pass over

The Passover celebration commemorates God’s unbelievable rescue of the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. As part of this incredible rescue, and the Israelites’ first born sons were saved from the angel of death by the blood of a lamb upon their door posts.

God, through Moses, parted the waters of the Red Sea so they could walk on dry ground, freeing them as slaves. God didn’t want his people to forget this significant event in history – so each year a special meal commemorated this day.

Our story today takes place at a Passover meal some 1500 years after the exodus.

Let’s find out more about this meal – with Jesus and his disciples.

John 13 (NET)
Just before the Passover feast, Jesus knew that his time had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus. 3 Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 he got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. 5 He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel he had wrapped around himself.

6 Then he came to Simon Peter. Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus replied, “The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 (For Jesus knew the one who was going to betray him. For this reason he said, “Not every one of you is clean.”)12 So when Jesus had washed their feet and put his outer clothing back on, he took his place at the table again and said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and do so correctly, for that is what I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet.

So much is going on in this snippet, just before Jesus’ death.  Jesus demonstrates humility by washing the feet of the men he was closest too on this earth.  Jesus demonstrated servanthood by washing the feet of his disciples, but the events just hours away demonstrated ultimate humility – just hours later, he would be arrested, beaten, and killed upon a cross meant for a criminal.

THE ultimate act of a servant – dying for someone else.

The Passover meal included a lamb – when the Israelites were in Egypt, a lamb was sacrificed so that the firstborn Israelite wouldn’t have to die – the blood of the lamb was applied to the door and the angel of death passed over that house.

Each year they would say: “The lamb died instead of me.”

Exodus 12:

“Each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household” v.3
“Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames…” v. 7
“That same night the are to eat the meat roasted over the fire…” v. 8
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD – a lasting ordinance.” v. 14

Generations to come celebrated this event – which is why Jesus, some 1500 years later, celebrates the Passover.

Jesus knew the events that would follow this meal: Judas’ betrayal, arrested and handed over to be beaten, humiliated culminating in his death.

Everything in all God’s big story pointed to this night – the tree in the garden where Adam and Eve took and ate the fruit lead to the next tree – the cross.
Everything God did,
every sin the people committed,
every sacrifice that covered the sins committed,
the prophets, priests, kings – they all pointed to this night.

Through Jesus, God said – “I am about to deal with evil and sin and death once and for all.”

This. Was. It.

All the hurts and heartaches.
All the lies and deceit.
All the pains we closely bear in our hearts.
All the ways we rebel against God.
This one act restored us so we can know God
and he could give us a second chance.

God was already making everything new –
from the first tree in the garden – to this tree, the cross.
God was rescuing,
God was making a way,
And God was working out his perfect plan for us.
Through the perfect Lamb of God – Jesus Christ.

“The lamb died, instead of me.”
“The lamb died, instead of you.”
“The lamb died, instead of us.”

The lamb died – so you and I could be saved, and know God the father.

John the Baptist when he saw Jesus said:
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

The Prophet Isaiah said this of Jesus:
“He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:7

Do you know the Lamb of God?
Did you know Jesus, the lamb of God died instead of you? That he died for you?

“The lamb died instead of me.”

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Holy Week 2013 Thoughts

This year as Easter approaches, I feel somewhat caught off-guard.  I no longer work in church ministry (for now), and it was strange during Christmas this year I wasn’t planning Easter dramas and music…

I have participated in a very self-revealing Lent this year that has exposed parts of my heart.  I  gave up all television and movie watching (apart from watching things with friends, and an occasional Sunday I watched a few shows).  Six weeks is a long time.  But in many ways it has gone by really quickly.  I’m still not quite ready for Easter.

There is much to be said about this significant week, you can read some of my posts from Holy Week 2012 for more devotional reads.  I was a little more dedicated last year.

As I slaved away this week writing a paper on the sacrificial system in Leviticus, there was a phrase that caught my attention: the wrath of God satisfied.  Of course this reminds me of In Christ Alone (what phrases DON’T remind me of a song?), but in this case it was in the context of Leviticus 16, The Day of Atonement.  Once a year, the High Priest made an offering for the corporate sins of the Israelite people.  This was to show: the constant daily sacrifices made by the people for their sins was not enough.  For a Holy God to continue to dwell among his people and for his wrath to not consume them, atonement had to be made.

God.  Dwelling in the camp with His people.

I still am blown away by this.

Anyway.  I started this post earlier this week, and now it’s Good Friday.  I’m saving more on Leviticus 16 for another post, but for now, for today, we rejoice in the brutal, humiliating death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  A sacrifice perfect and sufficient.  Unlike the Hebrew people needing to continually make sacrifices in Leviticus, this sacrifice satisfied the wrath of God.

