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The high priest and the council were now more determined than ever to see Jesus dead.

Then Pilate called in the high priests, rulers, and the others and said, “You brought this man to me as a disturber of the peace. I examined him in front of all of you and found there was nothing to your charge. And neither did Herod, for he has sent him back here with a clean bill of health. It’s clear that he’s done nothing wrong, let alone anything deserving death. I’m going to warn him to watch his step and let him go.” At that, the crowd went wild: “Kill him! Give us Barabbas!” (Barabbas had been thrown in prison for starting a riot in the city and for murder.) Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, and so spoke out again. Luke 23:13-20 (The Message)

Despite Pilat and Herod saying that Jesus was not a criminal there was no let up in the plan of those who wanted to see him dead. They even insured that a convicted killer was set free instead of this innocent man. The easy route was to seek to see this Jesus crucified and an end to his teaching. We may look with disbelief at their inhumanity but when do we ignore the hard sayings of Jesus or treat his way of life as an added extra instead of the core or our call to follow him?

Lord, let me be one who takes the steps I need to walk in your ways. Let me not be one who calls out ‘Crucify’ because I find your teaching hard to do and your ways hard to follow. Let me be one who takes up their cross with you. Amen.


The question that had been on everyone’s lips for a long time was now asked by the high priest and scholars.

When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, “Are you the Messiah?” He answered, “If I said yes, you wouldn’t believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn’t answer me. So here’s what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God’s right hand, the place of power.” They all said, “So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?” “You’re the ones who keep saying it,” he said. But they had made up their minds, “Why do we need any more evidence? We’ve all heard him as good as say it himself.” Luke 22:66-71 (The Message)

How people view Jesus is as varied as their culture and preconceptions. Whether ours is an active faith of following, a seeking questioning faith, of a critical or anti-faith, we will view Jesus through very different lenses. This is the situation that the high priest and the scholars were in and Jesus was not about to argue with them to change their view. He knew that theirs was a critical or anti view of him and so his only action is to say what was on his mind. The Son was about to return to the Father at the hands of these men. If he was not the Messiah they wanted he would be no Messiah at all in their eyes.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus stands on its own merit in the eyes of faith. Those of us who believe he is the Messiah, and who seek to follow Jesus, will see him as he is because of the lens we look through. Those who do not seek, nor wish for the Messiah, will not change their view point by any amount of skillfull or persuasive argument. The way we live and the gracious words we employ in treating others should lead others to see Jesus in us and only then will our lens begin to find a place in other’s world view. Jesus said, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ Luke 11:9 (The NIV translation)

Lord, as I look at you let my lens show you as you are, Messiah, Saviour of the World, Son of God. Let the gentleness of my actions and the graciousness of my words be the source of others seeing you too today. Amen.

Judas betrayed Jesus for an ideal and thirty silver coins, Peter betrayed Jesus because he was afraid that he would meet the same fate as Jesus.

Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, “This man was with him!”  He denied it, “Woman, I don’t even know him.” A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, “You’re one of them.”  But Peter denied it: “Man, I am not.” Luke 22:54-58 (The Message)

We are quick to condemn the actions of Judas but slow to say the same of Peter. Possibly it is because it is far easier to see our own fear and shallow love for God in him. I pity and associate myself with both Judas and Peter. I could so easily follow the example of either of them when I have followed Jesus through the hard times. I wonder if you see any reflection of yourselves in them this Easter? What do we need if we do? For God to show the mercy and forgiveness that are only his to give through grace. For our hearts to react to the call of Jesus once more to follow him, even to death on a cross.

Let this Passion week fill my heart once more with the passion to follow you Lord, and let my fearful heart be filled with the courage of your cross to face every challenge with faith. Amen.

It hurts to be let down by our friends but it hurts even more if they do so believing they are right.

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him. Luke 22:47-51 (The Message)

Although Judas’ kiss gets most attention from this passage Jesus was equally let down by those who remained loyal to him. Jesus never wanted those who followed him to physically fight others to defend him. Jesus loved his enemies as much as he loved his friends. Loving those who hate you is as hard as forgiving friends that betray you but Jesus does both. In our human frailty we are more inclined to love those who do us no wrong but Jesus wants us to heal all others by our words and our actions. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:11 (The NIV translation)

Jesus, Prince of peace and Lord of life, help me to follow your way and be like you in loving enemies and forgiving friends. Let your life in me give the strength to do what you would do and be as you would be. Amen.

People who ask why God allows suffering have never looked at Jesus properly.

Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”  He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face. Luke 22:39-44 (The Message)

Even before he was condemned and crucified Jesus submitted to suffering. He told his followers to resist temptation, the temptation to resist God’s will, and then led by example praying so earnestly that he sweated profusely. His prayer was to not have to suffer but he accepted that God’s will for him would likely involved suffering.

We don’t like the idea of suffering ourselves and so, by default, we think that suffering of any description can not be what God wills. As we journey with Jesus towards his cross this idea is exploded. If we are to fully follow Jesus then, the possibility we may need to accept suffering in our lives, by faith, becomes a visible reality. The trick, as Jesus told those who follow him, is not to be tempted to think that following him means the possibility fo suffering is automatically removed.

