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Book Give Away!

I wrote a new book which came out last Easter just after the first lockdown started, and so, well, even I sort of forgot about it. But, I eventually got my hands on a few copies, so, I'd like to give two of them away.  The book is about the theology of the founders of the Apostolic Church, so it should hopefully be of interest to Apostolic pastors, which means one of the copies is reserved for any pastor in the Apostolic Church. The other copy is for anyone in the UK (because international postage is too expensive, sorry!). Here's the link to enter the competition. (I've never tried making a competition before, so sorry if it's not the most slick!) There are four ways to enter.  1) Subscribe to the blog by email. 2) Follow me on Twitter. 3) Tweet about the competition using via the competition page above.  4) For the pastor copy, any pastor can email me at the address in the Apostolic Church UK Staff Address Book.  You can see the full table of contents on the Google b

The Remarkable Verse that is Luke 22:43

This morning as I was reading the Bible, I was struck by Luke 22:43. It's the night of the Last Supper and Jesus and His disciples have gone to the Mount of Olives. Jesus is just about to be arrested, and He takes His disciples with Him to Gethsemane to pray. After telling His disciples what they should be praying for, Jesus withdraws from them a short distance and prays His famous Gethsemane prayer: 'Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.' (Luke 22:42) And then, all of a sudden, we read verse 43: 'Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.'

One of my all-time favourite songs is I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene. One night after CU (back when I was a student), a friend asked if this song was really biblical. After all, the third verse goes:
In pity angels beheld Him
And came from the world of light
To comfort Him in the sorrows
He bore for my soul that night.
My friend thought this was rather a shocking claim - until we turned in the Bible to Luke 22:43. And there it stands - an angel strengthening Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet despite knowing that it's there, and despite the hymn about it, what this verse says stills jumps out at me as something remarkable.


Just think about it; there's Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, the One through whom and for whom all things (including the angels) were created, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and a lowly angel comes to strengthen Him! That's amazing.

I've just got a few thoughts about this angel in the garden. You may well have some much better thoughts than me (and if you do have some thoughts, leave a comment and let me know). My main thought is simply how remarkable it is, but here are three more thoughts - three things I think this angel helps to teach us:

1.) The Humility of Christ

Jesus is the King of the Angels, and yet He had humbled Himself to such a degree that He accepts the strengthening ministry of one of His angelic subjects. And not only that, but He has it recorded in His Word so that everyone knows about it. So He's not ashamed of this angelic comforter. He's not ashamed of receiving this strengthening ministry. (And perhaps that might be a wee lesson to us too...) This points us to the reality of the Incarnation as well - Jesus really was 'made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death' (Heb. 2:9).

2.) The Reality of Christ's Suffering for our Sin

Jesus' suffering wasn't diluted by His deity. The very fact of the coming of this strengthening angel shows us the reality of the depths of Christ's suffering in our place. The Biblical teaching isn't that Jesus' suffering was overcome by the impassibility of His deity, but rather (as summarised in the words of the early church), that 'One of the Trinity suffered in the flesh.'

3. It Was For Us

Jesus hadn't done anything to deserve suffering, and so Jesus hadn't done anything that would need a strengthening angel. Yet He suffered and the angel came. And that reminds us again, that it was for our sake, in our place, that He suffered. As the hymn says, the angel came 'to comfort Him for the sorrows He bore for my soul that night.'