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Good for the Worst

God Almighty, Lord of Heaven & Earth, God-Who-Sees, God-Who-Provides, Judge & Counselor, our sinful lays before You revealed, nothing is hidden, everything is known to You. The darkest corners of our hearts & the false impressions we put on to impress others are exposed for what they are in Your sight. There are no secrets we can keep from You, nowhere we can run or hide from Your gaze. You know our going in & our coming out, our lying down & our rising up again. Grant us this mercy today, remind us of Your best, the good You have provided because of our worst. Let us see You & be reminded of our own condition in the light of Your glory. Let us remember today, pace ourselves with the footsteps of Jesus along the Way of Suffering & the Hill of the Skull. May we be present there today & turn our hearts heavenward. Remind us, sweet Jesus, of Your love, mercy & grace over us. Forgive us our deep failings, every one & restore our hearts with Your blood & Spirit. We pray this in the power of Your precious Name, Jesus, amen.

Read slowly.
Close Your eyes & imagine at the paragraph breaks.
Be present, an observer in the crowd today.
Walk through today aware of what He did for you as your day progresses.

Luke 22:54-23:56

(Friday, Early Morning)
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.
And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”  And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”  And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”  And he went out and wept bitterly.

 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”  And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer.  But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”  So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.”  Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

(Friday, Morning)
Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.
  And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”  And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”  Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”  But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.”

 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”  A third time he said to them, “Why? What evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’  For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

(Friday, About 9am)
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

(Friday, noon)
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,
while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

(Friday, 3pm)
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man,
who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
(Friday, ~6pm)

Remember.

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Mark 15:33-41 // It is finished

“33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “Look, He’s calling for Elijah!” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, offered Him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down!”

37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last. 38 Then the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who was standing opposite Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “This man really was God’s Son!”

40 There were also women looking on from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they would follow Him and help Him. Many other women had come up with Him to Jerusalem.”

Mark 15:33-41

There were many witnesses to the death of Jesus. The city was buzzing at fever pitch because of the holiday of Passover, the occupying Roman force was undoubtedly doubled for the occasion. Vendors and merchants from all around surely filled every nook and cranny where they could set up shops and stalls to feed the needs and wants of the thronging crowds. If you’ve ever been to a supermarket the morning of  holiday, or out shopping the day before Christmas, you know what chaos these situations bring. Add in the fact that executions like this were done in high-traffic areas to stand as an example to others, mixed in with the morbid fascination of the dawdler and on-looker, and you find a very visible and public death happening here for our Master. 

There couldn’t have been a busier day for this to happen. God had designed this moment, He had perfectly plotted out the timing. This highly visible moment of excruiating pain was in no way accidental or coincidental. God chose to finish things in this way, with maximum effectiveness. 

Visitors to Jerusalem would be here for days and experience the full measure of the situation. They would all know about the executions, they would all hear about the oddity of a tomb being guarded and they would hear from the apostles and others about this now vacant tomb in the days that followed. Three hours of darkness at midday are hard to ignore. The story of Jesus would have been thick in their air, and it would travel home with them wherever they were going. 

 God made this finishing stroke happen in a way that would not be quickly or easily denied. Those looking to ritual in the temple, instead of to the sacrifice that God offered on Calvary, could not ignore the impossible tearing of the curtain and the exposure of the Holy of Holies. They couldn’t ignore the earthquake or the darkness. God was speaking through the blood of His own sacrificial Lamb, and He would have their attention. 
This finishing move, His checkmate on death and sin, would get full press. 

And Jesus, faithful in every way, would continue in His pain to fulfill Scripture. Quoting the prophetic Psalm 22, receiving the vinegar wine, and yelling out the victorious statement that completed the whole, Jesus pointed faithfully to the Father, fulfilling His labors and then gave up His Spirit. In His moment of death, He provided a witness that even a Roman solider couldn’t deny, truly He was God’s Son. 

His life, ministry and witness to God’s glory inspired this group of women to faithfulness, along with the Apostle John, to stand and keep watch over Him and to mourn His suffering at the cruel hands of the Romans and the cruel hearts of the Jewish leaders. 

As we remember what Jesus di, we cannot forget that God did everything to make sure people would know the extent of His love. As we GoLove, then, in His Name, we must be sure to be just as visible, just as open and just as vocal about what He has done so that all eyes, hearts and minds are drawn to Him. The work of Christ was finished on the cross, but the work of the empty tomb is not finished until He returns and completes His victory. 

We do not rest until that moment. 

