Sunday

Christ is risen


John 20

The Empty Tomb

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of
Mary Magdala at empty tomb
the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

 
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
 

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

He is Risen, Indeed!

Luke 24

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.


5 part resurrection icon, Solovetsky Monastery, 17th century.

He is risen

Mark 16

Jesus Has Risen

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome
Women at the empty tomb, by Fra Angelico, 1437-1446.Add caption
bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

He's alive!

Resurrection of Christ by Noel Coypel, 1700, using a hovering depiction of Jesus.
Matthew 27

The Guard at the Tomb


62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Jesus Has Risen


28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

 
The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Saturday

Silent Saturday

Usually, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is silent on a religious level. After Jesus was crucified and buried in the tomb, the disciples and all who loved Jesus mourned. They wondered, "What now?" They did not know until later that Jesus was more alive than ever. Here is what Peter later wrote about Christ's activities between Friday and Sunday: 
I Peter 3

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive,[d] he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

What the cross means to me

Like any woman, I like to look at jewelry, and the more sparkly it is the better. Sometimes when we’re at the mall or at Sam’s, the light hits those jewelry counters just right and something catches my eye so that I change my course of direction and go right toward the sparkling gems. “Oooooo,” is my first reaction as my husband groans. I laugh and say, “It’s sparkly,” and then continue walking. He responds, “That’s what I’m afraid of.”
I see this as a little joke. I am not really into buying a lot of jewelry, but it is still fun to look and it is fun to hear him groan. I do not know why, it just is.
Have you ever noticed that every jewelry store has crosses for sale? They come in gold, white gold, silver. Some are plain; some adorned with jewels. Even though the jeweled ones are pretty and I wear some adorned crosses, I prefer wearing my plain cross. There is just something funny to me about adorning something typically used as an instrument of torture.
Beyond the jewelry store, the emblem of the cross comes in various forms. People buy crosses as religious objects, decorative pieces for the home, and as artwork. Artists depict crosses in stained glass, like the one you see above my head in this sanctuary. There are jeweled crosses, crucifixes, crosses with scrolled edges. We see them carved into tombstones and erected upon hills. We even see flowered crosses beside the road from time to time marking the place where a loved one left this world and entered the next.
In my home, I have a photograph hanging on my wall of the plain wooden cross that stands across from the entrance at Point Loma Nazarene University. I walked by that cross several times a day for the four years that I was working on my bachelor’s degree. It is in a beautiful spot. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean and there are flowers and bushes all around it. That cross seems to tell people who enter the campus that the school stands for more than just academia. We also assume that people who wear the cross or who have depictions of it in their home do so because the cross means something to them. However, what does it mean?
Well, I do not think that I have to tell you, a group of people who attend church regularly what the cross means. We all know it is where Jesus suffered a horrible death to become the sacrifice for everyone’s sin, so I thought that I would focus this devotional on what the cross means to me.
Simply put, it means the same thing. It means salvation from sin and ultimately escape from eternal punishment, but there is more to it. Arthur W. Pink, an evangelical writer from the 20th century said, “The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.”
A little boy once prayed, “God if you can’t make me a better boy, that’s OK. I’m having a good time the way I am.”
Isn’t this how we are? Changing is hard work, yet, that is to what Christ calls us. I believe changing, is one of the elements of faith that Christ was talking about when he said. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34.
A literal example of this truth was Simon of Cyrene when the Romans forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. One of my commentaries says that whenever the Romans forced someone to carry another’s cross he had to walk behind the condemned. I’m sure that Christ used the example of carrying the cross to describe what it was like to follow him as a word picture because it was familiar to his audience. The Romans crucified thousands of people. This was a common punishment for those who rebelled, so I am sure that the Jewish people knew exactly what Christ meant. Jesus added a new dimension to the word picture, however, because people who carried crosses were usually forced. God expects us to pick up our cross voluntarily. However, carrying our own cross is our only option if we are to follow Christ.
What does carrying the cross mean? What is our cross?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a German theologian, went to prison for participating in a scheme to dispose of Adolf Hitler during World War II. From prison, Bonhoeffer wrote “The Cost of Discipleship.” In this book, he said that the Christian enters daily an arena of temptation and that he or she must bear the sins of others and forgive them. A Christian must “abandon the attachments of the world,” he wrote.
“When Christ calls a man,” Bonhoeffer wrote, “he bids him come and die.”
St. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
Therefore, this verse suggests that the cross we must carry is faith in Christ. According to Bonhoeffer, we must shun the temptation to sin; we must bear the burdens of others. In addition to this, as Galatians says that we must also bear our own weight. In essence, we have to give up our very selves to God and put Christ in charge of our lives. This is the cross we must bear – to die to ourselves and allow Christ to live his life through us. In this way, he uses our gifts, our lives, our personalities to do his will in a way that is unique to us. That is how Christ lives in us. We allow Christ to do this because we are grateful that God loved us and gave himself for us.
My generation is visually stimulated and that’s why movies speak to us so effectively. It started when I was seven. The late Johnny Cash narrated and sang songs for a movie called “The Gospel Road.” As a young person, I watched the movie about Jesus’ life with great interest, and then, when the Roman soldiers pounded the nails into his hands, the sounds of the blows seemed to fill the sanctuary and I began to weep. “I did that to him,” I thought over and over, so when my pastor gave the invitation to go to the altar, I went forward and gave my life to Christ. That movie, with its blonde Jesus no less, seems a little tame now when I watch Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ.” The pain and rejection and the sickness of man just blows my mind when I watch that movie. I can’t get over the fact that Jesus, a gentle, faultless lamb, would go through all of that pain and rejection for us, but he did. I am grateful for the cross. I am grateful that Jesus suffered so much so that I could have abundant life.
That abundant life comes through denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Jesus. It comes from recognizing and accepting the salvation that only Christ provides. True joy comes when we follow this pathway in life because we unite with God, our creator, and we allow him to mold us into what he wants us to be. This process is very difficult at first because we want to be what we want to be. However, as we give up our lives bit by bit, the Holy Spirit replaces the turmoil with joy as we realize that we are becoming who we truly are. True union comes when we feel joy with God over this fact.
So this is what the cross ultimately means to me—union with God and everlasting joy in him as I give my life away. The cross is not a trinket; it is a lifestyle. It is through the cross that we become reconciled to God and how we live for him.
 
