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The Bible Story Podcast

The Bible Story Podcast

By Andrew Devis
The Bible Story Podcast. A podcast which has a mixture of Bible storytelling including teaching Bible stories and telling of well-known stories from the Bible. These stories are researched and major themes are pulled out so that the thrust of the story is more evident to listeners.

While the stories of Season 2 and upwards are good for children, they are also suitable for adults and for teaching both in church services and for Bible studies.

The stories of Season 1 and more teaching stories which may not be quite so suitable for children but could again be used for both personal and group Bible studies.
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Episode NT52 - An Important Decision
Story 52 – An Important Decision Based on Acts chapter 15 verses 1 to 35 Previously, the young church had had to face attacks from the enemy, such as when the apostles were beaten for talking about Jesus, or when Stephen was murdered because he loved Jesus and wouldn’t stop sharing with others that Jesus was the Messiah. Then, even greater trials came as Herod had the apostle James murdered and sought to do the same thing to Peter, only for the Lord to send an angel to free Peter and save the church from sorrow upon sorrow. However, in all these attacks and trials, even though the church suffered and was hurt, at the same time it overcame and grew – certain of the love of the Lord Jesus and knowing that nothing could happen to them that was outside His control. Since that time, Paul and Barnabas had been sent out from a church at Antioch in Syria and had travelled to quite a few places to tell Jews and Gentiles about Jesus, establishing churches in places where there had never been any before. Although, as we know, there had also been a lot of opposition from those who refused to believe their message about Jesus. But then, perhaps one of the greatest threats to the church arose and found itself the focus of attention for that church in Antioch of Syria. Because, into the church, which was made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers, came Jewish teachers from Jerusalem with a message that caused a great deal of pain and confusion. They taught that a person wasn’t really saved unless, in addition to believing in Jesus, they were also circumcised and obeyed the Jewish law given to Moses. In other words, they were saying that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough for the Gentiles - that they needed to become Jews as well. Needless to say, this caused a lot of pain and suffering for the believers in Antioch who had always thought that they were saved simply by believing the message about Jesus dying in their place on the Cross and that His death was enough to save them from the punishment they deserved for the sin and failure in their lives. These Jewish teachers were in sharp disagreement with Paul and Barnabas who did not accept what they were saying and argued strongly against them. It was a situation that couldn’t carry on and needed to be urgently resolved. So, wisely, the leaders of the church in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas, along with a number of other people, to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles and elders of the church there to get the issue resolved once and for all! As they travelled to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas met with the various churches along the way and encouraged them by telling them all about the things the Lord had done during their missionary journey, and that Gentiles, too, were believing their message. When the churches heard their news, they were all filled with great joy. When they arrived in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by the whole church, including the apostles and elders, and they were able to spend some time telling them about what had happened on their missionary journey. This raised the question about what was required by Gentiles in order to be saved. So, the same issue that had been raised in Antioch was now being raised in the church in Jerusalem, as some believers who were also Pharisees stood up and said, ‘These Gentile converts need to be circumcised and told to obey the teachings of Moses,’ which, of course, Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with! So, the leaders of the church gathered to discuss the issue in some depth! It was a long discussion but, at the end of it, the leaders came back to the church to deliver their findings. Peter was the first to speak and started by reminding the gathered church that, some time ago (probably 10 years or so earlier), God had chosen him to be the person through whom the gospel would be preached to the Gentiles. This happened when Peter went to see the Roman soldier, Cornelius, who had been given a vision of an angel...
10:54
July 05, 2021
Episode NT51 - Iconium, Lystra and Back Home
Story 51 – Iconium, Lystra and Back Home Based on Acts chapter 14 Nearly 100 miles away to the south-east of Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas eventually came to the town of Iconium where a very similar thing happened to what they’d just experienced in Pisidian Antioch! The habit of Paul and Barnabas when arriving in a town was to go the Jews and preach in their synagogues. The reason they did this was that, if they’d started by going to the non-Jews, or Gentiles as they were known, then the Jews would never have listened to them or allowed them to visit their synagogues. So, to ensure their message would be heard as widely as possible, they always started at the Jewish synagogues. And, as in Pisidian Antioch, there was a strong reaction to their preaching, as a large group of both Jews and Gentiles believed their message. Also, as in Pisidian Antioch, there was a resolute group of Jews who refused to believe the message and set out to gather others to their way of thinking and poison their minds against Paul, Barnabas and the new believers. The opposition to Paul and Barnabas and their message was both intense and persistent, but they didn’t run away. Instead, they stayed in the city for a long time and spoke boldly about all the wonderful things the Lord had done. And, to confirm that the message they brought was from Him, the Lord gave them power to do miraculous signs and wonders - outstanding evidence that their message was true! Yet even that wasn’t enough to change the minds of those who’d decided to reject the message. Instead, these disbelieving people worked hard to convince others to dismiss the message, until the whole town was divided, with some following the disbelieving Jews and others following Paul and Barnabas! After a long stay in that divided city, those who hated the message and who especially hated Paul, got some of the city leaders on their side. With those leaders, they gathered a mob with the aim of attacking Paul and Barnabas and stoning them to death. Stoning is a Jewish form of execution reserved for people who blaspheme, which means to speak falsely about God! Thankfully, somehow the believers and Paul and Barnabas heard about the attempt on their lives and fled, managing to escape to the smaller backwater town of Lystra. And, even though their experience had been tough at both Iconimum and Pisidian Antioch, they continued to tell everyone the Good News about Jesus. When they arrived in Lystra, things seemed to go very well at first. There probably wasn’t a synagogue in Lystra, or many Jews in the town, and so Paul and Barnabas started telling the locals about Jesus. And, as they spoke of Jesus, Paul and Barnabas came across a man whose feet had been crippled from birth so that he’d never walked. This man sat and listened to Paul preach and, as he listened, Paul realised this man had the faith needed to be healed. So, in a similar way to how Peter and John had spoken to the crippled man outside the temple in Jerusalem all that time before, Paul called out to the man in a loud voice, ‘Stand up on your feet!’ At that word from Paul, the man leapt to his feet and started walking around! As you can imagine, when the crowd saw what Paul had done, they were completely amazed and started shouting out in their local Lycaonian language (a language neither Paul nor Barnabas understood), ‘These men are gods in the form or human beings.’ Now, it just so happened that there was an ancient local story about the so-called gods of Zeus and Hermes having come to earth as mortal men and being refused shelter by everyone except an impoverished older couple. And, as a result, the older couple had been rewarded, but everyone else who’d refused to give them shelter – a 1000 households or so – were destroyed by a flood. So, when the locals thought that the gods had come down in a similar way to that old story - thinking Barnabas was Zeus and Paul, the chief speaker, was Hermes - they sprung into action,...
11:30
June 28, 2021
Episode NT50 - Paul and Barnabas at Pisidian Antioch
Story 50 – Paul and Barnabas at Pisidian Antioch Based on Acts chapter 13 verses 13 to 52 It was time for Paul (who used to be known as Saul) and Barnabas, along with John Mark, to move on. So, leaving Cyprus, the place Barnabas knew so well, they decided to head up to the area Paul was from. Sailing from the Cyprian port of Paphos, they took the 100 mile or so sea voyage up to Asia Minor, probably landing at Attalia, and then travelled about 12 miles inland to Perga. However, when they reached Perga, they suffered a painful setback, as John Mark abandoned them and left for Jerusalem. Quite what was happening, we don’t know. Maybe John Mark missed his home and his mother? Or maybe he didn’t like the way things were changing, as Paul took more and more of a leading role and his cousin Barnabas less? It could have been that they’d come to a new and potentially dangerous place and John Mark felt worried? We’ll never know but, even as they suffered this loss, it seemed that other things were also going wrong as, instead of staying in Perga, they quickly left that area and headed north. It seems that Paul may have been quite ill, as he talks about that in one of his letters at another time. So, instead of staying in Perga, they went on quite a long and arduous journey on dangerous roads and through mountain passes that were well known for being infested with robbers and bandits. But the advantage of the journey, especially if Paul was ill, was that it took them away from the heat of the south Galatian plateau and up to the cool and no doubt bracing air of the Taurus plateau, about 3,500 feet above sea level. And so, they eventually came to a place called Antioch. Obviously, it was a different Antioch from where they’d originally started, and was known as Pisidian Antioch, to distinguish it from the Antioch that had sent Paul and Barnabas out on the mission they were now on. On their arrival at Pisidian Antioch, and no doubt when Paul was well enough, on the Sabbath day – the day when Jewish people always gather together to worship, and which is our Saturday – they went to the Jewish synagogue in town. The service followed its usual pattern and it was a custom that, if a visiting Rabbi or Jewish teacher came to the synagogue, they’d be asked if they’d speak to the gathered people. Now, Paul was a teacher and they would’ve probably known that from the type of clothing he wore. So, at the appropriate moment in the service, the leaders of the Jewish synagogue sent a message to Paul and Barnabas to ask if they had a message to encourage the people and, if so, to speak in the meeting. Well, as you can imagine, Paul and Barnabas did have a message, all about the wonderful news of God’s love through Jesus, and were more than happy to share it with them. It was Paul who did the actual preaching and he was a man who knew how to preach and had lots of experience. Starting by standing and making a hand gesture to let the people know that he had something to say that was worth listening to and, knowing that he was talking to mainly Jews, he began by talking about a subject close to their hearts, Jewish history. ‘Men of Israel and everyone else who fears God, listen to me,’ he started. Then, Paul skilfully pointed out how Jesus was the Messiah that Jewish history had always been pointing towards. He talked of their ancestors and of the time the people of Israel had lived in slavery in Egypt and how God had saved them from their servitude. He reminded them of God’s patience with the Israelites while they’d spent 40 years in the wilderness after they’d left Egypt. Then he talked about how God had helped them destroy seven mighty nations so that they could have the land of Israel as their inheritance and that all this had taken 450 years - no doubt adding together the 400 years in Egypt, 40 in the wilderness and 10 to take full possession of Israel. Paul then reminded the people of how Israel had asked for a king and how God had...
11:18
June 21, 2021
Episode NT49 - Barnabas and Saul Sent Out
Story 49 – Barnabas and Saul Sent Out Based on Acts chapter 12 verse 25 to chapter 13 verse 12 So the relief mission to Jerusalem took place and the church continued to grow even though people like Herod Agrippa tried to stop it. These people who opposed the church couldn’t stop the spread of the Good News and the growth of the church anymore than they could hold back the sun as it crossed the sky, for, when God’s at work, no one can oppose Him and succeed. Once the relief mission was complete, Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch and took along with them John, who was also known as Mark and sometimes called ‘John Mark’. It was in John Mark’s mother’s house that the prayer meeting for Simon Peter had been held and where Rhoda the servant girl worked, who’d left Peter standing outside the door! John Mark was also Barnabas’ cousin. The church at Antioch was blessed with good leaders including both prophets and teachers. These leaders were Barnabas, of course, and Simeon who was probably from Africa as he was known for being black. Then there was Lucius from Cyrene, which is also in Africa, and Manaen who was an interesting person as he’d been brought up with Herod Antipas in the household of Herod the Great! Manaen was probably raised as Herod Antipas’ foster brother but, thankfully, he’d turned to the Lord and was now part of the godly leadership of the church. And, last but not least, there was Saul. So the leadership consisted of 5 men, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen and Saul, who took the responsibility for teaching, leading and serving the church very seriously as they worked not to please people, but the Lord. Now, while they, and probably the whole church with them, were worshipping the Lord and fasting, they were no doubt seeking the Lord’s provision to build His church. And, the Holy Spirit spoke to them saying, ‘I want you to set apart for Me both Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’. To be honest, the calling seemed rather vague. What specifically did God want them to do? Where did God want them to do this work? In some ways, it was a call similar in nature to God’s call to Abraham many many years before; a vague call to go, with no specified destination. However, the church understood that the key wasn’t knowing exactly what and where so much as obeying a clear call from God to go - and then going – trusting God that He would make things clear as they went, in a similar way to Abraham. It was a call to move forward in faith, to trust God that He would lead and help them. The church and these godly leaders responded at once to what the Holy Spirit had said. Firstly, with more prayer and fasting, no doubt to confirm the message from God and to ask for His blessing on these two men. And then, they laid their hands on Barnabas and Saul to indicate that they identified with them in the work that the Lord was calling them to do. That work would no doubt involve telling people about Jesus in the parts of the world that God would take them to. So, the leaders released these faithful men out on mission. And, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went to the nearest port, a place called Seleucia, some fifteen to sixteen miles away, and took passage on a ship bound for Cyprus. Cyprus was actually a good place to start this outreach to people who had never heard about Jesus, not least because it was where Barnabas had grown up and came from. For Barnabas at least, it would be a familiar place and so a good starting point. Also, as well as being quite close to Antioch and so easy to reach, there was a large population of Jews in Cyprus, large enough for there to be several synagogues across the island. So, they arrived at the port of Salamis on the east cost of Cyprus and there they started the work of telling people about all God had done for them in Jesus. Beginning in the Jewish synagogues, they travelled all over the island until they came to Paphos on the west...
09:34
June 14, 2021
Episode NT48 - Peter in Prison
Story 48 – Peter in Prison Based on Acts chapter 12 Sometimes terrible things happen and we don’t know why, we just have to trust God that He knows, the situation isn’t out of His control and we can trust Him no matter how bad things get. And things were pretty bad. You see, for some reason, King Herod Agrippa, the grandson of that awful King Herod the Great who’d wanted to kill the infant Jesus when he’d heard the ‘King of the Jews’ had been born in Bethlehem, got it into his head to follow his evil grandfather’s ways. He began to persecute the church, arresting some of the believers and causing them harm. What we found particularly hard was what he did to James, John’s brother. Herod Agrippa had James killed with a sword, cutting off his head. It was one of those times when we just had to say to the Lord, ‘We don’t understand, but we do trust You’, as we mourned his death. But our enemies, the Jewish leaders, and many of the Jewish people who’d refused to accept that Jesus is the Messiah, were delighted when they heard that Herod had killed one of the apostles; one of those who’d lived with Jesus, walked and talked with Him and seen all the amazing things He’d done and heard all the wonderful words He’d spoken. A man, no less, who’d met the risen Lord Jesus and was a witness to His resurrection. And, when Herod realised the Jews were happy that he’d had James killed, and because he needed the Jews to like him because of some political trouble he was having with Rome, he decided to do more terrible things to the church, to fight against it, just like Saul had done. So, he had me, Peter, arrested. He didn’t plan to give me a fair trial or allow me to put my own case forward. No, what he planned was a nice little show trial before I was to be publicly executed, no doubt to the delight of the Jews - because pleasing the Jews meant Rome was happy. You’d have thought I’d have been terrified by the prospect of death as I lay chained to, not one, but two soldiers who slept in the cell with me - while more soldiers stayed on guard outside my cell. In fact, Herod had ordered four sets of four soldiers to guard me, to make sure no one could rescue me and that I couldn’t escape. But I had no plans to try and escape; in fact, I wasn’t terrified at all. You see Jesus Himself had told me that I would die a death that was anything but natural and maybe this was it? So, I had no need to worry, He was in control. And what made me even more certain was that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the church was praying for me, praying that the Lord would do … well, whatever the Lord felt was right. (PAUSE) One of the things about being able to trust the Lord no matter how bad the situation is that you don’t have much problem going to sleep. So, the night before I was to be paraded before my enemies and put to death, I fell asleep knowing that, whatever happened, God was in control. There I was, sound asleep and chained between two guards, when I felt a sharp prod on my side. I opened my eyes to see what was happening. There was a really bright light in the cell and standing beside me was an angel from the Lord. Now, I ought to make it clear that I’d been so fast asleep, that I didn’t think I’d woken up properly! I thought it wasn’t real and must be some kind of vision from the Lord. Anyway, then the angel said to me, ‘Quick, get up!’ So I started to sit up, feeling extremely dopey. And, as I sat up, the chains that were holding me to my captors just fell off while they stayed sound asleep! And then the angel, with great patience, started to organise me. ‘Now get dressed,’ he said, and I got dressed. ‘Put your sandals on,’ he said, and I put my sandals on. ‘Now put your coat on.’ he continued. So I picked up my coat and put it on, and then he said, ‘Follow me.’ So I started to follow him, still not sure if I was dreaming! Well, we walked straight out of the cell, past the first set of guards and then past the second set until
10:50
June 07, 2021
Episode NT47 - The Church at Antioch
Story 47 – The Church at Antioch Based on Acts chapter 11 verses 19 - 30 After the death of Stephen, many believers were scattered out from Jerusalem during the persecution of the church. As well as Philip travelling to the area of Samaria, others continued their travels far outside the land of Israel. Some went south to Egypt and beyond, even ending up, to the west of Egypt in Cyrene, North Africa. Others headed north of Israel into the area beyond Joppa and included the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Still others travelled to the island of Cyprus, while some ended up in the city of Antioch in Syria, which at that time was probably the third most important city in the Roman empire behind Alexandria in Egypt and of course Rome itself. As they travelled, these believers shared the good news about Jesus, but only with other Jews. However, some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, arrived in Antioch and started to share the good news about Jesus and all He had done with Greeks as well as Jews. These men were Jews who probably hadn’t lived in Israel but, instead, they’d lived among Greeks all their lives and understood the culture and mindset of the Greek speaking people. So, instead of speaking about Jesus as the ‘Messiah’, which wouldn’t have meant a great deal to the Greeks, they talked about the LORD Jesus - sharing about his origins, His life, His death and resurrection. At that time, it would have been unlikely that they would have heard about what the Lord had done for Cornelius and his household through Peter but, somehow, the Holy Spirit was still prompting these men to share what they knew widely. And, the Lord blessed their message to these Greeks, causing a great number of them to firstly believe the message they were given about the Lord Jesus, and then to turn away from their old lifestyles and start living in a way that would please Jesus. In other words, they became true believers and members of the church. Of course, you can’t keep these kinds of things silent for long because of people travelling around. And, as they travelled, they told others about what was taking place in Antioch. This in turn led to a report of what was happening in Antioch reaching the attention of the church in Jerusalem. By this time, Peter had met with Cornelius and the church had begun to understand that Jesus had come not just to save the Jews but also everyone else who would believe in Him and follow Him. Therefore, instead of reacting with a heavy hand, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem chose to send someone to Antioch who would both understand what was taking place and be a help and encouragement to the church. So, they chose to send Barnabas because he was from Cyprus and had been given the name Barnabas because of his God-given character of encouraging and building people up. His original name was Joseph, and he was a Jewish Levite from Cyprus but, because of his character, everyone knew him as Barnabas. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he saw the goodness and power of God at work and rejoiced! And, living up to his name once again, he encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with fully devoted hearts. Barnabas was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith and, because of his visit and all the Lord was doing in Antioch, a vast number of people became followers of Jesus. However, another feature of Barnabas was that he was a humble man and, seeing the vast work going on in Antioch and recognising the need of the church there for good teaching, he decided to head up north to Tarsus to go and look for Saul. Now, Saul had been sent to his home city of Tarsus some years before after people had tried to kill him in Jerusalem. It seemed that, during that time, Saul had suffered a lot, even being disowned by his family. This made finding Saul hard work, but Barnabas was tenacious in his search and, when he eventually found Saul, he brought him back to Antioch with him. Barnabas no doubt...
08:59
May 31, 2021
Episode NT46 - Peter and Cornelius
Story 46 – Peter and Cornelius Based on Acts chapter 10 verses 1 to chapter 11 verse 18 In Caesarea, a Roman officer called Cornelius, a captain in the Italian Regiment, knelt in prayer. He and all his family feared God and tried to live good lives. He regularly gave to those in need and prayed to God. But today, as he knelt to pray at the usual time of three in the afternoon, suddenly, he saw a vision of an angel, sent from God. Filled with terror, Cornelius listened as the angel delivered his message! ‘Cornelius,’ the angel said. Hardly able to breathe, Cornelius replied, ‘Yes, sir, what do you want?’ ‘Your prayers and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! Now, send some men down to Joppa to find a man there called Simon who is also known as Peter. This man is staying with Simon the tanner who lives near the sea. When the men get there, tell them to ask Peter to come and visit you.’ No sooner had the angel gone than Cornelius was up on his feet rushing to find his servants. ‘Quick!’ he called to two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his personal attendants. ‘You must come and hear what’s just happened – it’s incredible!’ Then he told them about the angel and the message he’d been given and the precise instructions about who to ask for and where they’d find him. ‘Now, go and do what the angel said,’ Cornelius instructed, ‘and ask this Peter to come back here and tell us whatever it is God wants us to know.’ The three of them hurriedly got together all they’d need for the two day journey to Joppa and set off, not really knowing what to expect! (PAUSE) The next day, as the three men approached Joppa and started to ask directions to Simon the tanner’s house down by the shore, Peter, without knowing anything about the people looking for him, went up onto the flat roof of the house to spend some time in prayer. Now, it was about midday when Peter went up to the roof to pray, and he realised he was hungry! So, after asking for some food, Peter sat waiting for it to be prepared and fell into a trance. And, while in this trance, something started to happen. What appeared to be a very large sheet was lowered down from heaven by its four corners. And, as Peter looked inside the sheet, he saw that it was filled with all kinds of animals, reptiles and birds! And then, a voice spoke to him. ‘Peter,’ it said, ‘get up and kill and eat them!’ Peter couldn’t believe what he was hearing! The most important thing to a Jew was to remain ceremonially clean – to not mix or even associate with Gentiles (who are people who aren’t Jews) and especially not to eat animals that the Jewish law said were unclean (even though Jesus Himself had said that it wasn’t food that made a man unclean but his own evil thoughts and desires). So Peter replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! In all my life I haven’t eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish law!’ But then the voice spoke again, a note of rebuke in it, ‘If God says something’s clean, don’t call it unclean!’ Three times the vision was repeated and then the sheet was pulled up once again into heaven. What on earth was all that about? As Peter sat there puzzling over what it all meant, the three men sent by Cornelius arrived at the gate of the house and asked if this was the place where Simon who was also known as Peter was staying. As they asked, and as Peter continued to try and understand this strange vision, the Holy Spirit spoke to him. ‘Three men have come looking for you,’ He said. ‘I have sent these men, so don’t hesitate to go with them.’ At that, Peter got up, went downstairs and found the three men. ‘I’m the man you’re looking for,’ he told them. ‘But what’s this all about? Why’ve you come looking for me?’ ‘We’ve been sent by Cornelius, the Roman officer,’ they replied. ‘He is a righteous, God-fearing man who’s respected by all the Jews. And we’ve come looking for you because a holy angel told Cornelius to ask you to come to his house so that you...
