Happy, Dead Fish-Clones

Happy, dead fish-clones.

Before putting my daughter down for her nap today we read Jesus and His Friends. At the climax of the story Jesus feeds 5,000 people with a paltry five loaves of bread and two fish. After all of the people had their fill “there were even twelve baskets of food left over!”

I would like to point out the apparent joy the fish retained after being used by Jesus. I certainly hope that, like the miracle fish, I retain my joy even if God’s plan for me involves the skin and meat being stripped from my body.


Run, John, Run

A while back my pastor gave a sermon, most of which I forgot, about how the grace that God offers through Jesus is greater than our feeble and invariably failed attempts to live up to it. One part I did not forget, however, was a short poem illustrating how hopeless our cause is without the Gospel. The poem’s origin in unclear and was either written by John Bunyan (of Pilgrim’s Progress fame) or John Berridge , an eighteenth century evangelist. John writes:

Run, John, run the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands.
Far greater news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings.

As my pastor, Mark Vroegop, puts it, “the Law is rigid, demanding, clear, and impossible. It demands that we run when we have no hands or feet.” But as the verse states, the gospel frees us from this impossible burden and enables us to live up to the expectations of the law vicariously through Jesus.

The poem is beautiful because it simply expresses such a beautifully simple concept.

Here are a few other variations on the poem. One from another eighteenth century preacher, Ralph Erskine:

A rigid matter is the law
Demanding brick, denying straw
But when with gospel tongue it sings,
It bids me fly and gives me wings

I liked them so much I wrote my own:

The law shouts fire, the bell it tolls
But gives us buckets filled with holes;
The Gospel’s answer, though, is plain
When fire’s shouted, gives us rain.

And one from my good friend Michael Buschbacher

The law of God is just and pure,
Reveals disease but gives no cure,
But the Gospel gives what was denied
What once was dead, it makes alive.

“Hosanna!” to “Crucify!”

Eric Metaxas, in his book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy, highlighted what I thought was an interesting excerpt from Bonhoeffer’s writing. During his tenure as a pastor in Spain, Bonhoeffer wrote a letter to his sister describing arte taurina (bull fighting), which he had come to enjoy. He wrote:

I have never seen the swing from “Hosanna!” to “Crusify!” more graphically evoked than in the virtually insane way the crowd goes berserk when the toreador makes an adroit turn, and they immediately follow this with an equally insane howling and whistling when some mishap occurs. The momentary character of this mass mood goes so far that they applaud for the bull and against the toreador if, for example, the latter proves to be cowardly and-quite understandably-his courage fails him for a moment.

p. 75-76. It’s hard to fully appreciate how dramatic the shift in public opinion was from the Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem among shouts of “Hosanna!” to the next Friday when they all shouted “Crucify!”