Archives for posts with tag: Jesus

Scripture

images (17)61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. 62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said,

“Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

 

Reflection

“Make it as secure as you can.”  Ever since Jesus began his earthly ministry, some people tried to contain Jesus, to pin him down, to limit his impact.   Now, even in death, Pilate sends soldiers to make sure that Jesus didn’t get loose.

Are there ways in our own daily living that seek to make the tomb secure by sealing the stone?  Do we seek to limit Jesus’ reach into our affairs, keep him out of certain transactions, exclude him from entire parts of our lives?

This is just Saturday.   The tomb is still sealed.  But Jesus will not be tamed by Pilate.   And with the light of dawn tomorrow, he will not be quarantined by whatever stones we might choose to keep him bottled up.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We have walked with you these 40 days.  Sometimes we have followed closely.  At other times, we have watched only from afar.  Today, we remain in mourning from the blows of yesterday’s crucifixion, and from the draining, emptying effects of death.

In the wake of your death and that sealed tomb, this is a day absent hope.

It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other.

Breathing.

And waiting to see what Sunday morning will bring.

Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 26: 57-60  images (10)

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered.  58 But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.

59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death,  60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward.

 

Reflection

I had a great Aunt named Lillie Mae.   She grew up in Philadelphia and her father was an alcoholic.  Finally, her mother threw her father out of the house, so bad was his drinking.  When Lillie Mae became a teenager, she got a job at a retail store in downtown Philadelphia.  She had to work at night but she was afraid of making that trip each evening.  So she would run from her house until she reached the relative safety of the bus stop.   She would learn later in life that each night she worked, her father was waiting for her in the shadows.  And as she ran to the bus stop, he would run along with her from a distance behind.

Peter deserted his Lord, but not entirely.  He followed at a distance, walking in the shadows.  He could have abandoned Jesus altogether.  And as we know, he will proceed to deny Jesus three times.  And yet, there was a measure of faithfulness in him that night as he stood by, watching.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Sometimes we can only muster up a small amount of faithfulness.

We may have failed you in many ways, but we still have that longing deep within to stick with you.

Take that mustard seed within each of us and nurture it, we pray, until our faith blossoms and we find that we can stand with you in broad daylight.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 55-56images (1)

55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.  56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

 

Reflection

I expect that Jesus knew it would happen all along.  Even when he called out to them along the sea of Galilee to follow him, I expect he knew that this night would come when all, not some, all of the disciples would desert him.   Did they go as a group, or did they slink away one by one — each making the choice, by themselves, to flee.  Some may have stepped away quietly, covertly walking among the shadows of night so as to avoid notice.   But I imagine some of them may have just run.

I expect we’ve “been there, done that” at one point or another.  Are you the slink-away type?  Or do you prefer to just flat our run from Jesus?

Of course he always gives us the option.  So which will it be?  Will we slink back to Jesus, or will we run back to him?

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Forgive us for our weakness.

Forgive us for our fear.

Forgive us for our lack of conviction

to stand with you.  To not run.

Make us disciples anew, call us again,

give us the hope, the mercy, the challenge, the joy

to be your disciples again.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 50-54images (2)

50 Jesus said to him [Judas], “Friend, do what you are here to do.”

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him,

“Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”

 

Reflection

What strikes me first is the address to Judas.  “Friend.”   Jesus could have said, “You rascal!”, “You traitor!” — or any other term befitting the circumstances.  But that wouldn’t be Jesus.

And then there’s a second response by Jesus which also flies in the face of how we usually behave.  “Put your sword back”.   We are quick for vengeance in our society, quick to reach for arms, quick to use force.   But that is not Jesus’ way.  While we tend to think of the Old Testament quote of  “an eye for an eye”  as a biblical endorsement of the use of force (it was actually meant to ensure moderation),  Jesus refuted that by saying  “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also” (Matt. 5:38-39).

Much as we seek to justify our militant ways, the one we follow to the cross is the Prince of Peace.  After all, if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be going to the cross.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Help us to put our swords back.

Those angry words.  Those mean actions.

Those real swords with which we too often seek to settle things in our society and in our world.

It may be difficult for us to see how we can live safely that way.

But help us to seek and find our security in you.

And if the world takes advantage of us in the process,

strengthen us and sustain us with your love and grace.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 45-49images (1)

45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.  48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”

49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 

Reflection

A peck on the cheek — betrayal.   Isn’t it curious that of all the signs that Judas could have given to signal who is to be arrested, he chose a kiss.   Not a handshake,  not a wink,  not “it’s the guy I’ll stand next to”  nor the person to whom I’ll say “Hello Rabbi.”    But a kiss.

