In Silence We Wait

Holy-SaturdayJob 14:1-14 •  Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16  •  1 Peter 4:1-8  •  Matthew 27:57-66

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.

Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead. That is why the Good News was preached to those who are now dead—so although they were destined to die like all people, they now live forever with God in the Spirit.

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:1-8 | New Living Translation (NLT)


Last night we had a powerful Good Friday service.  The service ends as we hear these words: We hope for the dawning of a new day. We hope for God to bring newness out of endings.  But today…Go home.  There is nothing more to see.  Jesus is dead.

They are strange words to say and yet without those words “Jesus is dead” we are without hope.  So many are quick to jump to the resurrection.  We are uncomfortable with a dead Jesus…but for his disciples…can you imagine…remember it was Sabbath – a very Holy Sabbath because it was the Passover – they were good Jewish people – they couldn’t do anything because of the Sabbath…nothing to do but contemplate the events of the last 24 hours.  Perhaps they remembered Jesus’ words while He was here, but perhaps – especially Peter – they weren’t so sure…remember Peter had denied Jesus three times.  How was it like to wait, when you had denied your best friend?

So today we wait in silence, but while we do, let’s meditate on Peter’s words:

Peter reminds us in his letter to the church, that Jesus suffered physical pain and we are to have the same attitude that Jesus had.  I wonder if Peter wasn’t recalling the words to the ancient hymn found in Philippians 2.  Peter tells us that if we suffer with Christ – we too will be finished with sin. Christ’s work on the cross paid the penalty for our sin.  Because of the work done there we no longer have to live in sin…but we should be anxious to do the will of God – to glorify him – to enjoy him forever.

We are also reminded that when we do that – especially those who are transformed by the work of Christ – that our friends won’t understand.  What do you mean you can’t do those things you used to do?  They won’t understand. They will slander you.

Today is Holy Saturday – today we wait in silence…what will you do with Jesus today?

Good Friday

crown-of-thorns-2641239_640Isaiah 52:13-53:12  •  Psalm 22  •  Hebrews 10:16-25 • John 18:1-19:42

“This is the new covenant I will make

    with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he says,

“I will never again remember
    their sins and lawless deeds.”

And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:16-25 | New Living Translation (NLT)


Today is Good Friday. It is a high holy day, especially among Catholics.  I’ve mentioned this on other Good Fridays – for many it will be just like any other day.  That’s the way it was in Jerusalem. It was just another day, when the King of kings, nailed to the cross. Crucifixion was a common sight in the streets of Jerusalem.  There were many “revolutionaries” that the Roman government wanted to squash.  But there was something different about Jesus.

You may have noticed that we are really hanging out in Hebrews during this Holy Week. Some may ask, how could a day like this be good? I love this line that the author writes:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Through the death of Jesus on the cross, there is new life.  I mentioned this last week during my sermon. We no longer have to go through the High Priest to have our sins forgiven. We can go directly to God. When the veil in the temple was torn, the old system went away.  The author says, “Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting in him.” Through the cross of Christ and his blood we can be free – if we choose – of sin and be washed by the blood of the Lamb.

On this day, many people like to skip forward to Sunday, but I encourage you. Spend some time looking at the various texts that are linked above.  Focus on the saving work of Christ on the cross.  If you have the opportunity, attend a Good Friday service in your area.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  

Maundy Thursday

32613-Communion-Maundy-Thursday-SliderExodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14  •  Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19  •  1 Corinthians 11:23-26  •  John 13:1-17, 31b-35

For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 | New Living Translation (NLT)


Today is Maundy Thursday.  I know that I get this question every year, so I’ll take that on first and then we will look at the scripture. What is Maundy Thursday? Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandatum, which is translated “commandment.” On Maundy Thursday, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment – to love one another.

Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:33-35

Many churches that normally don’t have regular services on Thursday, will have services to remember the events that happened on Thursday, the night that Jesus was arrested and betrayed.

That night Jesus was having dinner with his disciples. We often call that the Last Supper.

tour_img-312981-148.jpg

During this dinner with his friends that have been with him for the last three years, he gives us the instructions for communion.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul repeats these instructions and they make up our reading for today.

Jesus takes some bread and gives it to his disciples and pronounces these words: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. These words are so powerful.  As I officiate communion, I always take the time – I don’t like to rush through communion. As I break the bread I remind our congregation, how Jesus’ body was broken for us – how it was beaten for us.  Each time we break the bread we remember that Christ died for us.  Then Jesus takes the cup and says: This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it. Jesus blood was spilled out for the forgiveness of our sins. Think of the pain and suffering that he endured.  

