November 2011

A blind man encounters Jesus

Scripture Reference: John 9:1-7
Once again I am writing this in the first person as if I am the blind man who encountered Jesus. Join me as I seek through this encounter to learn to know Jesus better.
I felt a bird once. My brother put it into my cupped hands. It struggled to escape and I felt the coarseness of its feathers, and its rough-leather legs… and then it broke free and was gone. I was born blind. I related to the world around me with feel, and taste, sound, and smell, but I didn’t know what colours were or the look in my mother’s eyes when she spoke to me.
My being blind meant I couldn’t earn a living so I resorted to begging on the busy streets of the city. One day I was standing holding out my begging bowl when some men stopped in front of me. I shook my little bowl and looked as pitiful as I could, but they didn’t put even one coin into it. Instead they started discussing me. If I hadn’t been on the streets for so many years I probably would have become angry, but by then I was so used to being ignored, I had become dispirited and a little calloused. The men were asking a man they called Jesus whether or not my condition was caused by my sin or the sins of my parents. Immediately my interest was stirred. I had heard of this man. He was said to be a great teacher and a worker of miracles. The religious leaders hated him but he was loved by the  ordinary people. Could he give me sight?! What a silly thought.
I heard his voice as he answered his disciples; “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” What did he mean? Then I heard the sound of spitting on the ground and then a scraping. “What’s happening?” I asked, and voice spoke softly near my face; “He is forming two small balls of clay from the dirt.”  Then I felt the damp mud-balls being pressed into my eye sockets. My instinct was to pull away and wipe away the mud only I didn’t because I sensed something mysterious and wonderful was happening. Then I heard him speak again; “Go”, he said, “wash in the pool of Siloam”.
His voice, which I recognised to be that of Jesus, was so authoritative that it demanded immediate obedience. Although I couldn’t see where I was going I set off at as fast a pace I could, bumping into people as I went. One of the men who had been with Jesus ran up beside me and took my arm. “Come”, he said, “I will help you.”
It seemed like only a moment before he spoke again; “We are here. Kneel and wash your face.” I fell down on my knees and plunged my whole face into the water, rubbing vigorously at my sockets. But they were empty no longer! My fingers encountered plump flesh and… no, surely not… yes eyes! I pulled my head out of the water and looked out at a blur of faces. My vision cleared as the water ran down from my face and I saw dozens of people staring at me in shock and awe and amazement. I SAW them looking at me!
Now dear reader, what has Jesus revealed to you about Himself in this encounter? What have you learned about His nature and character?
‘Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’ (1 Peter 1:8-9)

A woman caught in adultery encounters Jesus

Scripture Reference: John 8:1-11
I am writing this in the first person as if I were the woman who encountered Jesus when the Pharisees hauled her before him.  I invite you to be this woman too. Try to see through her eyes, hear with her ears, and somehow, through this process, encounter the Lord Jesus yourself.
I can’t deny it; I am not perfect and I admit that what I did was wrong. I was married off very young to a man much older than myself. I was more of a social asset for him than a life partner, and he showed me no affection whatsoever. So when a young man started paying me attention I was flattered and taken in my him. To my shame it didn’t take him long to persuade me go to his rooms where he seduced me.
The door flew open! My heart seemed to stop in my chest! Three men burst in and grabbed me by the arms. They didn’t give me any time to rearrange my clothing as they dragged me off crying. I was paralysed with fear, because I knew I would almost certainly be killed. They were Pharisees, and had caught me in the very act of  adultery. I looked despairingly around for my lover; surely he would protect me, or had they arrested him as well? I searched his face, but all I saw was a smirk and and a wink to the men who were dragging me away.  I had been set up and betrayed.
They hauled me down the road and then flung me in a heap before a man I had never seen before. Immediately they challenged him. “Teacher”, they said; “in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” I was petrified with terror. In my peripheral vision I could see men around me stooping to pick up jagged rocks from the side of the dirt road. I looked up at the stranger before me. He had no rock in his hand. There was no look of contempt on his face. Instead, his eyes seemed to reassure me.  Then he bent down and, instead of picking up a rock, he wrote something in the dust with his finger. I couldn’t see clearly from my angle but it looked like a word written in Hebrew. The Pharisees kept on throwing questions at him, harsh and clamouring and eventually he straightened up and I heard him say, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he stooped once more and wrote another word in the sand. The crowd lent in and peered at the words he had written.
My heart was racing, my eyes were awash with hot tears of shame and terror and I was at the point of passing out, yet I was aware that something else, something strange was happening. The men had stopped shouting and a supernatural silence had descended on the crowd. There were no sounds at all, not even a dog barking or a child crying. Then I heard a muffled thud, and another, and yet another and I  saw small puffs of dust rising all around me as one by one the men dropped the rocks they were carrying. Then they started to leave, the older men first, and then the others, until only my ‘saviour’ and I were left. He looked down at me and said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” I said. Then in a voice thick with compassion he said, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” He reached down, took me by the hand and helped me to stand.

Now dear reader, what has Jesus revealed to you about Himself in this encounter? Take time to see the scene as though you are the woman he has saved from humiliation and possibly even a painful death. What is Jesus showing you about how he regards you?

