Archive for the ‘John 18’ Tag

Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Icon of the Crucifixion, by Andrei Rublev

Image in the Public Domain

Love and Active Goodness

APRIL 2, 2021

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-25

John 18:1-19:42

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Who is the servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12?  That has been a debated issue.  If one assumes that, as in earlier Servant Songs, the servant is the personification of the exiled nation of Israel (broadly speaking), the former Kingdom of Judah or at least the faithful remnant thereof, one must accept that the redemptive suffering during the Babylonian Exile was supposed to benefit Gentiles also.  The text certainly applies well to Jesus, who quoted the beginning of Psalm 22 from the cross.  That text, the prayer of one afflicted with a mortal illness, ends on a note of trust in God–certainly on a happy note, unlike Good Friday and the events thereof.

Focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus is proper on Good Friday.  As we do so may we ponder Hebrews 10:24, part of one of the pericopes:

We ought to see how each of us may arouse others to love and active goodness.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

That is a Christlike ethic!  “Love and active goodness” summarize Christ well.  “Love and active goodness” describe his self-sacrifice succinctly.  “Love and active goodness” summarize a faithful response to such selflessness and redemptive suffering.

Yet we frequently arouse each other to anger, usually for selfish purposes.  Anger is not necessarily bad, for we should be angry sometimes, as evidence of well-developed consciences.  Nevertheless, anger and expressions thereof are frequently destructive, not constructive.  This is certainly evident in media, social media, politics, and the comments sections of many websites.

Jesus has shown us a better way.  The long-dead author of the Letter to the Hebrews understood that better way well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PERCY DEARMER, ANGLICAN CANON AND TRANSLATOR AND AUTHOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT BONA OF PISA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC AND PILGRIM

THE FEAST OF JIRI TRANOVSKY, LUTHER OF THE SLAVS AND FOUNDER OF SLOVAK HYMNODY

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/love-and-active-goodness/

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Devotion for Palm Sunday (Year D)   1 comment

entry-into-jerusalem-giotto

Above:  Entry Into Jerusalem, by Giotto

Image in the Public Domain

The Sin of Religious Violence

MARCH 28, 2021

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 11:1-17 or Isaiah 43:8-15

Psalm 94 or 35

John 8:48-59

Romans 1:8-15 (16-17) 18-32; 2:1-11 or Galatians 6:1-6 (7-16) 17-18

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Accuse my accuser of Yahweh,

attack my attackers.

–Psalm 35:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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That verse summarizes much of Psalms 35 and 94.  The plea of the persecuted for God to smite their enemies, although understandable and predictable, but it is inconsistent with our Lord and Savior’s commandment to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5:43).  Sometimes divine smiting of evildoers is a necessary part of a rescue operation, for some persecutors refuse to repent.  Nevertheless, I suspect that God’s preference is that all people repent of their sins and amend their lives.

We read in Deuteronomy 11 (placed in the mouth of Moses long after his death) of the importance of following divine laws–or else.  Then, in Isaiah 43, set in the latter phase of the Babylonian Exile, which, according to the Biblical narrative, resulted from failure to obey that law code, we read of impending deliverance by God from enemies.  Both readings remind us of what God has done for the Hebrews out of grace.  Grace, although free, is never cheap, for it requires a faithful response to God.  We are free in God to serve God, not be slaves to sin.  We are free in God to live as vehicles of grace, not to indulge inappropriate appetites.  We are free in God to lay aside illusions of righteousness, to express our penitence, and to turn our backs on–to repent of–our sins.

This is a devotion for Palm Sunday.  We read in John 8 that some Jews at Jerusalem sought to stone Jesus as a blasphemer (verse 59).  I suppose that they thought they were acting in accordance with Leviticus 24:10-23.  Later in the Fourth Gospel (Chapters 18 and 19) certain religious authority figures are complicit in his death–as a scapegoat (11:47-53).

This desire to kill those who offend our religious sensibilities strongly is dangerous for everyone.  It is certainly perilous for those who suffer because of it.  Furthermore, such violence causes spiritual harm to those who commit it.  And what if one’s judgment is wrong?  One has committed a most serious offense before God.  This tendency toward religious violence exists in various traditions, has a shameful past and an inexcusable present reality, and does nothing inherently to glorify God.  In fact, it detracts from the glory of God.  That God can work through such abominations committed in His name testifies to divine sovereignty.  Exhibit A is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER, POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/the-sin-of-religious-violence/

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Devotion for Good Friday, Years A, B, and C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

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Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671

Love and Good Works

APRIL 2, 2021

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The Collects:

Almighty God, look with loving mercy on your family,

for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed,

to be given over to the hands of sinners,

and to suffer death on the cross;

who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

or

Merciful God, your Son was lifted up on the cross to draw all people to himself.

Grant that we who have been born out of his wounded side may at all times

find mercy in him, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 31

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The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Psalm 22

Hebrews 10:16-15 or Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

John 18:1-19:42

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer for Good Friday:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/prayer-for-good-friday/

Grant, Lord Jesus, That My Healing:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/grant-lord-jesus-that-my-healing/

To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/to-mock-your-reign-o-dearest-lord/

Throned Upon the Awful Tree:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/throned-upon-the-awful-tree/

How Can I Thank You?:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/how-can-i-thank-you/

O Christ, Who Called the Twelve:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/o-christ-who-called-the-twelve/

How Wide the Love of Christ:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/how-wide-the-love-of-christ/

Beneath the Cross of Jesus:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/beneath-the-cross-of-jesus/

Darkly Rose the Guilty Morning:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/darkly-rose-the-guilty-morning/

O Jesus, We Adore Thee:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/o-jesus-we-adore-thee/

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/o-sacred-head-now-wounded/

Stabat Mater:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/stabat-mater/

Ah, Holy Jesus, How Hast Thou Offended:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/ah-holy-jesus-how-hast-thou-offended/

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/when-i-survey-the-wondrous-cross/

My Song is Love Unknown:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/my-song-is-love-unknown/

In the Cross of Christ I Glory:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/in-the-cross-of-christ-i-glory/

Hymn of Promise:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/hymn-of-promise/

O Jesus, Youth of Nazareth:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/o-jesus-youth-of-nazareth-by-ferdinand-q-blanchard/

For the Cross:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/for-the-cross/

O Blessed Mother:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/o-blessed-mother/

O Word of Pity, for Our Pardon Pleading:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/o-word-of-pity-for-our-pardon-pleading/

Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/sing-my-tongue-the-glorious-battle/

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Psalm 22, which begins with

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,

and are so far from my salvation,

from the words of my distress?

O my God, I cry in the daytime,

but you do not answer;

and by night also, but I find no rest.

–Verses 1-2, Common Worship (2000)

ends in thanksgiving for what God has done.  This fact applies well to the Easter Triduum, but I choose not to pursue that line of thought further in this post, for to do so would be to get ahead of this day’s portion of the narrative.

Faithful people of God read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 for centuries before the crucifixion of Jesus.  As obvious as that statement might seem, it might also surprise some people accustomed to only one lens through which to interpret it.  So what about Jewish readings of the passage?  The servant of God could be the whole Israelite nation or just the pious minority thereof or a particular holy person, maybe Jeremiah.  All of these are possible.  The words also fit Jesus well.

I publish these words in the vicinity of Thanksiving Day (U.S.A.) 2013 and shortly before the beginning of the season of Advent.  I know that Christmas leads to Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  There is much occurring theologically in these assigned readings.  Among them are a condemnation of unjust violence and a reminder that God is more powerful than our hatred and fear.

It is well and good to salute Jesus, but that alone is insufficient.  We have no mere hero and martyr.  No, we have a Lord and Savior, whom we are supposed to follow.  He said to keep his commandments and to love each other as he loved his Apostles.  Fortunately, we have access to grace, or else accomplishing these goals would be impossible.

So may we heed the advice of Hebrews 10:24:

…and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works….

Revised Standard Version—Second Edition (1971)

If certain people had thought that way, they would not have sought to kill Jesus.

Following this ethic requires us to seek not affirmation of our opinions, doctrines, and social status, but that which is best for others.  Obeying our Lord and Savior—taking up a cross and following him—entails thinking more about others than about oneself.  This is difficult yet for the best overall.

Good Friday is a holy day for me.  The Episcopal Church’s liturgy for the day moves me deeply, doing what good ritual ought to do—take one out of daily routines and transport one into a different spiritual atmosphere.  Reading the assigned lessons has taken me only a short distance along that path, but that brief trip suffices for now.  The material is emotionally difficult.  It it is not, that fact might speak poorly of the reader.

May divine love fill your soul, O reader, and inspire you to love and good works.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY, SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/love-and-good-works/

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Fifteenth Day of Easter: Third Sunday of Easter, Year C   15 comments

Above:  A Shepherd with Sheep

Feeding God’s Sheep

MAY 5, 2019

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Acts 9:1-20 (Revised English Bible):

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and applied for letters to the synagogues at Damascus authorizing him to arrest any followers of the new way whom he found, men or women, and bring them to Jerusalem.  While he was still on the road and nearing Damascus, suddenly a light from the sky flashed all around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Tell me, Lord,

he said,

who you are.

The voice answered,

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.

Meanwhile the men who were traveling with him stood speechless; they heard the voice but could see no one.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could not see; they led by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  He was blind for three days, and took no food or drink.

There was in Damascus a disciple named Ananias.  He had a vision in which he heard the Lord say,

Ananias!

He answered,

Here I am, Lord.

The Lord said to him,

Go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.  You will find him at prayer; he has had a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to restore his sight.

Ananias answered,

Lord, I have often heard about this man and all the harm he has done your people in Jerusalem.  Now he is here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who invoke your name.

But the Lord replied,

You must go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before the nations and their kings, and before the people of Israel.  I myself will show him all that he must go through for my name’s sake.

So Ananias went and, on entering the house, laid his hands on him and said,

Saul, my brother, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me to you so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately it was if scales had fallen from his eyes, and he regained his sight.  He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten his strength returned.

He stayed some time with the disciples in Damascus.  Without delay he proclaimed Jesus publicly in the synagogues, declaring him to be the Son of God.

Psalm 30 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

 I will exalt you, O LORD,

because you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

 O LORD my God, I cried out to you,

and you restored me to health.

 You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;

you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

 Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;

give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

 For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,

his favor for a lifetime.

6 Weeping may spend the night,

but joy comes in the morning.

 While I felt secure, I said,

“I shall never be disturbed.

You,  LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”

 Then you hid my face,

and I was filled with terror.

 I cried to you, O LORD;

I pleaded with the LORD, saying,

10  “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?

will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11  Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;

O LORD, be my helper.”

12  You have turned my wailing into dancing;

you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13  Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;

O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Revelation 5:11-14 (Revised English Bible):

As I looked I heard, all round the throne of the living creatures and the elders, the voices of many angels, thousands on thousands, myriads on myriads.  They proclaimed with loud voices:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, wisdom and might, honour and glory and praise!

Then I heard all created things, in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, crying:

Praise and honour, glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever!

The four living creatures said,

Amen,

and the elders prostrated themselves in worship.

John 21:1-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them,

I am going fishing.

They said to him,

We will go with you.

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them,

Children, you have no fish, have you?

They answered him,

No.

He said to them,

Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.

So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter,

It is the Lord!

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them,

Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them,

Come and have breakfast.

Now none of the disciples dared to ask him,

Who are you?

because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,

Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?

He said to him,

Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

Jesus said to him,

Feed my lambs.

A second time he said to him,

Simon son of John, do you love me?

He said to him,

Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

Jesus said to him,

Tend my sheep.

He said to him the third time,

Simon son of John, do you love me?

Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time,

Do you love me?

And he said to him,

Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.

Jesus said to him,

Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.

(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him,

Follow me.

The Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-third-sunday-of-easter/

“Lord, What Wilt Thou Have Me to Do?” (Acts 9-6):

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/lord-what-wilt-thou-have-me-to-do-acts-9-6/

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Simon Peter had denied Jesus three times in John 18:15-18 and 25-27.  This fact caused him much grief; he was ashamed of himself.  The Resurrected Jesus gave him an opportunity to affirm him three times.  That was a gesture of grace.  And the standard of active love of Jesus was (and remains) to

Feed my lambs

and to

Tend my sheep.

It was Jesus, the worthy lamb of Revelation 5, who called Saul of Tarsus, a chief persecutor of the nascent Christian movement, to join that movement.  Saul, by persecuting Christians, had been doing the same to Jesus.  And Saul’s conversion proved to be one of the seminal events in Christian history, for his mission to the Gentiles revolutionized the shape of the faith.  Where would we be without the Pauline Epistles?  Where would I, a Gentile, be spiritually?  So, as one of my Lord’s sheep, I owe much to St. Paul the Apostle.

The sheep will eat only if someone feeds them.  Shepherds have fed me.  And I try to do my part.  Preparing then typing these lectionary-based devotional posts is one way I hope to feed other sheep.  To know that something I have done in solitude can help others feeds rewarding, not that I seek praise for this activity.  Yet it does encourage me to continue.  May you, O reader, feed sheep in the ways God directs you.  And may you have the necessary encouragement to persist, for the benefit of others and the glory of God.  The sheep need to eat.  May their diet be healthy and plentiful.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CLARA LUGER, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF ROLAND ALLEN, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/feeding-gods-sheep/

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Thirty-Ninth Day of Lent: Good Friday   40 comments

The Crucifixion, by Titian (1558)

April 2, 2021

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer

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Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Old Roman Chant for the Adoration of the Cross:   Domine audivi auditum tuum:

(Written down in the 600s C.E., so who knows how long people passed it down via oral tradition?)

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (New Revised Standard Version):

See, my servant shall prosper;

he shall be exalted and lifted up,

and shall be very high.

Just as there were many who were astonished at him

–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,

and his form beyond that of mortals–

so he shall startle many nations;

kings shall shut their mouths because of him;

for that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

Who has believed what we have heard?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by others;

a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;

and as one from whom others hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities

and carried our diseases;

yet we accounted him stricken,

struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the punishment that made us whole,

and by his bruises we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have all turned to our own way,

and the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he did not open his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that is before its shearers is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

By a perversion of justice he was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?

For he was cut off from the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people.

They made his grace with the wicked

and this tomb with the rich,

although he had done no violence

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will the LORD to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin,

he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;

through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light;

he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he poured out himself to death,

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.

Psalm 22:1-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,

enthroned on the praises of Israel.

In you our ancestors trusted;

they trusted, and you delivered them.

To you they cried, and were saved;

in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;

scorned by others, and despised by the people.

All who see me mock at me;

they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver–

let him rescue the one in whom he delights!

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;

you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

On you I was cast from my birth,

and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,

for trouble is near

and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,

strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

they open wide their mouths at me,

like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,

and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

it is melted within my breast;

my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;

a company of evildoers encircles me.

My hands and feet have shriveled,

I can count all my bones.

They stare and gloat over me;

they divide my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O LORD, do not be far away!

O my help, come quickly to my aid!

Deliver my soul from the sword,

my life from the power of the dog!

Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;

in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

Hebrews 10:1-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who approach.  Otherwise, would they not have ceased being offered, since the worshipers, cleansed once for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sin?  But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year.  For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body you have prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said,

See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”

(in the scroll of the book it is written of me.)

When he said above,

You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings”

(these are offered according to the law), then he added,

See, I have come to do your will.

He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.  And it is by God’s will that we have the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifice for sins.  But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God,

and since then has been waiting

until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord:

I will put my laws in their hearts,

and I will write them on their minds,

he also adds,

I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.

Where there is no forgiveness of these, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke to one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

John 18:1-19:37 (New Revised Standard Version):

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them,

Whom are you looking for?

They answered,

Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus replied,

I am he.

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them,

I am he,

they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them,

Whom are you looking for?

And they said,

Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus answered,

I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.

This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken,

I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,

Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter,

You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?

He said,

I am not.

Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered,

I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.

When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying,

Is that how you answer the high priest?

Jesus answered,

If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?

Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him,

You are not also one of his disciples, are you?

He denied it and said,

I am not.

One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked,

Did I not see you in the garden with him?

Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said,

What accusation do you bring against this man?

They answered,

If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.

Pilate said to them,

Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.

The Jews replied,

We are not permitted to put anyone to death.

(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him,

Are you the King of the Jews?

Jesus answered,

Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?

Pilate replied,

I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?

Jesus answered,

My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.

Pilate asked him,

So you are a king?

Jesus answered,

You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.

Pilate asked him,

What is truth?

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them,

I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?

They shouted in reply,

Not this man, but Barabbas!

Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying,

Hail, King of the Jews!

and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them,

Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them,

Here is the man!

When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted,

Crucify him! Crucify him!

Pilate said to them,

Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.

The Jews answered him,

We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus,

Where are you from?

But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him,

Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?

Jesus answered him,

You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.

From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out,

If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews,

Here is your King!

They cried out,

Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!

Pilate asked them,

Shall I crucify your King?

The chief priests answered,

We have no king but the emperor.

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read,

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,

Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’

Pilate answered,

What I have written I have written.

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another,

Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.

This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

They divided my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother,

Woman, here is your son.

Then he said to the disciple,

Here is your mother.

And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture),

I am thirsty.

A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said,

It is finished.

Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled,

None of his bones shall be broken.

And again another passage of scripture says,

They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Collect:

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

++++++++++++

This day I choose to focus not on the lengthy and moving Gospel reading, but on the Epistle.  God is love, Jesus commanded his Apostles to love another as he loved them.  Because of divine love the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate as Jesus and helped many people.  Because of his love and human wickedness Jesus went to his death.  And because of love Jesus rose again, demonstrated the superior power of God, and went on before us.  Because of love the surviving Apostles preached the Gospel and most gave their lives.  So I think about Hebrews 10:24:  “And let us consider how to provoke to one another to love and good deeds….”

Did not Jesus seek to provoke people to love and good deeds?  We who call ourselves Christians need to think about what that label means.  We who claim the name of Jesus should take up our cross(es) and follow him.  We ought to follow his example and keep his commandments, which entail love and good deeds.  We need to honor our Lord and Savior with our lives, not just our words.  This message is appropriate on any day, but especially on Good Friday.

Think about how much better the world would be if more of us spent our days thinking of ways to provoke each other to love and good deeds, then acting on these intentions.  Imagine how much respectful talk radio, news and opinion websites, and 24-hour news and opinion channels would be if love and good deeds were to displace shouting matches and pandering to base desires and pressures to indulge in infotainment, lies, and half-truths.  How many churches would become more Christlike if parishioners sought to encourage one another to love and good deeds instead of playing theological games of one upsmanship and arguing about trivial matters, such as the color of the carpet?  Alas, negativity and fluff attract huge audiences.  We humans are our own worst enemies.

Today and every other day may we reflect on the love God for us.  May this agape love inspire us to seek to love and respect each other as brothers and sisters in the divine household, via grace, of course.

KRT

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on March 26, 2010

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/provoking-one-another-to-love-and-good-deeds/