Places of Passion: Court of High Priest

In our midweek services we have followed the places that Jesus went on His way to the cross. This week we go to the court of the High Priest. This was the highest religious authority for the Jews. Jesus has one more stop after this: court of Pilate, Roman Governor.

In our text, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus. Their intent was to put Jesus to death. And yet they couldn’t even find any. Even when they find two witnesses, they still can’t tell the truth about what Jesus said.

Nevertheless, when the High Priest finally addresses Jesus to tell the truth, Jesus does tell the truth, that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. He gives the same answer that Peter gave earlier in Jesus’ ministry:

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:15 CSB)

Peter got the title correct, but he didn’t want to hear what Jesus had to do in fulfillment of that title.

21 From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to you!” (Matt. 16:21–22 CSB)

In our text, Peter is mentioned ironically, wanting to see the outcome:

Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome. (26:28 CSB)

Ironically, when Jesus publicly confesses who He is: the Messiah, the Son of the living God. By Jesus’ assertion, the Sanhedrin didn’t need a false testimony, Jesus gave a true witness… that served their purpose to kill Him, and it served Jesus’ purpose to reveal Himself in His testimony and in His death.

The truth of Jesus’s statement culminates in events that lead to His death… but even more.

Matthew 26:57–66

57 Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had convened. 58 Peter was following him at a distance right to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and was sitting with the servants to see the outcome.

59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they could put him to death, 60 but they could not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. Finally, two who came forward 61 stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”

62 The high priest stood up and said to him, “Don’t you have an answer to what these men are testifying against you?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64 “You have said it,” Jesus told him. “But I tell you, in the future you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? See, now you’ve heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your decision?” They answered, “He deserves death!” (CSB)

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John 3:14-21 (EHV)

14 [Jesus said] “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. 19 This is the basis for the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 20 In fact, everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, or else his deeds would be exposed. 21 But the one who does what is true comes toward the light, in order that his deeds may be seen as having been done in connection with God.”

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John 3:16 is one of the most well known passages from the Bible. Over the last 50 years, however, it has become more a slogan than the heart of the Bible. Sadly “God” becomes generic, to be anything spiritual. Which means we could add this “god” to the pantheon of Shintoism with its millions of gods.

But this God in John 3:16 is different, unique. Perhaps in our exploration of that we will discover who this God is. Even more we will discover what His love is, how it is demonstrated. The more we immerse ourselves in the text, the more we comprehend how vast His love is. And specifically love for poor miserable sinners, like me, like you.

Believing this text will change our lives. And we need this constant reminder: God’s love is that overwhelming.

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 3

Continuation of prayers for the survivors and conquerors of the abuse by Larry Nazzar. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many including family members of those abused. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

Day 32 Amanda Thomashow  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, in Your mercy look upon Amanda, heal her heart, grant her peace, protect her from all that would challenge her well being. Raise up the right people to care for her. IJN Amen

Day 33 Victim 105  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Grant, Lord, Your mercy & comfort 2 Victim 105. While we do not know here name, You do. May her precious name be exalted with healing, love, compassion. Raise up people 2 speak love. IJN Amen

Day 34 Gwen Anderson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your mecy be evident to Gwen, especially on difficult days. Strengthen her for each task, guide her and comfort as she continues to move forward. We pray for her family. IJN Amen

Day 35 Amanda Barterian  PrayerSurvivorsConquerors We pray for Amanda today and all her special needs. If hurt, grant healing, if discouragement then hope. Enable her family to continue to support her as they too move forward. IJN. Amen

Day 36 Jaime Doski #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bring to Jaime Your unending love & mercy. Strengthen, comfort, & lead her each day to grow in her trust in You & her capacity to love others. Use her mightily in years ahead. IJN. Amen

Day 37 Jenelle Moul #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of love & mercy, grant Janelle Your protection, hope in midst of darkness, comfort on most challenging days. You know her needs, desire. IAW You wisdom grant all she needs/ IJN. Amen

Day 38 Madeliene Jones #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we stop & take time to remember Madeleine & her needs. Raise up the right people to speak to her words of hope, love, & encouragement. In challenges grant her strength. IJN Amen

Day 39 Kayla Spicer #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, Your special promises in Ps. 91:14-16 for those battling great challenges. May these promises help, uplift, & encourage Kayla each day. Grant her peace, strength, & love. IJN Amen

Day 40 Jennifer Hayes  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look with favor upon Jennifer as she deals with all that has happened. Give her peace of mind, strength, and courage to move forward. Heal her heart and empower her. IJN Amen

Day 41 Nicole Walker  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the pain & agony Nicole has experienced. Bring healing to her heart. Raise up people to show her love, kindness, compassion. Strengthen her daily to move forward. IJN Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

The Sultan’s Seal-Book Review


Unusual book for me to read. Yet, that was part of the appeal. If it is an accurate depiction of life in Istanbul in 1880s, then it opens the reader to a new understanding of relationships between British and other nationalities as well as Islam.