13:35
May 24, 2021
Episode NT45 - Peter, Aeneas & Tabitha
Story 45 – Peter, Aeneas and Tabitha Based on Acts chapter 9 verses 32 - 43 So the church had a period of peace and growth throughout the region. And as it grew, Peter left Jerusalem and started an itinerant ministry, going from place to place encouraging the believers and telling those who hadn’t heard - about Jesus. And, as he moved around, he eventually came to a place called Lydda, at the intersection of a couple of extremely important trade routes, up to the north west of Israel. His purpose for coming was to encourage and build up the believers there. However, while he was in Lydda, he came across a man named Aeneas who was paralysed - and had been for at least 8 years. Maybe Peter was reminded of another paralysed man confined to his mattress? It had been during the time when Jesus was with them and He’d been teaching in a house jam-packed to overflowing. The friends of the paralysed man had been so insistent that he reached Jesus that they’d literally taken part of the roof off in order to lower their friend down in front of Jesus so that Jesus could heal him. It hadn’t gone quite as they’d expected because, instead of instantly curing their friend as they’d hoped, they’d watched as Jesus had not offered healing - but forgiveness - because Jesus had seen past the paralysis to the real deep-felt need of the man. Then, to prove to the doubting Jewish leaders present that He had the authority to forgive sins, Jesus had gone on to heal the man – much to the delight of his friends – and told him to pick up his mat and go home! An instant healing, undeniable and truly miraculous. Now here was poor Aeneas who, like that other man, was confined to his mattress. He’d been like if for 8 years with no hope whatsoever of freedom or change. No doubt filled with compassion for Aeneas, Peter looked at him and spoke to him directly, in very much the same way Jesus had spoken directly to that other paralytic once the issue of sin had been sorted. But Peter didn’t rely on his own power or for a moment think he could change Aeneas’ condition. Instead, Peter pointed to the real source of power by saying, ‘Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you.’ Quite what Aeneas felt I don’t know, but Peter wasn’t happy to leave it at that. Jesus hadn’t healed the paralytic lowered through the roof and then left him on his mat! Instead, Jesus had commanded the man to respond to the healing – an undeniable proof of the miracle that had taken place as well as being undeniable proof of Jesus’ ability and willingness to forgive sin! So, in the same way, Peter spoke again to Aeneas, ‘Now get up, and make your own bed’ – a task sounding so simple, but which had been impossible for him for 8 years. And, like the paralytic that Jesus had healed, who’d got up, picked up his mat and walked home, Aeneas also got up – no doubt both overwhelmed and overjoyed by what had happened to him. When Jesus had healed that paralytic, it had been obvious to all, and the reaction of those present at that time had been to glorify God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this before.’ And, in a similar way, the story of what had happened to Aeneas spread like wildfire throughout the whole of Lydda and the plain of Sharon. People saw the once paralysed man walking about and living his life by the power of Jesus working through Peter. They met him, spoke to him and no doubt the story was told over and over again about how wonderful and merciful the Lord had been to him. And, as people heard, the Holy Spirit moved in an incredibly powerful and deep way, as everyone responded by turning away from their old way of life and towards Jesus, believing in Him and accepting Him as their Saviour. (PAUSE) Now, during the time Peter was in Lydda, an incident happened in Joppa which was about 11 miles away up to the north east, on the coast. The believers in Joppa must have heard about Peter’s visit to Lydda and the news of what’d happened to Aeneas. So, when the incident
11:38
May 17, 2021
Episode NT44 - The Road To Damascus
Story 44 – The Road To Damascus Based on Acts chapter 9 verses 1 to 31 Had the two of them met before Jesus had been crucified? Had they both been in the Temple together at a Jewish festival or celebration? Had Saul listened to the carpenter from Nazareth as He’d taught the people about the Kingdom of God? Saul knew about John the Baptist and had certainly heard the reports about all Jesus had done - the miracles, the wonders, the signs! He’d seen the frustration of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Priests and the Teachers of the Law as, time and time again, Jesus had proved that they didn’t understand what the Scriptures said, and were more interested in what people thought about them than in obeying God. Had it made him angry to hear what Jesus was saying and to realise that, deep inside, even though he seemed to be perfect in his obedience to the Law, he couldn’t control his own sin - his envy, his pride? And the crucifixion of Jesus? What had he made of that? To hear that this teacher and miracle worker had been put to death under the curse of God! For the Scriptures clearly stated that anyone who hung on a tree was under the curse of God and, by being nailed to a wooden cross, Jesus most certainly was ‘hung on a tree’ and therefore came under God’s curse. And yet, within days of His terrible death, to hear rumours and murmurings that Jesus was alive again! There were other things too. The Temple curtain for one, torn in two at the same time Jesus died, and no doubt hurriedly sewn back up again by the Priests! What did it mean? Then there was that sound, that loud noise of rushing wind during the feast of Pentecost. It seemed that from that moment on the trouble had really started! True, it’d been surprising to see the followers of Jesus worshipping in the Temple so soon after He died and the rumours of His resurrection but, after Pentecost, the number of these followers had seemed to explode across Jerusalem with more and more of them following ‘the Way’, as it was called, every day! (PAUSE) Surely it had to be a lie? How could this Jesus be the Son of God? But then Saul had also seen Stephen as his face had shone like that of an angel, and he’d listened to his speech accusing them of disbelief – the nerve! And that had been it, this plague of foolish idiots deceived by the nonsense about Jesus being the Messiah had to be stopped! Saul’s blood had boiled with anger at these people, these followers of Jesus, and he’d watched with hate-filled pleasure as Stephen had been dragged to his place of death. (P) True, he hadn’t expected Stephen to forgive them as they stoned him to death. And what to make of his claim of seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of God … surely that was blasphemy, to make Jesus out to be equal with God? And that had been the trigger, the catalyst, for all that had followed as Saul in his anger, hatred and rage had swept through Jerusalem throwing in prison and sentencing to death everyone he could find who claimed to be a follower of Jesus! Searching from house to house with the single-minded purpose of destroying the young church, Saul arrested and condemned many, while plenty more slipped through his fingers, escaping from Jerusalem to the towns and cities throughout Israel and beyond. But not to worry! They wouldn’t last long. They could run, but they couldn’t hide. Because if there was one real weakness about these followers of ‘the Way’ it was this – they just couldn’t keep quiet about that man Jesus. Wherever they went it seemed that the first thing they did was to find a Jewish meeting place, a synagogue, and start telling other Jews about Jesus. They’d be so easy to find! And now, as Saul trudged along the road to the distant city of Damascus, with letters in his hand from the High Priest himself, giving him orders to find, arrest, put in chains and drag back to Jerusalem every follower of ‘the Way’ he found, Saul muttered murderous threats against them, ready to...
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May 10, 2021
Episode NT43 - Beyond Jerusalem
Story 43 – Beyond Jerusalem Based on Acts chapter 8 verses 4 to 40 So Stephen was dead and, as those who hated the church swept through Jerusalem to arrest and imprison every believer they could find, the rest of us fled for our lives, not sure what to think! Satan, the enemy of God, seemed to be winning, killing Jesus’ followers and making it almost impossible for us to carry on meeting together. As for me, Philip, I escaped Jerusalem just in time and started to go north, to the area called Samaria. The Jews hate the Samaritans because they think that Samaritans aren’t proper Jews but a mixture of Jews and non-Jews and so they avoid Samaria and Samaritans as much as possible. I hoped that would put off those persecuting the church from following me there. Mind you, it’s not really a good place for any Jew to go, because the hatred goes both ways, and the Samaritans hate the Jews just as much, the two groups having as little to do with each other as possible. As I pondered on all that was happening, I couldn’t help thinking about another time when Jesus’ followers had thought that Satan had won – when Jesus was crucified! Back then, the disciples didn’t understand or believe that, even when Jesus was taken to the cross to be executed, God was still in control. And, because God was still in control, when Jesus died on the cross, far from it being a great victory for Satan, it removed all Satan’s power as Jesus took away our guilt so that Satan couldn’t tell God how terrible we were any more! So, now, when things seemed so bleak with Stephen dead and the rest of us scattered, was God still in control? Of course He was! And yet, what was I supposed to be doing? As I arrived in Samaria, the words of Jesus that the apostles had told us about came to mind. Jesus had said that we’d be witnesses to Him in Jerusalem, yes! But He’d also said we’d be witnesses to Him in Samaria and I was in Samaria! And, anyway, I just couldn’t keep quiet about all the Lord had done, so, when I entered the city of Samaria, I started telling them about the Messiah, about Jesus. I didn’t know what to expect, but I simply couldn’t keep quiet! God was with me as the Holy Spirit worked with great power through me, enabling me to do all kinds of miracles. Those possessed by evil spirits were freed and the demons left with a shriek! The sick were healed – both paralysed and lame – and, because of it, the people listened very carefully to everything I had to tell them about Jesus and there was lots of joy in the city. (PAUSE) One thing I’ve learnt is that, when the Lord’s at work through His people, Satan’s at work as well! (P) In that city there was a man called ‘Simon the Sorcerer’. For many years he’d claimed to be someone of great importance and all the people, from the most ordinary right up to the rulers, often called him ‘the Great One – the Power of God’. The reason they all thought so much of him was because of the magic he performed. But now, many people in that city believed the message I brought them about the Kingdom of God and about Jesus. And because of that many men and women were baptised. Even Simon seemed to believe what I said and was baptised. Yet, rather than getting on and showing he really believed by doing what God wanted, he followed me around everywhere I went, wanting to see the miracles God was doing through me. And, when he saw them, he was amazed! – But more on Simon later. I don’t know if you remember, but God had shown us that when we believed, He’d send the Holy Spirit to us in a special way. He’d ‘baptise us with the Holy Spirit’, to use Jesus’ words. But a funny thing happened when I was in Samaria. Many people had heard my message about the Kingdom of God and believed what I said and been baptised into the name of Jesus, and yet, the Lord hadn’t baptised them with the Holy Spirit! (P) Anyway, when what was left of the church in Jerusalem heard that the people in Samaria had accepted God’s message, they quickly
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May 03, 2021
Episode NT42 - Stephen
Story 42 – Stephen – (told by Philip) Based on Acts chapter 6, verse 8 to Acts chapter 8, verse 4. We’d been prayed for and commissioned to look after believers who were in need so that the apostles could concentrate on teaching the people about Jesus and on prayer. But that didn’t mean that the likes of Stephen and me, Philip, gave up telling people about Jesus ourselves! We got on with what we’d been called to do, making sure everyone was treated fairly and had what they needed. But, when we had the time and opportunity, we also told people about Jesus, the Messiah, the risen Lord, ascended and seated at the right hand of God. You know, Stephen was a man filled to the brim with God’s grace and power. In fact, it wasn’t only the apostles who performed healings and miracles. Filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, Stephen performed amazing and miraculous signs and great wonders. (P) Maybe that’s where the trouble started? I don’t know! But, as Stephen travelled around the various synagogues, the meeting places for Jews from various different areas of the world when they arrived in Jerusalem, he talked to them about Jesus, the Messiah. However, when he started to talk to one particular group in a synagogue called 'The Synagogue of the Freedmen', some of them started to argue with him. At first, it seemed good-natured as they talked about God and what the Bible meant, but then a group of them got a bit hot under the collar in their discussions, which soon turned nasty! But, as I said before, Stephen was filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit and, because of that, they couldn’t argue against him – the Holy Spirit helped him to show them where they’d got it wrong. But they were proud men and, instead of admitting they were wrong, they started to think of Stephen as their enemy and tried to find ways they could make it look like he was wrong – even if that meant resorting to lies! That’s when things got out of control, as Stephen’s enemies persuaded some men to tell tales about him. ‘We heard that man Stephen say lies and evil things about what Moses taught and about God!’ they whispered to the people. The more the lies were uttered, the more stirred up the people became. And, in no time at all, the lies were whispered to the elders and the teachers of the Law. (P) Almost immediately, Stephen was arrested and brought before a meeting of the high council – the same high council that had arrested and punished the apostles. But this time, even though God was still in control, the outcome wasn’t going to be what we’d hoped for. (PAUSE) Stephen’s enemies wanted him out the way, they wanted to stir up hatred against him, and so, as the council started, the liars were called forward to give their ‘evidence’. For the Jews, everything to do with God is sacred. So, as the false witnesses stood to speak, they looked at the leaders and deliberately lied to get Stephen into maximum trouble. ‘This man never stops speaking against the Temple and against the Law! They said this because Stephen taught the same things Jesus had, that both the Temple and the Law were really signposts that pointed to Him. (P) The Temple in the heart of the capital city was a symbol that God was with His people. But, now that Jesus was in heaven and had sent the Holy Spirit, no matter where God's people went, Jesus would always be with them through the Holy Spirit, and there was no need for the Temple any more. And the Law? God is perfect, and if we want to see Him, we must obey His Law and be perfect too – something none of us can do! But Jesus came and obeyed the whole Law and opened a new way for us to see God, not by obeying all the rules, but by loving and trusting Him. Jesus met all the requirements of the Law when He died on the cross as a sacrifice to God to take the punishment we deserve for our sins. And, because of this, the sacrificial and the ceremonial requirements of the Law had been satisfied in Jesus. The charges against Stephen...
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April 26, 2021
Episode NT41 - Opposition Comes
Story 41 – Opposition Comes Based on Acts chapter 5 verse 17 to Acts chapter 6 verse 7 After Jesus had gone back to heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit, the apostles performed many miracles and the name of Jesus spread throughout Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders looked on with jealous eyes, determined to do away with the apostles, as they’d done away with Jesus before them. In one swift move, all the apostles were arrested and put in jail – ready to be tried, condemned and punished to satisfy the hatred of the leaders. But God was still in control and, in the middle of the night, He sent an angel to them, who opened the gates of the jail and brought them all out. ‘Now go,’ the angel told them, ‘and stand in the Temple area and tell the people the full message of this new life!’ And so, at daybreak, just as they’d been told, the apostles entered the Temple area and, choosing to obey God rather than the Jewish leaders, they taught the people about Jesus. However, without knowing what’d gone on, the leaders gathered to judge the apostles. At their request, Temple guards were sent to the jail to collect the apostles and bring them to the court. When they got there, they found the jail doors firmly locked with the guards standing in place, but the jail was empty! ‘How can this be?’ they thought, and ran back to the council to tell them. As the leaders listened, beginning to wonder where it would all end, someone arrived hot foot from the Temple with the news that the men they’d arrested and put in jail the previous day were all now in the Temple area teaching the people. At this, the captain of the Temple guard hurried off with his men to re-arrest the apostles - being very careful not to use any violence for fear that the people would stone his guards if they treated the apostles roughly. Having managed to persuade the apostles to come with them, they quickly took them to the waiting council who were still furious at the way Peter and John had disobeyed their command not to talk about Jesus when they’d been arrested before. (P) ‘Didn’t we tell you?’ the high priest demanded as the apostles arrived. ‘Didn’t we tell you that you must never again teach in this name?’ (He hated even to say the name ‘Jesus’.) ‘But instead of obeying us,’ he continued, ‘you’ve filled the whole city with your teaching and are determined to make US responsible for this man’s death!’ Rather than trying to save their own skins, Peter and the apostles spoke once again about Jesus. ‘We must obey God, not men,’ they replied. ‘The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you’d killed Him by crucifying Him on a wooden cross. Then, God raised Him even higher - to the place of highest honour at His own right hand side. He did this so that the people of Israel would have an opportunity to turn away from their sins and turn to God, so that their sins would be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God gives to those who obey Him.’ This was all the high council needed. Furious at what they’d heard, they decided to kill them all. However, God was still in control, and one member of the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel who was very popular with the people, saw that more might be going on than they’d realised. Standing up to say his piece, Gamaliel ordered that the apostles be put outside the council so they could discuss the situation in private. ‘Men of Israel,’ he began as he addressed the leaders, ‘be careful about what you’re planning for these men! If you remember, some time ago there was that fellow called Theudas who pretended to be someone of great importance. Four hundred men joined him, but then he was killed, his followers went their separate ways and the whole thing came to nothing. And after that there was Judas of Galilee. He too got some people to follow him, but when he was killed, all his followers were also scattered!’ ‘So listen, this is my advice to you all, leave these men...
09:57
April 19, 2021
Episode NT40 - Ananias and Sapphira
Story 40 – Ananias and Sapphira Based on Acts chapter 4 verses 32 to 37 and chapter 5 verse 1 to 16 The thing about praying is that God answers your prayers - and the new church in Jerusalem had just prayed for great boldness when speaking about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. They had also asked for healing power and for signs and wonders to be done in the name of Jesus. And, in answer to that prayer and as confirmation that the Lord had heard and would give them what they’d asked for, the building they were in was shaken. As that happened, once again, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and went out preaching about Jesus with great boldness. They also found that they were one in heart and mind – they belonged to each other as brothers and sisters. No one felt that what they owned was theirs alone, but was to be shared by everyone in the church as needed. This meant that, at times, some in the church would sell houses or land and bring the proceeds from that sale to the apostles so that they could distribute it as required, with the result that there were no needy people in the church. An example of this was a man known as Barnabas. His real name was Joseph and he was from the tribe of Israel called the Levites who helped in the Temple, although his family was actually from Cyprus! He was known as Barnabas because it means ‘son of encouragement’ and that seemed to sum up who he was – so the nickname had stuck! One day Barnabas sold some land he owned, probably back in Cyprus and, when the money arrived, he brought it to the apostles and laid it at their feet to indicate that he was happy for them to use it in any way they saw fit. However, when the enemy of the church, the devil, saw what Barnabas and many others were doing, he saw an opportunity to destroy the church, to make it rotten from the inside out and he looked for – and found – a couple in the church who he could use for his wicked purposes. The idea was simple, destroy the church by destroying its integrity. Make one person a liar and the whole testimony of the church would be rubbished, with conflict and mayhem following in its wake. The enemy prepared his attack well by playing on the pride and vanity of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. They had watched as people like Barnabas had brought the money from the sale of land and houses to the apostles. No doubt the devil had encouraged them to feel envious of the way Barnabas was thanked, trying to make them believe that there was some kind of spiritual elite they could be part of. He must have reminded them that they also had some land they could sell and, just as they were about to sell the land so that they could look good in the eyes of people, the devil must have caused them to doubt the faithfulness of God. After all, selling a piece of land and giving the money away was a big thing to do – you couldn’t just get it back later! So the devil encouraged them to come up with a plan that would give them the best of both worlds: the security of a nice little hidden nest-egg from the sale of the land, while at the same time appearing to be one of the supposed spiritual elite by their giving. All they had to do was tell the apostles their plan to sell the piece of land, but not tell them the truth about the actual price they were going to get for it. It seemed such a small lie. They were going to give MOST of the money away and only keep back SOME for themselves. No one else need know except them. The buyer wasn’t part of the church and so they felt their secret would be safe. When the transaction was completed, the day arrived when Ananias brought the money to the apostles. He brought most of what the land had actually sold for - and the exact amount he’d told the apostles it had sold for! So, walking up to Peter, knowing that all eyes were on him, Ananias swelled with pride. He was part of the elite now, they would look up to him after such sacrificial giving. No doubt with a pious and holy...
