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Daily Devotion on Good Friday

Text: Matthew 27:32-56

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?

This is Good Friday in an Aramaic nutshell.

We can only imagine what it was like to be beaten and bludgeoned and bloodied and then to be nailed to a cross. No, rather, we can’t imagine. People aren’t executed like this any more. Even the most vile criminals today are executed in humane ways. The pain must have been unbearable–battling blood loss, battling asphyxiation, battling traumatic shock. Any human being would cry out in great agony and pain.

And yet, even if we could somehow remotely relate to Jesus’ gruesome physical pain, we will never ever truly know the horror and anguish of the words Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani?  In English:  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

What is it like to have God turn his back on you and forsake you? What is it like to have God no longer be with you or bless you? What is it like for God to stop showering you with grace and love?

What is it like?

It’s like hell.

Actually, it is hell.

Jesus was experiencing the full-blown consequences for sin. Hell is the price to pay for disobeying God. Hell is the price to pay for falling short of his glory. Hell is the price to pay for serving yourself rather than God, even just once.

Thanks to Jesus, we won’t ever know what that was like. As true man and true God suffered hell on the cross, he was suffering once and for all.

That includes you. That includes me.

As you meditate quietly on the passion of our Savior on this Good Friday, give thanks to the God of all grace and mercy that Jesus did this for you and for your salvation.

Prayer: Jesus, I will ponder now on you holy passion; With your Spirit me endow for such meditation. Grant that I in love and faith may the image cherish Of your suffering, pain, and death That I may not perish.

Hail Your Foolish King

The Last Sunday of the Church Year

Christ the King Sunday

Hail Your Foolish King

Text:  Matthew 27:27-31


Such foolishness!  Hail Your Foolish King.  Behold his foolish subjects.  The people he came to rule rejected him.  They despised him.  They hated him.  They plotted to kill him.  His own supposed subjects shouted with shrill shrieks, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  Their bloodthirsty plot had been forming for years.  Now at the opportune time they pounced on their prey.

Such foolish subjects!  His own people wanted to kill him.  His own disciples deserted him.  One even betrayed him.  And here the soldiers supposedly under his rule were beating and mocking him.  Such foolishness!

Hail Your Foolish King.  Behold his foolish garments.  He wasn’t clothed with royalty and splendor.  He wasn’t wearing fine silk and linens.  His kingly raiment wasn’t hand made or custom-fitted.

Such foolish garments!  He was stripped and laid bare before his enemies.  Then he was clothed in mock-clothing.  A scarlet purple robe was draped on his shoulders.  “Ha-ha!  Look at the king with his robe!” they jeered.  Such foolishness! Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on Matthew 27:27-31

Text:  Matthew 27:27-31

We are used to pomp and circumstance in our world. The rich and the famous flaunt their wealth and power like they’re biceps in a fitness competition. We have come to expect this from the rich and the famous.

Throughout time this has also been expected from royalty and leadership. Dignitaries and delegates, presidents and princes alike have always demanded honor, respect, and servitude. Even though the royal family of England functions more as figureheads than actual kings, queens, and princes, they remind us of what it once was like in days past. After all, who didn’t sense the power, wealth, and honor at just the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton?

How unusual then to see our King of kings in Matthew 27! Jesus wasn’t the kind of king the Israelites expected. He didn’t come to fill their tummies or wallets. He didn’t come to overthrow the Romans. He didn’t come to reestablish Israel and reign like David or Solomon once did.

So today Jesus still isn’t the kind of king we expect. He doesn’t put filet mignon in our fridges or hot rods in our driveways. He doesn’t make all our problems go away. He doesn’t bring world peace.

Rather we see the King of kings and the God of the universe in Matthew 27 with blood dripping down his face and pouring from his hands and feet. We see him writhe in agony as the weight of all sins bears down on him. We see him cry out, abandoned by his Father and engaged in battle with Satan.

