Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eutropoius of Saintes, Bishop, Martyr

Today we commemorate Eutropoius of Saintes. He was consecrated as a bishop and sent to France by St. Clement. He converted the governor's daughter to Christianity and the governor was so angry that he had both his daughter and Eutropoius killed. Eutropoius was killed by having his head split open with an ax.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tychicus of Asia, Disciple of Paul, Saint

Today we commemorate Tychicus of Asia. Tychicus was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, who called him in his Epistles, "most dear brother," "faithful minister," and "fellow-servant in the Lord".

Thursday, April 28, 2011

He Lives by Alfred Henry Ackley

Apparently, this hymn was written in response to a Jewish man who asked, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" and a liberal pastor who claimed that it really wasn't important if Jesus rose from the dead or not. But it fails to respond to either person in a meaningful way.

The hymn begins by saying "I serve a risen savior" which is problematic because it really makes it a song about the individual singing it and not about Jesus. Jesus came to serve us, not to be served. But the rest of the song is even more problematic because it argues that Jesus must be alive simply because the person singing it can feel Jesus' presence in some mystical way:

I serve a risen Savior, he's in the world today;
I know that he is living, whatever men may say;
I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him he's always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives:
He lives within my heart!
The liberal pastor who denies an actual bodily resurrection really wouldn't even have any trouble singing this song because in the song Jesus is nothing more than a feeling that lives inside of the person's heart. I don't even think the Jew would object to the idea of Jesus living on in people's hearts the same way a dead relative might. In Ephesians 3:17 Paul does pray that Jesus would dwell in the hearts of the believers in Ephesus but he never uses Jesus dwelling in his heart as proof for the resurrection. Instead, Paul appeals to the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection. Paul says that Jesus appeared to over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6) including himself.

For Paul, Jesus was not just some feeling of some sort of presence. For Paul, Jesus was present in the preaching of the Gospel, baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

Vitalis of Ravenna, Martyr


Today we commemorate Vitalis. When Vitalis was caught reverently burying a martyr he was arrested by the governor Paulinus, and after being racked and thrown into a deep pit, was covered with earth and stones, and by this kind of martyrdom went to Christ.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Wednesday: A Devotional Commentary

Acts 3:13–15, 17–19 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, to which we are witnesses. “Now, brothers, I know that you did this in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,


Colossians 3:1–7 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. You also once walked in those, when you lived in them;


John 21:1–14 After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They told him, “We are also coming with you.” They immediately went out, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing. But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn’t know that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore said to them, “Children, have you anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They cast it therefore, and now they weren’t able to draw it in for the multitude of fish. That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits away), dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fish, one hundred fifty-three; and even though there were so many, the net wasn’t torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” None of the disciples dared inquire of him, “Who are you?” knowing that it was the Lord. Then Jesus came and took the bread, gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead.

The church is always coming up with new programs and new visions. Each fad is replaced with a new one. Sometimes these programs appear to be successful but even then they're not. Since the beginning of the church being a fisher of men has always been about baptizing and teaching. It has never been about our creativity or ability to dupe people. If you insist on doing it your own way, you won't end up with any fish. But Christ's Word is powerful--the fish come jumping right into the net even when they don't appear to be. Regardless of how many people we get to come to our church, we are completley unfaithful to Christ if we neglect the means that He has chosen to bring them in. If we change the means we show that we do not think Christ is very powerful at all. He must need our help. But it all depends on Christ--His Word and His baptism. He feeds us. He gives. We receive. We murdered Him. He forgives us.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Tuesday: A Devotional Commentary

Daniel 3:8-28 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews. They answered Nebuchadnezzar the king, O king, live for ever. You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not respected you. They don’t serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered them, Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but if you don’t worship, you shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his appearance was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. He commanded certain mighty men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their pants, their tunics, and their mantles, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste: he spoke and said to his counselors, Didn’t we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered the king, True, O king. He answered, Look, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are unharmed; and the aspect of the fourth is like a son of the gods. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace: he spoke and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come forth, and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came forth out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the deputies, and the governors, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies, nor was the hair of their head singed, neither were their pants changed, nor had the smell of fire passed on them. Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.


Acts 13:26-33 Brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, the word of this salvation is sent out to you. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they didn’t know him, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. Though they found no cause for death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had fulfilled all things that were written about him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and he was seen for many days by those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. We bring you good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled the same to us, their children, in that he raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second psalm, 'You are my Son. Today I have begotten you.’


