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Thought for the week - Bob Jackson’s second chance

Bob Jackson does not feature in any list of the world’s greatest photographers.

Rev David Clarke
Rev David Clarke

Ansel Adams, Robert Mapplethorpe and Cecil Beaton are in a different league altogether.

Yet Bob Jackson took one of the most defining photographs of the violence-ridden 1960’s when he captured the moment when a Dallas night -club owner Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

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In November 1963, Bob Jackson had been covering the visit of the President to Texas, the home state of his Vice-President, Lyndon B. Johnson.

As Kennedy’s cavalcade was passing a grassy knoll in downtown Dallas, some shots rang out, and the President slumped forward, fatally wounded. Jackson failed to capture the moment because, in those days before digital photography, he was changing the film in his camera.

A few days later, a quirk of history provided him with a second chance at photographic fame.

The Bible is a book of second chances.

Jonah was a Hebrew prophet, told to go and preach in the city of Nineveh, capital of the ruthless Assyrian empire.

Proud Hebrew that he was, he did not wish to see that country repent of its ways, and so he headed in the very opposite direction, and that much-debated encounter with a fish. But when that episode was negotiated, we read, ‘The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time’(3;1). This time he obeyed, and the citizens of that city repented.

Mark, author of the second gospel, was also given a second chance.

He had travelled with his cousin Barnabas, on what became known as Paul’s first missionary journey. At one point Mark (known as John Mark) left the group.

Perhaps he had become homesick, or was not comfortable with preaching to non-Jews(Acts 13;13). Paul was not best pleased, and refused to take him with him on a later journey (Acts 15;38). Years passed, and Paul had second thoughts.

Writing from his final imprisonment, Paul instructed his friend Timothy; ‘Get Mark and bring him with you because he is helpful to me in my ministry’ (2 Timothy 4:11).

There is no greater example of a glorious second chance than that accorded to Peter. At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, he had vehemently denied the Saviour three times (John 18; 15-27). Yet in the glory of the Easter dawn, the angel gave a special message to the women at the tomb; ‘Go, tell his disciples and Peter’(Mark 16; 7).

Hours later, by the sea of Galilee, Jesus posed three questions to Peter, giving him the chance to make three declarations of faith, corresponding to his three denials (John 21;15-19).

Gentle reader, if you have made a sorry mess of things, there is a Saviour willing to give you a second, a third, a fourth — indeed an infinite number - of chances.

You too can hear his voice saying, ‘Follow me!

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