How unusual! This is not a normal king!

Yet he is in fact the King of all kings, and the kind of king that we truly need. For he brings us true, spiritual peace. He forgives our sins. He restores our relationship with God. He gives us eternal life.

And there–there in his heavenly kingdom–there we will finally see his true glory, splendor, and power. And there we will worship him in endless joy with endless thanks and praise. There we will worship him as Jesus Christ, our King.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you humbled yourself to take on human flesh and take my place. You lived the life I should. You died the death I deserve. I praise you now and forever as my great King who has conquered all my foes, and who will gently shepherd and lead me for all eternity. Amen.

Don’t Have Anything To Do With That Innocent Man

6th Wednesday in Lent

Don’t Have Anything to Do with That Innocent Man

Text:  Matthew 27:19

Pilate was sitting on his judge’s seat, and boy was it hot!  It was his job to make a decision on this all-important matter.  We know the ultimate reasons that Pilate’s decision was important.  But there were plenty of political reasons, too.  As we reviewed last week, Pilate and the Jews did not get along.  The Jews viewed all Roman leaders as tyrants, and especially Pilate.  He had been disrespectful.  He had oppressed them.  He had slaughtered them.

Tension was already very high.  Pilate perhaps stationed himself in Jerusalem instead of Caesarea for good reason.  It was Passover week.  Would the Jews try and pull a fast one and rebel and revolt like they did with the Egyptians at the first Passover?  The last thing Pontius Pilate wanted to do was to make the Jews more mad or to give them a greater reason to rebel.

But that was exactly the predicament.  Pilate didn’t see any reason to bring a charge against Jesus.  He questioned Jesus and Jesus answered simply and humbly.  He seemed to be a different kind of person who was a different kind of king that spoke a different kind of truth.  If he sentenced Jesus to die it would be cold-blooded murder.  But if he helped out the Jews and granted their demand it would go a long way in the PR department. Read the rest of this entry

Sermon on Matthew 27:11-26

Midweek Lent 4

Jesus Came to Seek . . . His Judge

Text:  Matthew 27:11-26

Jerusalem was just beginning to stir with the dawn of a new day.  Craftsmen and tradesmen may have been getting up with their bodily alarm clocks.  Others may have had plans to sleep a while longer.  But while the rest of the city had been sound of sleep, their leaders had been hard at work.  The Sanhedrin, the governing religious body of the Jews, had been hosting an impromptu trial.  The accused was a man these teachers and priest hated—Jesus of Nazareth.  After planted witnesses with false testimonies, they finally heard what they needed from Jesus.  He proclaimed himself to be the Christ and the Son of God.  He must die.

However, the sentence was out of their jurisdiction.  The Jews didn’t have the power to execute.  So even though the rooster had just crowed and the sun was just rising, they whisked Jesus away to wake up the Roman governor of Judea, a man named Pontius Pilate.

It was a strange partnership in crime.  On the one hand, Pilate was known for being ruthless.  It was not uncommon for him to be quick to sentence one to execution.  That was certainly what the Jews were looking for.  They wanted the deed done before any of the sick or poor or needy whom Jesus helped could say otherwise.  But on the other hand, it was an unlikely match as Pontius Pilate had become one who learned to despise the Jews.

The feeling was mutual.  The Jews hated Pilate and the Romans.  Thus, Pilate had to waste time and effort deploying soldiers to squash the continual insurrections that broke out.  There were many zealous Jews that attempted to lead rebellions against the Romans.  About 30 years later it was still going on as the apostle Paul was asked if he was a sicarii, one of the daggermen who were rebelling.  Perhaps the suspicion of rebellion was the reason for what we heard last Sunday in Luke 13.  Apparently it was not too long before this that Pontius Pilate had commissioned the slaughter of several Galilean Jews while they were making sacrifices at the temple.  But at this point the Jews didn’t care.  Pilate was a means to their end. Read the rest of this entry