The Bible and politics for Kiwi Christian voters

This weekend, New Zealanders are going to the polls. How should Christians think about the elections?

Let me say from the outset that my aim is not to tell you who to vote for. My heart in writing this article is pastoral. I serve as one of the pastors in a church family that gathers for worship in the Pakuranga electorate of New Zealand. We are a cross-cultural whānau (family), baptised in the name of Jesus, with immigrant roots and connections to Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Germany, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere. Among our brothers and sisters are those who voted National, Labour and other parties. We have prayed for and served alongside local MPs from both major parties. Some members were first in line to get vaccinated against COVID-19, others were deeply scarred after being ostracised and punished for refusing the vaccine. We have rich and poor, young and old. Some have fled oppressive governments; others aspire to work for government. Some have been politically active here and overseas; others are apathetic towards politics anywhere. We are just like any other family in Christ: diverse in our unity; not perfect, but following a Perfect Saviour.

Something we’ve been trying to do intentionally at church this year is to explore the idea of cultivating a “gospel culture”. Ray Ortlund makes the case as follows: “The family of God is where people should find lots of gospel, lots of safety, and lots of time.”[1] In other words: gospel + safety + time. I pray these are reflections that help you within a context where you’ve heard “…the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), in relationships where you’re safe to speak and admit things honestly and receive sympathy and love, where we allow ourselves sufficient time to rethink deep-seated opinions and convictions that don’t quickly or easily change.

“God’s Big Picture”… politics included

The Bible contains 66 books that tell one big story. What we find in God’s Word though, is that politics runs through the whole Bible. Using Vaughan Roberts’s helpful “God’s Big Picture” paradigm to survey the Scriptures, here’s what we see.

First things first: the pattern of the kingdom. Genesis 1–2 describes creation perfectly ordered, beautifully governed, without sin, sadness – or dirty politics. The first three-party coalition did not arise from the introduction of the mixed-member proportional (MMP) form of government, but from the Triune God of Scripture: One God, three persons, relationally complete, needing nothing. God the Father, the Son (see Col. 1:16), the Spirit (Gen. 1:2), after crafting creation, speaks up: “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…” (Gen 1:26) The first command to our first parents and God’s image-bearers was to engage in “co-governance”: stewarding the moana (sea), rangi (skies) and whenua (land) the way our Maker intended.

Sadly, then followed the perished kingdom (Genesis 3). Tempted to doubt God’s good word, sin enters the world through a slithering politician. The serpent splits the vote: the woman doubts, then disobeys the divine Cabinet and eats forbidden fruit. Man follows suit. When God confronts the power couple, it’s all blame-shifting and bluster. “The woman you put here with me – it was her fault!” “The snake You made tricked me!” The first sting of sin’s curse looks like a self-centred squabble. Whether or not there were dinosaurs in Eden, one thing’s for sure: the slogan “in it for you” was first coined after the Fall, with no hope to get the world “back on track”.

On to the promised kingdom (Gen. 12:1–3, 15:5–6). Yes, father Abraham had many sons (and daughters), despite being almost as old as Winston Peters when he was first called into action. What’s also worth remembering however is that God’s big promise to this wandering Aramean—God’s people, God’s place, under God’s rule—was enacted through god-fearing men and women who took part in politics of the Ancient Near East. Some served faithfully through severe affliction – Joseph the Egyptian Prime Minister, for example. Others were less keen – if you thought Judith Collins was a reluctant party leader, spare a thought for Moses. Or suspicious Sarah. Daring Deborah. Doubtful Gideon. Flawed people who “through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised…” (Heb. 11:33), believing the LORD would fulfil what He promised (Gen. 15:6). The “cloud of witnesses” cheering Christians on includes these imperfect rulers, politicians and servants.

The height of Israel’s earthly power, we see the partial kingdom (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings). During this phase of history, it seems like things couldn’t be better. David the warrior King makes Israel great again. Solomon brings shalom, unprecedented peace. His wisdom, political judgement, and foreign policy wins admirers as far off as Sheba. Is this how “all peoples on earth will be blessed”? An earthly theocracy where [insert god/idol here] rules? Many churches and even political parties today would have you think so. Yet the rise and fall of biblical Israel warns us that while humans look at the outward appearance, the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Looks can deceive. Saul seemed impressive but was caught hiding behind the baggage at the wrong time. David ruled well, until he was caught abusing his power in a sex scandal (2 Samuel 11). Solomon starts well, but from the moment you realise that he’s designed his palace to be bigger than God’s temple (1 Kings 6:38–7:1), you start to realise something’s off. The result? Yet another head of state led astray by wealth, wine, and way too many women (1 Kings 11:1–6). Another political scalp. Oh, for a better King.