Often we think of communion as being a memorial of Christ’s death.  It was several years ago, while I was attending FLAME that one of the professors explained that communion is a full on celebration.  Yes, we remember that Christ died, but Christ – looking forward to Sunday – also rose.  It’s important to remember this because it helps us understand Paul’s last words about this meal.  For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. Paul doesn’t say it here but if we are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again, that means that Jesus also rose from the dead. This is important.  Our atonement requires both the crucifixion and the resurrection – it is what gives us hope in Christ’s return.  It is what we remember on this night.  

 

Wednesday of Holy Week

tartan-track-2678543_640.jpgIsaiah 50:4-9a  •  Psalm 70  •  Hebrews 12:1-3  •  John 13:21-32

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Hebrews 12:1-3 | New Living Translation (NLT)


This was my key text that I used on Sunday.  This week we have focused on key texts about the cross. Today is no exception.  The writer of Hebrews has just gotten finished quoting from the faith hall of fame.  This hall of fame shows how many of the Old Testament did things by faith.  We have all the famous ones in this passage, but then there are the unknowns.  That’s when the writer says, therefore…since we know what others have encountered and they are now cheering us on…

I think about the enormous weight that Jesus had on his shoulders on the way to Calvary.  He had the physical weight of the cross and the beating that he took, but he had the burdens and sins of us.  There was the mockery – the shame of the cross.  He took those burdens so that we could be free of our burdens.  Jesus took the shame of the cross so that we wouldn’t have to.  Since we have a great crowd of witnesses, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  This past winter I have put on more pounds that I really don’t need.  Those extra pounds slow me down.  The Christian life is a race – more akin to a marathon than a sprint, but still a race. As Paul mentions, we press on toward the goal.  The writer of Hebrews says, “let us run with endurance the race set before us.”

How do we do that? By keeping our eyes on Jesus. Sometimes when you are running – especially when you are struggling – to keep your head down, so you don’t see how much further you need to go.  But that is always a bad idea – for one it restricts your air passages and makes it harder to breath – also you can’t see where you are going.  The writer of Hebrews says, “keep your head up – stay focused on Jesus.”  You’ll run a much better race that way. An added benefit is that if you stay focused on Jesus, the sin won’t seem as enticing.

Jesus is the one who initiates our faith – Jesus is the one who perfects our faith – Jesus is the one who matures our faith.  Jesus is our great example. He was tempted and did not sin.  He endured the cross. He disregarded its shame.  Jesus was both God and man.  Hebrews tells us that he is our great high priest who has gone to the heavens. He knows what we have been through.

Are you going through a hard time – think of Jesus enduring the cross – think of the hostility he endured from his own people – his own creation.  I still think of that half-marathon I ran several years ago.  It was more like an endurance race.  The first 12 miles were miserable. I had to tell myself to keep pushing – to keep plodding along…but then a mile from the finish something rose up from with inside me.  I ran the fastest, most comfortable mile of the whole race.  I still don’t know what happened, but I was glad that I slogged it out.  I was glad that I didn’t become weary and give up.

Keep your eyes on Jesus – Keep your eyes on the cross.

Tuesday of Holy Week

pexels-photo-208315.jpegIsaiah 49:1-7  •  Psalm 71:1-14  •  1 Corinthians 1:18-31  •  John 12:20-36

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
    and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 | New Living Translation (NLT)


I am writing this on Monday night of Holy Week.  Earlier this evening I came across a post on Facebook about someone preaching on the foolishness of the cross. Which considering that this Easter Sunday falls on April 1st – otherwise known as April Fool’s Day. When you think about it. The resurrection is the ultimate April Fool’s joke.

In this passage Paul talks about the foolishness of the cross.  Just this past week, I preached that Jesus died.  In Hebrews we hear the words, Jesus endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  When you think about the whole story of Jesus – it does seem like there could have been a better way. To our human minds, the idea of one man – who also happened to be God, dying for the sins of the whole world seems a little out there.  Paul acknowledges this.  For those who don’t believe – it seems foolish.  He even goes on to say that the wisdom of the world makes this all look or appear foolish.

But the world’s wisdom is not how we know Christ – it is not how we know God.  Paul says, “When we preach that Christ was crucified…the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.” I know many people who think what I preach is foolishness.  I remember having a conversation many years ago with a friend. He said, in essence, you believe what you believe and I’m fine with that, but I’ll believe what I believe.

Then Paul goes on to tell us – but to those called by God to salvation, Christ IS the power of God and the wisdom of God!  What appears to be a foolish plan to our human wisdom is really a brilliant plan to save us – the people that God created from our sins.  Some may ask, why did God allow us to do what we wanted.  He could have made us love him unconditionally.  It’s a good point, but, if God had created us to love Him unconditionally like He loves us – what kind of love is that. A forced love is no love at all.