It was a slow read for me, not the result of the author, but my condition. Nevertheless I was interested in the plot. It seemed like all the details of “resolving” the main issues happened in last 20 pages. Almost like “it’s late and we have to finish.”

In total, a good read for me. Might not appeal to everyone, but glad I finished it. Look forward to her follow-on novel (not historically chronological).

 

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 2

Continuation of earlier this month. It’s easy for us to let slip the horror done and how that has affected so many. These prayers can help us remember those who endured and lived in light of the consequences of the actions of one man, the inactions of several people, and the indifference at best of organizations.

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Day 20 Melissa Imrie #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord of life & love, may You sustain Melissa day by day. Bring healing to her mind, heart, & soul. Bless her family as they too need help. Strengthen her this day of her new life. IJN. Amen.

Day 21 Victim 125 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, you know hurts, agony, need for stability 4 Victim 125. Today bless her, comfort her in dark times, raise up people to walk w/her, to bring Your words of love & hope. IJN Amen.

Day 22  Megan Halicek #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we lift up Megan as she continues to live in aftermath of the abuse. Grant her nights of rest, & comfort her in the midst fears, uncertainty. Surround her w/people of love. IJN. Amen.

Day 23  Victim 48 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, bless and protect this woman. Reassure her of Your love and grace. Embrace her with people who know You and love her. Whatever her needs, may You meet them thru Jesus

Day 24  Katelyn Skrabis #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor upon Katelyn in her needs today. We thank You for those who have walked beside her, support her. Continue to bring wholeness and strength to her. IJN. Amen

Day 25  Brianne Randall #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. Be present w/Brianne in whatever her needs. Comfort, strengthen, & encourage her. Bring healing to her heart. IJN. Amen.

Prayer for Jules: Lord God, You know all that she has faced,
You have strengthened her in midst of much opposition.
Grant that Your Spirit would fill her heart so that she
demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit in all circumstances.
Her story is not “her truth” rather “the truth.” Protect her heart,
give her wisdom and courage to speak that truth. IJN. Amen.

Day 26  Victim 2 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, once again we come to You in behalf of this victim. Heal her pain, grant her nights of rest and peace in the midst of the turmoil. Bless her family as well as they continue to care for her. IJN. Amen.

Day 27 Anna Ludes #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Dear God, we lift up to Your throne of mercy Anna. You know her heart, agony, sorrow, also new life moving forward. Give her joy in life. Strengthen, comfort, and love her. IJN Amen

Day 28  Lindsey Schuett #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we entrust Lindsey to Your loving/healing care. In depths of hurt, bring soothing care. Remind her of constant love in Jesus. Bless Lindsey & her family as they mend. IJN. Amen

Day 29  Maggie Nichols #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the needs of Maggie. Not only meet them, but raise up people who can minister to her & care for her. In times of difficulty, loneliness, may You be her Rock. IJN. Amen

Day 30  Tiffany Thomas Lopez #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Our God, grant Your healing, comforting presence for Tiffany today and each day. Where the hurts are deep, bring the soothing salve of Your love and grace. Be her Rock IJN. Amen

Day 31 Jeanette Antolin  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, grant Your mercy upon Jeanette as continues to build her life. Strengthen her in the midst of weakness, comfort her in the dark days, love her continually. IJN. Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Places of the Passion Pt 1

The Upper Room

During our midweek Lenten services we will take a look at five places connected to Jesus’ death. Each place will expose us to the people involved in Jesus’ death. We will see people taking actions that reveal that they are not only witnesses but accomplices in Jesus’ death.

Our first look  tonight will be at the upper room. The upper room is a place for intimacy, a gathering familiar and cherished by Jews. The Passover celebration was not a private event, but a family and friend oriented event.

In the midst of this, Jesus addresses two items of critical interest: 1) the identify of his betrayer, sin exposed, and 2) the institution of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness of sins.