Mark 15:21-32 // Challenging Him to do what He was already doing

“21 They forced a man coming in from the country, who was passing by, to carry Jesus cross. He was Simon, a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 And they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means Skull Place). 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh, but He did not take it. 

24 Then they crucified Him and divided His clothes, casting lots for them to decide what each would get. 25 Now it was nine in the morning when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge written against Him was:

THE KING OF THE JEWS.

27 They crucified two criminals with Him, one on His right and one on His left. [28 So the Scripture was fulfilled that says: And He was counted among outlaws.] 29 Those who passed by were yelling insults at Him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Ha! The One who would demolish the sanctuary and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 31 In the same way, the chief priests with the scribes were mocking Him to one another and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!” 32 “Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.” Even those who were crucified with Him were taunting Him.”

Mark 15:21-32 

— 

Two taunts from the crowd that day are recorded here. Both spoken in ignorance that He was actively engaged with doing the things they were challenging Him to do! 

First, 

“Ha! The One who would demolish the sanctuary and build it in three days, save Yourself by coming down from the cross!” 
When Jesus spoke about destroying and rebuilding the temple in three days, we as Christians know that He was plainly referencing His own body. He was actively engaged in that exercise, having been flight, beaten, punched, punctured and crucified. Those mocking couldn’t see this, of course, because of their own anger and hatred of Him. They had convinced themselves He had threatened their physical building when in reality He had been prophesying about this exact event. The darkness of their hearts and the infatuations of their minds and egoes kept them from ever really hearing and understanding Him. 

The second point of mockery is a two parter. 

“He saved others; He cannot save Himself!! Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe.”

He was in the process of saving, as they mocked Him for it and His remaining on the cross is the only thing that could make it possible. Also, what they asked for Him to do, sarcastically, is what inspires belief today for us all. 

Again, for the Christian, neither of these two points of ridicule are new news, nor is the ignorance of the religious leaders. These two examples are fairly elementary in the understanding of our faith, but they are crucial at the same time. 

Jesus plainly said that the people crucifying Him didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t understand, either because they were just Romans doing their jobs or because their hearts were so hard. When you and I sin, we are playing part in Christ’s crucifixion, too, but our hearts and minds typically do not register this fact. It’s difficult to think about and painful to realize. Again, either from a lack of understanding or from a hardness of heart. 

We need to ask God to use His Holy Spirit to open our eyes to ourselves. That we would see the points where we are calloused, and identify the areas where we wear blinders against out own faults. We need to be conscious of our failings and ready to forgive others of theirs. None of us is any better than another, but the gift of Christ crucified is what brings us healing and restoration. 

If we are going to GoLove others, we need to teach them about the reality of sin and the reality of Christ’s gift of mercy and grace. We need to teach them to receive Him into their hearts and minds so that they can be renewed by Him and baptized into a new life with new perspective that begins and ends with Him. Teach the elementary things so they understand just what He has done for them, and then live it out in your own life. 



Mark 14:12-16 // Jesus is prepared to meet with you

“12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrifice the Passover lamb, His disciples asked Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare the Passover so You may eat it?”

13 So He sent two of His disciples and told them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, ‘Where is the guest room for Me to eat the Passover with My disciples?’ 15 He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.’ 16 So the disciples went out, entered the city, and found it just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover.”

Mark 14:12-16

— 

This preparation, in addition to the colt for the Triumphal Entry, reveal to us that Jesus has already made all the preparations necessary for us to come and meet with Him. There is still work for us to do, but He has prepared and provided before we even think to begin. Just like the disciples simply had to acknowledge their desire to prepare the Passover meal, we need to come straight to Jesus and acknowledge our desire to be near Him. 

We like to make this overly complicated or make excuses why we don’t have time, but Jesus stands before us, time and place already secured, opportunity for communion close at hand. We have to make the effort to go there, and we should prepare for that meeting, but there should be no question over whether or or we do this. 

As a Christian, our first desire should be for Christ. We should desire to grow with Him, to grow in Him and to seek out maturity. He should be our passion, our longing. Jesus Christ should be the cry of our hearts! 

If we are ‘too busy’ for Jesus, we should pray that the Father disciplines us, prunes us, so that our hearts and attitudes are corrected. I cannot imagine Jesus telling me that He was too busy to meet with me, that He just had too much on His plate. What a sad state of affairs that would be for all of us. But Christ showed His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, He took the time to die for us. He created the hill He would walk up, the will of the Father spawned the tree that would hold His body, the cow from whose hide the leather flagellum would be made and the stone and iron whipping post where His back would be laid open. If God took the time to prepare the sacrifice, His Son, surely we can carve out time to meet with Him daily. 

