April 6 – Monday in Holy Week
Isaiah 42:1-9 | Hebrews 9:11-15
John 12:1-11 | Psalm 36:5-11
It almost sounds like the opening scene in an action movie. Two sisters and their dead brother (previously dead) invite a friend over for dinner and invite another guest who will rat him out to the authorities. The main character knows he only has days to live, but has dinner with them anyway.
What an interesting plot; but what does it all mean? I see a few topics, for starters, sisters Martha and Mary invite guests to their house but Martha is the one doing all of the cooking, while Mary sits at Jesus’s feet. This is a topic of discussion at our house–who is “right” Mary or Martha? I mean, you got to cook some food and be a good host, but listening to Jesus and being attentive is important as well. I think it takes teamwork to make the dream work, so they both must do their part for the dinner party to be a success. Perhaps that’s why some relationships work well is there is a balance of the Martha and Mary in the relationship and each have their part that is equally important.
Next, we have Lazarus who is living in Bethany after previously being dead for a few days. This miracle is one to take note of as now the neighborhood has heard what happened and they want to see it with their own eyes. And Jesus, the healer, is there so the crowd grows to see both of them (does Martha have to feed the crowd too? We don’t know). The thing about being a resurrected guy is it makes a believer out of you, and others. Now the authorities don’t like this too much and they want to kill Lazarus because too many people are believing in Jesus and walking away from the Jewish tradition.
Poor Judas, he doesn’t even know what a skunk he is. Can you imagine having a nice dinner with your friends and not realizing they are on to you about the stealing and the future betrayal? He probably does not even get the foreshadowing of the line “you do not always have me”. I think we all have the shallow sight sometimes to think we’ll have someone in our lives for a long time, then fate steps in and takes them away. Maybe we are all guilty of not cherishing relationships in the here and now. With just a few days to go before Easter, I challenge you to reach out to a relationship that needs to be strengthened and be both a Martha and a Mary to them. Be attentive and listen to them and care for them as a good host, maybe make them a meal.
Peace be with you!
April 7 – Tuesday in Holy Week
Isaiah 49:1-7 | 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
John 12:20-36 | Psalm 71:1-14
Isaiah 49: 1-7
The Lord is restoring Zion, telling Isaiah that he will be His prophet, His voice to the tribes of Israel and even unto the Gentiles. The passages focus on the roll of His servant in restoring Israel in His divine plan. Isaiah is God’s Apostle to all mankind.
My message from this passage is clear. We must be Apostles of his word to all peoples.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Paul, an apostle Jesus Christ, clearly tells the Corinthians that salvation is for all who believe in Jesus and his teachings. Paul explains that what Jesus represents overhauls the wisdom of that age and the educated of all that time. Paul declaims those who do not believe the crucified Christ died for the sins of all mankind and will parish; those that believe will lifted up into the arms of paradise.
Again the call for Apostleship and action to advocate Christ’s salvation.
The risen Lord Jesus Christ makes his appearance among His disciples for the first time, saying to them, “ Peace be with you.” When Thomas was told of Jesus’s being with them, he said, “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hand and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” A week later Jesus came and stood among the disciples and said to Thomas, put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out and put your hand in my side. Do not doubt but believe.
Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have come to believe.
What else is there to say!
Oh God, be my Rock of refuge. A plea to God to keep one safe and out the hands of the wicked and from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. Oh God, do not be far from me. Sounds like this sinner is ready to praise God and have Him intervene for him against his enemies.
God’s merciful care is for everyone who asks, pleads or begs for His indulgence. Be it ever so.
April 8 – Wednesday in Holy Week
Isaiah 50:4-9a | Hebrews 12:1-3
John 13:21-32 | Psalm 70
All of the readings for today speak, in some way, of Jesus and of believers in their roles as servants of God. They reinforce the concept of obedience in the response to God and emphasize the faithfulness of God and of His believers. They also point out that the servant will suffer in his service to God.
In the Isaiah passage the gifts of the servant are emphasized: tongue to teach, ear to hear God, support from God when the servant was opposed, and triumph over his enemies. Especially, communication between God and His servant would be useless without the servant’s ability to speak so that the followers can understand what God is teaching.
In Hebrews we learn that the prophets sent often suffered for speaking God’s message to His People. And, despite suffering and persecution, these witnesses (both prophet and people) will relate to their offspring the truth that was given to and taught by the representatives of God. When God’s representative (Jesus) came, as was anticipated by many generations, He came in the guise of a servant to obey God’s plan for Him. He was innocent, pure, doing good, and yet was persecuted for His obedience to His Father. Now, He sits in glory beside His Father and we believers can expect to see and hear Him in heaven.
John tells the story of the Last Supper and how Jesus acted as a Servant by washing His disciples feet. He prepares them for what will happen to Him, but that they will be aided by an Advocate (the Holy Spirit). He makes a New Covenant with them that they “love one another”. Others will know them by their acts of service and love to one another.
The Psalm is one of the Servant Songs of this chapter. The speaker asks for God to help relieve him from his opponents’ rancor. The speaker depends completely on God to deliver him from suffering and prays to the One who he knows can keep him from harm.
Be a Servant. Pray for God’s help. Love one another.
April 9 – Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 | 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
John 13:1-17, 31b-35 | Psalm 116:1, 10-17
“… 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.” John 13:4-5
What a Savior, what a King! What King leaves his throne in glory and humbles himself to serve his subjects?
On the occasion of possibly his last meal with his disciples before his betrayal, Jesus demonstrates selfless, servant- like love for his disciples. He leaves a new command for his disciples, “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.” John 13:34b-35
We are inspired as his servants to do any act of service, great or small, as an opportunity to demonstrate our love for one another. These acts of love speak to the world around us that we are Jesus’s disciples.
But I am wondering if we could take a moment to reflect on this story and enter into it.
Find a quiet spot and settle yourself for a few minutes.
In your mind’s eye, sit and look at Jesus your Savior King kneeling before you. As He takes your foot in His hand to wash it, what are the feelings that come over you?
Are you uncomfortable with the whole act? Is it hard for you to let him touch you?
Perhaps you are humbled and feel incredibly loved that your Savior King would kneel before you and serve you in such an intimate way.
As he finishes drying your feet, look at Him and express what is in your heart. Is there any shame or guilt? If so, you can confess your fault and find that His forgiveness washes it away. If there is a sense of discomfort at his touch, ask him to reveal the source. Jesus is your healer of any hurt or wound.
What a Savior, what a King! Jesus by the Holy Spirit is here, ready to wash us clean and make us whole. He longs to set us free to be all He has created us to be. Let Him come to you often when you are worried or anxious and wash away your fears. Let Him bring peace and rest and love unending.
What a Savior, what a King!
April 10 – Good Friday
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 | Hebrews 10:16-25 OR Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42 | Psalm 22
NOTE TO READER: This meditation is intended to be used while listening to music. The reader should listen to the music while reading the portion that immediately follows the video.
During their final meal together, Jesus got up from the table to wash the disciples’ feet and then gave them a new commandment to go and love others just as he had loved them. Judas had already betrayed him by this time, setting the wheels in motion for Jesus’ crucifixion.
- When was the last time you betrayed someone, or slighted someone? Do you remember the circumstances? Did you try to make amends?
- Have you been betrayed or slighted by someone? Do you remember the circumstances? Did anyone try to make amends?
Jesus was taken away and tried before Pilate who found no fault in him, but the Jews insisted he be crucified. Jesus could have said the word and Pilate would have released him, but Jesus knew that God’s plan must be fulfilled through his sacrifice. Not only was Jesus betrayed by Judas that fateful night, but other disciples denied having known him.
- Have you ever been in a situation where you had an opportunity to speak up for someone, or help someone in need? What did you do in that situation? How did you feel afterwards?
Jesus was crucified for us to save us from our sins. In his death the scriptures were fulfilled that the sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God would atone for the sins of everyone everywhere.
- Have you ever been given a gift that you felt you didn’t deserve? What was it? Why did you feel like you didn’t deserve it?
The disciples had lost their friend. Jesus was gone and no doubt they felt lost. Even as he was laid in the tomb, they couldn’t imagine that he would ever walk amongst them again. How could anyone come back from such a horrible death? We as Christians know what happened three days later, when he would wake from the dead and appear to those whom he loved so dearly. We know that through Jesus’ sacrifice we are healed and made whole from all our wrongdoings. In everything that we do, God walks with us and loves us as we are, and God’s love will never let us go. May we uphold that commandment of loving one another as Jesus instructed his disciples so long ago.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:23-25 (NRSV)
April 11 – Holy Saturday
Job 14:1-14 OR Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24 | 1 Peter 4:1-8
Matthew 27:57-66 OR John 19:38-42 | Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16
Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday, the day Jesus died, and Easter Sunday, the day He rose from the dead and re-entered the Kingdom of Heaven – this certainly is a day for reflection. My Lenten assignment offered choices and I chose the following: Job 14:1-14; Matthew 27:57-66; 1 Peter 4:1-8; and Psalm 31:1-4, 15-16.
Who doesn’t like Job? Nobody, right? Job was a righteous man who had been blessed by the Lord. One day, Satan made a wager with the Lord. Satan contended that, if the Lord allowed him to take away all of Job’s blessings, then Job would curse the Lord and abandon his righteousness. So the Lord gave Satan permission to take away all his possessions and his ten children and inflict him with painful sores all over his body. Although God had allowed the devil to bring Job to his knees, Job did not renounce nor curse the Lord, although he rued the day he was born. In this passage, beseeching the Lord for the mercy of death, Job cries out, “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!” But although Job longed for death he would not renounce the Lord. When all was said and done, the Lord scorned Satan and renounced Job’s friends who coaxed him to act unrighteously. Then He restored Job’s possessions twofold and gave him ten more children.
We all have times in our lives when things go wrong. We lose a loved one or suffer financial difficulties (remember 2008?), or suffer other afflictions. If that happens we can turn to Job 1:21 for advice:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; May the Name of the Lord be praised.”
Or David’s Prayer in Psalm 31:2:
“Turn your ear to me; come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.”
Or the words of Peter as he writes about the presence of hope in the midst of suffering:
“For this is the reason the Gospel was preached, even to those who are now dead, that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.”