Voice from the Hills
By Philip Greenslade
In what could be his best book so far, Philip Greenslade has given us a treasure of a volume sharply focused on Jesus, with particular reference to his Sermon on the Mount and words from the cross.
Starting with the Beatitudes, Christ’s ‘revolutionary manifesto’, Phil shows us Jesus’ description of ‘gospelised humanity’, a new community out of sync with the normal world order.
He is careful to point out that Jesus did not come searching for a ‘beatitude people’ naturally displaying such traits – they don’t exist. He came to create such a community by the in-breaking of his kingdom.
Taking us through the Lord’s Prayer, he reminds us that through prayer we are invited to share the intimacy of sonship with our Father in the implementing of His kingly rule. Phil argues ‘discipleship stands or falls at our willingness to pray this prayer which threatens to redefine us utterly’ in a world where ‘even the idea of self control seems an unwarranted infringement of our liberties.’
Drawing his comments on the Sermon on the Mount to a conclusion, he quotes Bruner: ‘The house that crashes is the house of Christians who find Jesus’ words important enough to hear but not realistic enough to live.’
From ‘Skull Hill’ he takes us through the seven sayings from the cross. He points out that in Luke’s account the last person to speak to Jesus before he dies (‘the first one home’) a convicted criminal is the first to use Jesus’ personal name in such stunning intimacy.
His chapters on ‘the word of abandonment’ (My God, My God, why…), the cry of ‘the stricken deer’ (I thirst), together with ‘mission accomplished’ and ‘successful handover’ are magnificent and deeply moving.
Finally, Christ’s guarantee from the ‘mountain of triumph’ seals the book. His promise ‘always with you’ prompts Phil’s final reflection, ‘Presence makes delay bearable, mission possible and discipleship enjoyable.’
Don’t rush too quickly through this fine volume, marinate in its wonderful truths and let them transform you.