“Mmmm…. Capernwray, Grandma.” A time machine arrived at school (as they do) and in her planning, Diane phoned our eldest grandson to consult him: “Euan, if a time machine arrived at your school, where in the whole world would you go?” Euan had been very chatty up to that point; there now followed a long pause while he thought, and then with slow deliberation, he declared ‘Capernwray’. This is a bible school located near Carnforth at which Euan has spent several very happy summer holidays on a families’ week. Diane was looking for an imaginative location, but Euan reached for the happiest real memory that he had, Capernwray. It’s a tribute to the team there, but not quite the idea for which Diane was looking.
Aedan looked at me sadly, and declared, “All my pennies are in my tummy.” I assumed the sad declaration meant he’d bought and eaten a sweet, probably some time ago as this was just after the evening service at church. Further conversation revealed the awful accuracy of his comment. Given a pound to spend on sweets, he’d put it in his mouth without being seen, run, tripped and swallowed. An extensive search did not prove the adult theory that he only assumed he had swallowed his pound; two days later, he triumphantly received his pound back, now a little black and green; as they say, all things come to pass!
From Euan, we looked for a wild unfettered imagination, and from Aedan we assumed his story was the product of such a wild unfettered imagination. In reality, neither had made up stories; our imagination is usually severely limited by our – and others – actual experience. Details will change in the telling (the fur slippers in the French version of Cinderella become the impractical glass slippers in English!), but even our wildest imagination is limited by extrapolation from experience.
A ‘new’ discovery was announced recently: an ‘early’ document scrap shows Jesus was married! The scrap is 200 to 500 years after the time of Jesus, so not exactly contemporary. It is not supported by any early evidence; it’s a little scrap from a North African rubbish tip written in Coptic, a language and area far from Israel. Despite being far from the time or place of Jesus, and despite being utterly unsupported, it must be true, said the 21st Century ‘expert’. It appears so much easier to believe that the first century eyewitnesses are mistaken, making up their stories, than to doubt a present day ‘expert’, 2 millennia later.
It is not obvious that even if it were true, the suggestion that Jesus was married would make that much difference, although no doubt we would have felt obliged to accept those claiming descent as the church leaders, with all the problems of rival sibling claims. Marriage, in and of itself, as a union of a man and a woman, has always been seen by the Christian church as a state of grace. It’s not that it’s impossible, it’s just not true according to the contemporary eyewitnesses, and is yet again a subtle way of casting doubt on the veracity of the gospel writers, allowing us to evade the more important challenges they pose to us about our response to the person and work of Jesus.
St Peter writes “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”(2 Peter 1.16, The Bible). He goes on to describe how he witnessed the glory of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the veil of His glory was briefly drawn back, and then proceeds to underscore the veracity and value of Scripture: “…no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1.20-21) Not surprisingly, doubters even deny this to Peter; we are better taking Scripture’s words at face value, and asking the life-transforming questions about Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, trusting the eyewitnesses, rather than hiding behind tendentious questions with little historical value, cleverly devised myths. At the end, when all things come to pass, there is rather more at stake than a discoloured pound coin.
Praying that you read and trust the Truth in Holy Writ, and so find in those pages the life-transforming Prince of Truth, even Jesus Christ, the living Son of God.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,