Despite Israel’s failure, God gives his people the hope through the prophesied kingdom. In song and story, proverb and prophecy, the authors of Scripture foretell the Messiah, God’s Chosen King, of whom Isaiah declared that “the government will be on his shoulders” (Is. 9:6), and call God’s people to repent (if you’re disappointed by a bad poll result, spare a thought for God’s verdict on Israel and Judah!). Even when God’s people are humbled, scattered and exiled, God prophesies through Daniel—a man of faith serving in secular government—of a Son of Man who will rule over all kingdoms, dominions and powers (Daniel 7:14).

Fast forward to the present kingdom (Gospels, Acts). Who would have thought that God’s Messiah would be a baby from a backwater town? But this Jesus of Nazareth is who God crowns the King of Kings. The worst of human politics and pride leads to His crucifixion and death, but he rose again to prove that He has the Maker’s mandate to rule and reign over all things. No earthly politician can “resurrect” like Jesus did!

So when we reach our phase of history, the proclaimed kingdom (Acts, Epistles), as Christians we do well to remember how it all started at Pentecost. A religious gathering, a cultural who’s who, but who’s missing? A bunch of Spirit-filled men and women who follow the Way of the Master. Unlike every other political bloc, these people called Christians have always included people from different social classes, genders and ethnicities. Jesus’s earliest followers included people of influence, involved in politics. Think of Simon the Zealot. The Ethiopian official. Lydia the purple cloth seller (a plum vocation for Europe’s first convert to Christ). Erastus the CEO of public works in Corinth (Rom. 16:23). The church at its purest should be a gospel party, that welcomes supporters of different political stripes without aligning herself to any one party, in order to proclaim God’s kingdom.

And what of the future? Will Christ return when a political party brings peace to earth? Or when our world descends into clamour and chaos again? The final visions of Scripture appear terrifying, but thankfully we know how it ends: with the perfect kingdom and the “return of the King”. When Christ returns, all politics will end. As Christians, our blessed hope is found in the Jesus Party. On that “decision night”, every political affiliation will fade into the joy of His glory as young and old, rich and poor, left-leaning and right-leaning voters feast at the table of the King of Kings. Far more important then, than which earthly party you give your two ticks to, is whether you have given the Lord Jesus two ticks. Have you accepted his death on the cross for your sins? Do you believe he was raised for your justification (Rom. 4:25)?

Voting for the King

If this is what the whole Bible says about politics, then how then shall we live? Here’s four brief suggestions from a (still!) undecided voter.

Firstly, no Christian will fit neatly into a secular political party system. Among the political parties that have a realistic chance of getting into parliament under MMP, none of them will completely reflect kingdom values. One party may deliver justice for the poor and the oppressed, yet denigrate the life of the unborn image-bearers among us. Another party might pitch traditional values that align with Christian convictions, while at the same time treat ethnic minorities with disdain. A gospel culture will mean feeling like we don’t fit in completely with one party’s values and beliefs. As Paul reminds the Philippians, our citizenship—or literally, commonwealth—is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Secondly, politics is often a matter of wisdom and conscience (Romans 14). As Tim Keller helpfully points out, even if Christians agree on the importance of, say, alleviating the cost of living, how to go about it may look different. Fellow believers will come to different conclusions, sometimes having to make decisions between the “lesser of two evils”. If we’re to live as people who belong to a gospel culture, when it comes to politics we should welcome one another from across the aisle. How? As Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God (Rom. 15:6).

Thirdly, when electing leaders, remember that integrity and moral character matter. Again, God looks at the heart not just the outward appearance. Granted, the New Zealand election is not an exercise in deciding on spiritual leaders. Yet Christians more than anyone else should be the first to consider a potential Prime Minister or Cabinet Member’s personal character as well as their political convictions. Are they faithful to their spouse? Do they love their children? Are they well-regarded by their neighbours? Does their speech and conduct show integrity? It concerns me when Christians turn a blind eye to serious character flaws in our public officials just to get their political agenda over the line.

Finally, regardless of who wins the election, the Scripture clearly teaches that Christians have a responsibility to pray for our rulers, particularly for the freedom to live and worship peacefully and proclaim Christ’s Kingdom to all (1 Tim. 2:1-4). So whichever “Chris” becomes Prime Minister after this Saturday’s national election, bear his name before the throne of grace. Plead to King Jesus that he would govern New Zealand with wisdom. Entrust him and every other elected representative to the Father. May He through them, as our national anthem yearns for, “make this nation good and great.”

[1] Ray Ortlund, “The Gospel” (9 Marks: Building Healthy Churches), 59.

Three wayfinders for the Christian this Matariki

It dawned on me, as the tohunga whakairo (Maori carver) led a group of excited schoolchildren and parents in a karakia (prayer), that this was not an ordinary school holiday activity. Before we got to design and make our model waka, we were asked to listen in as he gave thanks to each of the seven stars of Matariki (known as Pleiades in the West, 昴 in China, Subaru in Japan). It’s 2023, and we were witnessing state-approved worship of a different kind!

For those of us with Chinese heritage, this kind of concern isn’t new of course. After all, in many Asian families, Lunar New Year celebrations carry with it all kinds of superstitions and religious rituals. The wise Christian must strike a balance between the commands to flee from idolatry and separate from false worship, to honouring the themes and truths we share in common with our families (such as giving thanks for the past and our people, celebrating the present, expressing hope for the future), while observing how every ritual and tradition is a window into deeper desires and longings that we all share (for example, security, prosperity, and community) and using them as gospel opportunities.

In light of this, here are three resources (or “wayfinders”) I’ve found helpful this week in thinking about Matariki in a redemptive way.

1. “Matariki Resource” (Laidlaw College)

First up is this beautifully-produced video presented by Bradford Haami (Ngāti Awa, Laidlaw College). After explaining the origin and meanings of key aspects of Matariki celebrations (including the Whāngai hau ritual – essentially a food offering made to Matariki as a goddess), he gently and graciously shares a brief biblical framework for Christians to participate in this celebration in a meaningful way “without diluting our own Christianity”.

The heavenly bodies were created by God to declare his handiwork (Ps 19:1), not as deities for people to bow down before. Ultimately, we see in the New Testament how it is a star that points the wise men to the King of Kings (Matthew 2). He concludes:

“All of us can do this: we can gather together, we can share kai together, we can praise the Creator of the heavens and the stars together. Why don’t we let the stars point us to the King of Kings?”

2. “A Christian looks at Matariki” (Michael Drake)

This recently published 23-page booklet is a short, gospel-centred look at Matariki. Michael Drake (Ngai Tahu) has done a great job at explaining the history of how Matariki became our country’s newest public holiday, challenges us to think biblically and graciously about the festival and what is explicitly taught about it, and how we might use or Christian freedom to celebrate the Māori New Year in a biblical way.

Particularly helpful for me were Michael’s observations that for over 200 years, there have been Christian Māori who have acknowledged Matariki in a genuinely Christian manner, and that there is not just one Māori view on Matariki (just as there isn’t one Chinese view on Chinese New Year!). Drawing from the lessons of 1 Corinthians 8, Romans 14 and elsewhere, he summarises a balanced, biblical approach:

“…while we have freedom to celebrate any day in ways that make it truly special to the Lord, we are not free to celebrate it in any way that is not Christ honouring or faithful to the Bible.”

Michael Drake, A Christian looks at Matariki (2023), 12.

You can read an online PDF version here (, or visit Michael’s website for e-book and A5 booklet printable options. He’s generously offered his book under a Creative Commons licence. Ngā mihi Mihaere!

3. Worship songs and hymns celebrating God as Creator

Perhaps one more suggestion for celebrating Matariki this year would be to make the most of the worship songs we have that praise God as the Creator of all things, including the stars. After looking at Genesis 1-2 last year for our church’s sermon series, I gained a new appreciation for how the Bible’s creation story was originally crafted as a poetic polemic against other ancient Near Eastern creation accounts (for more on this, see Against the Gods by John Currid). For example, unlike myths that describe the creation of stars in great detail, there is intentionally very little focus on them in Genesis 1:16 besides one throwaway phrase: “and the stars”. Instead, the repetition and focus throughout Genesis 1-2:3 is on a great God who creates heaven and earth through his powerful word (and it was very good)!