Luke 24:36-48 As they said these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were terrified and filled with fear, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. He said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is truly me. Touch me and see, for a spirit doesn’t have flesh and bones, as you see that I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they still didn’t believe for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. He took them, and ate in front of them. He said to them, “This is what I told you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms, concerning me must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds, that they might understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Prior to the resurrection, Jesus' veiled His glory. He would perform miracles to help others but most of the time He used conventional methods of transportation such as walking. He wouldn't even create food to feed just Himself. After the resurrection, Jesus pops up out of nowhere to His disciples. He's not some sort of ghost, He's a real human being. He eats and drinks. But the limitations that we have as human beings do not apply to Jesus. Some argue that it would be impossible for Jesus to be truly present in the Lord's Supper because that would require His human body to be present in multiple places at the same time which would make it somehow not quite human. But the same would seem to apply to the times that Jesus passes through walls and appears out of nowhere. I certainly can't do that and don't know of any other humans who can. Even though the disciples saw Jesus standing right in front of them, it was far too wonderful for them to believe. Those who deny that Christ can be in multiple places at the same time argue that Christ is seated at the right hand of God. But where is that? Is He in some chair next to a giant hand? If you traveled far enough in space could you find it? God's hand is His power and God's power is everywhere.

Various church bodies deny that Christ could be present in the sacrament of the altar because it is just too wonderful and fantastic. How can the finite contain the infinite? But isn't that what actually happened in the incarnation? God dwelled as an embryo in the womb of the virgin Mary. That's pretty crazy. God died on a cross for your sins. That's even crazier. If I were god I would not suffer ridicule, be tortured, and killed for your sins.That's just not something reasonable gods do. Destroying everyone would make a lot more sense.

Despite all of the times that Jesus said that He would die and rise again, the disciples gave some sort of spiritual to it and thought that He could not possibly mean that He would literally die and literally be raised from the dead. They were utterly surprised and devastated by the crucifixion. They did not expect the resurrection. Even when Jesus is standing right in front of them they can't believe it. It's just too wonderful. It can't be true. Even though Jesus provides them with all of the proof anyone could ever ask for they do not believe.

How does Jesus respond? Does He damn them all for their unbelief? Does He go find better disciples who will pay attention and and actually believe what He says? Does He throw you into the Lake of Fire for all the times that you doubted that your sins are truly forgiven--that Christ's death is truly more than enough to pay for whatever horrible things you have done? Does He damn you for all the times you thought that this couldn't possibly be Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper?

Christ says, "Peace be to you. Your sins are forgiven."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday: A Devotional Commentary

Exodus 15:1-18 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh, and said, “I will sing to Yahweh, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. Yah is my strength and song. He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise him; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is his name. He has cast Pharaoh’s chariots and his army into the sea. His chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea. The deeps cover them. They went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Yahweh, is glorious in power. Your right hand, Yahweh, dashes the enemy in pieces. In the greatness of your excellency, you overthrow those who rise up against you. You send forth your wrath. It consumes them as stubble. With the blast of your nostrils, the waters were piled up. The floods stood upright as a heap. The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue. I will overtake. I will divide the spoil. My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind. The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand. The earth swallowed them. You, in your loving kindness, have led the people that you have redeemed. You have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation. The peoples have heard. They tremble. Pangs have taken hold on the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed. Trembling takes hold of the mighty men of Moab. All the inhabitants of Canaan are melted away. Terror and dread falls on them. By the greatness of your arm they are as still as a stone— until your people pass over, Yahweh, until the people pass over who you have purchased. You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, the place, Yahweh, which you have made for yourself to dwell in; the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have established. Yahweh shall reign forever and ever.”


Acts 10:34-43 Peter opened his mouth and said, “Truly I perceive that God doesn’t show favoritism; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. The word which he sent to the children of Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all—you yourselves know what happened, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they also killed, hanging him on a tree. God raised him up the third day, and gave him to be revealed, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen before by God, to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that this is he who is appointed by God as the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him, that through his name everyone who believes in him will receive remission of sins.”


Luke 24:13-35 Behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was sixty stadia from Jerusalem. They talked with each other about all of these things which had happened. It happened, while they talked and questioned together, that Jesus himself came near, and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk, and are sad?” One of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things which have happened there in these days?” He said to them, “What things?” They said to him, “The things concerning Jesus, the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we were hoping that it was he who would redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Also, certain women of our company amazed us, having arrived early at the tomb; and when they didn’t find his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of us went to the tomb, and found it just like the women had said, but they didn’t see him.” He said to them, “Foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t the Christ have to suffer these things and to enter into his glory?” Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he explained to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. They drew near to the village, where they were going, and he acted like he would go further. They urged him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is almost evening, and the day is almost over.” He went in to stay with them. It happened, that when he had sat down at the table with them, he took the bread and gave thanks. Breaking it, he gave to them. Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished out of their sight. They said one to another, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us, while he spoke to us along the way, and while he opened the Scriptures to us?” They rose up that very hour, returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” They related the things that happened along the way, and how he was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.

The Lord is risen indeed! We know that because our God is raised, we too shall be partakers in the resurrection. We await His glorious appearing. We often doubt the testimony of His resurrection just as these disciples did--it's just too good to be true! But it is true! All the Scriptures testify of Jesus--of His suffering for us and death for us and resurrection for us. Christ has dashed our enemies to pieces--sin, death, and the devil. Christ has ascended but He is still present with us. We need not look for some mystical experience and certainly should not be looking inside of ourselves. Jesus is given to us in the preaching of the Gospel. You do not need not go on some pilgrimage or say magic words. As the bumper sticker says, "I found Jesus, He was in the bread and wine the whole time." Jesus makes His presence known in the breaking of the bread. In the Holy Supper Christ gives us His very body to eat and His blood to drink for the forgiveness of our sins.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Day: A Devotional Commentary

Job 19:23-27 “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth. After my skin is destroyed, then in my flesh shall I see God, Whom I, even I, shall see on my side. My eyes shall see, and not as a stranger.


1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump? Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Mark 16:1-8 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” for it was very big. Looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back. Entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were amazed. He said to them, “Don’t be amazed. You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen. He is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him, as he said to you.’” They went out, and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had come on them. They said nothing to anyone; for they were afraid.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! We killed the incarnate God who bore our sins. We nailed Him to a cross. But He is risen. Any reasonable god would destroy us for killing Him but not the crucified-God. Jesus brings us forgiveness for our sins. He not only bore our sins on the cross but He gives us forgiveness all the time. He gives us pastors to tell us that we are forgiven. He gives us His very body and blood to feed us and sustain our faith. He has given us baptism to wash away our sins. Because we are joined to Jesus' death in our baptism, we will also partake of His resurrection! Alleluia, Christ is risen!

Easter Dawn: A Devotional Commentary

Is. 25:6–9 In this mountain, Yahweh of Armies will make all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of choice wines, of fat things full of marrow, of well refined choice wines. He will destroy in this mountain the surface of the covering that covers all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He has swallowed up death forever! The Lord Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces. He will take the reproach of his people away from off all the earth, for Yahweh has spoken it. It shall be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God! We have waited for him, and he will save us! This is Yahweh! We have waited for him. We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation!”


1 Cor. 15:1–11 Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, who is not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was bestowed on me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Whether then it is I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.


John 20:1–18 Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb, and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. Therefore she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him!” Therefore Peter and the other disciple went out, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran together. The other disciple outran Peter, and came to the tomb first. Stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths lying, yet he didn’t enter in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and entered into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying, and the cloth that had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself. So then the other disciple who came first to the tomb also entered in, and he saw and believed. For as yet they didn’t know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside at the tomb weeping. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They told her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, and didn’t know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him, “Rabboni!” which is to say, “Teacher!” Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold me, for I haven’t yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had said these things to her.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Mary came to the tomb but Jesus was not there. She assumed that someone had stolen Jesus' body and she began to weep. But Jesus speaks with her and turns her weeping into joy. He did not come to her as ghost--He didn't just live on her heart. He stood there right in front of her. The idea that this man standing in front of her could be Jesus was far too wonderful for her to believe. It must be the gardener. Maybe he knows where the corpse of Jesus is. But the truth is so much more wonderful than being able to recover the dead corpse of Jesus. Christ is risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday: A Devotional Commentary

Daniel 6:1-24 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred twenty satraps, who should be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three presidents, of whom Daniel was one; that these satraps might give account to them, and that the king should have no damage. Then this Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm. Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find occasion against Daniel as touching the kingdom; but they could find no occasion nor fault, because he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. Then these presidents and satraps assembled together to the king, and said thus to him, King Darius, live forever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the deputies and the satraps, the counselors and the governors, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a strong decree, that whoever shall ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, except of you, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that it not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which doesn’t alter. Therefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. When Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house (now his windows were open in his room toward Jerusalem) and he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did before. Then these men assembled together, and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Then they came near, and spoke before the king concerning the king’s decree: Haven’t you signed an decree, that every man who shall make petition to any god or man within thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which doesn’t alter. Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, who is of the children of the captivity of Judah, doesn’t respect you, O king, nor the decree that you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day. Then the king, when he heard these words, was very displeased, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored until the going down of the sun to rescue him. Then these men assembled together to the king, and said to the king, Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians, that no decree nor statute which the king establishes may be changed. Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spoke and said to Daniel, Your God whom you serve continually, he will deliver you. A stone was brought, and laid on the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep fled from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions. When he came near to the den to Daniel, he cried with a lamentable voice; the king spoke and said to Daniel, Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions? Then Daniel said to the king, O king, live forever. My God has sent his angel, and has shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not hurt me; because as before him innocence was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. The king commanded, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions, them, their children, and their wives; and the lions mauled them, and broke all their bones in pieces, before they came to the bottom of the den.


1 Peter 3:17-22 For it is better, if it is God’s will, that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil. Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which he also went and preached to the spirits in prison, who before were disobedient, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, while the ship was being built. In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you—not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him.


Matthew 27:57-66 When evening had come, a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who himself was also Jesus’ disciple came. This man went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given up. Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut out in the rock, and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. Now on the next day, which was the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest perhaps his disciples come at night and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He is risen from the dead;’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone.