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April 12, 2021
Episode NT39 - Peter and John on Trial
Story 39 – Peter and John on Trial Based on Acts chapter 4 verses 1 to 31 A miracle had taken place right outside the Temple in Jerusalem. And now, inside the temple area, a man crippled from birth was walking, leaping and praising God that he’d been healed. Maybe if that’d been all that had happened, then those in charge of the temple may have looked on and done no more. But Peter, one of the followers of Jesus, had started to teach the crowds, saying that through Jesus there was life after death – something that the ruling Sadducees refused to believe! This man and his friend had to be silenced – how dare they teach such lies! So, while they were still speaking to the crowds, the Priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the unbelieving Sadducees – came and arrested Peter, John and the man who’d been healed. And, because it was evening, they put them in jail, waiting until the next day before they took matters further! But even though the apostles Peter and John had been arrested and locked away from the crowds, the message they’d taught in the Temple was remembered by the people who’d heard it, and many believed what they’d heard, so that the number of men who believed, without counting women and children, grew to about 5000. The next day, the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law gathered together to consider what should be done with the apostles. Both Annas and Caiaphas were there, the leaders who’d overseen the death of Jesus. Then the prisoners were brought before them. As Peter and John were brought before the leaders, the words Jesus had spoken must have rung in their ears, ‘You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will be accused before kings and governors of being my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me. So don’t worry about how to answer the charges against you, for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply!’ (P) Well, now was such a time when they were going to need Jesus to give them the words to reply to the questions that were about to come their way. As they stood before the council, the leaders demanded, ‘By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?’ Once again being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter replied, ‘Rulers and elders of our people, if you’re asking us to explain our act of kindness to a crippled man and how he was healed, you all need to know this: He has been healed in the name and by the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. This is how the Scriptures talk about Jesus, they say, ‘The stone that you builders rejected - has now become the stone which holds everything together.’ You can’t be saved in any other way! Because there is no one else in all of heaven that people can call on to save them except Jesus! Some of the leaders sat there open-mouthed – amazed at the boldness of Peter and John, especially as they were just ordinary men without any religious teaching. But at the same time, they also realised that these men had been with Jesus. (P) The leaders were at a loss as to what to do, particularly as the man who’d been healed was standing right there with them. So they ordered that the three of them be put outside the room so they could talk about what to do next. ‘What’re we going to do with them?’ they asked each other. ‘The whole of Jerusalem knows they’ve done an outstanding miracle and there’s no way we can deny it. But we have to stop this thing spreading.’ So they agreed to warn the apostles not to speak about Jesus again! Peter, John and the healed man were called back to hear their judgement. ‘This is our decision,’ the Sadducees and leaders said, ‘you are not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus ever again!’ Peter and John shook their heads. What the leaders were asking was impossible; how could they stop now? So looking at the council they replied, ‘Well, you must judge for...
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April 05, 2021
Episode NT38 - A Crippled Beggar
Based on Acts chapter 3 verses 1 to 20 Story 38 – A Crippled Beggar The people in the temple came running from all directions! Once again something truly incredible had taken place – a miracle! And there he was! The beggar they’d seen almost every day on their way to the temple. But HE WAS no longer sitting on the floor with his mis-shapen and useless ankles and feet in front of him, instead he was jumping and walking and praising God while hanging on to a couple of men as he learnt how to balance on feet that’d never walked before! What was happening? What had these men done? How’d he been healed so completely and so quickly? A crowd started to gather around the three men, and then one of the men motioned for silence and shouted out in a loud voice, ‘Men of Israel, why do you look at us as though we’ve made this man walk by our own power? No! It is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our Fathers who has brought glory to Jesus by doing this thing!’ (P) ‘This thing,’ the healing of the lame man, had happened just five minutes before. Peter and John, apostles of Jesus, had been on their way to the temple to take part in the afternoon prayer service when, at the same time, a man crippled from birth in his ankles and feet had been brought to sit at the temple gate called ‘Beautiful’. Each day he was carried to the temple to beg for money from the people going in, hoping that a few of them would give him something. As Peter and John were about to enter through the temple gate, the man asked them for money. (P) That’s when things started to happen that no one expected. Somehow the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter and John and both of them stopped and looked intently at the man. ‘Look at us!’ Peter said, and the lame man looked up at them, certain they were going to give him some money! But instead of getting out his purse, Peter spoke. ‘I don’t have silver or gold to give you,’ he said, and a slightly puzzled look came over the beggar’s face. ‘But what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!’ After saying this, Peter leant forward, took the man by the right hand and helped him to his feet! And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles which had been so useless that he’d never walked, were healed and strengthened! As Peter helped him, the lame man, now completely healed - jumped up, stood on his feet and began to walk! He’d never walked before in his whole life! Then, walking, leaping into the air and praising God, the three of them went into the Temple together! That’s when the commotion took place and everyone rushed over to them. The man couldn’t hold himself back as he learnt to walk while holding tightly on to Peter and John, and in a loud voice he praised God that he’d been healed! So there they were, a vast crowd surrounding them, while Peter spoke to them all about Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one who’d been crucified a few months earlier. ‘The Jesus who’s healed this man,’ Peter continued, ‘is the same Jesus YOU handed over and rejected in front of Pilate even though Pilate had decided to let Him go!’ Many of them could remember the day they’d stood before Pilate, and the mood of the crowd as they’d shouted for Barabbas to be released. And then, when Pilate had asked, how they’d screamed for Jesus to be crucified! But Peter was still talking, ‘You rejected the holy, righteous One and instead demanded the release of a murderer. You killed the author of life, but God – raised Him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this FACT! It is by trusting in the name of Jesus that this complete healing has come about - as you can all see.’ A terrible feeling of guilt came over the crowd as Peter carried on, ‘Brothers, I know that what you did to Jesus was done because you didn’t realise who He was, and the same can be said of your leaders. But when it happened, God was at work fulfilling what the prophets had said about the Messiah beforehand – that He must suffer these...
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March 29, 2021
Episode NT37- Pentecost - Never the Same Again!
Based on Acts chapter 2 Story 37 – Pentecost – Never the same again! Seven weeks had gone by since the Passover in Jerusalem, when Jesus had been executed by Roman crucifixion – an execution that at the time had looked like a terrible defeat as the ‘Messiah’ was murdered at the hands of evil men. But so much had changed since then! Yes, Jesus had been put to death by wicked men, and yet what had happened to Him was never out of God’s control! And since then, God had raised Jesus back to life! And over the next 40 days He’d spent time with His disciples showing them that He really was alive and not a ghost, and at the same time teaching them about the Kingdom of God. And, most exciting of all, Jesus had promised that within days He’d baptise them with the Holy Spirit so that they could tell everyone, starting with the residents of Jerusalem and ending up – well, at the furthest ends of the earth – about who He was and what God had done through Him! (PAUSE) At the end of those very special 40 days, Jesus had been taken back to heaven. But even though He’d gone back to heaven, His disciples knew they could still talk to Him, and He could still let them know what He wanted. So, instead of feeling sad, they spent their time praising God in the temple for what He’d done and then, in a more private place, they continued to pray, asking Jesus to do what He’d promised, to send the Holy Spirit. (PAUSE) And so now it was the Jewish celebration of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, which marked the end of the barley harvest (and also marked the time they’d been given the Torah on Mount Sinai), and for this festival, every Jewish man was commanded to come before the Lord in His temple in Jerusalem. So Jerusalem was buzzing with people from all over the place, Jews who’d come back to Jerusalem for this special celebration even though they now lived in many different countries all over the world! (PAUSE) On the day of the Pentecost celebration, the city stirred early with people on the streets enjoying the festivities. The disciples were also up early when, suddenly, the house where they were gathered was filled with the sound of a powerful, rushing wind and then something appeared that looked like tongues made of fire and, as the disciples watched, the tongues of fire separated and came to rest on all the disciples, all 120 or so of them! At once everybody in the room was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they started speaking in all kinds of different languages as the Holy Spirit gave them the ability! Nobody could keep this quiet! People all over Jerusalem heard the sound of the powerful, rushing wind and came running to see what was happening. And when they got there, they were amazed - not really sure what to make of it all - as each of them heard their own language being spoken by the believers! No one could understand what was going on! ‘How can this happen?’ they asked each other. ‘These people are all from Galilee, and yet – we hear them speaking the languages of the lands we were born in – our native languages – from all around the world! And they’re speaking about the wonderful things God has done!’ What confused people even more was that the disciples really were from Galilee and, to be honest, Galilee was considered to be a backwater, not exactly cultured, and their strong accents usually made them incapable of speaking any language clearly – some said they even struggled with their own language! And yet, after that incredibly loud noise of rushing wind, and the settling of the tongues of fire, here they were fluently speaking languages from places they’d surely never been! ‘What does it mean?’ the onlookers asked, shaking their heads and unable to understand it. (P) But a few of them who came to see what all the commotion was about, heard the people speaking different languages and started to laugh! ‘If you ask me,’ they said, ‘these people have had a little too much wine!!’ It was then that Peter...
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March 22, 2021
Episode NT36 – Jesus’ Ascension
Based on Acts chapter 1 verses 1 to 14 Story 36 – Jesus’ Ascension (PETER) ‘Jesus had risen from the dead! And from time to time during the 40 days after His resurrection He came to see us, His disciples, or apostles as we were also called. Apostle means ‘Someone who’s sent out’, and we were called apostles of Jesus because He’d chosen us and sent us out to tell people about Him and God’s Kingdom. As we spent time with Him during those days He talked to us about all kinds of matters concerning the Kingdom of God. And, while He was with us, He ate food and showed us time and time again that He wasn’t a ghost or anything like that - but a living, breathing person. The same Jesus we’d known and loved before His crucifixion, whose first concern was always the Kingdom of God.’ ‘Anyway, we’d returned to Jerusalem from Galilee, and while He was eating with us He gave us, His apostles, an important commandment. (P) He said, ‘Don’t leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised.’ He looked around at us expecting us to understand, but most of us sat there with blank expressions on our faces, so He added, ‘Remember? I’ve told you about it before! John baptised with water, but in just a few days you’ll be baptised with the Holy Spirit!’’ (PAUSE) ‘Now that God had raised Jesus back to life, and He was talking about the Kingdom of God again, we began to think that all our old ideas about Jesus becoming King of Israel and kicking the Romans out of our country must have been right all along. So we kept asking Him, ‘Lord, is it now that you’re going to free Israel and make us the most important kingdom in the world?’’ ‘Jesus must have been so disappointed with us, we still didn’t understand and were making the same old mistakes we’d always made. So, one day, as we asked Him yet again, He said, ‘The Father sets those dates and they aren’t for you to know.’ (P) That put us in our place! And then He spoke once more of the subject that was so close to His heart, His Kingdom. ‘But when the Holy Spirit comes,’ He continued, ‘you’ll receive power, and then you’ll tell people everywhere about me! You’ll start right here in this city, Jerusalem; and then you’ll move out to Judea, the area around Jerusalem; and then you’ll move even further away from here, to Samaria, where the Samaritans live; and then – to the ends of the earth.’’ ‘I guess it took us a while to really understand what Jesus meant. He hadn’t been raised from the dead so that He could become the King of a single country! The whole earth belonged to Him! His Kingdom was bigger than any country, or any nationality or people group! His Kingdom was to cover the whole earth and our job in this Kingdom was to tell everyone about Him, to point to Him, the real King who’d died to take the punishment we so richly deserve! And now He was telling us that sometime soon, He’d return to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to help us – to help us tell the whole world that Jesus is alive and our sins can be forgiven, our guilt can be washed away and we can be children of God and citizens in His Kingdom – all because of what Jesus did on that cross!’ ‘It wasn’t long after this that Jesus went back to be with His Father. While He’d been with us He’d come and gone as He’d wanted, just appearing or disappearing, sometimes even appearing in a locked room. But now that He was going to leave us, going to heaven so that He could send the Holy Spirit, He left in a different way. I guess He could have just gone, disappeared and not come back, but if He’d done that we’d all have been thinking, ‘Maybe He’s not gone for good? Maybe He’ll come back if we just wait.’ I think Jesus understood that we needed to know He’d really gone back to His Father in heaven, so one day He took the 11 of us, His apostles, to the Mount of Olives about a kilometre outside of Jerusalem. And as we stood there with Him, He rose up into the sky and a cloud, like the cloud that’d been on the top...
07:23
March 15, 2021
Episode NT35 - Peter & Jesus
Based on John chapter 21 verses 1 to 23 Story 35 – Peter and Jesus (PETER) ‘Although I was overjoyed that Jesus’ death on that cross hadn’t been the end of it all, inside I was feeling uncomfortable. Uncomfortable about all those things I’d said the night before He’d been … murdered. How He’d told us all that we’d desert Him and leave Him, and then how I – Peter the brave – Ha! – had told Him I’d never leave Him even in the face of death.’ ‘Of course I’d been really embarrassed when He’d said in front of everyone that before the night was through I was going to deny even knowing Him - three times. I just couldn’t believe I’d ever say anything against Him – not after all we’d been through together over these last three years. (P) But the truth was even worse than I could’ve imagined ‘coz, (sniff) when His enemies arrived to arrest Him and take Him away, I ran for my life. Oh yeah, I followed at a distance and managed to get into the courtyard to see what would happen – trying to prove I wasn’t a coward, but then, some of them started to say I was one of Jesus’ disciples. I know I should have admitted it, but I was terrified, and I heard myself lying to save my own skin. ‘Me? I’m not one of His disciples, I don’t even know the man.’ (sniff – deep breath) Three times I said it, each time more emphatic, each time denying that I even knew the One person who really mattered. I even swore an oath that I’d never known Him! And then the cockerel crowed and I remembered what Jesus’d said … that I’d do what I’d just done. So when I heard that sound – the sound of the cockerel crowing – and realised what I’d done, how I’d failed Him when He needed me most, I ran out into the darkness and wept bitter tears – crying as if my heart would break.’ ‘And then I had to live with my failure. Jesus was alive, and we were overjoyed that even death couldn’t hold Him, but every time we met, I knew - He knew what I’d said and done.’ (PAUSE) ‘A little later we went back to Galilee. Jesus wasn’t with us then and I wasn’t really sure what to do with my time so, as night began to fall, I told those with me, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and a couple of the others, that I was going out to fish. ‘Coz if there’s one thing I do know – it’s how to fish! Anyway, the others wanted to come too so we set sail and – not t’put too fine a point on it – we had the worst night’s fishing I’ve ever known. It was a complete disaster – nothing – not a thing. Anyway, the dawn arrived and we headed back to land. It was then that we saw someone on the shore. Well, I say we saw him, we actually heard him before we saw him as he called out to us, ‘Hey, friends, have you caught anything?’’ ‘‘No!’ we shouted back, not really wanting to talk about how bad our night had been and not knowing it was Jesus speaking to us. Then he called out, ‘Try throwing your net over the right-hand side of the boat, then you’ll catch plenty of fish!’ Oh right – now this stranger’s giving us advice on how to fish. But instead of telling him just what we thought of his idea, we shrugged our shoulders and threw the net over the right-hand side of the boat, like he’d said. (P) Then suddenly, it was nearly pulled out of our hands as it filled with fish! I can remember thinking, ‘What going on?’ And then John spoke, He wasn’t really holding the net too tightly, he was looking at the shore where the stranger was. ‘It’s Him, Peter,’ he said. ‘It’s the Lord!’’ ‘Suddenly it all fell into place. This catch was too big to be by chance; it was a miracle! Anyway, when I realised who it was standing on the shore, I forgot about the fish, tied my jacket around me, jumped into the water and swam to shore.’ ‘Now, the net was so full of fish, the other disciples dragged it behind the boat and followed me as we were only about 90 meters out at the time. When they got to shore, they tied off the net on the boat and we all went to find Jesus. Seeing us, He beckoned us over and we saw a charcoal fire...
09:50
March 08, 2021
Episode NT34 – Thomas’ Story
Based on John chapter 20 verses 19 to 29 Episode NT34 – Thomas’ Story ‘I was there! I watched Him die! Me! Thomas! One of His so-called disciples! ‘You have no idea what it’s like, to watch all your dreams, all your ambitions, all your hopes being crucified on a rough cross, and then die – right before your eyes! All I wanted, all I ever hoped for – was in that man, Jesus. And now He’s dead!’ ‘And what makes it worse is that I believed Him! I was there! I was right with Him when He asked us, His close followers, His disciples. He asked us who everyone was saying He was. And we told Him. Some were saying He was John the Baptist, others were saying He was a great Prophet. But then He asked us, ‘Who do you think I am?’ (P) And Peter told Him. He told Jesus what we all believed with all our hearts, that Jesus was the Messiah, the Saviour, the Son of the Living God.’ ‘Why didn’t He tell us there and then that we were wrong? Why did He let us believe it if it wasn’t true? (P) All He told us was, ‘don’t tell anyone else’. But you see I did believe it, with all my heart – I believed that He was the One sent to save us, to rule the world in power. And I hoped that I might have a small role in His Kingdom, to play my part with Him as the eternal KING! But how can it be true? I watched Him die!’ ‘I was standing there when the Roman soldiers came and broke the legs of the other two criminals so that they’d die more quickly. I saw them come to Jesus’ body, and seeing that He was already dead, one of them thrust his spear up into Jesus’ side. And when he pulled it out again I saw blood and water gush out.’ ‘And I watched those two hypocrites, Joseph and Nicodemus, religious leaders who hadn’t said anything before! Oh, they were so brave now! Going to Pilate to ask for the body – why hadn’t they said something when He was alive? (P) But I guess it was a mercy because now I know He wasn’t who I thought He was. Because if He was, He’d still be alive.’ ‘I couldn’t take it any longer as I watched them wrap His body up in a long piece of cloth, and so I ran away. All my dreams had gone to the grave with that man! I ran until I couldn’t run any more, and I wept until I had no more tears in my eyes.’ (PAUSE) ‘I couldn’t face being with anyone – it hurt too much. So I went away to be on my own. For two whole days, I kept away from the other disciples. (P) But then I thought that, as a follower of Jesus, I was a wanted man – and where else could I go?’ ‘So I went back to where I knew the other disciples would be hiding. They’d be feeling as terrified as I was. Always hiding, constantly watching over your shoulder, hoping that those footsteps aren’t the footsteps of a Roman soldier coming to arrest and execute you!’ ‘When I arrived at the house, it took me ages just to find the courage to give the secret knock. (P) I so didn’t want to be there, but where else could I go? Who else could understand the pain I felt inside?’ ‘As I stood in the darkness, trying to build up my courage, I made a resolution. I wasn’t going to be fooled again! Not now, not ever! I’d believed He was everything, and then I’d watched Him die, and seen He was nothing. It wasn’t going to happen again! Jesus was dead, end of story!’ ‘But as soon as I knocked, the door swung open and Peter grabbed my arms and pulled me inside. Something was wrong! Why didn’t he look sad? And then, he gave me a great big hug! I looked at his face in astonishment; he had the biggest smile I’d ever seen! I couldn’t believe my eyes! And then he said, ‘Isn’t God amazing Thomas?’’ ‘Was he mad? How could Jesus’ death be amazing? When he saw the expression on my face, he looked closely at my swollen red eyes. ‘You haven’t heard, have you Thomas?’ he asked.’ ‘‘Heard what?’ I replied angrily. ‘That you’ve lost your brain? I knew that years ago!’’ ‘And then he laughed, he actually laughed. How could he laugh? ‘What?’ I shouted! ‘What haven’t I heard?’’ ‘‘Thomas,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’’...
08:34
March 01, 2021
Episode NT33 - The Empty Tomb
Based on John chapter 20 verses 1 to 18 The Empty Tomb For those who loved Jesus, who followed Him, who believed that He was the Son of God, the Saviour that’d been promised for so many years, that Friday had been the darkest day of their lives. And it had been made all the more dark because they hadn’t understood or believed what Jesus Himself had told them – that He had to suffer at the hands of sinful men, that He would be crucified, that He would die and be buried but, most importantly of all, that He would rise once again to life. And so, those who were brave enough had watched His cruel death, the agonised hours nailed to a cross. They’d seen the darkness covering the land and heard Jesus’ cries as He gave up His life. And when He’d died they’d watched a Roman soldier walk up to Him with a spear and thrust it up into His dead body. And as the soldier pulled out his spear, they’d watched a sudden flow of what looked like blood and water from the wound. Having wondered what on earth would happen to Jesus now that He was dead, it was a surprise to them that Joseph from Arimathea had taken Jesus’ body down from the cross. And it was even more of a shock when Nicodemus, the man who’d once visited Jesus at night had helped Joseph take Jesus’ body down and quickly prepare it for burial. Some of the women had watched as the two men wrapped Jesus’ body in a long linen cloth with spices, and put another cloth over His head, to keep His mouth shut in death. Mary Magdalene had watched as the two men placed the body in an unused tomb that was in a garden close to Skull Hill, the place where Jesus had been crucified. They used that grave because they needed to get Jesus buried before the Sabbath started that evening and no more work could be done. As evening arrived Mary went home, her eyes swollen from crying. But as she walked home she made a decision: Nothing could be done the next day as it was a Sabbath and Jesus wouldn’t have wanted her to break the Sabbath day rules, but after the Sabbath, on the Sunday, she was free to do what needed to be done. Jesus’ burial had been a rushed job, it hadn’t been done properly, the least she could do was make sure He was buried properly! He’d died the death of a common criminal, He’d died in shame, under the curse of God because He’d been hung on a tree! But now, in death, the least she could do was make sure His body was treated properly. That was why Mary Magdalene was up so early that Sunday morning while it was still dark! She was determined to see that Jesus had a decent burial, the way things should be done! How she was going to move the massive stone Joseph and Nicodemus had rolled in front of the cave-like tomb, she hadn’t thought through! How she was going to cope with the smell of a dead body now into its third day, she had no idea, but cope she would! This was no ordinary person, this was Jesus, and she owed Him everything. (P) But as she approached the tomb, she looked in horror, unable to believe her eyes; the stone had already been moved! Jesus’ body had gone! What was she going to do? Someone had taken the body! Leaving the spices she’d brought with her where she’d dropped them, Mary turned and ran, running to the only people she could think of to help, His disciples, Peter and John. ‘Hold on,’ Peter shouted as he got up to answer the hammering on the door. And when he opened it there was Mary – and one look at tear-stained face told him something was seriously wrong. ‘It’s Jesus,’ Mary managed to get out between her heartbroken sobs. ‘They’ve taken His body away and I don’t know where they’ve put it!’ This set Peter’s head spinning. Why take the body? Was this some kind of attempt to discredit Jesus even more? But as these thoughts flashed through his mind, both he and John found themselves running as fast as their legs could carry them, running to see what’d happened to Jesus. John was a little faster than Peter and arrived first. But he didn’t go in; instead,...