We may not know the exact tunes and meters of Genesis 1-2, but there are plenty of singable options when it comes to poetic polemics today. In English, songs like Indescribable by Laura Story, How Great Thou Art and All Creatures of Our God and King are great ways to reframe the narrative of God as our Creator King in our hearts. Yet even the Māori translation of our national anthem honours the God of the Bible explicitly, and could be a suitable song to sing this Friday:

E Ihowa Atua,
(Oh YHWH God)
O ngā iwi mātou rā,
(Of nations and of us too)
Āta whakarongona;
(Listen to us)
Me aroha noa
(Cherish us)
Kia hua ko te pai;
(Let goodness flourish)
Kia tau tō atawhai;
(May your blessings flow)
Manaakitia mai

If you’re interested, here are some other resources compiled by Jade Hohaia (Wilbeforce Foundation) – Te Rongopai & Matariki. But perhaps this Matariki, the best antidote to celebrating tales of a weather god Tāwhirimātea tearing out eyes and casting them into the skies is to let the stars point us to the King of Kings, use our freedom to celebrate Matariki in Christ, and soak ourselves in the singable truths of Scripture.

“Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting: Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.”

Nehemiah 9:5-6

A brief history of the Pakuranga and Panmure bridges (1865-2023)

The Auckland suburb where we live has had its fair share of bridges.

Before a bridge, the only way to cross the Tamaki River was “by a leaky and somewhat unreliable punt which frequently had a broken chain or was holed. Delays of up to an hour could occur when stock were crossing. The average number of daily passengers was 180 people, 53 horses, 23 carts, 100 livestock.”

First Panmure to Pakuranga bridge, 1865-1918

The first Panmure bridge was officially called the “Tamaki Bridge”, and was officially opened on 20 October 1865 by Robert Graham, Superintendent of the Auckland Provincial Council. The bridge was 195 metres long and 6 metres wide with kauri decking. The eastern end connected to the western tip of what is now the Pakuranga Road, while the western end connected with the remains of Mokoia Pā (a fortified settlement that was once home to the Maori Ngāti Paoa people) and what is known today as Bridge Street, Panmure.

A unique feature of this first bridge was the inclusion of a 40-foot (23.8 m) span on the eastern end was constructed with iron and designed to rotate 90 degrees to allow boats travelling along the Tamaki River to pass through (hence its nickname of the “Panmure Swing Bridge“). The swing span bridge was managed by a toll keeper who lived in a cottage on the Pakuranga side. On the Panmure side, a steep hill (the remains of Mokoia Pā) awaited and travellers sometimes needed to get off their horses and push!

With the introduction of motorised vehicles at the turn of the 20th century, plans were drawn up for a bigger, taller Tamaki River crossing. By 1918, the first Panmure bridge had been demolished. While the original Tamaki crossing is no longer around, for a time a marina shop was built over the foundation of the swing bridge mechanism (eventually demolished to make way for the Eastern busway bridge). Today, the remains of the historic swivel bridge mechanism are still visible, having been preserved by Auckland Council. As of 2023, additional conservation works and a viewing platform for pedestrians and cyclists are being built over the stone abutment and iron swing span mechanism as part of the AMETI Stage 2a Urban Design and Landscape Plan.

Second Tamaki / Panmure Bridge, 1916-63

By the 1900s, the flat river plains of Pakuranga had become known as “the granary of Auckland”, with farmers growing oats, hay and wheat. The second Tamaki bridge was completed approximately 100 yards downriver on 14 August 1916. Nicknamed the “Iron Bridge”, it was in reality a ferro-concrete structure using sea water in the concrete, sand from Buckland’s Beach and war-time (poor) quality steel. The bridge connected at Queens Road on the western end and Kerswill Place on the eastern end along the Pakuranga to Howick concrete road (portions of which are still visible today).

A much higher bridge deck allowed boats and small ships to pass through underneath. However, before long major safety concerns were raised and planning began for yet another Panmure bridge. The second bridge was eventually demolished in 1963 with the help of a barge-mounted crane. Remnants of the concrete entry gates are still visible on either side of the river.

Third Tamaki / Panmure Bridge, 1959-present

To replace the structurally-compromised second bridge, a third bridge was built close to the former course of the first bridge on the eastern bank. Lagoon Drive was built to serve this bridge. It was designed by AO Barrowclough of Andrew Murray Partners for the Manukau County Council. Construction of this Panmure bridge also included an important water main pipe underneath the road surface. The bridge was opened to the public on 19 December 1959.

Originally a two-lane bridge, the third Panmure bridge was widened to three lanes in 1972. It is still in use today and features a tidal flow system: the centre lane is used for westwards traffic flow in the morning and eastwards in the afternoon. It is scheduled to be replaced around 2040.

Bridge 4: Pakuranga-Waipuna Motorway Bridge, 1974-present

In order to connect East Auckland to the Auckland Southern Motorway, a fourth Tamaki River crossing was constructed in the 1970’s. This bridge was designed by Gavin Cormack (Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner), built by Etude et Enterprises and formally opened on 10 May 1974.

The Waipuna motorway bridge is located further south of the previous bridges. It rises from the eastern side over Millen Avenue and connects with Waipuna Road on the western bank of the Tamaki River and onwards to the motorway as the Southeastern Arterial Road. It’s still the main way (and frequently congested) way to drive from East Auckland to the city, though the addition of the long-awaited Reeves Road flyover will change things significantly.

Bridge 5: Eastern Busway Bridge, 2021-present

As part of the AMETI / Eastern Busway project, a fifth bridge for buses and active transport was designed and completed in 2021. The 205 metre-long bridge comprises two bus lanes, a cycleway and a footpath and forms a key part of connecting the city centre to Botany. Once the entire busway route is complete, Auckland Transport have promised that travel by bus and train between Botany and Britomart will take 40 minutes, even in rush hour.

As construction of the Eastern Busway Bridge occurred during the COVID pandemic, our family enjoyed frequent walks and bike rides over to watch its progress up close as part of our lockdown routine (at the time, there wasn’t much else we could visit!). Some highlights were watching specialist divers build the bridge’s pile caps from the water, seeing the huge green bridge structure gradually cantilevered into position over the river using hydraulic jacks and rollers, and trying out the different detours the construction staff put in as different parts of the bridge and approach were completed.

The bridge was finally opened to walkers and cyclists on September 2021 (a welcome relief during Auckland’s Delta lockdown) and officially opened for buses on 15 December 2021.

Each “Panmure bridge” served its purpose at a different era of our city’s history. Considering that the first swing bridge was opened in 1865, there’s over 150 years of history underneath our feet or wheels each time we cross the Tamaki river.

It’s hard to imagine what the sixth or seventh Tamaki River crossings will look like, perhaps in 50 years’ time. It’s also sparked me to think more and more about how to build bridges between different cultures, and ways followers of Jesus are called to be bridge-builders within the church and with our neighbours. After all, at the heart of the Christian faith is a Saviour who bridges the gulf between God holiness and humanity’s sin. Yet whether it’s 1865 or 2023, we’ll always need a way to get from A to B.

Bible verse colouring pages

For a long time I had wanted to make meaningful colouring pages that don’t only entertain or beautify, but specifically help elucidate and synthesise the truths of scripture. I’d played with the idea for years between kids and homeschool but never could justify doing it properly (although I did learn a lot about inking, lettering and layout in the process). At our church we’ve started providing colouring pages for our kids, and there are many available online for free. However we also don’t skip the awkward parts of scripture, and some of the passages we’ve been covering are really not very popular as kids colouring pages! So I’ve jumped at the chance to draw some myself and thought I’d put them up to download as well.

These are licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA (use anywhere non-commercially but attribute, remix but share under the same license). Also if you use these please leave a comment! It’s helpful and encouraging to know if anyone uses them and how they’re being used.

Easter Sunrise Service 2023

In God’s kindness, this year I had the joy of helping with organising the annual East Auckland Combined Churches Easter Sunrise service. As mentioned before by Rev Richard Waugh (who helped to start these sunrise services over 30 years ago), it’s a small but significant opportunity to partner with other local churches to share our Christian faith publicly in a beautiful setting.

