St Mary’s Church Coddenham

Part of the website

From The Rectory – The Sign of Peace

by | Sep 7, 2023 | Coddenham Church

candle flame

Last week I reflected on Jesus’ reaction to the demand for a sign of his authority. (Matthew 16).  Why should we believe you?’ 

To the establishment of his day, Jesus was an outsider with no recognisable credentials.  His followers were, by and large, ordinary people: labourers, artisans, those on the edge (the oft cited ‘tax collectors and sinners’).  So where did his authority come from, and in a world full of fake news, scandal and deceit, why should we take notice of him now?

The problem with signs is still ‘what do I believe’.  Moses (for example) produced many signs for Pharaoh.  Pharaoh’s magicians matched him until the last one.  Only then, after all the calamities, did Pharaoh concede and let the Israelites go; only to set off in pursuit shortly after.  Like Pharaoh, we are all prone to hearing what we want to hear whilst disregarding the rest; which, perhaps, is why Jesus doesn’t enter into the sign game.

At the start of Jesus’ ministry, Satan tempted him to turn stones into bread or stage a spectacular stunt (throw yourself off the roof for the angels to catch you).  Even on the cross, we see a direct challenge ‘Save yourself, prove you are the Messiah’, give us a sign (eg Matthew 27:40-44).  Instead of the asked for new sign Jesus simply challenges us to consider the existing evidence.  Jesus came to restore our relationship with God; no more, no less. The sign of his authenticity is the way he goes about this; opening the love of God to all who will receive him.  Then, when challenged, he accepts death rather than violence.  That is counterintuitive.  His fightback, when it comes, is his resurrection, not an insurrection.

Today many, still looking for signs, miss his simple presence.  On the evening of that first day of the week, (John 20: 19-20) Jesus came and stood among his terrified, grief-stricken disciples and said, “Peace be with you!” That was enough for the disciples who were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  Can we be still long enough to experience that peace?

Rev’d Philip Payne

The Notice Sheet for 10 September can be found here


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *