Death would not separate him from Christ. It would bring him closer, infinitely closer. He would see Christ better, hear him better, understand him better, serve him better.
What effect will death have on the bond betweeen us and the thing we love most? - What we might call, for all practical purposes, our god?
- From Glory to Golgotha; Donald Macleod; CFP, 2002

The only thing that annoys me about CFP is their habit of producing new editions of Donald Macleod's books with extra chapters in; twice now they've done that on books I've bought and hadn't yet read.

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