I was very thankful for brothers and sisters who shared prayers, readings and reflections, including two of our local MPs Simeon Brown and Naisi Chen and Mike Turinsky from the Howick Local Board. After our initial preacher had to pull out, I stepped in to bring a short message from the first Easter morning.

My outdoor sermons are still a work in progress (share the gospel, less is more, it’s hard to pay attention with a brisk north wind in your face), but for what it’s worth, here is what I shared from Luke 24:27 yesterday morning.

Reading: Luke 24:13–27

13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognising him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As we’ve just heard from Luke’s gospel, on the first Easter Sunday two friends were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Chatting and conversing for 11km. If they had owned smartwatches back then, they would have clocked around 14,000 steps.

But before they reach their destination, we see that the risen Lord Jesus starts walking with them. And he asks them: “What are you discussing?” (Lk 24:17)

While Cleopas and his friend didn’t recognise Jesus at first, they weren’t ignorant about him. They knew all about what he had done, and what happened to Him on Good Friday. They had hoped he would rescue their country. They were aware of reports about the resurrection. Yet how does Jesus respond to them? He says they were “slow to believe”, even “foolish” (v25). And if Jesus is just head knowledge to us too, just a bunch of facts, then we too would also be foolish. Needing a change of heart.

Jesus then says:

“Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”. (v26-27)

Why did God want us to listen in on this conversation? What might the first Easter Sunday lesson say to us in Auckland, in 2023? Can I suggest three things this verse tells us. Firstly, it is that

1. The good news of Jesus is explained…

Once when I was reading Mark’s Gospel with a work colleague from India, his question was: “Who is Mark?” Our city is changing. More and more of our friends and family will have no prior knowledge of Christianity. Others will only know of stereotypes and caricatures. Still more will have experienced hurt and hypocrisy, handed over in Jesus’s name.

Notice how Jesus stayed with these two friends when they stopped walking, sadness on their faces (v17). And notice how much time Jesus gave them as he listened to them. But eventually our Lord explained the good news to them (v27). And just like the risen Lord Jesus “explained” the Scriptures, we who know God’s story of redemption have the privilege of sharing it. With gentleness and respect. With our friends and family. On Easter Sunday and every other day until Christ returns to judge our world. The good news of Jesus is explained.

Secondly, this verse reminds us:

2. The good news of Jesus is explained patiently and openly…

We all come from different backgrounds. But let’s agree that sitting in Auckland traffic is no fun (Living in Pakuranga, I get to see the scowls on a long line of faces!). Sitting in traffic teaches us to be patient. But at least you can enjoy your privacy. But picture again this Easter morning conversation. As they walk and talk, many others departing from the Passover festival are passing by, overhearing things. And it’s a long walk. To share good news like Jesus did on Easter Sunday, is to do it patiently and openly.

We need patience, because it takes time for friends to change their minds. For family members to understand why we’re broken. For us to sense the burning in our hearts when the good news of Jesus becomes clear to us.

And we need to be open, because in 2023 we cannot expect our non-Christian friends to walk into our church buildings. We cannot expect voices in wider society to speak from a Christian worldview. The good news of Jesus is to be explained patiently and openly: whether on top of a hill in Howick, around your dining table, by the coffee machine, at your family’s bedside.

Finally, this verse says:

3. The good news of Jesus is explained patiently and openly from all the Scriptures.

We live in a time when the Bible is extremely accessible, yet extremely misunderstood. So it will not do to know one verse from Genesis, one from Leviticus, 1 or 2 Psalms. Jesus taught “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” (v27). Because every book of the Bible has something to say about the God of the Universe, our true human condition, and humanity’s need for a Saviour. Every problem the Bible raises: our guilt, shame, our selfishness – God solves by sending his Son Jesus to the world. His death and resurrection saves us from sin, frees us from slavery, gathers a new people who follow him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As the author C.S. Lewis puts it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

So can I encourage you, if you’re not yet a Christian, to consider visiting one of the 60+ churches in our local area. Find a Bible-teaching church who gather weekly to “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.” (2 Tim 2:8). As the sunrise behind us signals a new beginning, I pray today might signal a new beginning for you. For Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!