Completely satisfied.

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fridaysaturdaySUNDAY

The man who knew no sin
became sin for us
took on our shame
took away our guilty hearts

That man
perfection
became separated
from the Father
for US

He hung his head
it is finished
it is complete
he was dead

The ground shook
the Father mourned
the temple torn in two
“Surely he was the Son of God”

Body dead
body bloody and cleaned
in the tomb
closed in the tomb

Deader than dead
three days dead
Definitely dead

Mourning, sadness, tears, loss
his friends cried
the man they loved and knew well
was gone

The man who raised from the dead
healed the sick
spoke with authority
how could he be himself… dead?

No hope
No joy
Only memories and asking
why?

Satan chuckled
the demons shrieked
Victory is ours!
Their only hope  is dead!

Darkness hung thick
for three days
the disciples hide in fear
was everything just a lie?

But then.

Oh that glorious morning
the women came to the tomb
to find his body gone
HE WAS ALIVE.
RISEN FROM THE DEAD

What a glorious day
Death was conquered
Sin was broken
Satan was defeated

Victory over all things
even the world he created
even the powers of evil
no one can match his strength

We have hope
we have life
we have everything in him
because he lived
because he LIVES

 

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper Christ shared with his disciples.  “Maundy” originates from John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”.  More information available here. And here.

Jesus Prays for All Believers.  John 17:20-26:   “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Galatians 6:14: “We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation,
our life and our resurrection; through Him we are saved and made free.”

I will not forget the cross the pain that You endured for us
Where You carried brokenness and shame
Never to forget the day Your love broke through to make a way
For hope to rise within my heart again

Overwhelming sacrifice You freely paid the highest price
Suffering You traded blood for me
My heart will sing the deepest praise my lips rejoice, my hands will raise
For the death that brought me into life

All for love my Jesus, You gave all for love
I am standing in the wonder of Your great love

What would I have done if it wasn’t for Your love?
The love that tore the veil inside my heart
What would I have become if it wasn’t for Your blood?
The blood You gave for all on the cross

Holy Tuesday

From the Book of Common Prayer, use according to the Episcopal Church:
Tuesday in Holy Week
O God, who by the passion of they blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

John 13: 21 – 33, 36 – 38


21 When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.
23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus;
24 so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”
25 So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.
27 Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him.
29 Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast”; or, that he should give something to the poor.
30 So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified;
32 if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going you cannot come.’
36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.”
37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.

 

This hymn, written in the 9th century by Kassiani the Nun, tells the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet (see Luke 7:36-50).  This hymn is sung in the Eastern Orthodox tradition toward the end of the “Bridegroom” service, held on Tuesday evening of their Holy week.  The hymn tells a beautiful story, and paints a picture of forgiveness, where we can all see ourselves in the place of the woman.

“O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, sensing Your Divinity, takes upon herself the duty of a myrrh-bearer.
With lamentations she brings you myrrh in anticipation of your entombment. “Woe to me!” she cries, “for me night has become a frenzy of licentiousness, a dark and moonless love of sin. Receive the fountain of my tears, O You who gathers into clouds the waters of the sea. Incline unto me, unto the sighings of my heart, O You who bowed the heavens by your ineffable condescension.
I will wash your immaculate feet with kisses and dry them again with the tresses of my hair; those very feet at whose sound Eve hid herself from in fear when she heard You walking in Paradise in the twilight of the day.
As for the multitude of my sins and the depths of Your judgments, who can search them out, O Savior of souls, my Savior? Do not disdain me Your handmaiden, O You who are boundless in mercy.”

Thank You for the cross that You have carried
Thank You for Your blood that was shed
You took the weight of sin upon Your shoulders
And Sacrificed Your life so I could live

Now nothing is holding me back from You
Redeemer of my soul
Now nothing can hold me back from You
Your Love will never let me go

Thank You for Your death and resurrection
Thank You for the power of Your blood
I am overwhelmed by Your affection
The Kindness and the Greatness of Your Love
The Kindness and the Greatness of Your Love

Jesus, You make all things new

Thank You that we’re living in Your Kingdom
Jesus You’re the King upon the throne
Thank You for the way You always love me
Now I get to love You in return
Now I get to love You in return

Holy Week

      For the next week, I will (hopefully) be daily posting scripture readings, and book or quote excerpts leading up to Easter, on Sunday morning.  This time of year is one that resonates deeply in my heart, but part of the journey to Easter morning, with the experience of joy celebrating the risen Christ, is walking through Holy Week, which can often be shadowed by darkness.  Jesus Christ endured the cross, and went to the depths of Hell, the rose again in order to save us.

