Archives for posts with tag: meditation

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.

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Todays devotion consists entirely of an illustrated scripture reading from Matthew 27:1-60 as Jesus goes to the cross.

Matthew 27:1-60  

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When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

 

 

 

images (19)3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

5 Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.

6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” 7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

jesus_before_pilate_jekel11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.”

12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer.  13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?”  14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas.  17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.  19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.”

20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.  21 The

Pilate Ecce-Homo-Antonio-Ciseri-1880governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”

22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”   23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?”    But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.”   25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!

26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

mocking of Christ 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.  28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,  29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying,

“Hail, King of the Jews!”

30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

 

stripping of our Lord

 

 

 

31 After mocking him,

they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him.

Then they led him away to crucify him.

 

 

 

 

download (7)32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross.  33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.  35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;  36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him.  37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

 

images (16) 38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying,  42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.  43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.'”

44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

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45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”

48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”

 

Jesus on cross

 

50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.

 

 

 

 

 

Centurion4

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.  52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many.

 

54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said,

“Truly this man was God’s Son!”

 

 

 

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55 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.  58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.

 

 

 

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He then rolled a great stone

to the door of the tomb

and went away.

 

 

 

Scripture

Matthew 26: 69-75images (12)

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.”

70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”

71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.”

73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.”

74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed.   75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

 

Reflection

As we enter into this Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, tradition has us focus upon Peter’s denial of Christ.   This is the enthusiastic disciple — the one who leaped into the water to walk to Christ;  the one who professed to Jesus “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”;  the one who said that HE would never deny his Lord.

But then we have our own moments, moments when people effectively say “You are with Jesus” and we deny it.  Moments when someone makes an off-color joke at someone else’s expense, but it’s just a joke so we keep silent.   Or when someone suggests cutting a corner in some enterprise which is not entirely legal or ethical, but we go along and keep silent.  Or when someone asks us for some help and we pretend not to see or hear them.  Or when we cling to old hurts and grudges rather than practice forgiveness.

Or when . . .

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

We want to follow you, but often we fail.   Sometimes we fail unwittingly, carelessly.  Sometimes we fail intentionally.  Forgive us for the ways that we deny you.  Forgive us and call upon us to be your disciples again.

Amen

 

p.s.  At some point along the way, I missed a day and so my devotions jump from day 36 to day 38.  Call today my “Leap Devotional”!

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 25: 37-40images (2)

37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?

38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?

39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

 

Reflection

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

It’s interesting to me that we are so shocked by the King’s (Jesus’) response to the righteous.   We readily accept the notion that Jesus died for US on the cross.   But the idea that Christ himself benefits or suffers as a result of how we treat our fellow human beings is stunning to us.

It suggests to me just how vastly we underestimate (a) God’s love for the world, (b) God’s complete empathy and identification with God’s creation and (c) our community with God.    It makes me pause to consider what I will say and how I will act with the people I’ll encounter today.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

With every word,  every touch, every act,

remind me that how I treat others

pleases or pains you.

Amen

Scripture

Matthew 25: 34-36download

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

 

Reflection

There are many words that jump out at us from these three verses as we read about the plight of too many of our fellow human beings.   Hungry.  Thirsty.  Stranger.  Naked.  Sick.  Prison.

But I’m most struck by one single, small word that gets repeated over and over  — “I.”     That Jesus would have this King (himself of course) identify with those clinging to the margins of life is astounding.    If in fact Jesus is telling us that HE hungers, thirsts, feels lost, is unclothed, suffers illness and imprisonment along with our fellow men, women and children — if this is true, then what does that suggest to us as we plan our family budget, our corporate benevolences, our church missions?  What does it suggest to us about how we use our time?

Prayer

Dear Lord,

You hunger.

You thirst.

You are a stranger.

You are naked.

You are sick.

You are in prison.

Along with so many people who suffer in these ways.

I am here.

Show me how I might serve you, and those you call me to love.

Amen.

Scripture

Matthew 25: 26-30images (2)

26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter?  27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.  28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.  29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.   30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

 

Reflection by William Barclay

This parable “lays down a rule of life which is universally true.  It tells us that to those who have, more will be given, and those who have not will lose even what they have.  The meaning is this.  If we have a talent and exercise it, we are progressively able to do more with it.  But, if we have talent and fail to exercise it, we will inevitably lose it . . . That is equally true of playing golf or playing the piano, or singing songs or writing sermons, or carving wood or thinking out ideas.  It is the lesson of life that the only way to keep a gift is to use it in the service of God and in the service of our neighbors.”

 

Prayer

Dear Lord,

You’ve given us different gifts.  Some received 5 talents, some 2, some of us 1.  But whatever gifts we have come from you.   Nurture these gifts in us.  If we are hesitant, coax them out of us until we find the joy of devoting ourselves, with these precious gifts, to your glory.

Amen.