As we GoLove others in His Name, people should see the place of priority that Christ holds in our life. Not because we are acting pious and obvious to draw attention to ourselves, but because our days and nights contain so much of the reality of Christ’s presence that we cannot deny Him these daily, sacred moments. Our dedication speaks to His dedication, our devotion to His, of course His example far overshadows our own.

1 John 4 // Love when it’s difficult

“17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.

20 If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.”
1 John 4:17-21

I can’t help but wonder if John was remembering the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5 when He was writing this passage. It’s easy to love people who love us back, and it’s easy to be angry with those who do not. But that isn’t the love that we have been called to live in and share. Jesus said this,

Matthew 5:43-48
“43 You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Dont even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Dont even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

We cannot claim to love God, yet show hatred for others. We cannot claim to live in His love, and hold disdain in our hearts for another human being. We have been freed from petty, competitive emotional states, we have been given insight into what really matters in life, and we have been given a portion of the heart of God when it comes to how we see others. We are called to a perfect, unconditional love. A love that does not require that we be loved back, a love that still loves even when we are pushed against, ridiculed and mocked. The same love that compelled Christ to remain on the cross, to endure hardship and scorn is the love that we are to carry with us as we walk through this life. And we cannot walk in His love and hold hatred in our heart for another human being.

We don’t have to agree with them or condone their activities or lifestyles, but we do need to love them as Christ does. It’s easy to love people who love us back, but to show love to others who show us nothing but disregard? That is humanly impossible, our pride gets in the way. But in Christ, in the love that He first loved us with? In that love we can also love those who persecute us, revile us and seek our distruction, just as Jesus did. In Christ, we can love those who are misguided, like the rich young ruler. In Christ, we can love and forgive, like Jesus did those who crucified Him. And if Jesus can love us, who rebel and sin against Him, disregarding His sacrifice for selfish personal gain, then we can love those who wrong us as well.

God’s love is so much higher than any cheap imitation of love that we can muster. His love is perfect in every way. So when John, the Holy Spirit speaking through him, says to be perfect in our love, we know he is imply echoing the words of Jesus who told us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We must rely on Him to love like this through us with that same love that He first showed us. This is how we are to GoLove the world, not in our strength or power, but in His alone, and not just when it is easy, but all the time. This is love.

A Psalm of hope in trouble // Psalm 31

Even when we struggle and problems abound, our God is faithful.
He gives us hope even in our deepest distress.

“In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.

Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.

Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm, “I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord!”
Psalm‬ ‭31‬:‭1-24‬ ESV

The Messiah suffers, a prophetic psalm for our assurance // Psalm 22

Centuries before crucifixion was developed, David, by the Spirit, prophesied that the Messiah would suffer this way. Jesus, while on the cross experiences what David sings here and cries out in the words from verse one.

Today, we remember Hs suffering and the grace that comes through it. It is in His brokenness that we are made whole. Our sins are atoned for through the blood that would flow from His body, and the guilt of our hearts diverted to His. He has suffered for us. He has carried my pain and sin and guilt.
Amen & Amen.
He is worthy to be praised!

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me;
they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass 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 strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.”
Psalm 22:1-31 ESV

Good Friday and silence // Luke 23

“And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.

And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
Luke 23:50, 51, 53-56 NASB

Emotionally, the disciples needed a sabbath. As much as they had been through in the past 24 hours, their hearts were shattered. Minds numb, bodies exhausted from crying, they sat around in different corners of the room doing what all of us do when we mourn. They cried. They stated blankly at the wall. They tried to remember through the events and sift for clues to see what they could have done differently. They blamed themselves, they blamed others. They especially blamed Judas.

But for all their talk and ‘what if’s’ they still weren’t listening to the words Jesus had spoken to them.

Sure, they remembered His claims that He would be handed over and executed, but that never seemed right. Maybe He was just being dramatic or speaking in metaphors again. But it really happened. He was dead. Wrapped up, sealed away in the ground. Dead.

He had been the One to disrupt funerals and raise the dead. But never anything like this…

••••••••
‘I guess I get my boat out of dry dock and start fishing again.’

‘Maybe I can start back at the tax office.’

‘I hope my father-in-law has a job for me.’
••••••••

Friday night turns into Saturday morning and someone finally realizes they haven’t eaten since the Passover meal. Not really hungry, but not knowing what else to do, they share some matzah and cold lamb. They weren’t supposed to leave any of it after the meal, but Jesus didn’t even drink the fourth cup, they never finished the Seder…

•••••••
‘I guess we jut wait until the coast is clear and we all head home.’

‘Yeah, whatever “home” means now…’

‘I know, nothing’s ever going to feel right anymore.’
•••••••

And so they waited.
And we wait, too.

As Dr. Campolo is famous for saying (among other things),
“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”

Always, totally and completely in control // Matthew 27

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.” – Matthew 27:50 NIV

Swept over fresh with shivers and remorse this morning, I read through the account of the crucifixion of my Lord & Master. Visions and images flashing through my mind as I read of what it all must have looked and sounded like, these passages in the four gospels always take the full attention of my mind. It’s not Mel Gibson’s Jesus, it’s not Hollywood actors and expensive camera shots. It’s gritty reality, pain I’ve seen on the faces of people I know when they come to me with the great “WHY?!”‘s of life.
The destruction of families, of lives, deaths of newborns and beloved grandparents that suffered for decades before the sweet release of death came. The tangible pain on a parent’s face when their prodigal child has come home just to wander away again weeks after victory had been celebrated.

All these pains. All these disappointments. All these broken and wounded hearts follow my mind’s eye to Calvary.

And there, with every pounding of the hammer, with every nail through the flesh of my King, with every cry of agony He lets out, their pains, my pains are all solidly and irrevocably placed with Him…no, on Him on that rough, Roman cross.

And for every ‘why’ ever asked of me, and every ‘why’ that I have ever asked is met with its answer and its solution. The answer is sin. Our world is broken, and like a fracture, sometimes thin, sometimes open and crumbling, running around an exquisite piece of ancient pottery, and the effects touch everything. Sin, pride and death right behind them have wreaked havoc in the hearts and lives of billions, and there is only one solution to the pain of billions.

One man. One God-man, Jesus Christ.
For every hurt, sin and sorrow, He bore the punishment.
For every human being who would call Him Lord, He paid the price.
Some will die in their sin. And it breaks my heart.
Others will come to Christ, surrendering their pride to grace, their sin for salvation and the anguishing cries of “WHY?!” are met with a loving embrace and a strong shoulder meant for comfort.

There on the cross that He took up, that He walked with and that He laid down on to be crucified, He bore our sins and He cried out and He gave up His spirit hours later when He knew it had all been completed. He did it purposefully, intentionally and undeniably out of love.

And today, on Good Friday, we remember.
Today, we mourn our sin & thank our Redeemer.
Today of all days we remember why it is so important to GoLove as we have been loved.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

orchestration…

(unmarked journal entry – presumably matthew 27)

so many components…

physical action teamed up with attitudes, emotions and thoughts, all as an answer to Scripture long laid out before hand. there were no coincidences when it came to Jesus’ death. nothing that happened was ‘sort of’ what was supposed to happen. it was a very complicated list things that would, that had to take part and be in certain places as a part of this ceremony of sorts.

it may not seem ceremonious, it looks like a cruel death. but God, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to carry this out in a very specific place & time with a particular cast of players.

organizing a large events with volunteers that want to do their jobs, knowingly, can be difficult enough sometimes. But, here we have such an assortment of disconnected people, that we must say that this must be God’s plan, because this course of events couldn’t have happened on their own, and we see Jesus steering certain elements that lead up to this terrible event. He, as the Son, is being obedient to the Word of the Father, which is a part of who He is in the first place…

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

i will never claim to understand the will and mind of God. i am grateful that He allows us, by His Spirit, to see little glimpses of His will and insights into the desire of His heart. but even then, we must trust that His ways have a higher purpose when we find ourselves in our own personal gardens of gethsemane. we must continue to pray alongside Jesus, ‘not my will Father, but Yours be done.’ because until we come to the day that the Lord returns, or takes us home, we will continue to struggle and be struggled against.

life is not an accident. life is not a series of unrelated events. there is purpose and meaning, we just need to peel back the surface, see past the garbage that the enemy has laid out before our eyes. he tries to obscure what was once beautiful and pure with ugly distractions and self serving motivations. and so, we must stay the course, day after day after day…because our time here, these struggles that we endure are temporary. Jesus knew that what He had to go through was going to be horrific, but it was still temporary.

we are never told that life is ever going to be easy. and rest assured, if you set your course with God, rough seas are coming up ahead. but it all works for His glory, and for the blessing of His children. stay the course. hold firmly to Him.

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