07:34
February 22, 2021
Episode NT32 – The Soldier’s story
Based upon the crucifixion accounts in the Bible Episode NT32 – The Soldier’s story ‘I saw it all. You see, I was in the Roman army at the time and I lived in Jerusalem. We’d ‘eard about Jesus and many of us ‘ad seen ‘im. ‘E didn’t look anything special, but they kept telling us about the miracles’e’d done, and the things ‘e’d said about God. We thought everyone loved Jesus - but we were wrong!’ ‘In the middle of the night we got ordered to go and arrest Jesus, and one of ‘is followers, a man named Judas, took us to ‘im in some kind of garden in the middle of nowhere so we could arrest ‘im! Why ‘e needed arresting I’ll never know! It’s not as if ‘e ever did anything wrong. Still, orders is orders, so me and me men went with Judas and some of the Jewish guards to this garden - and there was Jesus. (P) Judas was scum! ‘E led us right to Jesus, ‘is own friend – someone ‘e’d followed and lived with for three years, and then shows us in the darkness exactly who ‘e was by giving ’im a welcoming kiss – the kiss of a friend … becoming the kiss of betrayal!’ ‘Well, at that point we arrested Jesus and took ‘im to the Jewish leaders who hate ‘im. We went back to our barracks for some sleep. But apparently, when ‘e gets to the Jewish leaders, they accuse ‘im of all kinds of rubbish – an’ no one can agree with what anyone else says! It’s a shambles. But then the ‘igh priest asks Jesus if ‘e’s the Son of God? ‘N Jesus says – Yeah, ‘e is! This makes the leaders go potty and they demand ‘is death. Mind you, I reckon they’d already decided they wanted ‘im dead before they even asked that question. – And anyway, what worried me a little was, what if Jesus was telling the truth? What if ‘e really was the Son of God?’ ‘Anyway, then, we ‘ear that Jesus was kinda beaten up by the Jewish leaders and taken to our boss, Pilate and Pilate starts to question Jesus about all the false things that the Jewish leaders have said about ‘im. Pilate’s not stupid, ‘e knows that they’re just jealous of Jesus and want ‘im out the way so they can keep their own privileged positions. Then ‘e asks Jesus – ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ ‘Jesus answers that one and says that his Kingdom is not of this world! (P) And Pilate gets a little worried about that answer. And as Jesus hasn’t shown any signs of being either dangerous or guilty of anything, Pilate starts to think, ‘I better let ‘im go!’ ‘Now, it was the time of a special feast in Jerusalem called Passover when each year Pilate lets one of the prisoners, who we’ve worked really hard to catch, go free! So we’re none to ‘appy about this idea, but apparently it keeps the Jews ‘appy! Anyway, Pilate doesn’t want to execute Jesus, so he goes before a ‘uge crowd and tries to make them agree to let Jesus go! But they refused! I think the Jewish leaders were down in the crowd telling the people to shout against Jesus. And then, the people start to demand that someone else, a murderer no less, called Barabbas, be set free! It made no sense to me!’ ‘So Barabbas – the murdering scum that ‘e is – gets released and Pilate starts asking the crowd what ‘e should do with Jesus! At first ‘e suggests that ‘e has ‘im whipped and set free. But as I watch I see those religious leaders out in the crowd shouting as loud as they can for Jesus to be crucified! Crucified! ‘E’s innocent and they want to kill ‘im with one of the nastiest deaths that’s ever been thought of? Pilate didn’t like the idea of that, you could tell, but when the Jewish leaders started to say they’d tell the Roman Emperor that Pilate wouldn’t execute a rival king - because Jesus had claimed to be the ‘King of the Jews’ and Rome considered anyone who claimed to be a king to be an enemy of the Emperor - Pilate ‘ad no choice. It was more than ‘is job was worth to say no! So ‘e ‘anded Jesus over to us – to crucify ‘im.’ (P) ‘But all the time I was wondering, if ‘e really is the Son of God, then why is ‘e going through all this? Why doesn’t ‘e just walk...
10:03
February 15, 2021
Episode NT31 - The Crucifixion
Based on Mark chapter 15 verses 16 to 47 and Luke chapter 23 verses 39 to 43 The Crucifixion What a victory! The religious leaders could hardly believe it was true – Jesus, the One they’d hated – the One who’d been nothing but a … but a pain in the neck since He’d first arrived, showing them up and embarrassing them with all His talk about the Kingdom of God, was finally going to get what He deserved - death! It was almost too good to be true! This Jesus, who spoke so much about God, was now going to die the most disgraceful death imaginable. He was going to be crucified! Crucified with the scum of society; a death so horrible it was reserved for the most vile villains and murderers! Surely now, everyone would see what a phoney Jesus was because, if He’d been considered even slightly important, then the very least the Romans would have done for Him was give Him a quick death by the sword – but now He’d have to face the disgrace of dying like a common criminal. He was finished, and His teaching could be forgotten along with Him. In fact, it was almost funny! Didn’t the Bible say that anyone hung on a tree was under the curse of God? Now Jesus, who claimed to be the Son of God, was to die nailed to a tree - on a rough wooden cross! As Jesus was led away after being whipped, the Jewish leaders started celebrating. At long last they’d won, Jesus had lost – it was over! (PAUSE) After whipping Jesus, the Roman soldiers took Him to their headquarters. They wanted to have a little fun with the condemned man! The charge had been that Jesus was ‘the King of the Jews’, so now the all-conquering Romans - who bowed the knee to no one except their own leaders - would show just what they thought of anyone who claimed to be a king. Stripping Jesus of His clothes, the soldiers took a purple robe, the kind of thing only rulers and leaders wore, and draped it around His shoulders – laughing at how pathetic He looked. But this wasn’t enough; surely a king deserves a crown? So taking some thin branches covered in long vicious thorns, the soldiers carefully weaved a makeshift crown and rammed it on His head until the blood poured down His face. And as Jesus stood before them, weak from the whipping, a crown of thorns on His head and a purple cloak over His shoulders - they took it in turns to salute their defeated enemy, then spit in His face and beat Him on the head with a stick – on and on until they were bored, bored of the beatings and ready to get on with the execution. So, removing the purple cloak, they put Jesus’ own clothes back on Him, put a cross on His back and forced Him to start the climb to Skull Hill – or as it was known in the local language – Golgotha, where the crucifixion was to take place. But after His whipping, beating and humiliation, Jesus was too weak to carry His cross very far. (P) A man called Simon, who was from a place called Cyrene, found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and the soldiers grabbed him and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross the rest of the way to Skull Hill. (P) The soldiers had executed many people before, they knew how to crucify, they also knew how painful it was and so offered Jesus some drugged wine to ease what was to follow, but Jesus refused to take it. Then, with a shrug of their shoulders, they laid the cross on the ground, put Jesus on top and stretched out His hands, put His feet one on top of the other and nailed His hands and feet in place. Above His head they nailed the charge He’d been found guilty of. It said simply: ‘King of the Jews’. (P) The cross, with Jesus, nailed on, was raised up and secured in place. Then, leaving Jesus for a moment, they laid out two other criminals who were to be crucified that same day and put one up on either side of Him. And then, to pass the time, they divided Jesus’ clothes into four piles, one for each of them, and tried to work out what to do with Jesus’ undergarment. It was a nice piece of clothing, and they didn’t want to rip it
08:54
February 08, 2021
Episode NT30 - Peter’s failure and Pilate’s Trial
Based on Matthew chapter 26 verse 69 to chapter 27 verse 26 Peter’s failure and Pilate’s Trial While Jesus was being tried by the leaders of Israel, Peter sat outside in the cold courtyard. He was thinking about how Jesus had encouraged them to pray with Him on the Mount of Olives and how they’d let Him down by falling asleep. But there was something else Jesus had said that’d hurt his pride – ‘What was it?’ he thought as he waited to hear what would happen to Jesus. As he sat there, thinking about all that’d happened, how Judas had betrayed Jesus and how Jesus had been arrested, a young servant girl walked up to him staring closely at his face in the firelight. ‘I thought so,’ she said out loud, ‘you were one of those with Jesus.’ A surge of fear rushed through Peter’s body and he felt his cheeks flush, ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.’ And he stood up and walked over to the gate. But a little later, while he was standing at the gate, another servant girl came up and also looked at him closely. ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth,’ she told the people standing around. Again Peter felt the surge of fear, the flushing of his cheeks and, looking nervously at the people around him who were paying him much closer attention now, he swore an oath! ‘Look, I promise, I don’t even know the man – leave me alone.’ As Peter moved away again to another part of the courtyard, some other people started murmuring to each other nearby. After talking to each other for a few moments, they came over to Peter. ‘You must have been one of His followers,’ they said, ‘we can tell from your accent.’ ‘Leave me alone,’ Peter shouted, ‘I swear by God Himself that I do NOT know this man!’ (P) No sooner had the words come out of his mouth than the cockerel crowed. And Peter remembered the thing that had bothered him earlier, the thing that had hurt his pride. It was Jesus’ words to him, ‘Before the cockerel crows you will have said three times that you don’t know me.’ And so Peter went away, crying bitterly. (PAUSE) Early the next morning all the leaders of Israel met once again to work out how they were going to persuade the Romans to sentence Jesus to death. Then they bound Jesus up tightly and took Him to Pilate, the Roman governor. Judas had been paid thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus. But early the next day, when he realised that Jesus had been sentenced to death - he was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt! Going back to the temple with the money, he went to see the chief Priests. ‘I’ve sinned,’ he told them, ‘by betraying an innocent man.’ ‘So what,’ they replied, ‘what do we care? That’s your problem.’ So Judas took the thirty pieces of silver, threw them onto the floor of the temple and went out and hung himself. (PAUSE) By this time Jesus was standing before the Roman governor Pilate. Pilate wasn’t too happy about being made to work so early in the morning. And to make matters worse, the Jews refused to go into his palace to see him because it would make them ceremonially unclean and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover feast. (P) Anyway, at their insistence, Pilate went to see them. ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ he asked, looking Jesus up and down. ‘Yes, that’s right,’ replied Jesus. Then the chief priests and the other leaders made all their accusations against Jesus as Pilate patiently listened. But all the time these lies were being told about Him, Jesus said nothing. ‘Can’t You hear what they’re saying against You?’ Pilate demanded. But to Pilate’s great surprise Jesus remained silent. Now it didn’t take a genius to work out that the Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus out of jealousy, so Pilate decided he’d take the opportunity to use a custom that he’d set in place over the last few years. It had become his custom, once a year at the Passover celebrations, to release one prisoner to the crowds, anyone they wanted. This last year a particularly evil man named Barabbas had
07:41
February 01, 2021
Episode NT29 - Gethsemane
Based on Matthew chapter 26 verses 30 to 69 Gethsemane DISCIPLE ANDREW ‘After we’d shared our meal together and Judas had left, we went to a place we often went to together, to a hill nearby called the Mount of Olives. As we were walking along Jesus spoke to us. ‘Tonight,’ He said, ‘every one of you will desert me. For it’s written in the Scriptures, ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’. But after I’ve risen from the dead, I’ll go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.’’ ‘Once again my brother Peter was the first to speak. ‘But Lord,’ he said, ‘Even if everyone else leaves you, I never will!’’ ‘Jesus stopped for a moment and looked at us. ‘Peter,’ He replied, ‘the truth is, this very night before the cockerel crows you will have said three times that you don’t know me.’’ ‘’No way!’ Peter insisted. ‘Even if I have to die with You, I wouldn’t deny I knew You!’ And all the rest of us said the same thing.’ ‘When we arrived at a garden full of olive trees called Gethsemane, Jesus told us, ‘Sit here while I go on ahead to pray.’ Taking Peter, James and John with Him He began to be filled with sorrow, anguish and deep distress. Turning to the three of them He said, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and pray with me.’ Then, going a little further on by Himself, He fell face down on the ground and prayed, ‘Father if it’s possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. (P) And yet, I want what You want, not what I want.’’ ‘After Jesus’d prayed this prayer He got up and went back to see Peter, James and John, but they’d fallen asleep. So waking Peter up He said, ‘Peter, couldn’t you stay awake and pray with me for just one hour? Keep alert and pray otherwise temptation will overpower you! Because, even though the spirit is willing, the body is weak!’’ ‘Then Jesus left the three of them and went back to pray, ‘My father. If this cup of suffering cannot be taken away until I drink it, then may Your will be done.’ Once again, after praying, Jesus returned to find His disciples sleeping. They were so tired they just couldn’t keep their eyes open. And so He went back a third time to pray, praying the same thing. ‘My father. If this cup of suffering cannot be taken away until I drink it, then may Your will be done.’ ‘Then coming a third time to His disciples He woke them from their sleep. ‘Still sleeping?’ He said, ‘Still resting? Look, the hour has come and I, the Son of Man, have been betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s go, my betrayer has arrived!’’ ‘Even while He was speaking Judas Iscariot, one of His closest disciples, one of the 12 of us, arrived with a crowd of people sent by the chief Priests armed with swords and clubs. Judas had arranged a special signal with the crowd so that they’d know who to arrest. ‘This is how you’ll know who Jesus is,’ he’d told them, ‘He’ll be the one I greet with a welcoming kiss.’ And so, walking straight up to Jesus he said, ‘Greetings Teacher,’ and gave Him a kiss.’ ‘I can’t even begin to imagine how Jesus felt. One of His closest friends, a disciple, someone who’d shared His food, was betraying Him! But looking at Judas He said, ‘My friend, do what you came to do.’ And at that, others from the crowd grabbed Jesus and arrested Him.’ ‘It was then that my brother Peter decided he ought to show Jesus just how ready he was to die for Him. And so, grabbing a sword, he slashed at the first person he came across who happened to be the servant of the high priest. It wasn’t a very effective blow, but it did cut off his ear!’ ‘Put your sword away!’ Jesus shouted. ‘Don’t you know that those who use the sword will die by the sword? Don’t you realise that if I wanted to I could ask My Father to send twelve legions of angels to protect us and He would send them at once! (P) But if that happened, then how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?’ ‘Then reaching out His...
08:38
January 25, 2021
Episode NT28 - The Last Supper
Based on Luke chapter 22 and John chapter 13 The Last Supper As the Passover celebration drew closer, the Chief Priests and teachers of the Law tried to find a plan to murder Jesus away from the eyes of the crowd. For if the crowd saw them acting against Jesus, they were terrified it would start a riot! It was at this time that Satan, the devil, entered into Judas Iscariot who was one of Jesus’ disciples. It was Judas who’d objected to Mary pouring the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet because he’d wanted to sell it and steal the money for himself. And so Judas, knowing that the chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted Jesus out of the way when the crowd wasn’t around, went to discuss with them the best way to betray Jesus. The chief Priests were delighted to find that one of Jesus’ inner circle, one of His closest friends, was ready to help them and promised him a reward. So Judas began watching for an opportunity to betray Jesus and have Him arrested when the crowds weren’t around. And so the Passover festival arrived and Jesus sent Peter and John on ahead to make preparations for their celebrations saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together’. ‘What’re we supposed to do?’ they asked. ‘Where do you want us to go?’ ‘As soon as you enter the city, you’ll see something unusual,’ Jesus told them, ‘A man carrying a water jar on his head (it was normally a woman’s job to carry water). This man will say hello to you. Follow him to the house he goes to. When you get there, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, ‘Where’s the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ The owner of the house will show you a large upstairs room already set up. That’s the place for our celebration – go ahead and prepare the meal there.’ So Peter and John did what Jesus asked and found everything exactly as He said. When the time arrived for the meal, Jesus and His disciples reclined together at the table. Jesus already knew that the Father had put everything under His authority, and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He did something that surprised and even shocked His disciples. As they watched, Jesus got up from the table, took off His outer robe and wrapped a towel around His waist. He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and then wipe them with the towel! This was the job of the lowest servant in a house – to wash the feet of guests! No self-respecting man would do such a job - it was degrading slaves’ work! The roads at that time were dusty and dirty and because people only wore sandals, when a traveller came to your house their feet would be dirty from the road, and so the least important servant or slave would be expected to wash the visitors’ feet. And now Jesus, their Master, their Lord, was washing their feet! It wouldn’t have entered their heads to even think about washing someone else’s feet, and yet here was Jesus doing the work of a lowly slave! They couldn’t believe their eyes! So when Peter’s turn came he said, ‘Lord! Are you going to wash my feet as well?’ As Jesus knelt down to wash Peter’s feet He said, ‘You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but later you’ll understand.’ ‘No way!’ said Peter, unable to cope with the thought of Jesus, His Lord - the Messiah, doing the work of a slave. ‘You’ll never wash my feet!’ ‘If I don’t wash you Peter,’ Jesus said, patiently kneeling by Peter’s feet, ‘Then you won’t belong to me.’ Still Peter struggled to understand. ‘Then Lord,’ he exclaimed, ‘Wash my hands and head as well, not just my feet.’ Jesus looked up at Peter, ‘A person who’s already had a bath doesn’t need to wash all over again, he only needs to wash his feet to be entirely clean. And you are clean, although that isn’t true of everyone here.’ Jesus already knew that Judas was going to betray Him. After washing their feet, Jesus put His robe back on and asked, ‘Do you understand what I’ve just done? You call...
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January 18, 2021
Episode NT27 - Jesus Clears the Temple
Based on Matthew chapter 21 verses 12 to 32 Jesus Clears the Temple DISCIPLE ANDREW ‘Hi, I’m Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, one of Jesus’ disciples. We’d seen Jesus come to Jerusalem with crowds singing His praises and throwing their cloaks on the ground before Him as He rode a young donkey. And just like us, we knew that the crowd thought Jesus was the Messiah who’d come to rule Israel and set us free from the Romans. (P) Funny thing that He should’ve chosen a young donkey to ride on though, because a warrior king would have chosen a warhorse. A donkey spoke more - about peace! But then again, Jesus kept trying to tell us that He wasn’t going to be the kind of Messiah we expected.’ (PAUSE) ‘When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, and the donkey had been sent home, Jesus went to the temple – the most Holy place in Israel. But when He got there He kind of went crazy – or so we thought. The temple was where all the sacrifices took place, and this was very important because when normal people, like us disciples, came to the temple, we would say sorry to God for our sins, and instead of us being put to death for our sins like the law demands – for all those who break God’s laws deserve to die - the animal was put to death in our place. When this happened, when the animal died in our place, God forgave us.’ ‘But the leaders in the temple had worked out how to make lots of money from this. Firstly, they said that they had to provide the animals for sacrifice and so we had to buy them in the temple and not bring our own. Then, we weren’t allowed to use our own money to buy the animals. We had to exchange our own money for special temple money which we could then use to buy the animals and whatever else we needed. This way, the leaders and the chief priests made a lot of money out of the people as they came to try and worship God.’ ‘Anyway, as I was saying, when Jesus arrived in the temple, He went kind of crazy – as in He got very angry!! I guess He must have seen what was going on, that the ordinary people were being cheated, and that all that mattered to the leaders was making money. First, Jesus drove out all the merchants and their customers! Then, and we couldn’t believe our eyes when He did this, He turned over the tables of the moneychangers, scattering both the temple money and the ordinary money all over the floor! Not only that, but He also knocked over the stalls of those who were selling doves for sacrifice, and then refused to let anyone into the temple who was bringing in merchandise of any type! And as He did this He shouted, ‘The Scriptures say, ‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!’’ ‘We just watched - open-mouthed! This was going to cause real problems with the chief priests! But after Jesus had done this, showing how unhappy He was that the place for meeting God had become a place for making money - the blind and the lame came and found Him. They came to Him in the temple and He healed them all!’ ‘The chief priests and teachers of the law saw all these wonderful miracles and, to their disgust, as Jesus healed these people, some children started shouting, ‘Praise God for the Son of David.’’ ‘‘Have you heard what these children are saying?’ they asked, furiously.’ ‘’Yes, I have,’ Jesus replied. ‘But haven’t you read what the Scriptures say? They say, ‘From the mouths of children and infants you have prepared praise.’ After this, we went back to Bethany and stayed there overnight.’ (PAUSE) ‘Next morning as we headed back to Jerusalem I felt sure Jesus would be in trouble with the chief priests and teachers of the law for the way He’d cleared out the temple, so when we arrived I wasn’t surprised to see a group of them waiting to talk to Him. ‘By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the Temple yesterday? they demanded. ‘Who gave you this authority?’’ ‘Jesus looked at the group of them but instead of answering their question, He asked one of...