This post was originally published in March 2010.

Friday

Jesus is buried

The Burial of Jesus - Luke 23
Descent from the Cross, depicted by Rubens

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.





The dead Christ with the Virgin, John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene. Unknown painter of the 18th century
 
The Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio.

The Crucifixion

Luke 23

The Crucifixion of Jesus

Andrea di Bartolo, Way to Calvary, c. 1400. The cluster of halos at the left are the Virgin Mary in front, with the Three Marys.
26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 
 30 Then“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
    and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Crucifixion of Jesus on a two-beamed cross, from the Sainte Bible (1866)


The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
The Crucifixion (1622) by Simon Vouet; Church of Jesus, Genoa

Friday morning ... Jesus is crucified


Jesus Before Pilate and Herod

66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”




Luke 23

23 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.


Ecce Homo ("Behold the Man"), Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pilate presenting a scourged Jesus to the people ofJerusalem.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” 

18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

Thursday

Jesus is arrested


Luke 23 

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives


Jesus praying in the garden after the Last Supper, while the disciples sleep, by Andrea Mantegna c. 1460
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus Arrested


The Kiss of Judas, by Giotto di Bondone
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

Peter Disowns Jesus


The Denial of Saint Peter, by Caravaggio

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

The Guards Mock Jesus

63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.

Maundy Thursday Communion and a New Command

Today is Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday as some people call it. Maundy Thursday is special for many reasons in the Christian church. It was when the practice of communion was established and when Christ promised the Holy Spirit. Maundy Thursday is also when Jesus announced the new commandment at what is now known as The Last Supper:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


According to my husband Mike Steeves, a self-proclaimed recovering Catholic:

"Maundy Thursday has to do with that New Commandment, which Christ symbolized by the washing of his disciples' feet. 'Maundy' is derived from the Latin for 'command' or 'commandment'. Peter initially refused to have Christ wash his feet, but was told, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'"



Mike also observed

Christians like to cite John 3:16 as the cornerstone of why we should believe. You can even get golf balls, Christian golf balls - or perhaps they are Gospel Balls - with John 3:16 imprinted upon them. One can only presume that swatting such balls will get you on God's foursome.

But without John 13:34-35, which cites Christ's New Commandment, does John 3:16 have any real substance? Without at least a good faith attempt on the part of the faithful to comply with Christ's commandment, does a simple belief in him do the trick? Does a simple belief in John 3:16 carry an implicit acknowledgment of that New Commandment - and more importantly, an acceptance of Christ's charge to his disciples? If it is implicit, is it perhaps too subtle for many people? Christ was pretty direct when he laid the commandment on, but the focus is always on John 3:16 - those golf balls, again - rather than John 13:34-35.

BTW ... you won't find John 13:34-35 on any golf balls.

Here are the Maundy Thursday readings:

John 13: Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.


2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 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.


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


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


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


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


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


10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.


12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.



Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’


19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”


21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”


22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”


25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”


26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.


So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.


Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial


31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.


33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.


34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”


36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”


Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”


37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”


38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!


Now read chapters 14 - 17. That will take you to the Garden of Gethsemane. 


More later ...


Wednesday

Between Palm Sunday and Passover

Matthew 21


Jesus at the Temple

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, London version, by El Greco
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.

16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
    you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree


Byzantine icon of the cursing of the fig tree.

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

There are several chapters in Matthew between the Triumphal Entry and Judas' agreement to betray Jesus. Read Matthew 22 -26 for some great parables and some repeats of issues that Luke covered in yesterday's readings.


Luke 22

Judas agrees to betray Jesus

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Judas making a bargain with the priests, depicted by Duccio, early 14th century.
Bargain of Judas, fresco by Lippo Memmi, 14th century.


Tuesday

After Palm Sunday ... Jesus, the Great Orator


Luke 19

Jesus at the Temple

45 When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. 46 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’[c]; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

47 Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. 48 Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.


Luke 20

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

20 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. 2 “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”
3 He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: 4 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”


5 They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”


7 So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”


8 Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”



The Parable of the Tenants


9 He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. 12 He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.


13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’


14 “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.


“What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”


When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!”


17 Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written:
“‘The stone the builders rejected    has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”


19 The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.


Paying Taxes to Caesar

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”


“Caesar’s,” they replied.


25 He said to them, “Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”


26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.


The Resurrection and Marriage

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 

28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’[b] 38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”


39 Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” 40 And no one dared to ask him any more questions.


Whose Son Is the Messiah?


41 Then Jesus said to them, “Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? 42 David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:    “Sit at my right hand


43 until I make your enemies    a footstool for your feet.”’


44 David calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?”


Warning Against the Teachers of the Law


45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”



Luke 21



The Widow’s Offering


21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times


5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”


7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”


8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”


10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.


12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.


20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.


25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.


32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.


34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”


37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each eve
ning he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, 38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.