Today, Jesus lay in a tomb for you. Jesus kept the Sabbath rest perfectly for you. But while He lay in the grave keeping that sabbath-rest He was not inactive. Today, Christ descended into hell. As Martin Luther put it, "Our Lord Jesus Christ did descend into hell, battered hell open, overcame the devil, and delivered those who were held captive by the devil." The prophecy of the Devil's defeat was first given to the Devil. While Jesus' disciples mourn for the death of Jesus and Jesus looks to be completely defeated, Jesus proclaims His victory over sin, death, and the Devil. Today, all human reason would tell us that Jesus has been defeated but His victory has already been proclaimed and we await the resurrection.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Friday (Good Friday): A Devotional Commentary

Hosea 6:1-6 “Come, and let us return to Yahweh; for he has torn us to pieces, and he will heal us; he has injured us, and he will bind up our wounds.After two days he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up, and we will live before him. Let us acknowledge Yahweh. Let us press on to know Yahweh. As surely as the sun rises, Yahweh will appear. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth.” “Ephraim, what shall I do to you? Judah, what shall I do to you? For your love is like a morning cloud, and like the dew that disappears early. Therefore I have cut them to pieces with the prophets; I killed them with the words of my mouth. Your judgments are like a flash of lightning. For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.


Exodus 12:1-11 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor next to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to what everyone can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at evening. They shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they shall eat it. They shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs. Don’t eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire; with its head, its legs and its inner parts. You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire. This is how you shall eat it: with your belt on your waist, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is Yahweh’s Passover.


John 18:1-19:42 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. Judas then, having taken a detachment of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were happening to him, went forth, and said to them, “Who are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas also, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When therefore he said to them, “I am he,” they went backward, and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way,” that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, “Of those whom you have given me, I have lost none.” Simon Peter therefore, having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Jesus therefore said to Peter, “Put the sword into its sheath. The cup which the Father has given me, shall I not surely drink it?” So the detachment, the commanding officer, and the officers of the Jews, seized Jesus and bound him, and led him to Annas first, for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should perish for the people. Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest; but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then the maid who kept the door said to Peter, “Are you also one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and the officers were standing there, having made a fire of coals, for it was cold. They were warming themselves. Peter was with them, standing and warming himself. The high priest therefore asked Jesus about his disciples, and about his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where the Jews always meet. I said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them. Behold, these know the things which I said.” When he had said this, one of the officers standing by slapped Jesus with his hand, saying, “Do you answer the high priest like that?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, testify of the evil; but if well, why do you beat me?” Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him, “You aren’t also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, being a relative of him whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Peter therefore denied it again, and immediately the rooster crowed. They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium. It was early, and they themselves didn’t enter into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Pilate therefore went out to them, and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man weren’t an evildoer, we wouldn’t have delivered him up to you.” Pilate therefore said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying by what kind of death he should die. Pilate therefore entered again into the Praetorium, called Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Do you say this by yourself, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate answered, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered you to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my Kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn’t be delivered to the Jews. But now my Kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” When he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But you have a custom, that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Therefore do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” Then they all shouted again, saying, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber. So Pilate then took Jesus, and flogged him. The soldiers twisted thorns into a crown, and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple garment. They kept saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and they kept slapping him. Then Pilate went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I bring him out to you, that you may know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” Jesus therefore came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the man!” When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted, saying, “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and crucify him, for I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” When therefore Pilate heard this saying, he was more afraid. He entered into the Praetorium again, and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Aren’t you speaking to me? Don’t you know that I have power to release you, and have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power at all against me, unless it were given to you from above. Therefore he who delivered me to you has greater sin.” At this, Pilate was seeking to release him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you release this man, you aren’t Caesar’s friend! Everyone who makes himself a king speaks against Caesar!” When Pilate therefore heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called “The Pavement,” but in Hebrew, “Gabbatha.” Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, at about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!” So then he delivered him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led him away. He went out, bearing his cross, to the place called “The Place of a Skull,” which is called in Hebrew, “Golgotha,” where they crucified him, and with him two others, on either side one, and Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a title also, and put it on the cross. There was written, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews therefore said to Pilate, “Don’t write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘he said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also the coat. Now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. Then they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to decide whose it will be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which says, “They parted my garments among them. For my cloak they cast lots.” Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Therefore when Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it at his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” He bowed his head, and gave up his spirit. Therefore the Jews, because it was the Preparation Day, so that the bodies wouldn’t remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a special one), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Therefore the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they didn’t break his legs. However one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. He who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, that you may believe. For these things happened, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “A bone of him will not be broken.” Again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they pierced.” After these things, Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away Jesus’ body. Pilate gave him permission. He came therefore and took away his body. Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred Roman pounds. So they took Jesus’ body, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden. In the garden was a new tomb in which no man had ever yet been laid. Then because of the Jews’ Preparation Day (for the tomb was near at hand) they laid Jesus there.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He was tortured for you! He suffered for you! He died for you! It is finished!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday): A Devotional Commentary

Exodus 12:1-14 Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be to you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor next to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to what everyone can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at evening. They shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel, on the houses in which they shall eat it. They shall eat the flesh in that night, roasted with fire, and unleavened bread. They shall eat it with bitter herbs. Don’t eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted with fire; with its head, its legs and its inner parts. You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire. This is how you shall eat it: with your belt on your waist, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is Yahweh’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and animal. Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh. The blood shall be to you for a token on the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be on you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be to you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh: throughout your generations you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.