Lord Jesus I see you suffered in the days approaching your cross with mental anguish and fear. You were so determined to do God’s will that you avoided the temptation to think it could not be God’s will for you. Help me to do the same. Amen.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross took place over the Jewish religious festival of Passover.

The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, “Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together.”  They said, “Where do you want us to do this?” He said, “Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there.” They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal. Luke 22:7-13 (The Message)

As with the entry into Jerusalem Jesus tells his disciples what to do and, against all reason, it works out just as he says. Donkey’s given without question and a room to celebrate passover, simply because of who Jesus is. Obeying the direction of Jesus in our lives should not mean knowing what the outcome will be but trusting that God is in the business of providing for his will. We live in a world today where trust is in short supply and we find it hard to trust in people in postions of responsibility of public office. Trusting God means putting our belief in the power and purpose of God to hold us up when all reason says we should fall, or letting situations we are tempted to control work out better as we prayerfully commitment them to God.

Today, Lord, I put my trust in you. I say that every situation works out for the good if I let you have your way so today I say, Lord, have your way with me. Amen.

The seasons are turning and, at the time of Jesus’ journey to the cross, here the seasons were turning too.

He told them a story. “Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter. When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that summer is right around the corner. The same here—when you see these things happen, you know God’s kingdom is about here. Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out. Luke 21:29-33 (The Message)

Jesus has been teaching about the signs of the time that will preceed the end of time. This is the time when God’s kingdom will come once and for good! He says so that every generation to be watchful. If the changing of the seasons is evident, through the fruiting of the fig tree, then the coming of God’s kingdom will be preceeded by just as evident signs. As we are looking for the changing of the seasons so too, in faith, we should be looking for the signs of the coming of God’s kingdom too.

As I see the seasons changing around me, Lord, let me see the signs of your coming kingdom. As I live in anticipation of the summer let me anticipate your kingdom more. Amen

You may be poor but it is your attitude of heart that matters to God in giving.

 Just then he looked up and saw the rich people dropping offerings in the collection plate. Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies. He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all!” Luke 21:1-4 (The Message)

If we give from plenty, without a thought of the cost to us personally, what value is there in that? When we have barely enough to meet our own needs and we still prioritize giving to good causes then there is great value in it. If we give out of a good credit rating without considering the cost of repayment it might even be said to be reckless and neglecting good stewardship. If, however, we are giving little out of a tight budget then we stand in the shoes of this poor widow. Who’s offering pleases God more, thoughtfully giving a little or thoughtlessly giving a lot? Proverbs 22:9 says, ‘A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.’

Lord Jesus Christ, as I consider how I live each day let me put you before me and give as I am able so that you will see good stewardship of what I have to give. Amen.

If you want a lesson in how to win friends and influence people then you probably don’t want to follow Jesus’ example here:

Some of the religion scholars said, “Teacher, that’s a great answer!” For a while, anyway, no one dared put questions to him. Then he put a question to them: “How is it that they say that the Messiah is David’s son? In the Book of Psalms, David clearly says, 

God said to my Master, “Sit here at my right hand 
until I put your enemies under your feet.”

“David here designates the Messiah as ‘my Master’—so how can the Messiah also be his ‘son’?” With everybody listening, Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Watch out for the religion scholars. They love to walk around in academic gowns, preen in the radiance of public flattery, bask in prominent positions, sit at the head table at every church function. And all the time they are exploiting the weak and helpless. The longer their prayers, the worse they get. But they’ll pay for it in the end.” Luke 20:39-50 (The Message)

People who quote the Bible for to the ends of their own belief, or unbelief, run the risk of not properly understanding it. If we are to follow Jesus then the most important thing about the Bible is that it shows us the nature of God’s sacrificial love for all humanity. Trying to tie others up with grand arguments from scripture, about the minute meanings within it, runs the risk of contradicting the God given big picture. His purpose within every page is to show us the spiritual way of life made real in his Son so that we can live a full life in body, mind, and soul.

Living God through your living Word show me the way of life through Jesus your Son. Let my path be blessed with an intimate relationship with you and in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

How we think about the afterlife affects the way we live each day.

 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead.  They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children.  So the second brother married the widow, but he also died.  Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children.  Finally, the woman also died. So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!”

Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth. But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection. Luke 20:27-36 ( New Living Translation)

Fluffy clouds and harp bearing angels play no part in the Christian understanding of heaven. Our idea of heaven is insepearable from the belief in the resurrection. The Sadducees were trying to catch Jesus out with a story of a woman who was widowed seven times by seven brothers, had no children, and then died herself (talk about a run of bad luck!). This incredible story didn’t show any understanding of the nature of heaven or the resurrection. The relationships we have on earth will not be the same when we live in heaven. We will be living in a perfect community of love and peace with God and others without the need for the intimacy of marriage. While we will know our loved ones that are united with us in God’s love, it will be such a perfect loving relationship the image of God’s love in marriage will not be needed. In heaven we will have the real thing.

Lord of resurrection and eternal life, help my view of heaven to be one that focuses wholly on you. Let my trust in the perfection of your love direct my thoughts of heaven today. 

March 2010
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