Body and Blood—”given and shed for you”

Palm Sunday follow up

Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday caused quite a stir.  Many were involved in proclaiming the praises due to Jesus. “Hosanna. loud Hosanna!” “Come, save us!” was their declaration. But are they ready for that salvation?

In the three days since then, Jesus teaches the people in the temple area. He confronts the religious leaders with parables. Instead of making a coalition with the leaders, Jesus demonstrates how far they have drifted from God’s intention. More broadly, He shows how much the entire people of Israel have lived, not as the people of God, but as whiny spoiled children who demand that God start working for them— constant refrain from the time of Moses leading them in the wilderness 1500 years prior.

But now it is Thursday, the passover celebration. Unlike other major festivals among the Jews, the Passover was not connected to the temple and the sacrifices. Rather it was a family festival, remembering God’s deliverance from Egypt. The night is not hurried, it is not time to prepare to escape at any moment. Passover had become a time of relaxing, retelling the story of the Exodus, in a night of lavish eating, joy, rejoicing in their life as God’s people.

The New Family

Earlier in the Gospel accounts we find a realigning of family:

Then his mother and his brothers arrived. While they were standing outside, they sent word to Jesus, calling for him. A crowd was
sitting around him. They began to tell him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you.”

He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” He looked at those who sat around him in a circle and he said, “Look, my mother and my brothers! (Mark 3:31-34 EHV)

That finds fulfillment tonight at the Passover meal. Jesus joins His disciples, not His family. The new identity of family is established—those who believe in Him are the family of God. That means these disciples have to relearn what relationships are like.

Servanthood in the Family

Earlier and even that night, they want to know the pecking order in this new community. “Let me sit on your right” and “Let me sit on Your left” become the questions. Instead, in John’s Gospel we read:

 He got up from the supper and laid aside his outer garment. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:4-5 EHV)

Jesus takes on the form of a servant, the lowest servant who washes the feet.

After Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer garment, he reclined at the table again. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. (John 13:12 EHV)

It takes them a while before they put all this together. For tonight they have a lot to digest.

Lord’s Supper

But since Jesus knows that they are all sinners, He will do two things about that. Tomorrow He will die for their sins and the sins of the whole world. We will revisit tomorrow. But for now, Jesus takes the family meal of Passover and makes it a life-giving meal for sinners. Each of them will sin before the night is over. Each of them will experience the affects of sin in their lives: guilt, shame, fear, blame, etc. One will betray Him, another will deny Him, and all of them will flee in His greatest need.

So tonight Jesus changes the Passover meal with these words:

He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the supper, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is
being poured out for you. (Lk 22:19-20 EHV)

Instead of being a remembrance of a past event (Exodus) now in the Lord’s Supper Jesus Himself be present with His body and blood—for the forgiveness of sins, cleansing of conscience, taking away guilt, shame, fear.

Tonight we celebrate not the Exodus event, but Jesus serving us in the best way possible, giving us His body and blood. Thus through that we have the greater deliverance: from sin, death, and the devil.

Now what?

We leave here not with an uncertainty like those disciples around Jesus. We know what happened, that the disciples run away afraid. But we know that Jesus fulfills all things written about Him. He dies, yes. He also rises from the dead. And His victory becomes our victory by faith in Him including what He did for us.

We leave tonight anticipating the events coming, but with faith and hope—not fear and failure. We are sisters and brothers of Christ. And we give thanks to God, family of God!

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Away from the crowds

The Crowds

How do you respond to the crowd? For some (usually extroverts) crowds can be an important part of recharging themselves. For others (usually introverts, which I am), crowds are okay, but then there is a need to withdraw. For such people, recharging comes away from the crowds.

As we look at Jesus’ ministry, we discover something interesting. He would withdraw from the crowds. But something more happened.

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, (Matt. 12:15)

Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. (Matt. 14:13)

So despite Jesus withdrawing from the people the people would not withdraw from Him. Amazingly, Jesus continues to care for them, healing, teaching, comforting them.

Palm Sunday: The crowds

Palm Sunday in one way is the peak of Jesus’ popularity. The crowds greet His arrival in Jerusalem as the new king, much in anticipation of the new David, King. Matthew noted the Old Testament prophecy related to preparation for His entry into Jerusalem.