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January 11, 2021
Episode NT26 - The Triumphal Entry
Based on John chapter 12 verses 1 to 19 The Triumphal Entry Once again Jesus came to Bethany. It was about six days before the important Jewish ceremony of Passover. During Passover, Jews from all around the world returned to Jerusalem to sacrifice a Passover lamb and remember how God had rescued the Israelites from Egypt! The Passover had been the last and greatest sign God had performed in Egypt as He’d prepared for His people to be set free from slavery. On the night of that first Passover, every Israelite family had to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their house and stay inside, dressed and ready to leave Egypt. Then, at about midnight, the angel of death went through the whole land of Egypt to kill the first-born son in every household. But, whenever he came to a house with the blood of a lamb smeared on the doorposts and lintel, he would know that there had already been a death in that house, the death of a lamb in place of the first-born son, and so the angel of death would ‘pass over’ that house and go onto the next. This way, all Israel was saved from the loss of their sons by obeying God’s command to sacrifice a lamb in their place. (PAUSE) When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethany, they stayed with Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead, and a meal was served in Jesus’ honour. Jesus knew what was ahead of Him, and even though this was a celebration, the atmosphere was heavy as Jesus thought about what was to come. While Jesus was eating His meal lying with his head towards the table and His feet pointing away as was the custom at that time, Mary, Lazarus’ sister, came to His feet with a large jar of very expensive perfume. Then, breaking the seal on the jar, Mary poured the perfume over Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair - filling the house with fragrance. Somehow Mary understood how Jesus felt and so she did this beautiful thing for Him. But not everyone who watched understood or cared about what was happening. It was Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, who spoke up. ‘What does that woman think she’s doing?’ he exclaimed. ‘That perfume was worth a small fortune. We – we could have sold it and given the money to the poor instead of wasting it on Jesus’ feet!’ Not that Judas cared for the poor, he was just horrified to see all that money ‘go to waste’ as he thought. You see, Judas was in charge of looking after the disciples’ funds, and as well as ‘looking after’ the money, he also made sure he ‘looked after’ himself, stealing money when he thought no one was looking! But Jesus turned to those who were unhappy with what had just happened and replied, ‘Leave her alone. Mary has done this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but I won’t be with you much longer.’ (PAUSE) Now Jerusalem was only a couple of miles away, and when all the people who’d come for the Passover celebrations heard that Jesus was in Bethany, they flocked to see him and to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (P) The next day, Jesus made preparations to go to Jerusalem. Calling two of His disciples to one side He said to them, ‘You see that village over there? I want you to go into that village and as you enter it you’ll see a young colt – a young donkey that’s never been ridden before - tied up by the side of the road. Untie it and bring it here to me. Should anyone ask you what you’re doing, tell them, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back soon.’ The two disciples did what Jesus said, and sure enough, as they entered the village they found a young donkey that had never been ridden before tied up outside a house. As they started to untie it, some of the people standing nearby demanded, ‘What do you think you’re doing untying that colt – it’s not yours.’ After the briefest glance at each other, the two disciples told them exactly what Jesus had said to say, ‘The Lord needs it and He’ll send it back soon.’ At that the...
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January 04, 2021
Episode NT25 - Lazarus
Based on John chapter 11 Lazarus DISCIPLE ANDREW ‘When the messenger arrived he had a serious look on his face and we could tell his message was urgent. Going straight to Jesus he said, ‘This message is from Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, who live in Bethany which is in Judea. They say, ‘Lord, the one you love is very sick.’’ ‘We’d experienced a lot of trouble from the religious leaders in the area of Judea, even so, we expected Jesus to tell us to pack up and go to there. Instead, He told us, ‘Lazarus’s sickness won’t end in death. It has happened for the glory of God. And I, the Son of God will receive glory from this.’’ ‘Even though we knew how much Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus, we didn’t go to them straight away, instead we stayed where we were for another two days! We were all on edge, having had such a call for help and not having done anything. But when, after two days, Jesus told us that we were now going to Judea, we started to feel nervous! ‘Teacher,’ we said. ‘Are you sure about this? Only a few days ago the Jewish leaders in Judea were trying to kill you and now you want to go back again?’ ‘’Our dear friend Lazarus has fallen asleep,’ Jesus told us, ‘and now it’s time for me to go and wake him up.’’ ‘‘But Lord,’ we said. ‘If he’s having a good sleep then surely he’s getting better?’ ‘Then Jesus spoke to us plainly. ‘Lazarus is dead. And I’m pleased I wasn’t there for your sakes, because this is going to give you another opportunity to believe in me. Come on, let’s go.’’ ‘Even if we’d left as soon as the messenger had come we’d never have made it in time to help Lazarus. When we arrived, we discovered that he’d been dead and in his grave for four days already! There were lots of people there from Jerusalem, which was only a couple of miles away, who’d come to comfort Martha and Mary in their loss. We stayed a little outside Bethany, but when Martha heard that Jesus had arrived she came out to meet Him.’ ‘’Lord,’ Martha cried when she saw Jesus. ‘If only you’d been here, then my brother wouldn’t have died! But even now I know that God will give you anything you ask of Him.’’ ‘Jesus looked at her and said, ‘Your brother will rise again.’’ ‘’Yes, I know he’ll rise when everyone does on the day of resurrection,’ Martha replied.’’ ‘’I am the resurrection and the life,’ Jesus told Martha. ‘Everyone who believes in me, even though like all people they will die, yet also they will live again. Because, if they believe in me they are given eternal life and so will never perish. Do you believe this Martha?’ He asked.’ ‘’Yes Lord,’ she told Him. ‘I’ve always believed that you’re the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who’s come into the world from God.’ After she’d said this she went back to Mary and calling her aside she said, ‘The Teacher’s here and He wants to see you.’ So, as quickly as she could, Mary came to where we were staying.’ ‘In fact, Mary left to come and see Jesus so fast that all the mourners in the house thought she must be rushing off to the grave to weep for Lazarus there, so they followed her. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at His feet saying, ‘Lord, if only you’d been here, then my brother wouldn’t have died.’’ ‘When Jesus saw Mary’s weeping and the wailing of the other people who’d followed her, and saw how painful and evil death was - He was deeply moved in His soul – and outraged in His spirit at death itself. ‘Where have you put him?’ He asked.’ ‘‘Lord, come and see,’ they told Him. And Jesus wept. (P) Some of the people standing there saw Him and said, ‘Look how much He loved Lazarus,’ while others shook their heads and said, ‘This is the same man who restores sight to the blind. So why couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’’ ‘Once again Jesus was overcome with a deep outrage in His spirit at the evilness of death. Then coming to the grave, which was a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance, Jesus ordered, ‘Roll that stone aside.’’ ‘‘But...
07:56
December 28, 2020
Episode NT24 - Blind Bartimaeus
Based on Mark chapter 10 verses 46 to 52 Blind Bartimaeus On the whole, life was pretty tough for Bartimaeus. Oh, it was ok when Jericho, the city where he lived had a festival or celebration. Then Bartimaeus would have more than enough to eat. But that wasn’t most days. Most days Bartimaeus would be found sitting by the side of the main road that went all the way through Jericho, and on to Jerusalem, with his begging bowl in hand, hoping and praying that somebody would give Him what he needed to make it through the day. Of course it hadn’t always been like that. There’d been a time when Bartimaeus had worked in the fields and vineyards with everybody else. But the day had come when the owner of the vineyard had been cross with Bartimaeus. Apparently, he’d left lots of grapes on the vine. And then … it became hard to recognise his friends. And the sun … it didn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to! (PAUSE) The truth was - Bartimaeus was going blind. And it’s not like being blind today where there’s lots a blind person can do. In Bartimaeus’ time the only thing he could do – was become a beggar. And so each day ended up being pretty much the same. And today, when Bartimaeus woke up, he thought it was going to be a day like any other. (P) As he woke he shivered in the cold morning air and pulled his cloak tightly around his shoulders. And then he reached to find his begging bowl. There was some bread left from yesterday. OK it was a bit stale and hard, but when you’re a beggar you can’t afford to be fussy. (P) After he’d finished his small breakfast, Bartimaeus reached out his hand to find his stick, and then made his way slowly down to his usual spot by the side of the road, under a big tree that gave him some protection from the hot midday sun. And there he waited. But today wasn’t going to be like any other day. There was already something different happening. You see when you’re blind, quite often your hearing seems to work much better. And Bartimaeus had learned to recognise the people of Jericho not by what they looked like, but by how they sounded. Who was that, oh yes, he recognised those fast footsteps. That was young Miriam. But where was she off too? (P) And hang on, who was that? Ah, of course! He recognised that limp and walk with a stick. That was old Caleb! But he hadn’t heard Caleb moving so fast in years! And who were those people he was talking to? In fact, where was everybody going? It seemed as if everyone was leaving the city! He wanted to ask why, but there was nobody to ask! So there he sat, begging bowl in hand - waiting. (PAUSE) It was quite a lot later that day when he heard it. It was the sound of a large crowd. And they were heading his way. So that’s where everybody had gone. They’d gone to see some really important person who was on their way through Jericho and on to Jerusalem. But Bartimaeus didn’t know who it was. And so as the crowd got closer and the first few people started to filter past, he called out. ‘Hey, hey, excuse me, can you tell me - what’s going on?’ ‘What?’ said a passer-by, ‘Oh don’t you know? It’s Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth, He’s coming through town on His way to Jerusalem.’ Jesus of Nazareth! Even Bartimaeus had heard of Jesus of Nazareth, and the incredible things he’d said. People were still talking about them months after he’d said them. And, there were all those healings! It was said that Jesus had made people who couldn’t walk, walk again! And that He’d made people who couldn’t hear, hear again. It was even said that Jesus made people who couldn’t see, (PAUSE) see again!!!’ Jesus made blind people see! All of a sudden Bartimaeus knew what he should be doing. Oh, he just hoped he hadn’t missed Jesus. So he called out in a loud voice. The first few people who heard Bartimaeus calling - told him to shut up! ‘Oh Bartimaeus be quiet will you. Jesus isn’t going to be interested in a blind beggar like you. Be quiet!’ But Bartimaeus wasn’t the giving up kind,
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December 21, 2020
Episode NT23 - Zacchaeus
https://blog.feedspot.com/bible_podcasts/ (https://blog.feedspot.com/bible_podcasts/) Based on Luke chapter 19 verses 1 to 10 Zacchaeus Zacchaeus was a short man, short in height and short of friends! To say he was unpopular would be an understatement because most people hated Zacchaeus. You see Zacchaeus was a tax collector – he had paid the Romans to get the job of collecting taxes from his own people, the Jews. He then gave those taxes to the Romans who used them to stay in charge! What’s more, as Zacchaeus had paid for the job of collecting taxes and the Romans didn’t pay him anything to do the job, he had to collect extra taxes from all the people so that he had enough to live on himself – and in fact, over the years, he’d grown quite rich! If they had any choice in the matter, no ordinary Jew would have anything to do with the likes of tax collectors unless they absolutely had to! You see, because they worked for the Romans, tax collectors were considered to be traitors! Oh, Zacchaeus did have some friends, but they were either tax collectors like himself or else one of the many other outcasts there were in Israel at that time. (P) But even among this group of outcasts the stories about Jesus had started to circulate. Some were saying that Jesus was the friend of tax collectors! Zacchaeus listened to these stories with great interest and decided that, should Jesus come to Jericho, the city where he lived, he’d make sure to see him. One day sometime later, Zacchaeus heard an excited voice shouting outside. Stopping what he was doing, he listened. ‘Hey, David!’ said the voice, ‘Have you heard? Jesus is heading into town. We’re just off to see him. Why don’t you come with us?’ After that, the voice lowered and Zacchaeus heard hurried footsteps as they rushed off to see Jesus. This was his chance! As quickly as he could, Zacchaeus got up and hurried off to see Jesus. But as he came closer to where Jesus was, he found a massive crowd of people, all wanting to see Jesus for themselves! Jesus was surrounded by 100’s and 100’s of people! (PAUSE) Zacchaeus didn’t even bother to try and push his way through the crowd. He knew that when the people realised it was him trying to push past them, they’d never let him through. But he wasn’t going to be put off. He’d promised himself he’d see Jesus and he was determined to make it happen! As he stood there wondering what to do, suddenly a thought sprang into Zacchaeus’ mind. There was only one road through the city and Jesus would be travelling along it, so Zacchaeus ran ahead to see if there was some place he could stand that would give him a good view of Jesus. But there was nothing! What was he going to do? Resting by a large sycamore tree, Zacchaeus thought through his options. He couldn’t push his way through to Jesus; the people wouldn’t stand for that, and, there was nowhere along the road where he could get a good view. Zacchaeus banged the back of head softly against the tree as he tried to work out what he could do, then he stopped, and looked up. The tree! Jesus would be passing right under this very tree! As quickly as he could, for he hadn’t done this since he was a lad; Zacchaeus climbed the sycamore tree hoping the leafy branches would shield him from disapproving eyes. And then he waited as the crowd slowly made its way along the road. As the massive crowd started to pass under the tree, they didn’t notice the little man hidden in the branches looking down. (P) There was no mistaking Jesus, Zacchaeus could tell exactly who He was - right in the middle of the crowd with people coming up to Him to talk or just look at Him! It wasn’t the perfect way to see Jesus, but it was the best Zacchaeus could manage. Then, as Jesus moved directly underneath where he was hiding, to his surprise, Jesus stopped! Zacchaeus hadn’t expected this. Then suddenly, Jesus looked right up to where he was hiding and shouted, ‘Zacchaeus!’ Zacchaeus nearly fell out of the tree...
06:35
December 14, 2020
Episode NT22 - Lost and Found
Based on Luke chapter 15 Lost and Found Lots of different people came to see Jesus, even the most despised people in the land like the treacherous tax collectors – who worked for the Romans against their own people. The lowest of the low came to Jesus, and much to the outrage of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, Jesus welcomed them, tax collectors and notorious sinners alike, even at times sharing a meal with them! (PAUSE) The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law thought this behaviour of Jesus was disgraceful! Surely, knowing how evil these people were, He should be condemning them for their wickedness, not eating with them in their houses! And so they complained to Jesus that He was associating with such despicable people! (PAUSE – SIGH) The simple truth was that the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had misunderstood what Jesus was doing! He wasn’t saying that their evil behaviour was acceptable! Far from it! But to help the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law understand what was happening, He told them these stories. (PAUSE) ‘Tell me,’ He began. ‘If you had 100 sheep, and for some reason one of those precious sheep got lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the other 99 in a safe place and go and hunt high and low for the lost sheep until you found it? And when you’d found it, wouldn’t you carry it joyfully back home on your shoulders? Then, when you’d arrived back home you’d call your friends and neighbours to come over and celebrate the safe return of the lost sheep with you. Well, in the same way, there will be more happiness in heaven over the return of one lost sinner who comes back to God than over 99 others who’re righteous and have never strayed.’ ‘Or how about this,’ He continued. ‘Suppose a woman has ten valuable coins and somehow loses one of them! Won’t she light a lamp and search in every corner of her house and sweep out even the smallest areas as she carefully searches for it? And when she finds it, won’t she call together her friends and neighbours to rejoice with her because - after a long search she’s found her lost coin! Well, in the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who turns from their sin!’ Still not sure that the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law had understood the point He was trying to make, Jesus told them one last story: ‘There was a man who had two sons. One day the younger son said to his father, ‘I don’t want to wait! Give me my portion of your estate that I’d inherit when you die - now.’ The father agreed and divided his wealth between his two sons.’ ‘A few days later the younger son packed up all his belongings and headed out for a distant land, and when he got there he spent all his money on wild living! (P) At about the same time as all his money ran out, a severe famine swept over the land and he began to starve. Looking for work, he managed to persuade a local farmer to hire him to feed his - pigs.’ As Jesus said this, a murmur swept around the crowd, a Jewish boy, feeding unclean pigs – could he fall any lower? But Jesus continued, ‘The boy was so hungry that he even thought about filling his own stomach with the pods he was feeding to the pigs. But no one gave him anything.’ Another round of shocked murmurs. Not only was this boy feeding unclean pigs; now he’d fallen so low he even thought about eating their food! Jesus carried on, ‘When at long last he finally came to his senses, the boy said to himself, ‘Back home even the hired men have more than enough food, and here I am starving to death! I shall go home to my father and say to him, ‘Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you, and I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Please, take me on as a hired servant.’’ ‘So the young lad got up and started on the long walk home. But while he was still a long way from home, his father saw him coming. Filled to overflowing with love and compassion, the father ran to his son and gave him a great big hug and kiss.’...
07:17
December 07, 2020
Episode NT21 - The Rich Young Ruler
Based on Mark Chapter 10 verses 12 to 31 The Rich Young Ruler DISCIPLE (ANDREW)‘Look, He’s a very busy man! Everyone wants to see Him and I’m sorry but He doesn’t have time for your children. You’re just going to have to go.’ ‘We’d been trying to protect Jesus from the constant stream of people wanting to come and see Him. And now it wasn’t just adults, but parents wanted to bring their little ones to Jesus so that He could bless them. Well, they had to come to us first, His disciples, and we knew how busy and tired He could get. So we started sending the parents and their children away.’ ‘We saw the disappointed looks on their faces as some of the older children had really been looking forward to meeting Jesus. But Jesus was busy with more important matters, so we started to hurry them on their way.’ ‘It was as we were pushing them away that we heard Jesus’ voice. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ He asked. ‘Don’t stop them, let the children come to me!’’ ‘That was it, the children and their parents didn’t need a second invitation, they surged passed us and ran to Jesus. Here we were, trying to protect Jesus from the unimportant disturbances that came along and He went and ignored our efforts!’ ‘As we looked at Him He picked a couple of children up in His arms and with a broad grin on His face He looked from them to us. ‘The Kingdom of God belongs to people like these,’ He called across. ‘Because I tell you unless someone has the same kind of faith these children have, they’ll never enter God’s Kingdom.’’ ‘After He’d said this He carried on welcoming the children and putting His hands on their heads and blessing them.’ ‘Shortly afterwards, as we started out on another trip, a young man came running to Jesus! Not many people run anywhere in our country, it’s too hot and not really the ‘done thing’. But what caught our attention was that this young man was obviously a man with money and influence! So can you imagine our surprise and joy when he ran right up to Jesus, knelt down before Him in the road for all to see - and said, ‘Good Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?’’ ‘Wow we thought, imagine what a difference this could make, having someone like him with us! We all turned to Jesus to see what He’d say to this earnest young man. ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus asked. ‘Only God is truly good.’ And then He started to answer the young man’s question. ‘Now, you know what the commandments are; don’t commit murder. Don’t commit adultery. Don’t steal. Don’t tell lies. Don’t cheat. Respect your father and mother?’’ ‘The young man looked closely at Jesus, his brow furrowed. And with a slight nod of his head he said. ‘Teacher, ever since I was a child I’ve obeyed all these commandments.’ Obviously he felt that obeying wasn’t enough – there had to be more!’ ‘Jesus’ smile grew as He looked at the young man and He felt genuine love for him. ‘Well,’ Jesus answered, ‘there is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, because then you will have treasure in heaven. And when you’ve done that, come and follow me.’’ ‘I’d been listening to the conversation as the two of them spoke, and as Jesus told the young man to go and sell all he owned and give the money to the poor, I watched his face. It was painful to see his look of earnestness turn first into surprise and then to sorrow.’(P) ‘Suddenly the conversation was over. Without looking at Jesus again, the young man stood up and walked sadly away - because he had many possessions.’ ‘Jesus let him leave. He’d set the standard this man had to reach and He wasn’t about to change it – even if it meant the man went away, never to return! Then, Jesus turned round to speak to us. ‘It’s so hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God!’ He said. We were amazed at this – that the people with all the advantages in life: money, power, ability and talent should struggle to enter God’s Kingdom. But Jesus was continuing, ‘My Dear...
07:04
November 30, 2020
Episode NT20 - The Man Born Blind
Based on John chapter 9 The Man Born Blind ‘What people tend to forget when you’re blind is that you’re not deaf as well! In fact, my hearing’s a lot better than most peoples and I could hear them quite clearly as they came towards me.’ ‘Jesus,’ somebody asked, ‘Whose fault is it that this man’s been born blind?’ And then, to rub it in a little more he said, ‘Was it his own sin or his parent's sin?’ Come on, I thought, it could hardly be my sin! That would’ve meant I’d done something evil before I’d even been born. And as for my parents … well. Then I heard another voice answering their question, I guess it must have been Jesus.’ ‘Neither,’ He said, ‘It wasn’t this man’s fault or his parent's fault. This man was born blind so that the power of God could be seen in him.’ Whatever that meant! And then He added, ‘All of us have to get on with the tasks God’s given us to do because there’s little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end. But you see, while I’m still here in this world, I am the light of the world.’ ‘I’d been born blind, I’d never seen any light, so I really couldn’t understand what He was talking about when He said He was the light of the world!’ ‘What happened next was a little – awkward. Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with His spit and some soil. Then I felt a gooey substance being rubbed over my eyes and Jesus spoke to me. ‘Go and wash in the pool of Siloam,’ He said. And that was that! (P) I had no option but to wash to get the mud off my eyes. But something inside me seemed to tell me that I should do exactly what Jesus had just told me to do, not just find some water to wash off the mud, but to go where He’d said.’ ‘It didn’t take long to go to Siloam, and when I got there I started to wash off the mud. It was good to get it off because it’d started to dry a little and was becoming uncomfortable! I put my head down to the pool, dipped my hands in and splashed great handfuls of water over my eyes. Then I washed off the mud and started to wipe the water out of my eyes.’ (PAUSE) ‘There aren’t words to describe how I felt next. It’s just not possible for you to understand but when I opened my eyes my head was filled with … with … light, colours, images, things, movement! I could see! Jesus had healed me! I could see! Not even in my wildest imagination had I dreamt that seeing would be like this! When I was young I’d often asked what it was like, and nothing anyone said had made any sense, until now. Now I understood what people meant when they tried to use words to describe a colour or the clouds in the sky.’ ‘When I was young I’d pestered my parents to ask them if maybe one day I could see if the doctors could heal me. They’d tried to find out if there was any hope for me, but the doctors had soon put them straight. No one had ever been able to see who’d been born blind. It just didn’t happen. But now, this man Jesus had come along, covered my eyes with mud, told me to wash in the pool of Siloam and the impossible had happened! I could see.’ (PAUSE) ‘You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I made my way back home using the skills I’d learnt when I was blind but also taking in my surroundings. When my neighbours saw me, they hardly recognised me because of the stupid great grin on my face! They started looking at each other and asking, ‘Is this the same blind beggar we knew before?’ I kept telling them, ‘Yeah! It’s me, it’s me!’ But they could hardly believe their own eyes! ‘What happened?’ they asked. ‘Who healed you?’’ ‘Well I told them, ‘This man called Jesus came along, spat on the ground, made some mud out of His spit and the soil and then rubbed it on my eyes. Then, He sent me to the pool of Siloam and told me to wash the mud off in that pool. I did everything He said, and when I’d done it, I could see!’’ ‘’Well,’ they asked, ‘Where is He now?’’ ‘’I’ve no idea.’ I replied.’ (PAUSE) ‘When I told my neighbours that Jesus had made the mud out of the spit...
10:23
November 23, 2020
Episode NT19 - A Little Faith - The Demon Possessed Boy
Based on Mark chapter 9 A Little Faith! –The Demon-Possessed Boy As Jesus and the three disciples Peter, James and John came down from the mountain where they’d seen Jesus transformed and heard the Words of God, they talked about a common belief Jews held that Elijah must ‘return’ before the Messiah could come. ‘Why do the teachers of the law say this?’ they asked Jesus. ‘Well, Elijah has already come to set everything in order,’ Jesus answered them. ‘But he was badly mistreated, just as the Scriptures predicted.’ It was then that the disciples realised Jesus was talking about John the Baptist who’d been murdered by Herod. As they came to the foot of the mountain they saw a huge crowd gathered around the other nine disciples who were having a blazing row with the teachers of the law. The teachers of the law were always looking for something they could use against Jesus, for any weakness they could exploit to run Him down and discredit Him. And now, they thought they’d found something! Jesus’ disciples had failed to heal someone and so the teachers of the law were pressing home their advantage over the disciples – and a row had broken out. As Jesus approached the crowd, the people ran to meet Him. ‘What’s going on?’ He asked. ‘What’s all this arguing about?’ A man in the crowd, with a desperate look on his face, stepped forward and spoke to Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘My son can’t speak because he’s possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. Whenever the spirit takes hold of him, it throws him violently onto the ground and he starts to foam at the mouth, grind his teeth and his body becomes rigid! I brought him to You so that You could heal him. But as you weren’t around, I asked your disciples to make the evil spirit go, (P) but they couldn’t do it!’ When He heard this, Jesus felt so disappointed. After all, He’d taught them, after all, they’d seen! Not just His disciples but also the people, still they refused to really trust Him, to believe that He had the power to deal with whatever situation they could possibly come across. And so, with a slow shake of His head He said, ‘You faithless people! How long is it going to be until you believe? How long must I put up with your unbelief?’ Then looking at the father’s worried face He said, ‘Bring the boy to me.’ At once the boy was brought before Jesus, but as soon as the evil spirit saw Jesus it threw the boy into a violent convulsion and he fell to the ground thrashing around and foaming at the mouth. Rather than just heal the boy there and then, Jesus wanted to find out if his father still had the same belief he started with when he’d first brought the boy to see Jesus. Had seeing the disciples fail to heal the boy stopped him believing? So He asked, ‘ How long has this been going on?’ The boy’s father, desperate at seeing his child once again thrown into convulsions looked at his son while he answered Jesus. ‘It’s been happening since he was a small boy. And what makes it worse is that the evil spirit often makes him fall into the fire or into water – it’s trying to kill him! Please, if you can, do something.’ Jesus turned to look at the man. ‘What do you mean, ‘IF I can’?’ He asked. ‘Anything’s possible if a person believes.’ The man quickly shifted his gaze from his son and found Jesus’ eyes. ‘Oh but I do believe,’ he answered. ‘But please, help me not to doubt!’ Jesus had got his answer, the boy’s father did believe, even if it was a wavering and weak faith. Because what mattered wasn’t the strength of his belief, but the power of the One he believed in! And as Jesus saw other people beginning to run over and the group of onlookers start to grow, He rebuked the evil spirit. ‘Spirit of deafness and muteness,’ He said, ‘I command you to leave the boy and never enter him again.’ At this, the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and then left, just as Jesus had commanded. As the spirit left, the boy lay motionless on...
05:50
November 16, 2020
Episode NT18 - The Transfiguration
Based on Mark chapter 8 verse 27 to chapter 9 verse 13 The Transfiguration As they travelled northeast, out of Israel to the area of Caesarea Philippi, they couldn’t help noticing all the temples and places of worship there were to different ‘gods’. It was said that at the bottom of one of the nearby mountains the so-called ‘god’ Pan was born – a god of fertility, perhaps the most important fertility symbol in the whole region. It was as they walked through this landscape, a landscape of so much worship but so little knowledge of the true and living God that Jesus turned to His disciples and asked, ‘Tell me, who do people say I am?’ The disciples mulled it over for a moment or two. ‘Some say you’re John the Baptist come back to life,’ one said. Another added, ‘Or maybe Elijah or one of the other prophets, you know, Jeremiah or someone like that.’ ‘But what about you?’ Jesus asked them, ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter didn’t hesitate when he heard the question, because somehow he already knew the answer. And so in a land of so many gods and idols, Simon Peter spoke his true confession, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ ‘God has really blessed you Simon son of John,’ Jesus said. ‘Because you didn’t learn this from anyone else, it was my Father in heaven who revealed it to you. And now I tell you that with your true acknowledgement of who I am - you are Peter, which means ‘rock’, and on this rock – I will build my church, and even though the powers of hell will rage against it, they will never conquer it. And, I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven so that whatever you bind up here on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you set free here on earth will be set free in heaven.’ Jesus knew that even though His disciples had begun to understand who He was, as yet they had little real idea of what the Messiah would be like. They thought the Messiah would set them free from the power of the Romans, that their nation would become the most powerful on earth – they only thought of the Messiah as someone who would set them free from the problems of this world. But Jesus knew how little they understood, and how easily others would misunderstand if they found out that He was the Messiah, and so He sternly warned them not to tell anyone else that He was the Messiah. From that moment on Jesus was determined that the disciples should understand what the Messiah’s life was all about. So He began to tell them plainly that He would have to go to Jerusalem and about all that would happen there. That He would have to suffer at the hands of the leaders, the high priests and teachers of the law. That He would be killed and on the third day, He would be raised back to life. But this wasn’t anything like the Messiah the disciples had in mind! Peter couldn’t believe his ears! The Messiah suffer? Die? What was Jesus talking about, surely this couldn’t be right? Jesus must have got it all mixed up. So taking Jesus to one side he started to correct Him, ‘Jesus, Jesus, heaven forbid that these things you’re talking about should come true…’ As Peter spoke, Jesus realised where all the false ideas Peter had about the Messiah had come from, and who had whispered them into Peter’s head. So looking at Peter and making sure they could all hear He said, ‘Get away from me Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me because you don’t see things from God’s perspective but from a human point of view!’ And with Peter still reeling from His rebuke, Jesus started to teach the disciples what it really meant to be one of His followers, to show them how wrong their ideas were and just how much it was going to cost them. ‘If anyone wants to be my follower,’ He began, ‘then they must put aside what they want and pick up their cross and follow me.’ Pick up a cross? Was Jesus saying that following Him was the same as being a prisoner under sentence of death? For only a convicted criminal walking to his place of execution would...
08:34
November 09, 2020
Episode NT17 - The Woman Caught Committing Adultery
Based on John chapter 8 The Woman Caught Committing Adultery It was the people who thought they were more religious than anyone else, the Pharisees and teachers of the law who started to oppose Jesus. They hated the fact that the people loved Jesus. But what they hated, even more, was that every time they tried to show Jesus up, to catch Him out, He ended up proving they were wrong and embarrassing them in front of the people! But if somehow, they could get Jesus out of the way, the people would come back to them – just like it was before! So here was the problem. How to get rid of Jesus? As far as His enemies could see there were only two ways. Either you got Him into serious trouble with the Romans so they’d arrest Him. Or, you proved that He didn’t take the Scriptures seriously, the bit we call the Old Testament in the Bible. If they could show He didn’t respect what the Scriptures taught, then the people wouldn’t trust Him any more! It took some working out, but after a lot of thinking they came up with a plan! One of the laws in the Bible says that if a person was found committing adultery, sleeping with someone who wasn’t their own husband or wife, then all the people should throw rocks and stones at them until they died. However, the Romans wouldn’t let that happen any more. They were in control now and they had their own law which said that only they were allowed to pass the death penalty – it was forbidden for the Jewish people to take matters into their own hands and stone people to death without Roman approval. If the Jews stoned someone to death, the Romans would arrest the person who started it and put them in prison! This was the perfect opportunity to discredit Jesus; all they needed to do was find someone guilty of adultery. Then they would drag that person before Jesus and ask Jesus what should be done! If Jesus said that the person should be stoned to death, then the Romans would arrest Him and put Him in prison. And, if He said that the person shouldn’t be stoned to death, they’d accuse Jesus of not taking the Scriptures seriously showing He couldn’t be trusted. All they needed to do was find someone guilty of adultery. (PAUSE) As they dragged the woman towards Jesus all they could think about was how much they hated Him! So what if the woman died? She was guilty of adultery; she’d slept with someone who wasn’t her husband so she deserved to be punished! Anyway, what did she matter, all that mattered was getting rid of Jesus, to silence Him and discredit Him once and for all! Turning themselves into an angry mob they pretended to be outraged at what the woman had done! Dragging her along, they pushed her in front of Jesus who was teaching in the temple. ‘Teacher,’ they shouted, ‘this woman was caught in adultery! The Law of Moses says that she must be stoned to death for her sin. But what do you say?’ They could barely hide the smiles on their faces. They had Him, it didn’t matter what He said now! If He told them to stone her to death – they’d have Him arrested by the Romans, and if He said to let her go, they’d mock Him and discredit Him as being a person who didn’t obey or respect the Holy Scriptures. (PAUSE) In those days, when a teacher taught a crowd of people they would sit down, and Jesus had been sitting on the ground. But instead of answering the cries of His enemies, He leant forwards and started to write in the dust with His finger. His enemies could hardly hold back their joy, they’d got Him! At long last, they’d caught Him out. And so they pressed Him harder and harder for an answer. ‘Come on Jesus; tell us what we should do. The Law of Moses says she should be stoned to death. What do you say? Come on tell us, teacher, You know all the answers. What should we do?’ On and on they pestered Jesus until finally He sat up straight and looked up at them. The crowd watched Him in silence waiting to hear what He would say. ‘All right then,’ He said, ‘stone her to death…’ As the...
06:27
November 02, 2020
Episode NT16 - Walking on Water
Based on John chapter 6 verses 14 to 20 and Matthew chapter 14 verses 28 to 36 Walking on Water ‘It was hard work passing out all that bread and fish to all those people! And by the time we’d each collected a basket full of leftovers, the twelve of us were exhausted!’ ‘It was then that the crowds realised Jesus had just fed well over five thousand people from the contents of a child’s packed lunch, they were amazed! It was an incredible miracle and reminded them of how in the time of Moses, God had fed the people of Israel with manna from heaven when they were wandering in the desert.’ ‘It was enough to convince some of the crowd that Jesus was the ‘Great Prophet’ Moses had promised would one day come, and so they decided that they were going to make Him king, even if it meant they had to use force to make it happen!’ ‘Jesus was indeed the ‘Great Prophet’, but at that time we didn’t understand how the ‘Great Prophet’ Moses had promised would come us, and that His kingdom wasn’t one restricted to the earth. And so Jesus slipped away from us all and made His way higher up into the hills to be alone and pray.’ (PAUSE) ‘As the crowd melted away, going back to their home, the twelve of us, His disciples, were left waiting for Jesus. Jesus hadn’t left any instructions with us about what we were supposed to do. So after a while we wandered back to the boat and waited for Him there.’ ‘The hours ticked by slowly, and when it started to get dark and we realised Jesus wasn’t going to be coming back with us, we set sail for Capernaum.’ ‘The wind was against us from the start and we made slow progress through heavy waves. When we were about three or four miles out into the lake, our minds were completely absorbed in the battle against the waves and in trying to make headway through the dark seas. So when, at about three o’clock in the morning, we saw a figure walking on the water towards us out of the night we screamed in terror!’ ‘But no sooner had we seen the figure and started to scream than the voice of Jesus came to us strong and loud from the figure in the darkness. ‘It’s all right,’ He said. ‘It’s me! I’m here! Don’t be afraid.’’ ‘As we looked at each other, not sure what to think or do, Peter started shouting back. ‘Lord, if it really is you, then tell me to come to you by walking on the water.’’ ‘The rest of us couldn’t believe what we were hearing! Peter wanted to walk to Jesus on the water - in this storm?’ ‘‘Come to me Peter,’ Jesus said.’ (P) ‘It was so typical of my brother Peter! Without a second thought he leapt out over the side of the boat and, gazing at Jesus, he started to walk on the water towards Him!’ (PAUSE) ‘Maybe it was the howling winds that first caught Peter’s attention and took his eyes off Jesus. Whatever it was that broke his concentration, Peter started to notice the massive waves rolling by, and as he saw them and stopped looking at Jesus, terror grasped at his heart, and as the fear took hold so he started to slip down into the water. ‘Save me Lord,’ he screamed as he sank lower and lower.’ ‘Instantly, without a moment’s hesitation, Jesus reached out His hand and grabbed hold of Peter. ‘You don’t trust me very much do you Peter?’ He said. ‘Why did you doubt me?’’ ‘The two of them climbed into the boat and as they did, the wind stopped.’ (PAUSE) ‘It was then that all of us fell to our knees and worshipped Jesus. We had seen the impossible, Jesus coming to us walking on water in the midst of a storm, and then calling Peter to come to Him on the water. We had seen Jesus save Peter’s life when he called out to Him for help. And so on bended knee we all said to Jesus, ‘You really are the Son of God.’’ (PAUSE) ‘We landed at Gennesaret and it seemed that within moments the news of our arrival spread throughout the whole region. Soon crowds of people arrived, begging Jesus to heal the sick. Even the sick themselves begged just to be able to touch the fringe of His robe, and everyone who...
05:12
November 02, 2020
Episode NT15 - Feeding the Hungry
Based on John chapter 6 verses 1 to 15 Feeding the Hungry ‘My name’s Andrew, I’m Simon Peter’s brother and I’ve been following Jesus since He started His work here. It’s been an amazing time. I’ve seen things you couldn’t even imagine. The sick being healed, the demon-possessed being freed and even the dead brought back to life.’ ‘But even though Jesus did such amazing things, He was always concerned that the people heard His message. There was an urgency within Him that everyone should know that the Kingdom of God was coming and that they should be ready by turning away from all their sinful and selfish ways and turning back to God.’ ‘One day, Jesus called the twelve of us together and spoke to us. As He spoke, He gave us authority to make evil spirits come out of people and to heal every disease! Then He told us, ‘Go into the surrounding towns and villages, heal their sick and tell all the people that the Kingdom of God is about to come. Don’t take anything with you, no bag, no food and no money. And when you enter a village don’t stay in different houses, stay in just one house. And if the people in that village refuse to accept the message you bring them, then as you leave shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them.’’ ‘So we did what Jesus asked us to do. With the power He’d given us we healed the sick and we cast out demons, and most important of all, we told the people the message Jesus had given us to pass on. ‘The Kingdom of God is coming.’’ (PAUSE) ‘When we came back we told Him of all the incredible things that’d happened, and Jesus decided it’d be wise for us to get away from the huge crowds that seemed to dog His tracks, and spend some time together alone. There were so many people constantly coming and going that we couldn’t even find time to eat! So we got into a boat and started to travel across the great lake once again.’ ‘What we didn’t know, as we set sail and headed for a more peaceful area, was that some of the crowd had seen us go. And can you believe it, they ran round the lake to catch up with us, and as they went through each village, they’d point us out on the lake to the people of the village saying, ‘Look, you see that boat out there? That’s Jesus in there!’ But we didn’t know anything about this as we headed for a nice quiet spot a safe distance from the crowds, or so we thought!’ ‘We saw them even before we landed. A huge crowd all wanting to see Jesus. The rest of us couldn’t believe it and to be honest we were – how should I put this – less than impressed. But not Jesus, He saw them for what they were, like sheep without a shepherd - needing to be taught and to hear from Him. So in His compassion He taught the great crowd many things and we all stayed there a long time.’ ‘My tummy started to rumble about mid-afternoon. And by late afternoon we began to realise that if we didn’t get this massive crowd shifted soon there could be some real trouble. We’d come to such an isolated place, how were the people going to find food? We needed to send them on their way so that they could reach the villages and towns and farms in time to buy some food for themselves. So we went to Jesus, ‘Jesus,’ we said, ‘this is a pretty remote place and time’s going by. We think you should send the people away now so that they can get to the nearby farms and villages to buy themselves some food.’’ ‘It seemed a reasonable enough suggestion to us, but can you imagine our astonishment when Jesus turned to us and said, ‘No, don’t send them away, you feed them!’’ ‘‘What?’ we replied, ‘that’s impossible. It would cost a small fortune to feed this massive crowd! Not only that, but where are we going to find that much food in a place like this?’’ ‘‘Well, how much food do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Go away and find out.’’ ‘We didn’t have any food ourselves and to be honest we didn’t really know how to go about finding out how much food there was. As we stood there wondering what to do, a young lad came...