1 Corinthians 11:23-32 For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread. When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this unto my remembrance.” In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, unto my remembrance.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.


John 13:1-15 Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus, knowing that his time had come that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and was going to God, arose from supper, and laid aside his outer garments. He took a towel, and wrapped a towel around his waist. Then he poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “You don’t know what I am doing now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “Someone who has bathed only needs to have his feet washed, but is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you.” For he knew him who would betray him, therefore he said, “You are not all clean.” So when he had washed their feet, put his outer garment back on, and sat down again, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me, ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You say so correctly, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 

Today is Maundy Thursday--the Day of the Commandment. Jesus gave the commands to His disciples to wash one another's feet, to love one another, and to "do this (celebrate the Lord's Supper) unto my remembrance." Jesus' kingdom is unlike any earthly kingdom. Earthly kingdoms are organized so that those who are on the bottom serve those at the top. Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. In Jesus' kingdom, the king serves us and needs nothing from us. Just like Peter, we sinfully think that Jesus needs us to wash His feet. We think that Christianity is all about us doing things for Jesus just as the pagans do for their gods. Jesus, the king of the universe, gave Himself in self-sacrificial love for us. Jesus washes our sins away in baptism. Jesus gives us His very body and blood to drink. Jesus does not say, "Now that I've done all this for you, you better give me glory." Jesus tells us to take the thankfulness in our hearts and direct it toward the good of our neighbor. Our neighbor needs our good works, Jesus does not.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sulpicius, Servilian and Johannes Bugenhagen

Today we commemorate Sulpicius, Servilian and Johannes Bugenhagen. According to the Roman Martyrology:

At Rome, the holy martyrs Sulpicius and Servilian, who were converted to the faith of Christ by the speeches and the miracles of the holy virgin Domitilla. Because they refused to sacrifice to the idols, they were beheaded by Anian, prefect of the city, in the persecution of Trajan.

Cyberbrethren has a nice summary of Johnnes Bugenhagen's life.

Wednesday of Holy Week: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 62:11-63:7 Behold, Yahweh has proclaimed to the end of the earth, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your salvation comes. Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’” They shall call them The holy people, The redeemed of Yahweh: and you shall be called Sought out, A city not forsaken. Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat? “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed has come. I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.” I will make mention of the loving kindnesses of Yahweh and the praises of Yahweh, according to all that Yahweh has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he has bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses.


