Sunday, 26 April 2015


 During his long ministry in Jerusalem, Jesus stirred ever-increasing opposition to his teachings from the Jewish establishment.

Eventually, driven out of Jerusalem by persecution, he emigrated north & consolidated his political & military power in Nazareth. After several years of conflict he eventually returned to the Jewish capital in 33AD at the head of an army. By this time fear of the coming conqueror had caused all opposition to his rule to melt away. Jesus reigned as Messiah from Jerusalem throughout a long & prosperous life.

After his death, it was assumed that the leadership of the Church would automatically fall upon the apostle Peter, indeed he & his followers believed that only one of the Twelve Companions who had been with the Messiah all of his life could succeed him.

But in a brilliantly executed bloodless coup, the Pharisee convert Paul succeeded in having himself installed as Head of the Church. Disregarding the traditional funeral rites for the Messiah, he moved quickly to consolidate his position. When the time of mourning was completed, the Twelve found they had been outflanked.

 Peter, still trusting in an enigmatic statement once made by Jesus which the apostle interpreted as granting him sole control of the Church, launched the First Christian Civil War in which many believers were killed. He would, in old age, eventually realize his dream of ruling the saints but only at a terrible and ongoing cost in bloodshed within the Church. 

Paul, not being one of the Companions and thus an outsider from the point of view of most Christians, struggled to secure his position & constantly came under threat of violent overthrow throughout a troubled rule.  He came to believe that Barnabas –a once trusted confidante- was plotting to usurp his position & bring in a young relative named John Mark in his stead. Through Mark, Barnabas would then gain de facto control of the Church. Paul moved swiftly & had both of them executed.  

Paul himself was finally murdered in a personal quarrel in 64AD, having been stabbed six times.

After his death, Paul’s chosen successor, Timothy took control of the growing Christian Empire. Timothy’s armies swept west across the Middle East & North Africa & east into Persia, beginning one of the largest & enduring empires in history.   


For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10:45)

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) (Jn 21:17-19)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel… (2 Tim 1:8)

 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering” (2 Tim 4:6)