Bible reading plan Bible reading plan

On Your Marks, Get Set, Go!

31 December 2023

Close up view of runners hands and heads on the start line

Welcome to 2024!  New year, new reading plan.  Manchester, Beirut, Bradford and Liverpool are all taking part - we go together!


New Year’s Day dawns with Jesus’ origin story.  Matthew 1 lists all Jesus’ earthly ancestors from Abraham to Jesus himself.  There are some familiar names, such as David, and some unfamiliar ones too – Nahshon, Abijah and Jehoram to name but three.  But this list is the names of real people and you can read about all the amazing things that God did in their lives in the Old Testament.


But let me draw your attention to five special names: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife, not specifically mentioned) and Mary.  These women were key in Jesus’ ancestry.  Most of them weren’t even Jewish!  But each was chosen by God to have a crucial role in ensuring that the Messiah, Jesus, would be born into a family of faith.


Let’s have a look at another family member: John the Baptist.  He was the son of a priest and lived a life dedicated to the Lord.  You might describe him as a bit weird, but he was certainly determined to share God’s message of repentance, and it was he who went ahead of Jesus to prepare the way.  And like the prophets before him, he announced the coming of God’s kingdom. 


Having been baptised by John, Jesus was then led by the Spirit to be tempted (or tested) by the devil.  And he was found to pass the test, or to put it better, he was shown to be worthy of the role he was to play. 


In chapter 4, we read about the start of Jesus’ ministry: he told people to repent, just like John had been doing.  He called some of the disciples to follow him and went around the area where he lived, teaching in the synagogues and healing the sick.  But even as early as chapter 5, we can see that Jesus’ ministry was very different to John’s.  This chapter of Jesus’ preaching is known as ‘The Sermon on the Mount’, and it’s all about the Kingdom of God.  It’s so radical!  Look at verse 22: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment”.  Hmm.  Suddenly, Jesus is telling the crowd amazing truths about God and his Kingdom.  Read through chapters 5 and 6 slowly and carefully – see the Lord’s heart  for how we should live.  Allow this truth to transform you.


We’ve seen the path from Abraham to Jesus, via many interesting characters and adventures.  What can we learn?  All these people are part of our story too.  They each played their part in God’s story and God’s story is your story.  Where do you fit in this story?  Are you playing your part by doing what the Lord asks?  And that is my challenge to you this week and indeed, this year.

Photo of Gill Hayes

Gill Hayes
Core Leadership Team
GoChurch Manchester