Luke 22:1-23:56 Now the feast of unleavened bread, which is called the Passover, drew near. The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put him to death, for they feared the people. Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered with the twelve. He went away, and talked with the chief priests and captains about how he might deliver him to them. They were glad, and agreed to give him money. He consented, and sought an opportunity to deliver him to them in the absence of the multitude. The day of unleavened bread came, on which the Passover must be sacrificed. He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” They said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him into the house which he enters. Tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ He will show you a large, furnished upper room. Make preparations there.” They went, found things as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, he sat down with the twelve apostles. He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for I tell you, I will no longer by any means eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” He received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this, and share it among yourselves, for I tell you, I will not drink at all again from the fruit of the vine, until the Kingdom of God comes.” He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is poured out for you. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it has been determined, but woe to that man through whom he is betrayed!” They began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. There arose also a contention among them, which of them was considered to be greatest. He said to them, “The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so with you. But one who is the greater among you, let him become as the younger, and one who is governing, as one who serves. For who is greater, one who sits at the table, or one who serves? Isn’t it he who sits at the table? But I am in the midst of you as one who serves. But you are those who have continued with me in my trials. I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. You will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, but I prayed for you, that your faith wouldn’t fail. You, when once you have turned again, establish your brothers.” He said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!” He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will by no means crow today until you deny that you know me three times.” He said to them, “When I sent you out without purse, and wallet, and shoes, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” Then he said to them, “But now, whoever has a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet. Whoever has none, let him sell his cloak, and buy a sword. For I tell you that this which is written must still be fulfilled in me: ‘He was counted with transgressors.’ For that which concerns me has an end.” They said, “Lord, behold, here are two swords.” He said to them, “That is enough.” He came out, and went, as his custom was, to the Mount of Olives. His disciples also followed him. When he was at the place, he said to them, “Pray that you don’t enter into temptation.” He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and he knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in agony he prayed more earnestly. His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he rose up from his prayer, he came to the disciples, and found them sleeping because of grief, and said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” While he was still speaking, behold, a multitude, and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He came near to Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said to him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” A certain one of them struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered, “Let me at least do this”—and he touched his ear, and healed him. Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and elders, who had come against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you in the temple daily, you didn’t stretch out your hands against me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” They seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed from a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard, and had sat down together, Peter sat among them. A certain servant girl saw him as he sat in the light, and looking intently at him, said, “This man also was with him.” He denied Jesus, saying, “Woman, I don’t know him.” After a little while someone else saw him, and said, “You also are one of them!” But Peter answered, “Man, I am not!” After about one hour passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Truly this man also was with him, for he is a Galilean!” But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you are talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. The Lord turned, and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the Lord’s word, how he said to him, “Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times.” He went out, and wept bitterly. The men who held Jesus mocked him and beat him. Having blindfolded him, they struck him on the face and asked him, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck you?” They spoke many other things against him, insulting him. As soon as it was day, the assembly of the elders of the people was gathered together, both chief priests and scribes, and they led him away into their council, saying, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you won’t believe, and if I ask, you will in no way answer me or let me go. From now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” They all said, “Are you then the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say it, because I am.” They said, “Why do we need any more witness? For we ourselves have heard from his own mouth!” The whole company of them rose up and brought him before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “So you say.” Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” But they insisted, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee even to this place.” But when Pilate heard Galilee mentioned, he asked if the man was a Galilean. When he found out that he was in Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem during those days. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad, for he had wanted to see him for a long time, because he had heard many things about him. He hoped to see some miracle done by him. He questioned him with many words, but he gave no answers. The chief priests and the scribes stood, vehemently accusing him. Herod with his soldiers humiliated him and mocked him. Dressing him in luxurious clothing, they sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before that they were enemies with each other. Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one that perverts the people, and see, I have examined him before you, and found no basis for a charge against this man concerning those things of which you accuse him. Neither has Herod, for I sent you to him, and see, nothing worthy of death has been done by him. I will therefore chastise him and release him.” Now he had to release one prisoner to them at the feast. But they all cried out together, saying, “Away with this man! Release to us Barabbas!”—one who was thrown into prison for a certain revolt in the city, and for murder. Then Pilate spoke to them again, wanting to release Jesus, but they shouted, saying, “Crucify! Crucify him!” He said to them the third time, “Why? What evil has this man done? I have found no capital crime in him. I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified. Their voices and the voices of the chief priests prevailed. Pilate decreed that what they asked for should be done. He released him who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus up to their will. When they led him away, they grabbed one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it after Jesus. A great multitude of the people followed him, including women who also mourned and lamented him. But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to tell the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and tell the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things in the green tree, what will be done in the dry?” There were also others, two criminals, led with him to be put to death. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified him there with the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Dividing his garments among them, they cast lots. The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering him vinegar, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” An inscription was also written over him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!” but the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, “Certainly this was a righteous man.” All the multitudes that came together to see this, when they saw the things that were done, returned home beating their breasts. All his acquaintances, and the women who followed with him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. Behold, a man named Joseph, who was a member of the council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their counsel and deed), from Arimathaea, a city of the Jews, who was also waiting for the Kingdom of God: this man went to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. He took it down, and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb that was cut in stone, where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of the Preparation, and the Sabbath was drawing near. The women, who had come with him out of Galilee, followed after, and saw the tomb, and how his body was laid. They returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Some churches refer to today as Spy Wednesday because today the day that Judas made a bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In Poland, young people throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. They drag it through the village, hit it with sticks and stones, and then throw what is left into a stream or pond. It always feels good to get angry at people who are worse sinners than us.

Judas certainly did betray Jesus but so did Peter and the rest of the Apostles. The difference is that Judas tried to atone for his own sins. Judas saw that he was a sinner and thought that the answer was to give his life to Jesus. Judas was determined to make things right on his own. He had been paid the price of a slave for his betrayal and so he tried to buy himself back by paying the thirty pieces of silver back. The priests did not offer him any absolution--they sent him away to deal with his sin himself. And that is just what Judas tried to do. He committed suicide. He tried to atone for his own sins with his own life.

What Judas needed to hear is what all of us sinners need to hear. Jesus Christ has bled and died for your sins. You cannot atone for them. Do not even try to. Do not deny what Christ has done for you by trying to atone for your sins yourself. Jesus has done it all. It is finished.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Timon, Deacon of Jerusalm and Philipp Melanchthon, Confessor


Today we commemorate Timon and Phillip Melancthon. According to Wikipedia:

Timon was said to have been a Hellenized Jew who became a bishop in Greece or in Bosra, Syria; in the latter account, his preaching brought the ire of the local governor, who martyred him with fire.
According to Cyberbrethren:

Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a brilliant student of the classics and a humanist scholar. In 1518 he was appointedto teach along with Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg. At Luther’s urging, Melanchthon began teaching theology and Scripture in addition to his courses in classical studies. In April of 1530, Emperor Charles V called an official meeting between the representative of Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, hoping to effect a meeting of minds between two opposing groups. Since Luther was at that time under papal excommunication and an imperial ban, Melanchthon was assigned the duty of being the chief Lutheran representative at this meeting. He is especially remembered and honored as the author of the Augsburg Confession, which was officially presented by the German princes to the emperor on June 25, 1530, as the defining document of Lutheranism within Christendom.