As we explore tonight we begin our walk to the cross. Like the disciples we ask “Is it I, Lord.” As we examine our hearts, we, too, will see our own sin—confessing during the service. And the solution is the forgiveness that Jesus earns for us and He gives to us through the Word, through Baptism, and especially tonight, the Lord’s Supper. We cherish the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper for the forgiveness we desperately need and want.

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17  Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

18 And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

20 Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” 22 Being deeply grieved, they 1each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24“The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” 25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:17-29 NAS)

Unbelievable Sacrifice

The first liturgical reading for the 1st Sunday in Lent is challenging in light of the events of this past week. In Genesis 12:1-3 and 15:1-6 God had given great promises to Abram [name changed to Abraham in Gen. 17] about having a son, even in advanced age for himself and his wife Sarai.

After this son, Isaac, is born (Gen. 21), God asks him to do the unthinkable. Note specifically how God addresses Abraham:  “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” Abraham follows through with God’s instruction. But God stops him before the sacrifice of his son is done. God addresses him in the same way as v. 2: “you did not refuse to give me your son, your only son” (v. 12). God provides a ram instead for the sacrifice.

What God did not allow Abraham to complete, God eventually does. He offers His Son as the perfect sacrifice.

10 Yet, it was the LORD’s will to crush him with suffering. When the LORD has made his life a sacrifice for our wrongdoings, he will see his descendants for many days. The will of the LORD will succeed through him. 11 He will see and be satisfied because of his suffering. My righteous servant will acquit many people because of what he has learned ⌝through suffering⌟. He will carry their sins as a burden. (Isaiah 53:10-11)

The Gospel reading for Feb. 4 (Transfiguration, Mark 9:2-9) occurs in the middle of Jesus’ earthly ministry, emphasizes this sonship (and love) of Jesus again.

Then a cloud overshadowed them. A voice came out of the cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Note the prelude to that sacrifice in Mark 1:9-15 when Jesus is baptized (Gospel reading for this Sunday).  “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you” (v. 11).

And then the final piece of the sacrifice comes in Mark 15:34.

At three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

The beloved Son is now the rejected Son, abandoned even by His very own Father in heaven. By doing so, Jesus carried the sins, not just sticks of wood to the mountain (i.e. Isaac), but with His own suffering and death. After His resurrection from the dead, God’s approval and love is complete—Jesus perfectly fulfilled God’s plan of saving sinners.

This is true because Christ suffered for our sins once. He was an innocent person, but he suffered for guilty people so that he could bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

When we believe Jesus is our Savior, then God has some wonderful words for us to hear and remember.

Before the Passover festival, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go back to the Father. Jesus loved his own who were in the world, and he loved them to the end. (John 13:1)

Don’t love money. Be happy with what you have because God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

God our Father loved us and by his kindness [grace] gave us everlasting encouragement and good hope. (2 Thessalonians 2:16)

Especially pertinent in light of the agony and affliction many have experienced recently, Paul writes about the significance of God’s love.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35 NAS)

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 NAS)

May this love be yours in Jesus Christ. May you live in light of that love, hope, and encouragement.

An unbelievable sacrifice through Jesus becomes the believable sacrifice for us, for salvation from sin, for new life, for cleansed conscience, and the promise of eternal life, with no pain, sorrow, loss, death, or tears.

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Genesis 22:1–18 (GW)

1 Later God tested Abraham and called to him, “Abraham!”
“Yes, here I am!” he answered.
2 God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place that God had told him about.  4 Two days later Abraham saw the place in the distance.  5 Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go over there. We’ll worship. After that we’ll come back to you.”

6 Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to his son Isaac. Abraham carried the burning coals and the knife. The two of them went on together.
Isaac spoke up and said, “Father?”
“Yes, Son?” Abraham answered.
Isaac asked, “We have the burning coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God will provide a lamb for the burnt offering, Son.”

The two of them went on together.
9 When they came to the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied up his son Isaac and laid him on top of the wood on the altar. 10 Next, Abraham picked up the knife and took it in his hand to sacrifice his son.

11 But the Messenger of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes?” he answered.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you did not refuse to give me your son, your only son.”

13 When Abraham looked around, he saw a ram behind him caught by its horns in a bush. So Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named that place The LORD Will Provide. It is still said today, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”

15 Then the Messenger of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I am taking an oath on my own name, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not refused to give me your son, your only son, 17 I will certainly bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of their enemies’ cities. 18 Through your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”