Our Messy God

We know that for those who love God

all things work together for good.  

Romans 8:28 (1)

When I was a kid I loved word problems in Arithmetic, writing proofs for theorems in Geometry, and solving complex algebraic equations.  I was one of those students the rest of the class math hated.  Usually I could look at a problem and know the answer immediately.

This gift, which I have since lost, helped me see the world from an analytical cause and effect mindset.  Everything could be explained.

In college I studied bio-genetics and neuropsychology as I moved away from the mathematical world to an interest in discovering the cause of human behaviors.  I was convinced that with good science and solid philosophical logic, I could explain human behavior and interactions.

When I entered seminary and began to seriously study biblical theology I was convinced that as a pastor I would be able to explain the ways of God in our lives.

Except for numbers adding up, I must confess I have yet to unravel the cause and effect of human behavior and how God works.

For someone who wants to understand how and why, I finally had to confront the reality that neither behavior (God’s or man’s) nor the operational mechanics of the universe will all fit into a neat and tidy formula.

Once I realized that the human mind is not capable of figuring out all the ways of man, God, and the physical world, it was easier and more satisfying to be a man of faith.

Though unexplainable, God is part of the equation of life.  I have seen His hand and felt His presence too many times to deny Him.  I can never let go of this reality, even though there is much I cannot explain about God.

This faith has brought me great peace and joy.

I have learned to accept and to be thankful for His unexplainable behaviors.

+ + +

  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 8:28.
Posted in Dumb things we do, Faith, God's Will, Miracles, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spiritual Friendship

Friendship’s trysts are also quiet resting-places, 

where heart may commune with heart, 

where Jesus comes, too, unseen, 

and gives His blessing. (1)

Twenty years ago United Airlines came out with one of the best commercials about relationships.  The commercial was shot in the sales room of a large manufacturing plant.  The Sales Manager was passing out airline tickets to everyone on his staff, while speaking these words:

“It is time to return to doing business face-to-face. No more FAX’s and no more mass mailings.  We are going to see all of our customers face-to-face. We are going to do business in person!”

In our digitalized world, many of us attempt to maintain friendships through electronic media.  Facebook does not facilitate building friendships.  Neither does Linkedin or any of the other social media services.

I long for face-to-face contact with friends, old and new.  Without them, my spirit withers and faints.

One of the blessings of serving as a minister and serving multiple congregations in several states is that I have good Christian friends in all over the United States.  The curse is that we are separate from one another.

My ministry and life has taken me from my hometown where my Dad and siblings still live.  I have been gone from home for 40 years.  I visit when I can, but I must confess I miss the closeness we could have if I lived next door to them.

My own sons have moved away, as part of the natural progression of life.  Then we moved from the hometown they lived in for 20 years.  I miss my friends and their friends in Pittsburgh.  If we still lived there, they would be able to see their childhood friends more easily.

Do not misunderstand me, I have made new friends, good friends, where I currently live.  However, my wife and I still work and many of our friends here work.  Getting together face-to-face is not as easy as I wish.

J. R. Miller is correct when he reminds us, “Friendships are resting places … where hearts commune … and where Jesus adds His blessing!”

God gave us all these Christian friends for a reason: to live with them, to be encouraged by them, and to encourage them.  Paul wrote to his friends:

For I long to see you … that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (2)

+ + +

  1. Quote by J. R. Miller in, Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 1:11–12.
Posted in Dumb things we do, Family, Friends, God's Blessings, Renewal | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

My Commitment As A Christian

Easter has come, but it does not need to be gone.

If yesterday’s celebration is beginning to fade, I encourage you to print and post this personal affirmation of faith on your computer screen, refrigerator, mobile devices, and anywhere else you regularly look during the course of your day.  

Read it, memorize it, and recite it.  Jesus went all the way to the cross and through the crucifixion to secure for you the forgiveness of your sins and the resurrection of your body at death.  Surely, you and I can do the same.

Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you who wrote this commitment.  Regardless, make it yours.

My Commitment as a Christian

I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. 

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. 

I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees,  colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. 

I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. 