      We cannot fully worship the risen Savior until we understand the depth of our humanity and sin.  I look forward to the joy of Sunday morning, and worshipping in freedom.  I hope these next few days will bring light to your eyes, and turn hearts to Christ, and understanding more his immense love for us.

—–

Ephesians 2:13-16. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

—–

From A Letter of Consolation, by Henri J.M. Nouwen: “During this Holy Week we are confronted with death more than during any other season of the liturgical year. We are called to mediate not just on death in general or on our own death in particular, but on the death of Jesus Christ who is God and Man. We are challenged to look at Him dying on a cross and to find there the meaning of our own life and death. What strikes me most in all that is read and said during these days is that Jesus of Nazareth did not die for himself, but for us, and that in following Him we too are called to make our death a death for others.

What makes you and me Christians is not only our belief that He who was without sin died for our sake on the cross and thus opened for us the way to His heavenly Father, but also that through His death our death is transformed from a totally absurd end of all that gives life its meaning into an event that liberates us and those whom we love.

—–

From In Search of the Beyond by Carlo Coretto: “Jesus became a sacrament  for me, the cause of my salvation, he brought my time in hell to an end, and put a stop to my inner disintegration.  He washed me patiently in the waters of baptism, he filled me with the exhilarating joy of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, he nourished me with the bread of his word.  Above all, he forgave me, he forgot everything, he did not even wish me to remember my past myself.

When, through my tears, I began to tell him something of the years during which I betrayed him, he lovingly placed his hand over my mouth in order to silence me.  His one concern was that I should muster courage enough to pick myself up again, to try and carry on walking in spite of my weakness, and to believe in his love in spite of my fears.  But there was one thing he did, the value of which cannot be measured, something truly unbelievable, something only God could do.

While I continued to have doubts about my own salvation, to tell him that my sins could not be forgiven, and that justice, too, had its rights, he appeared on the Cross before me one Friday towards midday.

I was at its foot, and found myself bathed with the blood which flowed from the gaping holes made in his flesh by the nails.  He remained there for three hours until he expired.

I realized that he had died in order that I might stop turning to him with questions about justice, and believe instead, deep within myself, that the scales had come down overflowing on the side of love, and that even though all….through unbelief or madness, had offended him, he had conquered forever, and drawn all things everlastingly to himself.”

—–

Psalm 31:13-17

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 hands 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.

holy week

Holy Week this week.

Lent has been different this year for me.  Not as intentional as I’ve been in the past.  Honestly, I tried to give up facebook for the entire 46 days, just to have some extra focus.  Then it turned into just checking it if I needed to, and then just not wasting my time on there.

There are more important things going on around in the world than what your friends are saying on facebook.  That’s for sure.  I value my friends greatly, but more importantly, I value my REAL friends, the ones who are in my life and who pursue me as a friend, and that usually is distinct from facebook.

So much more I COULD say.  But I won’t.

This week is interesting, because it’s so full of the ancient, but also the new.  This goes in the realm of good, and of evil.  It seems the deceiver works extra hard these leading up to Easter days too.  Thinking he still has victory, somehow, someway.

But we have the victory.

Because HE lives.

It’s beautiful.

I’ve often thought about this, but I wondered, why is it that I’ve come to embrace and love the cross so much more as I’ve grown older?  The answer is simple: because I know I need it.  When I was younger, I didn’t see my need for it.  I was “good enough”.  I didn’t really do anything that bad.  But now I know.

Now I know I’m lost without the cross. Without the sacrifice.

This morning I read Matthew’s account of the crucifixion.  And cried.  Matthew 27.  Just the thought of Jesus bearing all the sin of the whole world on his shoulders still makes me weep.  I’m not being overly spiritual here.  Think about it.  The weight of everything we’ve ever done or will do weighing on him.  Pulling down on perfection.  White becoming black with no reason, no cause. Just love.

Humbling.

Why do we still slap him in the face and hurl insults at him today?  We do this through our actions and thoughts.  Every moment.  We are non-holy beings.  How could we ever deserve to be called holy?  Righteous?  Loved?

I plead with you my friends, can we strive to seek him?  Serve him?  Turn away from darkness into light?

Through his grace.  Through his grace alone.

Isaiah 53:3-6
(emphasis mine)

 3 He was despised and rejected
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
   it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
      the sins of us all.