Tuesday of Holy Week: A Devotional Commentary

Jeremiah 11:18-20 Yahweh gave me knowledge of it, and I knew it: then you showed me their doings. But I was like a gentle lamb that is led to the slaughter; and I didn’t know that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered. But, Yahweh of Armies, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, I shall see your vengeance on them; for to you have I revealed my cause.

Mark 14:1-15:47 It was now two days before the feast of the Passover and the unleavened bread, and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might seize him by deception, and kill him. For they said, “Not during the feast, because there might be a riot of the people.” While he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard—very costly. She broke the jar, and poured it over his head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, saying, “Why has this ointment been wasted? For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” They grumbled against her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying. Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News may be preached throughout the whole world, that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went away to the chief priests, that he might deliver him to them. They, when they heard it, were glad, and promised to give him money. He sought how he might conveniently deliver him. On the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover, his disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare that you may eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and there you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him, and wherever he enters in, tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ He will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Get ready for us there.” His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found things as he had said to them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening he came with the twelve. As they sat and were eating, Jesus said, “Most certainly I tell you, one of you will betray me—he who eats with me.” They began to be sorrowful, and to ask him one by one, “Surely not I?” And another said, “Surely not I?” He answered them, “It is one of the twelve, he who dips with me in the dish. For the Son of Man goes, even as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born.” As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed, he broke it, and gave to them, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body.” He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them. They all drank of it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. Most certainly I tell you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ However, after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee.” But Peter said to him, “Although all will be offended, yet I will not.” Jesus said to him, “Most certainly I tell you, that you today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he spoke all the more, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” They all said the same thing. They came to a place which was named Gethsemane. He said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be greatly troubled and distressed. He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch.” He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him. He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Please remove this cup from me. However, not what I desire, but what you desire.” He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you watch one hour? Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away, and prayed, saying the same words. Again he returned, and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they didn’t know what to answer him. He came the third time, and said to them, “Sleep on now, and take your rest. It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us be going. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came—and with him a multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now he who betrayed him had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I will kiss, that is he. Seize him, and lead him away safely.” When he had come, immediately he came to him, and said, “Rabbi! Rabbi!” and kissed him. They laid their hands on him, and seized him. But a certain one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Jesus answered them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you didn’t arrest me. But this is so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” They all left him, and fled. A certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth thrown around himself, over his naked body. The young men grabbed him, but he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. They led Jesus away to the high priest. All the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes came together with him. Peter had followed him from a distance, until he came into the court of the high priest. He was sitting with the officers, and warming himself in the light of the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council sought witnesses against Jesus to put him to death, and found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony didn’t agree with each other. Some stood up, and gave false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’” Even so, their testimony did not agree. The high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it which these testify against you?” But he stayed quiet, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of the sky.” The high priest tore his clothes, and said, “What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” They all condemned him to be worthy of death.  Some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to beat him with fists, and to tell him, “Prophesy!” The officers struck him with the palms of their hands. As Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the maids of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, “You were also with the Nazarene, Jesus!” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know, nor understand what you are saying.” He went out on the porch, and the rooster crowed. The maid saw him, and began again to tell those who stood by, “This is one of them.” But he again denied it. After a little while again those who stood by said to Peter, “You truly are one of them, for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” But he began to curse, and to swear, “I don’t know this man of whom you speak!” The rooster crowed the second time. Peter remembered the word, how that Jesus said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” When he thought about that, he wept. Immediately in the morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him up to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered, “So you say.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they testify against you!” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate marveled. Now at the feast he used to release to them one prisoner, whom they asked of him. There was one called Barabbas, bound with those who had made insurrection, men who in the insurrection had committed murder. The multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do as he always did for them. Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that for envy the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the multitude, that he should release Barabbas to them instead. Pilate again asked them, “What then should I do to him whom you call the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they cried out exceedingly, “Crucify him!” Pilate, wishing to please the multitude, released Barabbas to them, and handed over Jesus, when he had flogged him, to be crucified. The soldiers led him away within the court, which is the Praetorium; and they called together the whole cohort. They clothed him with purple, and weaving a crown of thorns, they put it on him. They began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, and spat on him, and bowing their knees, did homage to him. When they had mocked him, they took the purple off of him, and put his own garments on him. They led him out to crucify him. They compelled one passing by, coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to go with them, that he might bear his cross. They brought him to the place called Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, “The place of a skull.” They offered him wine mixed with myrrh to drink, but he didn’t take it. Crucifying him, they parted his garments among them, casting lots on them, what each should take. It was the third hour, and they crucified him. The superscription of his accusation was written over him, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.” With him they crucified two robbers; one on his right hand, and one on his left. The Scripture was fulfilled, which says, “He was numbered with transgressors.” Those who passed by blasphemed him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” Likewise, also the chief priests mocking among themselves with the scribes said, “He saved others. He can’t save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, that we may see and believe him.” Those who were crucified with him insulted him. When the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of those who stood by, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” One ran, and filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let him be. Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit. The veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. When the centurion, who stood by opposite him, saw that he cried out like this and breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” There were also women watching from afar, among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and served him; and many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. When evening had now come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathaea, a prominent council member who also himself was looking for the Kingdom of God, came. He boldly went in to Pilate, and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate marveled if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead long. When he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. He bought a linen cloth, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of a rock. He rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Joses, saw where he was laid.

The sinners mourn, the "godly" kill, the pagan confesses who Jesus truly is. "Truly this man was the Son of God!" The Son of God reigns with a crown of thorns on His head, hanging dead on a cross. You killed the Son of God and receive His righteousness as your inheritance.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wicterp of Augsburg, Bishop

Today, we commemorate Wicterp of Augsburg. According to Katherine Rabenstein:

Died 749. Saint Wicterp, abbot of Ellwangen, actively worked on the foundation of the abbeys at Füssen, Wessobrünn, and Kempten--all of which became famous in Medieval Germany. Eventually, Wicterp was elected to the bishopric of Augsburg (Benedictines).

Monday of Holy Week: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 50:5-10 "My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the peoples; the islands shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and those who dwell therein shall die in the same way: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; don’t fear the reproach of men, neither be dismayed at their insults. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of Yahweh; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn’t it you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster? Isn’t it you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?


John 12:1-23 Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. Then Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of his disciples, who would betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.” A large crowd therefore of the Jews learned that he was there, and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples didn’t understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him, and that they had done these things to him. The multitude therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, was testifying about it. For this cause also the multitude went and met him, because they heard that he had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “See how you accomplish nothing. Behold, the world has gone after him.” Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast. These, therefore, came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn, Andrew came with Philip, and they told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it. He who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there will my servant also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But for this cause I came to this time. Father, glorify your name!” Then there came a voice out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice hasn’t come for my sake, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the prince of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die. The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ remains forever. How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn’t overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.” Jesus said these things, and he departed and hid himself from them. But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue, for they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise.


There's a popular praise song by Jonathon Butler called "Gonna Lift You up" which says:


You said if you be lifted, You’d draw all men to you
So draw me, draw me closer
So draw me
Draw me closer to you
I’m gonna lift you higher, higher….
Gonna lift you up
Oh Lord, I’m gonna lift you up And I’m never gonna stop
Oh with everything I’ve got…
I’m gonna lift you up


The author of this praise song has absolutely no idea what he is saying but he's absolutely right. The author of the praise song, no doubt, meant that he would lift Christ up by praising Him and that by his own act of praise he would draw all men to Christ and that's what people mean who sing this song. It's as if they think that if it weren't for them, people would not be drawn to Christ. They may have developed some evangelism tool or new way of repackaging the Gospel or they may just that their singing is so important that everyone will come to Christ because of them. When we bring Christ to people and people actually believe we forget the great gift that Christ is and start thinking we really did something special and start thinking that it all depends upon us--I once heard a sermon by a Baptist evangelist from BJU about how those who won people for Christ would get a soul-winners crown (I don't remember that in the Bible). I would argue that those who sing this song "lifted" Jesus up but not in the way that they think they did. We all lifted Jesus up 2000 years ago. We did not lift Him up by our praises or good works. We lifted Jesus up by our sin. We lifted Him up by nailing Him to a cross. John says very plainly that Jesus said He would be lifted up to tell what kind of death He would die by. Even if we don't sing this song, this song reflects the way we think. We want to pretend in some way that it all depends on us.

We love men's praise more than we love God's praise. We don't direct people to the crucified Christ and if we do, we try to turn the Crucified Christ is something that He is not. We like say things like, "it was there by grace I received my sight and now I am happy all the day" as if following the crucified Christ resulted in nothing but happiness all the time. Some churches begin their services by saying, "God is good all the time. All the time God is good." Taken literally, it is true. But usually people mean that they are happy all the time because they are Christians which is not true. They meet together to deny reality. They may call what they worship God, but it is really the power of positive thinking. The suffering person who comes is ignored or treated as if they have done something to deserve their suffering.

The theology of glory is always popular. It is man's natural religion. The people would have been okay with a Christ who comes to destroy their enemies and set up His kingdom--that would not have been offensive. It's not offensive today to talk about "kingdom building." But the crucified Christ is always offensive. The crucified Christ shows us how bad our sins are. The crucified Christ shows us that Christianity does not mean a life free from suffering, it shows us that Christianity is all about suffering. We receive the praise of men by presenting them with a suffering-free Christian life whether it's through movies like "Facing the Giants" or by telling them some personal testimony about how we no longer struggle with some sin now that we are Christians.

The crucified Christ is never popular, we always want to turn away. The crucified Christ shows you what you really are and what your sins deserve. But only by seeing the crucified Christ can you receive true healing and true forgiveness of sins. The crucified Christ reigns from the cross for you.