I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, live by prayer, and labor by His power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough,  my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. 

I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,  hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. 

I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. 

And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me, my banner will be clear!

Posted in Faith, Humility, Love, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Sermon – “Remember What He Said”

Easter Sermon Notes

Remember What He Said

Scripture: Luke 24:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 54-58

To listen to this sermon, click here on April 9 and click on link for sermons


I. Don’t you remember what I said ….

A.  Words we have all heard

B.  Luke 24:5-6 – The 2 men/angels to the women at the tomb

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here!   He has risen!

Remember how He told you …

C.  The women had already forgotten

When reminded by the angel

=> 24:8 Then they remembered His words

D.  Regarding His death and rising

Matt 16:21, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, and Luke 9:22

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

E. Regarding His Resurrection

Matthew 22:31-32

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. I am not God of the dead, but of the living.

John 11:24

I am the resurrection and the life.

II. Paul writing to the Corinthian Church

A.  1 Corinthians 15

Reminds us of the reason for the season

What are we celebrating today

Everyday within the church

The resurrection of Jesus

B.  He reminds them to believe in 15:1

The good news that I proclaimed to you, 

which you in turn received, 

in which also you stand, 

And by which you are saved.

C.  ==> theological discourse on the resurrection …

3 sections in 1 Corinthians 15

1. 1-11 – The Truthfulness of the Gospel

2.  12-24 – The Resurrection of the Dead

3.  35-58 – The Resurrection of the Body

D.  Crescendo of chapter 15 is reached in verses 54-57

When he speaks of the victory of the cross

Listen to Paul’s summary about

what the resurrection of Jesus means for us:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, 

and the power of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God, 

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

E.  The resurrection of Jesus represents the two victories of the cross

Over two powers/realities which deeply affect our daily lives

1.  Over the power of sin to cause our spiritual death

2.  Over the power of physical death to end our life

III. The Resurrection gives us victory over Sin

A.  Sin has incredible power over us

In Romans Paul tells us about the realities of sin

Romans 3:23 – All sin and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death

B.  While we like to argue about what sin does to us,

We all know deep within our souls

What sin does to us, to our relationships, to our lives

And to our relationship with God

C.  Sin destroys life,

it weighs down life,

it takes life away,

it kills life

D.  While we may bravo in our sin when committing it

We regret our sin when is shatters our life

E.  Examples of sin destroying life

1.  Zacchaeus – the tax collector

Cheated and greedy, loathed by the people

Found forgiveness and restoration in Jesus

2.  Former Illinois Governor – Rod Blagojevich

Now serving 14 years for corruption as governor

Affect on his 2 daughters

I will guarantee you sin is weighing him down

3.  The Woman caught in adultery

Leaders wanted to stone her to death

Have you ever been in room

When spouse reveals/confesses adultery to spouse and family

Looks could kill – pain, anger, grief

Weeping of regret for sin … Weighs down heavy

4.  Even unintended sins ==> deep regret

Elderly priest – Good Friday – ran over 5 parishioners,

killed one, imagine the weight on him

9 year old playing with gun kills his twin –

Imagine the weight on his shoulders

and father who left gun loaded and available

F.  Anyone who says sin is

without consequence without victims is deceived

G.  Every sinner prays for a do-over

All of us in this room have done something we regret

It hurts … It pains … It weighs us down

H.  The wages of sin is death

But because Jesus died for us

Took on the death of our sins

And because he rose from the dead

The death of our sins has been removed

==> why Paul proclaims

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting?….

But thanks be to God, 

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I.  At Easter … because of Jesus’ death resurrection

We celebrate the forgiveness of our sins

The removal of the wages of sin from us

Can find forgiveness in Jesus

J.  This news, this fact, causes many in the church

to move from lamenting

to singing and rejoicing


1. African-american spirituals:

2. The American spiritual

3.  Those whose lives have been broken by sin

shame us in our ho-humness of Easter Hallelujahs

Friday at Rockford Rescue Mission

Weeping, wailing, dancing, shouting

Genuine joy … lives saved by God’s grace

K.  If it weren’t for Easter … The resurrection

We couldn’t sing these songs

IV.  Resurrection gives us victory over death at the end of this life

A.  As believers and by God’s grace

We share in Jesus’ resurrection

John 11:25-26

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

B.  I have spent much of my ministry with people as they deal with death

C.  Death not only ==> grief and sadness

it also ==> anxiety, worry, fear in all of us

What comes after death?