So even though God created us, he left us choose to follow Him or not.  It all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve chose – and since then, we humans have continued to choose. Many times we choose wrongly – we follow our human nature rather than the will of God.  But God loved the world so much that He gave us his Son – to die on a cross – to pay the penalty for our sin – that if we believe in Him – we might have eternal life.

The cross seems foolish to human wisdom, but to those called by God, Christ is the power and wisdom of God.

Monday of Holy Week

church-1024315_640.jpgIsaiah 42:1-9  •  Psalm 36:5-11  •  Hebrews 9:11-15  •  John 12:1-11

So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.

Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

Hebrews 9:11-15 | New Living Translation (NLT)


A Sacrifice – Once And For All Time

Today begins a series of daily devotionals for Holy Week based on the lectionary. If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that we are currently following the epistles in year B. We will not be looking so much at the events in Jesus life, but how this week impacts the life of those who believe in Jesus and why he came.

The book of Hebrews was written to early Jewish Christians.  The book of James which follows is another book primarily written to early Jewish Christians scattered around the world. Our text begins in chapter 9 beginning in verse 11.  The writer has been comparing the old way of worship – the Jewish system, to the new way – Jesus.  They have been taking us through the superiority of Jesus over the old system.  Throughout the letter the writer has been comparing Jesus to a high priest.  A high priest was the only one who could offer full atonement for sins.  Atonement is a theological word that describes how we are made one with God again.

In the old system, the blood of goats and bulls would constantly have to be sacrificed to make atonement for sin.  It was the only way people could atone for sins. It was temporary – it never paid for future sins.  Those sins would have to be paid for after they were committed.

The writer of Hebrews tell us that Jesus – our great High Priest did not sacrificed with goats and bulls, but with his own blood – a much greater sacrifice – a sacrifice that transcends time.  Christ entered the Most Holy Place and secured our redemption once for all time.  This sacrifice covers the sins of all people from Adam – to the last person left on the face of the planet.

The writer goes on to say that it wasn’t that the blood of goats and bulls wasn’t effective, it’s just that it had to be done over and over and over and over again.  He also goes on to say that the blood of Christ not only covers our sins and washes them white as snow, but it can change us – it can transform us.  It will free us from the penalty of sin.

Jesus offers us the New Covenant – not a covenant of sacrifices of goats and bulls and all the rules that go along with it – but a covenant paid for by the blood of Christ.  Christ is the perfect sacrifice and it is he – not some High Priest – or pastor – or priest – that mediates between us and God.  We can go to him to ask forgiveness of our sins, for Christ paid the penalty that frees us from sin.  Because of that, we can receive – if we choose – to have eternal life with our Creator.

Liturgy of the Passion

pexels-photo-208216.jpegLiturgy of the Passion

Isaiah 50:4-9a  •  Psalm 31:9-16  •  Philippians 2:5-11  •  Mark 14:1-15:47

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11


Palm Sunday really is the tale of two Sundays.  Many (including us) will recognize that Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem.  However, for many church going people, they will enter to celebrate Palm Sunday and won’t be back until we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.  But that leaves a big hole in the story.  This passage helps us fill in that hole.  It is thought that Paul is quoting an early hymn of the church.  This hymn tells the story of Jesus. I have referenced this passage several times during the weeks leading up to now.  This passage really shows us the God-Man – Jesus.  Paul tells us that we need to have the same attitude that Jesus had.  He says that this is truly the way the church should operate.  The church must operate from the framework of the attitude of Christ.

Jesus was fully God and yet, he humbled himself – he didn’t lift himself up. Jesus could have stayed with his Father, but he didn’t. He humbled himself to come to earth. Jesus became God with us.  He put on flesh and bone – he knows what it means to be limited by the human body.

Not only did he come and put on flesh and bone, but he was obedient to the Father’s will.  He took on the lowest position of the low – a slave.  Imagine the Son of God taking the position of a slave.  It would be a humbling experience for any of us, yet Christ did it willingly.  He came, born as a human being…living a life on earth…to the very point of death. He died a criminal’s death on the cross for our salvation.  Imagine being killed for someone else’s wrongs.  Imagine being killed for someone else’s wrongs and that someone else are the very creation that you created.  This is what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Why?  To bring us salvation.  We are given a glimpse of what God would do for the Son in the second part of this hymn.  As a result of Jesus’ death on a cross, God would lift Jesus up…you could say raise Jesus up.  It’s the same thing that will happen for those of us who believe – who acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins and receive him into our hearts as Lord and Savior.  But that’s getting ahead of the story…