Message from the Minister

"The Authentic Article"

Jim was, and still is, a very good friend – despite what we did to him. We were students and a number of us all shared a large house together.

Jim was always brimming with confidence. So, whether climbing, canoeing, felling trees or engaged in any other outdoor activity, he threw himself into things with zeal and bravado. None of it was careless – nor was it reckless – he was just blessed with  mountains of ability. He was also great fun to be around.

As typical students, our conversations were characterised by lively and energetic discussion. And Jim extended the same sense of confidence to some of his opinions. However, this time we were convinced he was talking rot.

The issue was whisky. And the subtle distinctions between pure malt and a good blend. Jim was eloquent in maintaining that nothing but a pure malt was worth drinking. Blends were to be despised – all of them, without exception. Yet we were equally persuaded that he couldn’t tell the difference. A measure of humility was called for – and we were determined to make the point.

As an ultimate test, we swapped the contents of a bottle of malt with a good blend. So the malt was now in the blend bottle and the blend was in that of the malt. With some persuasion we convinced him to try the contents of both bottles, and compare the two. “Hey Jim, you should try this blend. It rivals this and any other malt. Try them and see.”

We gave him the blend from the malt bottle. He nodded approvingly. Then we poured the contents of the blend bottle (really the malt).

“Pah”, he spat. “Paint stripper!”

Bemused at first, when we fell about laughing, he had the good grace to see the funny side of it. Our point was established. When faced with the authentic article, and called upon to make his judgement, he was devoid of all discernment.

Jim had been persuaded it was whisky which was on trial; when in reality it had been him. In passing judgement on the whisky, he had in fact passed judgement on himself.

We see something of the same process in the Easter story, when Jesus stood trial before Pilate. As Roman Governor, Pilate has to make a decision whether to release Him or consign Him for execution. But, although Pilate is the judge, who is really on trial?

Jesus has been accused of blasphemy and making Himself equal with God. He has accepted the designation, ‘Messiah’, and has acknowledged He is a King. “…I am a King. For this I was born. And for this reason I have come into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to me”.

Much of the trial hinges upon Pilate’s answer to the question of Jesus’ identity. If Jesus is not who He claims to be, then nothing really matters either way. Jesus can safely be assigned a place among the deluded and other upstarts. But if Jesus is indeed ‘the authentic article’, then everything is at stake……… for Pilate!

It appears that Pilate recognised something of this, and wanted to avoid having to make the judgement. But events compelled him and he couldn’t avoid it. The rest, as they say, is history. He did what was politically expedient.

Many years go, another friend cautioned me, “Always remember – and don’t ever be deceived - when God asks for your opinion, He is not looking for advice”.

The question of Jesus’ identity still remains. Much depends on that answer.

all good wishes

David J Torrance

The Christian claim has always maintained that it was God Himself – the Son of God – who suffered the events of Easter.

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