07:13
October 26, 2020
Episode NT14 - The Death of John the Baptist
Based on John chapter 3 verses 22 to 36 and Mark chapter 6 verses 14 to 29 The Death of John the Baptist His life had been outstanding. It had even begun with a miracle when his father, Zechariah, had met the angel Gabriel in the temple and been told that at long last God had heard their prayers, and would give them a son as the forerunner to the long awaited Messiah. And John’s ministry, his work, had been that of a mighty prophet as he fearlessly confronted the people with their sin, telling them that they couldn’t trust in the fact that they were born Jews, they needed to get right with God! They needed to live lives that proved they’d turned away from their evil ways and turned back to God. He even urged them to get baptised as a sign of the reality of their change of heart – the change from putting themselves first to serving God. John didn’t just preach the message for others to hear, he lived it himself! Once when his disciples saw that Jesus and His followers were baptising more people than John, they went to him to complain. But John knew that it was the Lord’s will that Jesus should become greater and greater, and that he should become less and less. He didn’t complain when he saw it happen or try to hold onto his position and reputation, rather he rejoiced knowing it was God’s will! But such a message and such a radical obedience to God brought enemies, those who didn’t want to be reminded of their evil ways and had no intention of submitting to God. All that mattered to them was the flattery of others, and what they could get for themselves – no matter who they hurt trying to get it. John’s message reminded them that there’s another place and there will be another time when the things of this world won’t mean anything and only the rule of God will matter. A message these evil people feared and would do anything in their power to silence! If John had kept quiet about the evil he saw, his life would have been so much easier. But if he’d kept quiet, although he’d have received the praise of men, he would also have received the condemnation of God – the Lord of eternity to whom we must all give an account of our lives, and who has the power to throw us into Hell! So John couldn’t keep quiet, because he saw how real eternity is and how important it is to please God and not men. For John, it all came to a head when he spoke out against the ruler Herod Antipas. Herod had broken God’s law by marrying Herodias the woman his own brother Philip had divorced. She was an evil and self-seeking woman. Herod himself might have ignored John if it wasn’t for the hatred of this wicked woman. She wanted her revenge on John for showing her up and pointing out that they’d broken the law. She should have pleaded with God to have mercy on her, to forgive her! But she cared nothing for God or what He thought, only caring about what she wanted. And what she wanted more than anything else was to put John to death for the embarrassment he’d caused her. So as a favour to Herodias, Herod had John arrested and kept in prison, but he wouldn’t have John killed because he knew John was a good man, a holy man and so he protected John from the rage of Herodias who was powerless to do anything to him. But her anger would not be calmed, and day-by-day she bided her time waiting ‘till the right opportunity came along to get rid of John once and for all. Herod often talked to John because he liked to listen to what John said, although he never really understood what John was saying and always went away from their discussions feeling disturbed. (PAUSE) Some time later it was Herod’s birthday, and he wanted to put on a fine display for his guests, including his palace aides, army officers and the leading citizens of Galilee. He wanted to show how wonderful he was, and as part of the celebrations, Herodias’ daughter, who was also called Herodias came and danced for them. Herod watched her every move totally captivated by her performance. Having
07:08
October 19, 2020
Episode NT13 - The Paralysed Man
Based on Mark chapter 2 verses 1 to 12 The Paralysed Man ‘So we’re going to do this then?’ one of the friends asked. ‘We’re going to take him to Jesus?’ The other three friends nodded their heads determinedly. ‘Jesus heals people,’ one of them said. ‘No one’s ever gone to Jesus and not been healed, so we will take him - today. I know he’d go himself if he could, but as he can’t it’s up to us and we need to leave now.’ At that, the four friends bent down and picked up the man’s stretcher-like mat and accustomed themselves to the weight. For a long time now the man had been paralysed, unable to move, and his four friends knew that this might be the only chance they’d have to take him to Jesus. So after carefully manoeuvring him out of the house, the four of them set off. Of course, this didn’t just happen; they’d been talking about it for a while. Over the last weeks and months, they’d discussed all the stories they’d heard about what Jesus had said and what Jesus had done. And their paralysed friend, we’ll call him Simeon for now although we don’t know his real name, had listened to every word. (PAUSE) It had dawned on them very slowly at first that perhaps, just maybe, Jesus could do something for Simeon. But as the idea started to sink in, and they heard more and more stories of all the incredible and wonderful things that Jesus said and did, they became convinced. Jesus was the answer, Jesus could heal Simeon – all they had to do was find out where Jesus was and take Simeon to Him. The rest would be up to Jesus. But as his friends shared all the news about Jesus, Simeon started to feel uncomfortable. Jesus had come with a message, ‘Turn away from your evil ways and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!’ How could he face Jesus when he was such a sinful man? He might be paralysed and unable to move, but did that stop him from having evil thoughts, from being rude and selfish, for wanting his own way and not caring for other people as he should? He knew he was guilty, and even though he longed for his body to be free, the real pain was in his heart, knowing that he was guilty of sin and that his real need, before anything else, was for forgiveness. It was quite a long walk to get to Jesus, and the four friends had to take frequent breaks - putting Simeon down, changing arms and sides of his stretcher-like bed and then lifting him up again and carrying on. Simeon hadn’t wanted to share what was going on inside him. Even though he felt more and more uncomfortable about meeting Jesus, especially when he knew how guilty he was of failing to be the person God wanted him to be. But he also knew he still had to go – he had to see Jesus. And after what seemed an eternity, they came to the place where Jesus was. (P) That’s when they got their first taste of reality! The place was packed to overflowing with people - because everyone wanted to see Jesus. Some, like the religious types, had come to pick holes in what Jesus said; to find something to knock Him down with to show that He wasn’t anything special after all. They filled much of the room listening to what He said, and yet because they were so intent on finding fault, they never really heard what He was saying. The rest of the space was taken up with ordinary people just like them. People who wanted to see Jesus and hear Him for themselves, and, if possible, see Him do one of the remarkable miracles that everyone was talking about. At first, the friends assumed that people would make way for them to bring Simeon to Jesus. But the other people weren’t about to give up their chance of meeting Jesus and refused to move! Simeon’s friends couldn’t believe it! Why were the people being so selfish? Why wouldn’t they make way for Simeon to be brought to Jesus? ‘What’re we going to do now?’ one of them asked. ‘There’s no way we’re going to get in there and see Jesus.’ ‘I guess we’ll just have to wait,’ another one of them said. ‘But that could take hours!’...
09:11
October 12, 2020
Episode NT12 - The Unclean
Based on Mark chapter 5 The Unclean As the boat approached the shore after the terrible storm, the disciples saw the man running their way. He was hard to miss! Naked and unkempt from years of living amongst the tombs and wandering in the wilderness - he hurried to where their boat was landing. Even as Jesus climbed out of the boat the man ran towards Him. And at seeing Jesus, he shrieked, threw himself on the ground and started screaming! ‘Why are you bothering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I’m begging you – don’t torture me!’ He was pleading with Jesus because already Jesus had started to tell the evil spirits to come out of the man and leave him alone. The evil spirits had often taken control of the man. When people had tried to put him in chains to control him, he simply smashed the chains and ran out amongst the tombs or into the wilderness screaming and shrieking and hurting himself with rocks, totally under the power of the demons. ‘Tell me,’ Jesus asked, ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Legion,’ replied the man, ‘Because there are many of us inside this man’. And then they started to beg Jesus again and again not to send them to some far off place. (PAUSE) Just nearby was a very large herd of pigs. ‘Send us into those pigs instead,’ the demons begged, and Jesus gave them permission. So, at Jesus’ command, the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs. (P) As they did, it looked as if the whole hillside was moving. The herdsmen watched in horror as the whole herd of two thousand pigs stampeded down the hillside and drowned in the lake! The herdsmen were terrified and ran as quickly as they could to the nearby city telling everyone they met what they’d seen and what had happened to the pigs! Within no time at all a crowd gathered around Jesus, the people wanting to see for themselves if what the herdsmen had said was true. And what they saw filled them with fear, for as they came to Jesus, there in front of him sat the man they’d always know to be demon possessed. Before, he’d been like a madman, screaming and shrieking and running around the tombs, but now, although they recognised his face, it was almost as if a new man was sitting there. For he was no longer controlled by demons, but completely sane, clothed and sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet. As the crowds gathered, those who’d seen the whole thing happen told the newcomers how Jesus had healed the demon possessed man and what’d happened to the pigs. (PAUSE) How should the people have responded to have amongst them One so powerful? Surly they should have welcomed Him into their homes having decided to turn away from all their evil deeds. They should have begged Him to teach them, to show them how they could become children of the Most High God. But instead, in their fear and because of losing their pigs, they begged the One who had come to heal them - to go away and leave them alone. (P) And so Jesus started to leave. As Jesus got into the boat, the man who’d been possessed begged Him, ‘Lord please, let me come with you.’ But He refused to let the man come, and instead told him, ‘No, you stay here and go home and tell all your friends what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful He’s been.’ And so as Jesus and His disciples set sail for the other side of the lake, the man stayed and did just as Jesus had commanded. Travelling to all the towns and cities of that area he told everyone about the great things Jesus had done for him, and all who heard these things were amazed. (PAUSE) When Jesus’ boat arrived back on the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around Him on the shore. News of all that Jesus had done was well known in the region, so it wasn’t too surprising when someone came to Him, begging Him to heal their daughter. This person, Jairus, was the leader of the local Jewish meeting place, the synagogue, and he was terrified that his precious daughter, his only child was about to die. ‘Please,’ he...
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October 05, 2020
Episode NT11 - A Stormy Time
Based on Mark chapter 4 verses 35 to 41 A Stormy Time Jesus had been working hard all day - teaching crowds of people about God, listening to their problems, healing the sick and showing them God’s love. It’d been a long hard day and He was very tired. So when evening came He said to His friends, ‘Come on, let’s go to the other side of the lake.’ It was a big lake called ‘The Sea of Galilee’. Some of Jesus’ followers - His ‘disciples’ were fishermen who’d grown up working on the Sea of Galilee. So they said, ‘OK Jesus, get into the boat and we’ll take you across to the other side.’ So Jesus, shattered from His hard day’s work, got into the boat, found a cushion for His head and laid down at the end of the boat, probably under some covers. And as they left the crowds behind, He fell into one of those – deep, dreamless sleeps that you sometimes fall into when you’re really - really tired. (P) The fishermen sailed the boat quietly on a gentle breeze, while the other disciples who weren’t fishermen sat in the boat, chatting over some of the things that’d happened during the day. And off they went into the middle of the lake. But when the boat reached the middle of the lake, something started to happen! The gentle breeze that’d helped them along so far - suddenly changed direction. And no longer was it a gentle breeze - but a howling gale! It rushed at the boat, threatening to capsize it! The fishermen leapt forward to the sail to drag it down before the boat was blown over. - And then - the wind started to whip up the waves. So far they’d lapped gently at the boat, but now they started to grow, while the wind snatched the spray and lashed it into the faces of the disciples as they fought to control the boat. The waves that had been gentle ripples were now enormous mountains racing towards them one after another. One moment the boat was heading straight up to the sky - and then over the top and hurtling down the other side, almost as if it wanted to bury itself into the bottom of the sea. They didn’t know what to do. They tried to turn the boat toward the waves, but it was impossible as wave after wave came at them from different directions. And as each wave hit - it was almost as if it wanted to smash the tiny boat to pieces, to turn it into matchwood. Either that or sink it, as the furious waves cascaded gallons of water into the boat! Those who weren’t fishermen baled the water out as fast as they could. But no matter how hard they bailed, trying to protect their eyes from the stinging spray, the boat got fuller and fuller! Even the fishermen, men who’d grown up living on these waters and knew all about them, had never seen a storm like this. What were they going to do? The boat was going to be destroyed. They were all going to drown! What about poor Jesus at the back? (P) What about poor Je…! JESUS! Jesus did miracles! Almost as one man they rushed to Jesus, grabbing hold of Him and shaking Him awake! ‘Jesus – Jesus, don’t you care that we’re all going to drown?’ Jesus woke up from His deep sleep, and quickly took in the situation. And then with a slightly puzzled look on His face He slowly made His way to the mast - as the boat was being tossed and turned in the raging sea. Then taking hold of the mast, He stood up. And towards the wind He shouted, ‘Peace.’ And at the waters, ‘Be still.’ As the words left His mouth, instantly, the wind that had been a howling gale died to nothing at all. And the water, which had been churning violently, became completely calm. And then Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, ‘Why were you so afraid?’ He asked. (P) ‘Do you still not trust me?’ (P) The disciples, who’d been terrified of the raging winds and waters, felt even more frightened now. A different kind of frightened – because they found themselves asking each other, ‘Who is this man, that even the wind and waves - obey His every word?’
05:05
September 28, 2020
Episode NT10 - A Foreigner with Faith
Based on Luke chapter 7 verses 1 to 17 A foreigner with faith ‘I am a Centurion, a soldier of Rome and an officer in charge of 100 men. My commander has placed me here in Israel, in the town of Capernaum where I look after the interests of Rome and also do my best to work well with the people I rule over.’ ‘When my commander sent me to Capernaum I did not question his command, but simply obeyed – as is my duty. And when I commanded my the 100 solders to come and set up barracks in Capernaum, they too did not question my command, but obeyed it – as is their duty.’ ‘And during my time here I have learnt much about the religious beliefs of the Jewish people, and of the Great God they worship. I have learnt that He is sovereign – the absolute ruler over all things.’ ‘And my dealings with the Jews have gone well so far, and, as it was in my power, I built a meeting place for them to come together and learn from their Holy writing – they call this place a synagogue. (P) We have grown close, these Jewish leaders and I, and I am satisfied with our relationship.’ ‘But one day, not so long ago something went wrong – something that no one seemed able to do anything about. There are many servants and slaves in my household, and I try to treat them well, but one day I was called to one side to be told that one of the young men in my household, a slave of whom I am very fond, had taken ill and was on his death bed.’ ‘At once I sent for the doctors to come and see what could be done. But after much time with the young man, I was told that there was no hope and that he would surely die. I was furious! What good is my authority and power now when I cannot do a single thing to save the life of my servant? And so I asked, is there nothing that can be done? Is there nobody who can help? (P) It was then that I was told about this man - Jesus. Of all the miracles He had performed, of all the people He had healed – and - by the grace of God - that He was close by.’ ‘But why should such a man, a Holy and Pure man, a true Man of God come to my house, the house of His enemy – the house of the occupier that was so despised by most of the people of the land? What could I do that would make this Man come and heal my servant?’ ‘And so I set upon a plan. I called at once on the leaders of the synagogue, those men for whom I had gone out of my way to help, and I asked them to go and see this Jesus on my behalf. (P) They honoured me by agreeing to go and ask Him to come and heal my servant, whose condition grew worse by the hour. And so they hurried off.’ ‘But as they left, I began to think more about who this Jesus must be. There was no doubt that He was a man filled with the power of the living God, for how else could He do all these wonderful deeds. But what if He were more? What if He were God Himself – come as a man and with total power over all sickness and disease? What other explanation could there be? How else could this man do such wonderful things? And then I started to fear, who am I to ask such a person to come to my house? How can I, a nobody in this world, ask this wonderful Man to leave what He’s doing to come to my house and heal my servant?’ ‘And so, I sent some of my own servants to meet Jesus before He arrived. And this was the message I gave them to pass on to Him. ‘Lord, please do not trouble yourself to come to my house; I am not worthy of such an honour. I am not even worthy to come and meet with you myself. But if you will just say the word - right where you are, then my servant will be healed. (P) I understand this, because I am a man under authority – answerable to my superior officer. And I too, have authority over my soldiers. If I say to one of them ‘Go’, they go. And if I say ‘Come,’ they come. And, if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this or do that,’ they do it. So I know that if you command it, the sickness will leave and my slave will be well again.’ ‘After that I waited. And I now know exactly when my message was...
07:07
September 21, 2020
Episode NT9 - Healing a Leper
Based on Luke chapter 4 verses 38 to 41 and Luke chapter 5 verses 12 to 16 Healing a Leper Today, leprosy can be cured. But in the days of Jesus, before the cure was found, it was one of the worst and most terrible of things that could happen to a person. If you got leprosy, your life would never be the same again, there was no hope for you – except to live your life in exile away from all other people – except other lepers! At the slightest sign of the disease taking hold of a person - they were driven away by everyone else. If you were a mother or a father, you could never hold your children again or have the embrace of your loved ones. Isolated and excluded from your home, you’d be forced to live far away for healthy people in case you gave them the disease. Your family might bring food for you, but they would always leave it some distance away, and shout some kind of message to you to let you know where it was. But all you’d see of them would be their backs as they ran away. But it wasn’t just the fear of catching the disease that made your family keep away. How could they bear to watch you as the illness took hold and you became more and more disfigured as it destroyed your skin, disfiguring your face, wrecking your hands and feet. How could they bear to watch you fall to pieces? And so they keep away – and maybe you’d live wishing you were dead, while the disease left you living year after year with your body becoming more and more unrecognisable. Thank God that today we have a cure for this terrible illness. But at that time, it wasn’t since the days of Naaman, when the great prophet Elisha was alive that anyone had been healed of leprosy. And that was a great miracle performed by the mighty power of God working from Elisha. And only one person, Naaman, the commander of an enemy, had been healed! Since then, no one else had been healed - so it seemed there was no hope. But not all gave up hope; at least not when they started to hear about Jesus! Jesus was travelling around healing people or all kinds of illnesses. Even amongst the small groups of lepers who lived together outside the towns or cities of Israel - the news of Jesus had started to spread. There had been stories of how Jesus had healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, who lay dying of a fever. It was said that everyone in the house begged Jesus to heal to her, and then, standing at her bedside, he’d spoken to the fever, telling it to go, and immediately her temperature returned to normal and she was completely well. After that she’d got up and on with her life – looking after Jesus and preparing a meal for everyone in the house! And after that, there were told of many more healings. Apparently, at the end of the day, all the people from the village brought their sick to Jesus – and no matter how ill they were – no matter what sickness they had – Jesus had healed every single one of them! (PAUSE) Jesus healed every single one of them! If Jesus had healed all those sick people, could He heal - a leper? The question kept going round and round the man’s head. If Jesus could heal every disease and sickness that He came across, did that mean He could heal a leper as well? ‘What do you think?’ He asked the other lepers in his group. ‘Do you think Jesus could heal a leper – like me?’ ‘Look at you,’ another one of them replied. ‘You’re a mess! You’ve had leprosy for years, your body’s full of it. No one can cure leprosy – I don’t care what stories you’ve heard – and even if they could, you’re too far gone. Stop thinking about it, you’ll only make matters worse when you find out He can’t heal you.’ But the man didn’t stop thinking about it. Day and night he thought about all that Jesus had done. Not only had Jesus healed all those people of their illnesses. But He’d even saved people who were possessed by evil spirits. All He did was command the spirits to leave and they came out of the people with a shout, screaming, ‘You are the Son of God.’ It seems...
08:22
September 14, 2020
Episode NT8 - Life-Giving Water
Based on John chapter 4 verses 1 to 42 Life-Giving Water As Jesus and His disciples travelled north to Galilee they went through a part of Israel called Samaria, filled with people who weren’t pure blooded Jews. The pure Jews looked down on the Samarian’s and, the Samarian’s hated the Jews. Both did everything they could to avoid each other. As they travelled through Samaritan territory, they came to the village of Sychar. Jesus was very tired from the long walk and sat down at the side of a well - at about midday, while His disciples went on into the village to buy some food. Now, normally, the women of the village would come at a certain times of day to collect water for their families. A woman wouldn’t usually go on her own to the well unless there was some kind of trouble – maybe the other women were being nasty about her, or there was some kind of emergency. But, for whatever reason, today, as Jesus sat beside the well, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the deep well. As well as not liking Samaritans, Jewish men – and especially teachers and leaders – avoided contact with all women outside their house, even Jewish women. They wouldn’t even talk to a woman out on the street – it wasn’t the ‘done thing’. So can you imagine this woman’s surprise when a Jewish man looked over to where she was drawing water and actually spoke to her? A Jew talking to a Samaritan was unusual enough, but a Jewish man talking to a Samaritan woman! This was unheard of! ‘Please, would you give me a drink?’ Jesus asked. As the woman poured a drink for Jesus she looked at Him with a puzzled look on her face. ‘You’re a Jew,’ she said, ‘and I’m a Samaritan woman! Why are you asking me for a drink?’ ‘If you knew the gift God’s got for you - and who I am,’ Jesus replied, ‘then you’d be asking me for a drink and I’d give you living water.’ The woman laughed to herself, how could this man, without bucket or rope, draw water from the well? ‘You don’t have a bucket or rope,’ she said. ‘So where are you going to get this ‘living water’ from then?’ She asked. ‘Those who drink the water from this well end up getting thirsty again.’ Jesus replied, ‘But the water I give takes away thirst altogether. And not only that, it becomes a never ending spring inside them, giving them eternal life!’ You see, Jesus wasn’t talking about ordinary water He was talking about the Holy Spirit who gives eternal life! But the woman still hadn’t understood, and thinking how wonderful it would be to not need to come to the well each day she said. ‘Oh, please sir, give me some of that water. That way I won’t get thirsty again and need to come here everyday.’ ‘Go and get your husband,’ Jesus told her. This was suddenly getting uncomfortable for the woman. ‘I don’t have a husband,’ she replied. ‘That’s right,’ Jesus said. ‘In fact you’ve had five husbands and the man you’re living with now you aren’t even married to!’ The woman hadn’t expected this! Who was this man? She wanted to change the topic as quickly as she could. ‘I can see you’re a prophet. Erm, tell me, why do you Jews insist on worshiping God at the Temple in Jerusalem while we Samaritans say we should worship God here at Mount Gerizim?’ ‘A time’s coming soon when it won’t matter where you worship the Father.’ Jesus replied. ‘You Samaritans don’t really know much about the God you worship, while we Jews know all about Him, because salvation comes through the Jews. But a time’s coming, in fact, it’s already here, when true worshippers of the Father will worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ The woman was beginning to struggle with all Jesus was saying, ‘I know the Messiah will come,’ she said, ‘the one they call the Christ and He’ll explain everything to us.’ ‘I am that Messiah!’ said Jesus. (PAUSE) As Jesus spoke, the disciples returned. (P) And they couldn’t believe their eyes! Jesus was talking with a Samaritan, and to make things even more uncomfortable, a Samaritan...