Is death the end?

Is this all there is to life?

D.  Jewish faith places emphasis on remembering

Because no belief in an after-life

Jesus teaching about resurrection, an after life

was something people had never heard

People do not simply live on in the memories of others

there is life after our physical, earthly death

E.  Easter – Jesus’ resurrection

Is more than Jesus telling us

It is Jesus proving for us that

There is more to life on earth

than death at the end of the day

F.  Paul said in Philippians 1:21

For me to die is gain, for me to live is lost

G.  Jesus’ resurrection becomes

The resurrection of our bodies after death

The gift of life eternal

The communion of the saints

H.  Life in and of itself is hard

For most people in most cultures

Negro spirituals sung while toiling in the fields as slaves

Joyously sing of resurrection and better heavenly world

Three most moving ones are:

The Gospel train’s comin’ 

Swing low, sweet chariot

Soon and very soon

V.  These two victories of the cross

A.  The forgiveness of sins

The resurrection of the body

Are not victories everyone will celebrate

B.  Do not be fooled by sentimentality that says

the forgiveness of sins

the resurrection of the body

is for anyone

We love to say …

Pastor, you know 

the friendly neighbor, the nice lady down the street

their spouse, the caring coach, my good muslim neighbor

they’ll be heaven!  

Won’t they?

C.  We may wish it, but scripture teaches differently

Scripture teaches – Only for those who believe in JC

will share in the victories won by Jesus in His resurrection

D.  These victories are for those who believe

In Jesus as God’s Son, as Lord and Savior.

As the two angels at the tomb said to the two women:

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee:

This is what Jesus said:

Mark 16:16

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

John 3:16-18

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Jesus to Martha in John 11:25-26 reveals the importance of belief

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. 

Do you believe this?” 

John wrote his gospel so we might believe and be saved

John 1:6-7  => belief

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

VI.  The Easter Invitation

A.  Easter is a celebration

For believers and followers

B.  Not only is Easter a time for celebration

But it is a time for commitment

for recommitment

C.  Perhaps

You have taken the Lord for granted

Jesus died for me but I am going to do what I want

You have fallen away

Placed distance between you and Jesus

You know you have not been a faithful follower

D.  Now, today is the time

To commit yourself to the Lord

To accept Him as Savior and Lord

To recommit yourself to follow him

If you have not professed your faith in Jesus

as God’s Son, as your Lord and Savior …

If you have not repented and confessed your sins

asking for God’s forgiveness through Jesus …

Do so now, today

so that Jesus’ resurrection, His victories

Over the power of sin to cause your spiritual death

Over the power of physical death to end your life

will be yours

Do so now,

so that Jesus’ resurrection and forgiveness

will be your resurrection and forgiveness

Paul put it this way:

This is the good news that I proclaimed to you, 

which you in turn received, 

in which also you stand, 

And by which you are saved

That Christ died for our sins 

That Jesus was buried

That he was raised on the third day 

Just as He said,

in accordance with the Scriptures.

Posted in Dumb things we do, Evil, Faith, Forgiveness, God's Blessings, God's Grace, Good News, Humility, Love, Prayer, Pride, Renewal, Satan, Sermon, Sin, Temptation, Trusting God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Somber Saturday, Holy Saturday

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is the neglected day of Holy Week.  It is traditionally called Holy Saturday but it is usually a day devoid of any holy activity.

It has become a day for Easter Egg Hunts for children and baseball and softball tournaments for youth.  Malls are packed as families frantically buy Easter clothes.  There is a run on hams at the grocery store as families prepare for Easter Dinner with the clan.

The mourning and grief of Good Friday is lost in the business of worldly activities. 

Most churches do not have worship services.