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
 Behold, your King comes to you, Humble, and riding on a donkey, On a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  (Matt. 21:5)

The actions and words of the crowd reflect this anticipation of someone great, like a new King.

A very great multitude spread their clothes on the road. Others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road.  The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:8–9)

And the crowd begins to put the pieces together.

When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  The multitudes said, “This is the prophet, Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:10-1)

Post Entry to Jerusalem

The attention to Jesus doesn’t end there. Jesus goes into the temple area and causes quite a stir.

Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money-changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!” (Matt. 21:12-13)

On the one hand, the Jewish leaders are very concerned about this agitation of their little kingdom. On the other hand, Jesus is very concerned about the agitation caused by changing and defiling the temple and God’s work through it. Not only that, but Jesus heals many in the crowds (Matt. 21:14-15).

Jesus continues His ministry to the crowds

In the rest of Matthew 21, we see Jesus continuing what He had been doing in previous years: teaching the people (crowds), healing them, while also confronting the Jewish leaders.

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his illustrations, they knew that he was talking about them. They wanted to arrest him but were afraid of the crowds, who thought he was a prophet. (Matt. 21:45–46)

The crowds still follow Him, listen to His teachings, and receive His healing gifts. Jesus is doing what His Father had sent Him to do.

His crowd ministry never stops

The reality is that Jesus came into this world —for the crowds, even the enemies within the crowds. While needs time to be alone with His disciples, he never fully withdraws from the people. He knows their concerns, their hurts, they challenges, and their brokenness.

He continues to live out His ministry in fulfillment of Psalm 34:17-18:

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit.

So we see that Jesus has much to do. In the days following His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His crowd work will dramatically change focus on Maundy Thursday. He will begin the care for His followers of the future.

 

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 4

Continuation of prayers for the survivors and conquerors of the abuse by Larry Nassar. 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.

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Day 42 Victim 75  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, even tho her name is not public, You know Victim 75 & all her needs. Whatever her needs, raise up people to care for her & her family. Strengthen her even now. IJN Amen

Day 43 Chelsea Williams  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors God You know the hearts of everyone. You know the hurts that Chelsea has endured, You know her needs. Guide people to her that can strengthen and encourage her. Guard her heart. IJN Amen

Day 44 Stephanie Robinson  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, we pray for Stephanie today. May You guide and help her in anyway, bring clarity to issues she faces. Heal her body and soul, guard her heart in the aftermath. IJN Amen

Day 45 Carrie Hogan  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving Lord, Jesus, we pray for Carrie in all her needs. Take away fears, uncertainty, & may her confidence be in You. Bless Carrie & her family with wholeness, strength, & comfort; IJN Amen

Day 46 Helena Wick  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Your mercies are new every morning, Lord. May that especially be seen by Helena this day. Whatever challenges she faces may You be her Rock, her strength, her Comforter. IJN Amen

Day 47 Victim 28  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, for Victim 28, You know her pain, her challenges. Grant her Your peace that passes all understanding. Strengthen and comfort her each day. Dry her tears, sustain her always. IJN Amen

Day 48 Victim 10 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors: We lift up to Your throne of mercy Victim 10. Grant her peace and healing each day. Protect her spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally. Look with favor upon her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 49 Jamie Dantzscher  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Merciful God, may Your presence & grace daily reassure & strengthen Jamie. Grant that each step forward means necessary resources and people will help her and her family. IJN Amen

Day 50 McKayla Maroney  #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we give You thanks for McKayla. Bring complete healing for her emotionally, mentally, & physically. Whatever her needs, raise up people who can care for & encourage her. IJN Amen

Day 51 Lindsey Lemke #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the trials that Lindsey has faced and still faces. Bring healing to her body, mind, and soul. Sustain her w/Your everlasting love and people who love her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 52 Nicole Reeb #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Dear God, We give thanks to You that Nicole is special in Your sight. Grant healing & blessing in all she does. Surround her w/people of love and compassion. Guide her daily. IJN Amen

Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

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)

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 Nassar. 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).