06:48
September 07, 2020
Episode NT7 - A Visit at Night
Based on John chapter 3 verses 1 to 21 A visit at Night Jesus was a popular man, people wanted to - just be around Him! So it was hard for the serious religious leader to find the time and place to meet with Him. And what if you were one of THE top religious leaders? What would people think if you spent a long time debating religious matters in full view of all the ordinary non-religious types? That would never do. So Nicodemus decided the best time for him to go and see Jesus would be at night! Nicodemus didn’t know what to expect as he made his way through the deserted streets. The cool night air made him pull his cloak tighter around his shoulders. Who was Jesus? God was certainly working through Him, and, He was a good teach – even though He’d never been to any religious schools. Shortly after knocking on the door, Nicodemus found himself standing before the smiling Jesus. He cleared his throat and started to speak, ‘Teacher, we realise that God has sent you to teach us. That much is obvious from the miracles that you’ve done…’ But before he could say anything else, Jesus replied. ‘I’m going to tell you something that’s absolutely true! Unless you’re born again, you can never see God’s Kingdom.’ Born again? What was Jesus talking about? How could anyone be born twice – it didn’t make any sense! ‘What’re talking about?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘How can an old man get back inside his mother to be born a second time?’ But Jesus wasn’t talking about being born a second time from your mother. He was talking about becoming something new – becoming a child of God and having the right to be part of God’s Kingdom! So He said, ‘the truth is this. No one can enter God’s Kingdom – unless they’ve been born of water and the Spirit. You see, human beings can only reproduce human beings, but the Holy Spirit gives an entirely new life to people – directly from heaven. That’s what I was talking about when I said, you must be born again. (P) All this was a bit much for Nicodemus, ‘But what do you mean?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you understand?’ Jesus replied. ‘If anyone should understand it’s you, you’re a top Jewish teacher?’ And then Jesus started to talk about something that happened many years earlier when Moses was alive. (P) One time in the wilderness, the Israelites angered God with their moaning. To punish them, God sent poisonous snakes that killed many. Then, the people cried out to God to forgive them and save them. So God told Moses to make a large bronze model of a poisonous snake and put it on a pole so that everyone could see it. And God promised that if anyone who’d been bitten by a poisonous snake - looked up at the bronze snake - they’d recover and be saved from certain death. ‘You see,’ Jesus continued, ‘as Moses lifted up the bronze snake in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole (He was talking about His crucifixion yet to come) and everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.’ Ah! Eternal life? So being born again was the same as having eternal life – and it all came through believing in Jesus! Like in the wilderness with those poisonous snakes. Everyone who looked to the bronze snake on a pole had their lives saved because they believed what God’d told them. And now Jesus was saying that when anyone looked to Him, believing what He said – they’d have eternal life! (P) But why would God want to do this when we’re all so bad? ‘God loves the people of this world so much,’ Jesus carried on. ‘That He gave the most important thing He had to save them, His Son, so that everyone who believes in God’s Son won’t perish, instead they’ll get eternal life!’ ‘You see, everyone who trusts God’s Son won’t have to face God’s judgement. But, those who don’t trust him have already been judged – because they won’t believe in the only Son of God.’ As Nicodemus went back out into the cold night air after talking with Jesus, I wonder what he’d made of it all? But one thing he must have
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September 07, 2020
Episode NT6 - Water at a Wedding!
Based on John chapter 1 verse 29 to chapter 2 verse 11 Water at a Wedding! ‘Look’, said John as Jesus walked towards him. ‘There’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. I didn’t know He was the One, but my work of baptising people was to point to Him! You see, God told me that when I saw the Holy Spirit come down and rest upon someone, that person would be the One I was waiting for. I didn’t know it was Jesus until I saw it happen – the Spirit of God came down and rested on Him! He’s the One you’re looking for. He’s the One who’ll baptise with the Holy Spirit – I saw this happen to Jesus, so I can say with absolute certainty that He is the Son of God,’ Next day as John stood with two of his followers, Jesus walked by. ‘Look,’ said John. ‘The Lamb of God!’ At this, the two followers turned and started to follow Jesus. When Jesus looked round and saw them he asked, ‘What do you want?’ ‘Teacher,’ they replied, ‘where’re you staying?’ ‘Come and see,’ He replied. And they stayed with Him for the rest of the day. (PAUSE) One of those two followers was a man named names Andrew who had a brother called Simon Peter. As soon as he could Andrew rushed off to find his brother. ‘Guess what?’ he said. ‘We’ve found the Messiah! Come on, come and meet Him.’ So Andrew took Simon to meet Jesus who looked closely at him. ‘You’re names Simon, son of John,’ He said. ‘But you will be called Peter.’ Next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and as he prepared to go He found Philip. ‘Come on,’ He said. ‘Come and be my disciple.’ And then, just like Andrew had before, Philip rushed off to find his friend Nathanael. ‘We’ve found the person Moses and all the prophets wrote about long long ago.’ He said, ‘His name’s Jesus, Son of Joseph, from Nazareth!’ ‘Nazareth!’ Nathanael answered. ‘Nazareth? Surely nothing good can come from that place?’ ‘Come and see for yourself,’ Philip answered, and took Nathanael to Jesus. And as they approached Jesus He looked at Nathanael and said, ‘Now here’s an honest man – a true son of Israel.’ This took Nathanael by surprise. ‘But you don’t know me.’ He replied. ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip came to you.’ Jesus replied. This was mind blowing for Nathanael. How could Jesus have known about him if He wasn’t who Philip had just said He was, and so he spluttered out. ‘T-T- Teacher, you really are the Son of God – the king of Israel!’ Jesus smiled. ‘You believe that just because I told you I saw under the fig tree? Well, you’re going to see far greater things than that!’ He said. ‘One day you’ll see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down upon the Son of Man.’ (PAUSE) Not long after this Jesus and His close followers, called His disciples, were invited to a wedding celebration in the small village of Cana. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was also there as a guest. Now, in those days wedding feasts could last anything up to a week - so they had to be planned well in advance - so the host didn’t run out of food and wine for his guests. To run out of things would be a great embarrassment to the bridegroom who’d find it hard to live down –a very bad start to your married life! Now, maybe they hadn’t counted on Jesus and His disciples turning up, or maybe they’d just made a terrible mistake! But whatever the cause, the wine supply began to run low and was in danger of running out completely! And as it ran out, Mary called Jesus to one side for a chat. ‘Son, they’ve run out of wine!’ ‘How does that concern you and me?’ He asked. ‘ My time hasn’t come yet.’ (P) Mary new her son, and she knew that He could help. But Jesus wanted Mary to understand that the power God had given Him wasn’t simply to get His own family out of trouble. It was given to show people who He was and how much God loves them. But instead of getting cross and upset at His reply, Mary understood that she should leave it with Jesus and trust Him to do whatever was best and right. And so turning to the servants she...
07:08
August 31, 2020
Episode NT5 - Baptised and Tested
Based on Luke chapter 3 verses 1 – 20 and Matthew chapter 3 verse 13 to chapter 4 verse 11 Baptised and Tempted ‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes? Who warned you about the coming judgement?’ Did he know who he was talking to? Had John gone completely out of his mind? He was calling the people of Israel – Jews – descendents of Abraham - a bunch of evil snakes! This prophet, this man of the wilderness was certainly causing a stir! (PAUSE) Just the look of John was enough to worry most people. His clothes were made of woven camel hair with a big leather belt around it all to hold it together! And he came out of the wilderness preaching … the Kingdom of Heaven was near. ‘Turn away from your evil deeds,’ he shouted. ‘And turn back to God before it’s too late! The Kingdom of Heaven is near.’ Just a short while before, this unusual man who had lived in the wilderness, eating locust and wild honey, had received a message from God. It was to time for him to start to warn the people to turn away from their evil ways and be baptised! But only non-Jews were baptised – to show that they had changed and wanted to become part of the Jewish people, Jews were already the people of God, weren’t they? Surely they didn’t need to be baptised? ‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes?’ John continued. ‘Who warned you of the coming judgement? Don’t just pretend to be holy, prove that you really are children of God by the way you live your lives. Show by your words and deeds that you have turned away from sin and turned back to God. And don’t think that you’re safe just because you happen to be Jews – descendants of Abraham! God could change these stones into children of Abraham if He wanted – just being born a Jew won’t keep you safe! For even now the axe of God’s judgement is poised, ready to blow, to cut at your roots! Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.’ When he talked about trees he was using it as an example of what would happen to the people, everyone who didn’t turn to God and live a good life would have to face terrible punishment! As John preached, the people realised that something new was happening. Many years before a prophet called Isaiah had talked about John and written about him saying, ‘He is a voice shouting in the wilderness; ‘Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming! Make a straight road for Him!’’ So who was John? Could he be the Messiah himself? Was he the one they’d all been waiting for? ‘All those who turn away from their past self-centred lives and decide to live lives that please God, I baptise with water,’ John shouted. ‘But there is another person coming. And He is so much greater than me I’m not even worthy to be His slave. I baptise with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate out those who are truly children of God and those who only seem to be. Like a farmer separating the grains of wheat from the chaff they grew in, so He will separate those who love God and those who don’t. The one He will gather to Himself, but the other – like chaff – will be burnt with everlasting fire.’ So John was just a messenger - preparing the people for the coming Messiah. (PAUSE) One day as John was preaching, Jesus arrived to see him – and asked to be baptised! ‘Surely not!’ said John. ‘Surely you should be the one baptising me? You don’t need to be baptised, you haven’t committed any sin?’ But Jesus looked at John and said, ‘John, it must be done. I must do everything that’s right.’ Shaking his head in amazement, John took hold of Jesus and lowered Him down into the water and then back out again. And as He came up out of the water the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God, in the shape of a dove, descended and settled on Him. And as this happened so a voice from Heaven – the voice of God - thundered, ‘This is my beloved Son, I am fully pleased with Him.’ (PAUSE) As all these wonderful things happened, the...
08:16
August 24, 2020
Episode NT4 - Wise Men & Mortal Danger
Based on Matthew chapter 2 Wise Men and Mortal Danger Many miles from Israel, in a land where people didn’t really know God properly, men gazed into the skies - trying to find meaning and guidance from the stars. In their ignorance of God they looked to the stars to find out His plans, and, even though God wouldn’t want us to do the same thing today, He was to have mercy of these ‘wise men’ of the eastern lands. And as they turned their eyes to the heavens something new appeared in the night sky, a star they had never seen before. These men were men of learning and wisdom and spent many long hours trying to discover what this new star could mean. And as they tried to find out, so God Himself started to reveal to them what almost no one else knew. This star was a sign from God to guide these men, from a far away land, to find – a King! A newborn King. THE - newborn King of the Jews. Just how God revealed all this to them we don’t know, it was a miracle. God was leading men from far away, people who weren’t Jews and who some thought had no right to even know about the King of the Jews – to seek out and find Him! Overjoyed with their discovery and certain that everyone in Israel must know about Him already, the wise men loaded their camels and set out to find the newborn King of the Jews. It was easy, all they had to do was follow the star. But as the men came to Israel, the star that had so clearly lead them this far - disappeared! What were they to do? Well, to them it was obvious, go and see the rulers in Jerusalem and ask them where He was and how they could find Him. Meanwhile, without any knowledge of the newborn King, the present king of Israel, Herod, sat on his throne. Old and ill this evil man ruled with a rod of iron – no matter who came against him, even if it were his own sons, they were shown no mercy! His fear of losing his kingdom would make him fight to his last breath to hold on to what he’d taken - no matter how many lives it cost. But as the wise men arrived and started to ask their questions, at first they were shocked that no one in Jerusalem knew anything about the newborn King! Jerusalem was the capital city of Israel, why didn’t anyone know anything about this wonderful news? Why were they so ignorant? And so the wise men asked more and more people how they could find the newborn King. (P) Instantly Jerusalem was in uproar and it took no time at all for king Herod to hear of the strangers’ questions! And when he did, the evil old king was deeply troubled – who was this baby that would challenge him as king? (PAUSE) Could they be talking about the long awaited Messiah? Quickly, he called his religious advisers and demanded that they tell him where the Messiah would be born. ‘Bethlehem,’ came the reply. ‘The prophet wrote many years ago; 'O Bethlehem of Judah, you aren’t just a lowly village, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.' (PAUSE) So it was Bethlehem! Bethlehem, just a short journey south from Jerusalem would be where the baby King could be found. With this information in hand, Herod hatched his plot. He called the wise men to a secret meeting and with all his evil cunning - he fixed a holy and sincere look on his face. ‘This is such wonderful news,’ he lied, ‘My people have been waiting so many years for the Messiah to be born, and I too wish to go and worship him. Tell me, how long ago did this star first appear in the sky?’ (P) The wise men could never have known the pain that their answer was to bring. ‘The star first appeared 2 years ago,’ they replied. Then Herod continued, ‘The birthplace of the Messiah is Bethlehem. Go there and make a careful search for the child. And when you’ve found Him, come back here and tell me where He is - so that I too can go and worship.’ His face and voice may have sounded sincere, but there was murder in Herod’s heart! With this news the wise men set off for Bethlehem - alone! All Jerusalem...
08:34
August 17, 2020
Episode NT3 - The Shepherds & the Angels
Based on Luke chapter 2 verses 1 - 20 The Shepherds and the Angels The last couple of days had been the most uncomfortable of Mary’s life. Not only was she heavily pregnant with the baby due any moment, but she’d also been forced to go on a long journey to Bethlehem with Joseph. The Emperor of Rome no less, had commanded that everyone return to their family home to be counted. Joseph was a descendent of the great king David, who originally came from Bethlehem, so, as the Roman Emperor had commanded - Mary and Joseph obeyed and travelled to Bethlehem! It hadn’t helped that when they’d arrived at Bethlehem all the inns were full! Mercifully, one kind innkeeper let them stay in his stable out the back. It was a far from ideal place to have your first baby, but Mary wasn’t in any condition to argue! Because no sooner had they arrived than the baby was born. Mary wrapped Him in strips of cloth, and laid Him down to sleep in the safest place she could think of – the animal’s feeding trough. To be honest it was all pretty unremarkable. (P) But that all changed when later that night they had visitors with incredible stories of Angels! (PAUSE) Out on the cold hills around Bethlehem the shepherds kept watch over their sheep. It wasn’t a very popular job being a shepherd. In fact most people looked down on shepherds these days, as they were about as low on the social scale as you could get! But they weren’t thinking about that as Zebedee told the other shepherds another one of his tall tales. But just as Zebedee finished his story and lent forwards to throw another stick on the fire, suddenly an incredible and frightening light (if ever there was such a thing) shone all around them. The stick fell from Zebedee’s hand, and a look of sheer terror swept across his face. The other shepherds saw his terror and turned to see what he was looking at. As they looked, they too froze in horror, for right before them stood a terrifying Angel. Frightening thoughts flashed through their minds and fear gripped at their hearts. But then the Angel spoke. ‘Don’t be afraid! For I bring wonderful and joyful news for you and for everyone. - The Saviour – yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born this very night in Bethlehem, the city of David!’ The Saviour? The Messiah? The people of Israel had been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of year, and now this Angel was telling them, mere shepherds, that the Messiah had come! But how were they going to find Him in Bethlehem? Before they could ask, the Angel spoke again. ‘And this is how you will know who He is.’ They lent forward, not wanting to miss a word. ‘You will find the baby wrapped in strips of cloth… and lying in an animal’s feeding trough.’ WHAT! In an animal’s feeding trough? Was he serious? Kings slept in royal palaces with royal beds and the finest quality sheets – they didn’t live with animals, get wrapped up in strips of clothe like poor people wrap their babies up with - and have an animals feeding trough as their bed! But how could they argue with this angel? Who could hear him and not believe every word he said? And before they’d had time to think any more about it, an incredible sight opened before their eyes as 10 000 times 10 000 Angels - the armies of Heaven – filled the skies. Unable to hold back their joy any longer, the Angels sang in their delight, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to all those the Lord God favours. It was incredible, wonderful, frightening and … and even more incredible. (P) But all too soon the Angels returned to heaven. (PAUSE) No one wanted to break the wonder of the moment, but after a while Zebedee said, ‘Come on then. Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this child, this wonderful thing the Lord’s told us about.’ And then, it was almost like a race - as they charged down to Bethlehem to see if what the Angel had said was true. And sure enough, there was the baby exactly as the Angel had said. After seeing the baby, the...
05:38
August 17, 2020
Episode NT2 - Jesus' Birth Fortold
Based on Luke chapter 1 verses 26 - 80 Jesus Birth Foretold What was she to think? This news was incredible! Amazing! Frightening! But how could it happen? She wasn’t even married and had never ‘been’ with any man? How could she have a baby? Gathering herself together, Mary spluttered out her question to the enormous and frightening angel who had just spoken to her. ‘But how can I have a baby? I’m not even married – I’m a virgin!’ (PAUSE) In just a few moments - Mary’s life had been turned on its head. Just minuets before she’d been thinking about her engagement to Joseph and all they had to look forward too together. Joseph was a fine man, a carpenter who seemed to be doing very well, and although she was still young, Mary felt sure that all would be well. But now this – this angel - who suddenly appeared from nowhere, had changed everything! As Mary had been going about her normal jobs for the day, suddenly the angel Gabriel appeared. When Mary saw him, she didn’t know what to do or think! Terrified by his appearance, she watched opened mouth as he began to speak! ‘Greetings most favoured of women, the Lord is with you!’ What on earth did that mean? Why was he speaking to her? A no one from the backwater village of Nazareth in Galilee! Why was she favoured? Mary simply couldn’t understand! And then Gabriel spoke again. ‘"Don't be frightened, Mary," he said, "God’s decided to bless you! You’re going to become pregnant and have a son, and you’re to call him Jesus. He will be very great and called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over Israel forever - for his Kingdom will never end!" And so Mary had asked her question, ‘But how can I have a baby? I’m not even married - I’m a virgin!’ And that’s also when Mary discovered just how special this baby was to be. As Gabriel explained, she realised that this child would not be like a normal baby who’s a completely new person, a mixture of their mum and dad. Nor was He to be some kind of terrible mixture of Mary and God (what a horrible thought that is)! (P) No, (P) this baby was to be no less than God Himself. But coming to be with us as a human being, just like you and me. The power of God the Father was going to overshadow her, God the Holy Spirit was going to rest upon her and the child that would be formed inside her was to be God the Son – the Son who had existed from eternity and who would continue to exist for ever and ever! And not only that, this child would be the long awaited Messiah, the Saviour! No wonder the angel Gabriel had said she was the most favoured of women. Every Israelite woman who had every lived had hoped to be the mother of the Messiah, and now, completely unexpectedly, she was told that she was to be the one – the mother of the Messiah! And, as if he couldn’t hold himself back, Gabriel continued with more wonderful news, this time about Elizabeth, Mary’s relative! ‘What's more,’ He continued, ‘Elizabeth is now pregnant - in her old age! People used to say she was barren, that she couldn’t have children, but now she's already six months pregnant! For with God, nothing is impossible." (PAUSE) This was the second time Gabriel had come to tell people about special babies, the first time was when he spoke to Zechariah about the birth of his son John. Zechariah hadn’t believed Gabriel, and, as punishment for not believing what the angel was telling him, he was made unable to hear or speak a word until all that the angel had promised came about. (P) So how would Mary respond? Would she believe him or not? (PAUSE) Still shaken by all she’d seen, and almost overwhelmed by what the angel had said, Mary opened her mouth to speak. (P) ‘I am the Lord's servant,’ she started, ‘and I ‘m willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you’ve said - come true.’ - At that, the angel left. Elizabeth lived some distance away in the hill country to the south, so Mary made...
07:36
August 10, 2020
Episode NT1 - The Silent Priest
Based on Luke chapter 1 verses 5 - 25 The Silent Priest For four hundred years the Lord had been silent. No prophets had been born in Israel and even though many things had happened, the Lord hadn’t sent anyone to tell the people what He thought – all they had was what we call the Old Testament – with all God’s law and the wonderful stories of what the Lord had done many years before. But the Old Testament had left the people wanting more. God had promised Israel a Saviour, a Messiah, who would one day come as a descendent of the great king David, and rule forever and ever. And to make matters worse, the Israelites no longer ruled themselves! Some time ago the Romans had invaded their land and taken it over, so the people now lived under Roman control and longed for the coming of the Saviour – the Messiah – who they thought would save them from the nasty Romans! But they didn’t understand! God HAD promised to send the Messiah, the mighty Saviour, but God wasn’t thinking about the problem of the Romans! What did it matter who ruled over the people – if the people could never be set free from the guilt of all the bad things they’d done? If the people couldn’t be forgiven, then they could never be friends with God! This was the problem God had in mind when He talked about a Messiah, to deal with the real problem of sin and death once and for all – but it was going to take a long time for the people to realise that they’d got it all wrong! (PAUSE) There was a man and wife who lived in Israel at that time. The man’s name was Zechariah and he was a priest who served God in the temple for 2 weeks every year. His wife’s name was Elizabeth – she was also a member of the priestly tribe called the Levites. Zechariah and Elizabeth loved the Lord God and were good as far as God was concerned, always being careful to do all the things the Lord had commanded. But like many people at that time, Zechariah and Elizabeth were longing for the time when God would send the Messiah, the Saviour – to save the people, and they would often pray to the Lord that He would arrive soon. But even though Zechariah and Elizabeth loved the Lord and tried to please Him in every way, the Lord had left them without any children. (P) To be childless was seen as a terrible disgrace, because people often thought that when a woman couldn’t have children - it was a sign that God wasn’t happy with her! And now Zechariah and Elizabeth were very old, well beyond the time when they could normally have children. (P) During the 2 weeks of service at the temple in Jerusalem which Zechariah and his priestly order, the order of Abijah, did every year, the time came to chose someone to go into the temple sanctuary and burn incense at the incense alter! There were many priests in the order of Abijah, and the way of choosing someone to go in was by casting lots! Casting lots is kind-a like throwing dice - the one who gets the highest number is the one who’s chosen to go in. (P) This job, of burning incense, was a very important job that if you were lucky enough to be chosen, you could only do once in your lifetime, and many priests never got the chance to do i