I have renamed this day Somber Saturday.  There must be tears of sadness in heaven that we can so easily move from the Crucifixion of Jesus to the joys of everyday living.

I encourage you to take time today:

to remember the Crucifixion,

to confess your participation, and

to humble yourself before Him who died for the forgiveness of your sins.

The following prayer, They Crucified Him, is one which I pray on this holy and somber day.  It reminds me of His great love.  It humbles my heart into grateful remembrance.

Take time to pray:

Lord Jesus, we remember everyone, evil or good, who took part in your crucifixion.

  • The priests and Pharisees and elders who conspired to arrest you.
  • Judas your disciple, who betrayed you with a kiss.
  • The apostles who deserted you, yet bore witness to your glory on the Cross.
  • Malchus who was struck by Peter’s sword, yet was touched and healed by you.
  • The young man who followed you, yet fled naked from the crowd.
  • The high priest’s maids and servants before whom Peter denied the you.
  • Annas, the high priest’s father-in-law, who handed you over to Caiaphas.
  • Caiaphas, the high priest, who convicted you of blasphemy.
  • The chief priest, scribes, and officers who mocked, beat, and condemned you.
  • Herod who arrayed you in gorgeous apparel and treated you with contempt.
  • The soldiers who put a crown of thorns on you and pretended to worship you.
  • Pilate’s wife who begged her husband to wash his hands of you.
  • Barabbas, the robber and murderer, who was freed instead of you.
  • Pontius Pilate who delivered you to death.
  • Simon of Cyrene, a passerby, who was compelled to bear your Cross.
  • The women who wept, wailed, and lamented your death.
  • The soldiers who nailed you to the Cross and whom you forgave.
  • The crowd that scoffed you as one who saved others but could not save himself;
  • The thief who reviled him.
  • The thief who asked to be remembered in your kingdom.
  • The unknown man who heard your cry of desolation and ran to quench your thirst.
  • Your mother Mary who stood by the Cross as you were dying son.
  • The centurion who proclaimed you as the Son of God.
  • All the women who had followed you and ministered to you at your crucifixion.

Have mercy on them and me.  

Loving Father, we thank you that Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.  Instead he emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Lord Jesus today I bow my knee and heart before you in humble confession and quiet gratefulness for your sacrifice which is my salvation.  Amen.

Posted in Dumb things we do, Evil, Forgiveness, God's Grace, God's Will, Humility, Love, Prayer, Satan, Sin, Suffering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus was betrayed, denied, tried, spit upon, mocked, and then crucified, all for the forgiveness of your sins.

The scripture alone is the best reflection on the day’s events, as they tell the story of God’s dying love for you.  My prayer is that after you read these words, you will share the affirmation of the centurion who observed the day’s events.

From Mark’s Gospel:

Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as 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 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, 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. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

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

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.  Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

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

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.  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.”

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

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

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

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

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

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

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

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

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

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”

He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

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

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

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

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 betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”  Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him.  The men seized Jesus and arrested him.  Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me?  Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”  Then everyone deserted him and fled.

A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law came together.  Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any.  Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him:  “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ ”  Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”  But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked.  “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death.  Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by.  When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.”  Again he denied it.

After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things.  So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.  The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.  But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.  And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”  Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.  They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha.  Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.  And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was the third hour when they crucified him.  The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.  They crucified two robbers with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days,  come down from the cross and save yourself!”

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

When the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”  (1)

+ + +

(1) The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), Mark 14:1-15:39.
Posted in Evil, Faith, Forgiveness, God's Blessings, God's Grace, God's Will, Good News, Humility, Love, Suffering, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday.  On this day Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Passover.  At dinner he instituted The Lord’s Supper with his disciples.  Both of these events celebrate God’s gracious love for us as His children.

Jesus knew He would be betrayed and arrested that evening after His last supper with His disciples.  Instead of talking about His greatness, He showed His greatness in what he did for His disciples at dinner.

As you prepare to worship this evening, think about what Jesus did for His disciples that evening.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” 

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 

Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (1)

+ + +

  1. The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), John 13:1–17.
Posted in Faith, Friends, God's Blessings, God's Grace, Humility, Love | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment