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The Body of Christ in His Passion: Face Slapped in Mockery

Midweek Lent 5

The Body of Christ in His Passion: Face Slapped in Mockery

Text: John 18:19-24

There was nothing legal, right, or moral about this at all.  Nothing.  After Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and arrested by a mob of likely several hundred men, he was led off to the high priest Annas.  First of all, it was illegal for the Jews to hold a trial at night.  Second of all, it was illegal to put a man on trial the same day that he was arrested.  This was doubly wrong to begin with.

Next, the high priest mentioned here wasn’t actually the high priest.  This pre-trial of sorts was taking place in the court of a man named Annas.  Annas had been the Jewish high priest but the Romans had deposed him around 15 A.D., about 15 years earlier.  The high priest at the time was actually Caiphas, the son-in-law of Annas.

This entire chunk of six verses tonight then presents one big charade.  It was a doubly illegal trial.  It was a pre-trial held before a man who was not the actual, authoritative high priest.  And the purpose was to probe for possible guilt with Jesus and buy time while Caiaphas was quickly assembling the Jewish council for the real trial (which would still be illegal). Read the rest of this entry


The Body of Christ in His Passion: Wrists Bound in Willingness

Midweek Lent 4

The Body of Christ in His Passion: Wrists Bound in Willingness

Text: John 18:2-13

How many chances did they get?  How many signs could they miss?  How many opportunities to change their ways and repent did they pass on with hardened hearts?

The exchange that takes place over a matter of minutes in the Garden of Gethsemane is truly an extraordinary one.  This was the last time there would be miraculous power from Jesus on display until the moment he died, and the signs surely came fast and furious in the Garden.

We saw Jesus in the Garden last week with his hands folded in prayer, encouraging the disciples to join in praying.  As we left him last week he was rising to meet his betrayer.  Now we see Judas arrive. Read the rest of this entry

Here is the Man! Betrayed.

Midweek Lent Service

Here is the Man!  Betrayed.

Text:  Mark 14:43-50

Not a very glorious finale or farewell.  The arrival of Judas the betrayer in the Garden of Gethsemane marked the final time that all twelve disciples would be together.  After this they all fled in separate directions, and Judas was going to run off in grief and commit suicide.

How had it come to this? Think about the joyous moments over the previous three years:  from drinking wine that used to be water, to seeing the wind and waves be stilled, to collecting basketfuls of multiplied loaves and fish, to watching Lazarus walk out of his tomb—what extraordinary moments!  Think about the incredible preaching and teaching over the previous three years: from the tender yet pointed Sermon on the Mount, to the fiery rebuke of the Pharisees, to the caring moments with tax collectors and sinners, to the turning over of the tables just a few days before—what extraordinary moments!

And now this.  These disciples sure look like a rag-tag bunch of losers in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Peter, James, and John were still wiping the crust out of their eyes from falling asleep three times.  Judas showed up with the temple police and a detachment of Roman soldiers.  Peter pulled out his sword and chopped of the servant Malchus’ ear. And the last verse today says, “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”

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My Song is Love Unknown: My Friend Indeed

Midweek Lent 3

My Song is Love Unknown:  My Friend Indeed 

Text: Matthew 26:47-50a


What was Judas thinking?  As he walked down that dusty road to the Garden of Gethsemane leading a raucous rabble sent from the chief priests, what was he thinking?  How many times before had he been in Gethsemane with Jesus while he was quietly praying and meditating?  How many times had he walked on that very path with Jesus as he was preaching and teaching?  How many times had he been warned by Jesus about the Pharisees and chief priests, the group he now sided with?

What was Judas thinking earlier that Thursday evening in the Upper Room?  What did he think as the friend and teacher he agreed to betray stooped down and washed his dirty feet?  What did he think when he realized Jesus knew that his heart was just as dirty as his feet?  He was warned by Jesus.  He was called out as the one who would hand him over.  The other disciples didn’t understand what Jesus meant.  But Judas knew.  He knew that Jesus knew.  But yet he didn’t stop.  What was he thinking as he ran out of that room and left Jesus and his disciples behind? Read the rest of this entry

My Song is Love Unknown: Love to the Loveless Shown

2nd Sunday in Lent

My Song is Love Unknown: Love to the Loveless Shown

Text: John 13:2-7


Do a quick survey of all the Bible stories rattling around in your brain.  Take a moment to think about all the foolish things Jesus’ disciples did or said.  You might think of the disciples caught up in a storm in the boat crying out to Jesus, Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”  Maybe the feeding of the five thousand comes to mind when the disciples tried to send the crowds of people away at dinnertime, not expecting or considering that Jesus could miraculously provide for everyone.  Even worse was when the disciples tried to shoo away the little children that Jesus welcomed with open and loving arms.  Then there was the time Jesus was walking on water and they thought he was a ghost.  Or the time James and John were arguing about who was greater and had the nerve to ask if they could flank Jesus on thrones in heaven.  Or the time Judas was angry at Mary Magdalene for pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet because he wanted that money in their treasury where he could steal it.

In a category all by himself was Peter.  The Bible records Peter as almost saying or doing as many foolish things as the rest of the disciples combined.  That time they thought Jesus was a ghost out on the water, Peter wanted to walk on the water with him—and he did (until he looked down and was afraid!).  Then there was the time Peter actually rebuked Jesus for saying he was going to die.  Or the time he thought it would be a good idea to put up tents and stay with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Read the rest of this entry