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)



new and pliable does not mix well with old and stiff…

i admit it. i have a selective few shirts that i still wear actively that i have now had for half my life (or longer.) I was goofing around with my wife a few months ago, while wearing one of these nostalgic, oh-so-comfy shirts and she grabbed me by my arm at the elbow, causing the fabric to just rip open. i was deeply saddened. years of my life spilled out onto the floor as i had flashbacks of where that shirt and i had been together. how many memories had been made, friends met for the first time (one even had the exact same shirt) and so on…like i said, i was deeply saddened.

fortunately my wife is quite the seamstress, and she promptly took my shirt to her operating room, gave it a new kidney, sealed up the hole. now my  mother always told me i was kind of a reverse snob when it comes to clothes. i hate wearing big brand labels on my clothing. if you ever see me in a shirt that has the tommy hillfiger flag emblazoned across the front, or the ecco rhino or anything like that, then i have been mugged and redressed in the process. i enjoy clothes with no labels, no billboards across my chest. i figure that if they’re going to put their logo on my body, they should pay me to wear the shirt.

but i digress…a lot. i loved that shirt, and since it has been repaired, i have worn it on an almost weekly basis. i don’t care that there is a patch job on the elbow. it’s proof that i was alive and doing something, not just sitting around like a lump.

sometimes new and pliable does not mix well with old and stiff. like a shirt on the verge of becoming threadbare, they just can’t take the pressure. in mark chapter 2, Jesus addresses our spiritual lives in the same way. he knows that if we try to take our old, stiff, worn out lives and attempt to make our new life with Him fit and fill in what we had before…things are not going to mesh well, and there will be a blow out.

doing a temporary fix on an old item or trying to re-use it for something new may not work out well, as it will not be able to stand the strain. sewing patches of unshrunk cloth on an old, favorite shirt will turn out bad, because the first time you wash it, the patch will shrink up and cause even more damage. the seams rip and pull, and the whole becomes more jagged and difficult to repair.

Jesus also talks about putting new wine into old wine skins. this is one area where “reduce, reuse, recycle” does not apply. during the fermentation process, there are gasses that are given off, and the wineskin needed to be able to stretch to adapt to this…thus the need for new wine skins. the old ones would have lost their elasticity, and just pop like an overfilled water balloon on a hot summer sidewalk. and then no one is happy…the wine is wasted, and whatever was nearby has no been rendered purple or red.

we cannot take our old lives, our old selves, and try to jam Jesus in the cracks, crevices and odd spot to make Him fit. Jesus offers us a new life, and so we must abandon the old (even if it is a much beloved garment) so that we can be flexible, so that we can stretch beyond what we could before. we cannot expect to hold onto our old lives once we’ve asked Jesus to give us a new one. we cannot do and say all the thing we used to…those things that we not God-honoring will have to go. and odd as it may sound, you’ll want them to change. this doesn’t mean that you can’t talk with or spend time with your old friends, but it does mean that you will need to begin being a good influence on them, rather than them influencing you.

so a new life means a new shirt, a new way of doing things for the new you. in Jesus we can change…we just have to willing to stretch.

Father, please forgive me when i hold onto the old. please help me stretch as i follow You daily.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Spirit, have mercy.