The Man at the Pool – An Encounter

Scripture Reference: John 5:1-9

I am writing this in the first person as if I were the man who encountered Jesus at the pool of Bethesda. I invite you to be this man too. Try to see through his eyes, hear with his ears, and somehow, through this process, encounter the Lord Jesus in spirit and truth.
My memory doesn’t go back to before the accident because it happened when I was very small. A Roman officer was riding through our village when his horse was spooked by a snake that slithered out from under some baskets at the side of the road. My mother was carrying me in her arms when the horse crashed into her. I flew out of her grip and landed right under the terrified horse. Its hooves drove down on my legs and broke them like twigs.
My family moved to Jerusalem a few years later when I was about five years old. There is a pool there, near the Sheep Gate, where people like me are taken in the hope of being healed. You see, every so often the water in the pool bubbles and swirls and we all believe that an angel is stirring the water and will heal the first person who enters the water at this time. My brothers used to take me to this pool and leave me there for days on end with just my mat, a jar of water and some bread. Sometimes I was there when the water bubbled but I never could get into it first.
For years and years I had great hope that I would be healed and I pleaded with my brothers to stay with me at the pool so they could carry me in when the angel came and stirred the water, but they couldn’t because they had to work to provide food for us all. I can’t remember exactly when I lost hope, but one day I saw the waters beginning to churn and I just could care anymore. Something in me had died and hope deserted me.
Then one day, around nine in the morning, I was sitting on the stone decking surrounding the pool when I noticed a man enter the area. He was accompanied by a group of strong looking young men. Well, they looked young to me because I was over forty at the time. The man strode over and squatted down in front of me. He asked me what was wrong with me and how long I had been this way, and I told him my story. Then he looked at me for a long moment and asked, “Do you want to get well?” The first thought that raced through my mind was indignation; of course I wanted to be able to walk. But his eyes were gentle and a kindly smile played around his lips. He was not mocking me. I heard myself blurting out the reason why I couldn’t get to the water in time to be healed but he silenced me with a gesture. For a long moment I looked into his eyes and then I heard him saying, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”. The babble of the crowd of people around me faded and it seemed as though this stranger and I were the only two in the universe.
At that very moment I felt the strangest sensation in my crippled legs. It felt like my blood had turned to liquid fire and was pouring down inside my limbs. My legs jumped and twitched and I had to shift my weight because my feet were suddenly uncomfortable under me. Without even thinking about it I pushed myself up onto my knees and then I… stood. My legs felt on fire but I was standing! I was standing! The man had told me to pick up my mat and walk, but before I stooped to gather up my little reed mat I looked intently into his face…

Now dear reader, what do you see in the face of Christ? What does Jesus reveal to you about himself in this moment? Take time to see the scene as though you are the man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. What is Jesus showing you about himself and how he regards you?

Sharing is reaching!

Did you know that this humble blog has readers from all over the world?  From South Africa to the US and UK, but also more unexpected places such as Ethiopia, Singapore, Indonesia, Poland, South Korea, Philippines and more! If you are reading this from another country, comment below and let us know where you are from, I would love to hear from ‘family’ all over the world!
Map of readers of Truth is The Word Blog

I am also excited to share with you that the blog has reached over 10 000 page views recently, and visits are growing faster than ever, so once again thanks to all of you for reading and sharing.  Please keep up your efforts because as you can see from the map, the more you share, the more people can hear about the truth of Jesus Christ our Lord! 
It’s been interesting too to see what posts you, the readers, are most interested in – the top three most read posts of all time are about revival (1), Halloween (2) and the Trinity (3).  This month we will reach 100 posts in total!  What are your personal favourite topics on the blog?
Coming Soon…
Encountering Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit!  
From next week we will be taking a new journey on the blog together, something that I have never seen online but will, if you choose to join in and participate, be more than just reading and learning, but experiencing!
Many people, Christians and others, know quite a lot about Jesus. However, as disciples of Christ we are called not just to know about him but to know him. To know someone is to appreciate their nature, character, values and priorities. How then do we get to know Jesus’ nature and character? One way is to encounter him through the Gospel narratives.

To encounter him this way we need to do more than just read what he said and did, we need to place ourselves into the story and seek to experience something of the reality of what was taking place. The events recorded in the Gospels happened almost two thousand years ago, yet the main character in each account, Jesus, is still very much alive and he has the ability to engage us even now as we seek to encounter him in scripture.

The idea is to read a story of how Jesus interacted with the people of his day and then to become a bystander or a participant. As you read the account try to imagine what it would be like to actually be there. See the details around you, hear the sounds and smell the scents carried on the air. In this series I am going to introduce you to this way of reading the Bible by describing some scenes as vividly as I can. At a critical moment in the story I am going to stop and ask you the question; ‘what is Jesus revealing of himself to you in this?’ A few days after publishing the post I will comment on my own answer to this question and I would be so pleased if you would also comment on what you got out of the exercise. In this way we can benefit from each other’s appreciation of Jesus.

The topics
I have selected five stories for this series, all taken from the Gospel of John. The first is the account in John chapter 5 of how Jesus met the invalid at the pool of Bethesda and did for him what superstition was unable to do. The second encounter is the dramatic John 8 story of the woman caught in the very act of committing adultery. The next narrative is the description of how Jesus gives sight to the man who was born blind (John 9). The second last story is about how Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18) and the final encounter is the John 20 account of how the resurrected Jesus appears to his disciples.

Each of these stories gives us a unique opportunity of encountering Jesus from a particular perspective. First, we will be a man who has been a helpless invalid for 38 years and who’s only expectation of a reasonable life has been a persistent superstitious hope. In the second encounter we can see Jesus through the eyes of a shamed and terrified woman. The third story gives us the opportunity of learning something about Jesus just by hearing him and feeling his touch even though we cannot see him. Then we can be anonymous disciples in a confused crowd as thugs come to arrest Jesus. Finally, we have the opportunity of taking the place of someone in a locked room when Jesus suddenly appears and proves who he is.

My hope and expectation is that we will know Jesus a little more through these encounters, appreciate him more, and love him more.


About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.