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Life Theology

Passion Week – Saturday

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

Isaiah 55:1-3:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

During Jesus’ ministry, he said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). When people heard this, no doubt their minds saw the words of Isaiah when he quoted Yahweh, saying, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!”

I’m thirsty for Jesus, but I want to be more thirsty. So often I take a couple sips from the divine glass of joy that Jesus offers, only to be satisfied five minutes later by my own self-righteousness, the Internet, entertainment, or something else.  I want to delight myself in true, rich food, not worthless food that will only leave me empty.

Good Friday is about reflection and repentance. On that day, Jesus bore the wrath of God for my sins. He took all my transgressions on his shoulders. Today, Saturday, is not about hiding out and passively waiting for Sunday. It’s about expectantly waiting for Sunday to arrive.  It’s about going to the tomb and waiting up all night, holding on to Jesus’ promise that he will rise. It’s doing what God, through Isaiah, told us to do: “Come to me!”

Father God, by your Spirit, make me glad in you alone. Give me the power to come to Jesus today, clinging to the Cross as my only hope for righteousness and forgiveness. And help me celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year — and every day — as my only hope for eternal life in your presence.

Categories
Life Theology

Passion Week – Wednesday

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

John 19:12-13:

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”  So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.

Jesus was on death row, and Pilate was very close to letting him walk free.  He said a handful of times that he found no guilt in this Galilean pauper.  But when the chips were down, Pilate had no courage.  The Jews pushed a button.  What button did they push?  It was the praise of man button. Everyone has that button, and the Jews knew exactly where Pilate’s was and how hard to push it.

Pilate’s problem was that he considered his kingdom to be more significant than Jesus’ kingdom. His problem was that he loved the praise of the Jews, Caesar, and the hostile crowd more than God’s praise.  Had Pilate released Jesus — whom the Jews were accusing of being a political rebel and spiritual blasphemer — he would have practically forfeited his governorship.  Why?  Jesus called himself a king, and “everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (v. 12). Just the threat of some Jews telling Caesar on him a made Pilate shrink back and say, “Okay, okay. You want your so-called King crucified? You can have it.”

Crucify a carpenter to start the weekend or risk losing your job and face treason charges? It was an easy choice for Pilate.

Hold on, though. What about me? Jesus wasn’t crucified because Pilate loved man’s praise and wanted to build his own kingdom, or because the Jews were blind and stiff-necked, or even because the disciples ran away. No, Jesus was crucified because I love man’s praise.  Jesus was crucified because I love my kingdom. Jesus was crucified because I run away everyday. Of course, Jesus died for other people’s sin, too. But if I’m pointing fingers and shaking my head at Pilate, I’m missing the point.

Almighty Father, help me desire your praise and hate the praise of man. Help me feel how ugly my sin really is. Make me realize what it meant for you to be crucified for me. Help me grieve over my sins, great and small, and point me to that blessed Cross, where all my sins were washed away.

Categories
Life Theology

Passion Week – Monday

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

Luke 22:24-30:

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

As I read this passage, my own pride rushes to the surface of my heart.  It’s plainly exposed.  And you know what?  It’s ugly.  Jesus said, “Let the greatest among you become as the  youngest, and the leader as one who serves.”  Do I do that?  Am I that?  Most days, I am not.  I crave applause and recognition.  I want people to know my name and face. I want people to read my blog and visit my Twitter.  I want people to be impressed with what I know or how I present myself.  I want people to like me. But, it’s not just addiction to acceptance, as psychologists might put it.  Most fundamentally, it’s idolatry.  I idolize myself instead of worship God.

Jesus ends the disciples’ dispute in our passage by saying that the Father has given him a kingdom, and Jesus is giving that kingdom to his disciples so they may “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”  Jesus is bringing them in, not so that they can be the king, but so that they can be a part of Jesus’ kingdom. We, by grace, get to be participants. It’s all about Jesus.  Not me.

Father in Heaven, forgive me.  Help me be humble. Pride is a damning thing, and if I want to be great, I need to be the least. Let me be a servant in your kingdom; help me be like you.

Categories
Theology

Passion Week – Wednesday Meditation

Part 3 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

John 19:12-13:

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”  So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha.

Jesus was on death row, and Pilate was very close to letting him walk free.  He said a handful of times that he found no guilt in this Galilean pauper.  But when the chips were down, Pilate had no courage.  The Jews pushed a button.  What button did they push?   It was the praise of man button. Everyone has that button, and the Jews knew exactly where Pilate’s was and how hard to push it.

Pilate’s problem was that he considered his kingdom to be more significant than Jesus’ kingdom. His problem was that he loved the praise of the Jews, Caesar, and the hostile crowd more than God’s praise.  Had Pilate released Jesus — whom the Jews were accusing of being a political rebel and spiritual blasphemer — he would have practically forfeited his governorship.  Why?  Jesus called himself a king, and “everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar” (v. 12). Just the threat of some Jews telling Caesar on him a made Pilate shrink back and say, “Okay, okay. You want your so-called King crucified? You can have it.”

Crucify a carpenter to start the weekend or risk losing your job and face treason charges? It was an easy choice for Pilate.

Hold on, though. What about me? Jesus wasn’t crucified because Pilate loved man’s praise and wanted to build his own kingdom, or because the Jews were blind and stiff-necked, or even because the disciples ran away. No, Jesus was crucified because I love man’s praise.  Jesus was crucified because I love my kingdom. Jesus was crucified because I run away everyday. Of course, Jesus died for other people’s sin, too. But if I’m pointing fingers and shaking my head at Pilate, I’m missing the point.

Almighty Father, help me desire your praise and hate the praise of man. Help me feel how ugly my sin really is. Make me realize what it meant for you to be crucified for me. Help me grieve over my sins, great and small, and point me to that blessed Cross, where all my sins were washed away.

Categories
Life

Passion Week – Monday Mediation

Series Index

  1. Monday
  2. Tuesday
  3. Wednesday
  4. Thursday
  5. Friday
  6. Saturday
  7. Sunday

Part 1 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Luke 22:24-30:

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This weekend, John Piper announced he is taking an eight month leave of absence starting May 1.  The main reason for this, he said is pride: “I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me.”

That really humbled me.  It convicted me.  I set that alongside this passage from the Gospel of Luke, and my own pride rushed to the surface.  And you know what?  It’s ugly.  Jesus said, “Let the greatest among you become as the  youngest, and the leader as one who serves.”  Do I do that?  Am I that?  Most days, I am not.  I crave applause and recognition.  I want people to know my name and face. I want people to read my blog and visit my Twitter.  I want people to be impressed with what I know or how I present myself.  I want people to like me. But, it’s not just addiction to acceptance, as psychologists might put it.  Most fundamentally, it’s idolatry.  I idolize myself instead of worship God.

Jesus ends the disciples’ dispute in our passage by saying that the Father has given him a kingdom, and Jesus is giving that kingdom to his disciples so they may “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”  Jesus is bringing them in, not so that they can be the king, but so that they can be a part of Jesus’ kingdom. We, by grace, get to be participants. It’s all about Jesus.  Not me.

Father in Heaven, forgive me.  Help me be humble. Pride is a damning thing, and if I want to be great, I need to be the least. Let me be a servant in your kingdom; help me be like you.