Thursday, 29 March 2018
Holy Week Reflection Maundy Thursday 3/29/18
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HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS
MAUNDY THURSDAY
Mark 14:17-42
 

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Gethsemane

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[d] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

 

It’s now Thursday and Jesus sits with His disciples for the final meal He would have with them before His crucifixion.  There Jesus drops the bomb that one of the twelve would betray Him.  Not only would one betray Him, but all would abandon Jesus.  Peter protests, but just a little while later he would fall asleep while Jesus prayed to let the cup pass from Him. 

What’s fascinating about this passage is that Jesus has the Lord’s Supper with His disciples anyway.  At that point they were all unworthy.  Yet Jesus offers bread representing His body which would be pierced the next day.  Jesus offers the cup.  It is not the same cup that Jesus Himself would drink.  That cup is the cup that Jeremiah explains as “the cup of wrath.”  That’s not the cup that Jesus offers.  He drinks the cup of wrath that we might drink the cup of grace.

Place yourself there.  You are in Bethany overlooking Jerusalem.  Your mentor, your friend, and your Lord is troubled and anxious.  You can feel something big coming, but you are not sure of what.  And Jesus tells you that you will fall away.  Despite that Jesus offers Himself.  He offers grace.  Heaven truly came to earth.  Grace has come down and bore the shame, bore the wrath, and we truly do stand forgiven at the cross.    

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Posted on 03/29/2018 3:56 PM by Ray Miller
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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Holy Week Reflection Wednesday 3/28/18
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HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS
WEDNESDAY
Mark 14:3-11

 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over

Mark 14:3-11

The day draws closer for Jesus’ Passion.  While everyone is busy preparing for Passover, talking about the hutzpah Jesus has been displaying in the temple, and anticipating what might happen next, a woman approaches.  She carries with her an expensive jar of perfume.  So expensive that it is apparently worth more than a year’s worth of wages.  She breaks the jar and poured her gift on Jesus’ head. 

She did not give some of it to Jesus.  She did not take a tablespoon out and carefully measure.  She gave all she had.  It was a gift that cost her dearly.  Jesus saw her offering as beautiful.  She gave all she had to the One who would give all He has for her.  In doing so, she unknowingly prepared Jesus for His burial. 

It did not come without the men in the room judging her offering.  How wasteful they thought!  Doesn’t she know how many people that would feed?  After all, Jesus fed 5000 with a few fish and some bread.  How much more could he do with the money from that perfume!  They missed the beauty of the gift.  Jesus reminds them the poor they will always have, because as a follower of Jesus, taking care of the poor is part of the rhythm of life with Jesus.  It’s what we do.

The more important reality, though, is to experience Jesus.  It’s easy to get caught up in the details of different ministries, work, and even good things like taking care of the poor.  For us to be effective at those though, it starts with Jesus.  We worship Jesus.  We adore Jesus.  We offer Jesus our best because Jesus gave us all He had by the shedding of His blood.  Heaven could give no more than what it gave in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

This Holy Week might be busy for you.  Maybe you have family coming in.  Maybe you have extra responsibilities or are going to extra services.  Don’t forget to gaze at Jesus. Don’t forget the beauty of the empty tomb.

 

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Posted on 03/28/2018 11:30 AM by Ray Miller
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Tuesday, 27 March 2018
Holy Week Reflection Tuesday 3.27.18
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Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
11 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes
?”

12 Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away

Mark 12:1-12

 

The day after Jesus cleared the Temple, He comes back.  As you can imagine, Jesus made quite the impression His first day there.  The religious and cultural leadership begins to question this young rabbi from Galilee.  Who does He think He is after all? 

Jesus, as He often does, responds with a story.  It’s the story of a wealthy farmer who planted a vineyard, and left it for stewards to manage.  When harvest time came, he sent his servants to collect the fruit.  In yesterday’s reflection we learned that Jesus had already declared the temple as not producing fruit.  Jesus keeps the fruit theme alive here, tying neatly these stories together.

The stewards of the vineyard rejected the servants.  They mocked them.  They killed them.  They beat them. Then the rich farmer sends his son thinking they would respect his son.  Instead, they kill the son and declare themselves as the rightful inheritors of the estate.  The farmer had no other choice but to judge them. 

Jesus then quotes Psalm 118.  (Bible trivia – what is the most quoted Psalm in the Bible – if you guessed Psalm 118 you would be right).  The people had shouted a portion of Psalm 118 to Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem (Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord).  Jesus quotes a different section.  The rejected stone of the building becomes the cornerstone of something new.  This was God’s marvelous work.  The religious establishment figured out quickly that Jesus was talking about them. They were keeping people from the fruit of God’s grace.  They were the ones rejecting the Torah, the prophets, and the writings.  They would reject God’s son.  When Jesus is crucified and dies, a Roman soldier cries out, “Surely this was the Son of God.”  A pagan soldier recognizes Jesus.  The blind see Jesus.  The deaf hear His call.  The lame jump for joy.  But the ones who were supposed to see Jesus can’t recognize Him. 

As we continue in Holy Week, let’s remember to see the real Jesus.  Jesus is the Messiah that calls us to servanthood.  Christ’s power is displayed in weakness, not strength.  It is in humility, not pride.  It is in sacrificial love and the power of the cross where we see the Messiah.  The Messiah who was raised from the dead.  Do you see Jesus? 

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Posted on 03/27/2018 10:07 AM by Ray Miller
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Monday, 26 March 2018
Holy Week Reflection Monday 3.26.18
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HOLY WEEK REFLECTIONS: MONDAY

 

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[c]? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’[d]

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[e] went out of the city.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[f] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [

Mark 11:12-25

 

Jesus, who was staying with friends in Bethany, makes his way to the Temple on Monday.  It had to be an exciting place to be with the whole country coming to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  Passover, of course, was the great liberation of Israel from Egypt.  Each year, Israel remembers God’s work and longed for God to work again.  At the center of this celebration was the temple and the sacrifices made there for the Passover meals. 

Jesus and his disciples were on the way to the Temple the Monday of Jesus’ Passion Week. Along the way, there was a fig tree that did not have any figs on it.  That really was not a surprise sense it was not fig season.  Jesus curses the tree because it was not producing fruit.  Really?  Then Jesus arrived at the temple. 

Observing the money changers and people making profit off God’s Holy Temple, Jesus flipped their tables, and for one day prevented profit from being made off God’s Temple.  Matthew’s version points out that the poor, blind, and lame came to Jesus and he healed them after flipping the tables.  The Temple’s purpose was to be a house of prayer, but it had become a “den of robbers.” 

Going back home that night, the disciples noticed the tree that Jesus cursed.  It had withered and died.  Mark loves these “sandwich” stories.  He often sandwiches two stories together.  In this case the fig tree made a point about the temple.  It’s season was over.  A new and greater Temple was here – Jesus himself.  Jesus would make the ultimate, one-time sacrifice for the salvation of the world.  True liberation would not be from looking to the Temple, but rather to a crucified and risen Jesus. 

When we look at our lives, is there anything that Jesus needs to flip over?  Is there anything that we do that keeps us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives?  For the church at large, are we producing the fruit of the Kingdom?  Or have we made God’s house again a den of robbers? Let’s all fix our eyes, ears, hearts, and souls upon Jesus and his life, teaching, death, and resurrection.    

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Posted on 03/26/2018 10:39 AM by Ray Miller
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