It underscores the personal nature of the betrayal.  The fact that Judas was one of the twelve, chosen as a disciple.  Why did we even need a betrayal in the gospel story anyway?  Weren’t there plenty of people eager to have Jesus arrested who could have arranged to make it happen away from the crowd?

But betrayal is in the heart of the story.  And of course not just on Judas’ part, but by all of the disciples.  All of the supposed faithful failed Jesus.  Intentionally.  Spectacularly.   And yet he went to the cross for them (and us) anyway.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

How many ways have I been untrue to you?

How many times have I allowed my temper to flare, gossip to govern, self-interest to predominate?

As we look back upon just yesterday, how many things would I have done differently had I lived that day with the intention to apply the gospel in my every word and deed?

Now we have a new day.

Amen.

 

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 26-29    download

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;  28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

 

Reflection

I doubt we’ve ever told our children or grandchildren as we passed them the mashed potatoes or pizza at dinner time, “take, eat; this is my body.”   I doubt we’ve ever spoken such words even though at some points we may feel as though we could  make such a claim given the material or personal sacrifices we have made for our child(ren) or grandchild(ren).    Such words, however, come readily to our Lord as he presides over the Passover meal.   And he’s not being symbolic, for he had and will give his all for his disciples — and us.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We thank you for giving us your all,

for feeding us with your very life,

which was and continues to be

a gift of grace that leaves us filled.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26:  17 -19download

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

 

Reflection

The scene of the last supper is of course a Passover meal.  It reminds us again that Jesus was a Jew as were all the disciples.   It also recalls the Exodus of the Israelites who, at God’s command, smeared the blood of a lamb over the archways and lintel posts of their doors so that the angel of death would pass over their homes and only afflict the houses of the Egyptians.

This Jesus of ours will be similarly sacrificed so that the angel of death will pass over again, so that in Christ Jesus, we may know life eternal.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Would that we could smear some lamb’s blood on our lintel posts today to protect us from the threats and dangers of our world.   Would that we could know that the angel of death would just pass over us.   Help us to trust that in You, we find all our security, all of strength, all our comfort, all our refuge, all our freedom, all our life.

Amen

 

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 14 -16images (3)

14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

 

Reflection

We all like Judas.   It’s always a relief to have someone in the picture who’s the bad guy, someone to blame.

But in a sense Judas is just a stand-in for the rest of us.   What’s your price to betray Jesus?   Those temptations roll in each day, seducing us in different ways.   It may be good ‘ol hard cash.  It might be the lure of moving up some social or corporate ladder.  Or it might be something else that captures your fancy — you can fill in the blank.  Our betrayals may be big or small.  Obvious or covert.   Intentional or careless.

The saving grace?   Just that.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

Forgive me for having betrayed you yesterday.

Forgive me for any ways that I might betray you today.

Fix in my heart the intention to follow your path, to love you and neighbor, and to glorify your name.  And then give me the strength to follow through.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 26: 6 -13yellow pouring out

6 Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. 8 But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste?   9 For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.”

10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

 

Reflection

I bet you can remember a time when you acted incredibly extravagantly.  It was a special occasion, and you went all out.   Perhaps it was a special birthday, a graduation, an anniversary, a promotion at work.    And to celebrate, you spent more, way more than you usually do.  Someone looking in from the outside might have said to you, “Really?  You’re going to spend THAT much on this?”

“Really?” said the disciples as they watched the woman pour the costly perfume on Jesus’ head.  “Why this waste?”

When was the last time that we did something extravagant for Jesus — something that others would look at and wonder if we’re a bit crazy?    What might we do next?

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

You are so precious to us.

Perhaps especially so as we follow you in these Lenten days, knowing the path that you are taking and the cross that stands at the end.

May we find ways to shower you with our love and devotion.

Unreservedly.

Amen.

Apologies for missing my Saturday post!  Sometimes life is just like that.

Scripture

Matthew 25: 41-46images

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’

44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’

45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

Reflection

There are consequences for our actions.  The scriptures lift these up, and perhaps none as starkly as this passage from Matthew 25 where the people are separated like the sheep and the goats.    We are all sinners of course and Christ died for us, not when we had straightened up, but while we were yet steeped in sin.   So there is boundless grace in the cross and God’s mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.

And still, Matthew 25 paints a sharp “or else” portrait that reminds us of God’s call on our lives.   In some places, the gospels define faithfulness as confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Here, faithfulness is defined as serving one another, especially those in need.   So for those of us who need a nudge at times to care for the “least of these” (and that can include pastors at times), well, here we go.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We’re grateful for the clarity and force of your call for us to respond to the human need around us.  In the face of another’s hunger, sickness, imprisonment, loneliness, or nakedness,  spur us to action in your name.   And for the times we fail to act, forgive us, and call us again.

Amen.