Scriptures Readings Luke 23:56
they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10
After the Sabbath, at early dawn on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, the other Mary and the others went to look at the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared, that they might anoint Jesus’ body.
As they were on their way to the tomb 3 they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” 16:4 because it was very big. Looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back.
Matthew 28:2-7, Mark 16:5-7
2 There had been a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it, on the right. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, because I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
8 Trembling and bewildered, the other women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy.
Matthew 28:8, John 20:2
They were going to tell Simon, the other disciple whom he loved and the other disciples, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
9 Suddenly Jesus met them, the women. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
11 Now Mary Magdalene stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “ Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.
I ran across an internet meme yesterday that had Star Trek’s Captain Kirk asking the question, Why do people say tuna fish when they don’t say beef mammal or chicken bird? Good question! Perhaps that is part of the reason that I’ve tried to make a default of writing or saying Easter Resurrection Sunday, rather than just Easter Sunday. Or maybe it’s because Easter Resurrection Sunday doesn’t have as much to do about bunnies and chicks and candy as plain, ol’ Easter Sunday has.
Easter bonnets and bow ties and little purses and suspenders are so adorable, don’t get me wrong. And perhaps it is easy or fun or convenient to link the cute side of Easter with the serious side of Easter. The thing is, Easter Resurrection is so much more than a nice worship service, a new outfit or a holiday meal - most of which are drastically different this year - in one way or another.
I also came across in interesting article yesterday, right before starting to write this message, and it was as if God plunked it right on top of my compute keyboard. It came from the website medium.com, of which I know nothing about, except that it says that it’s a site to “get smarter about what matters to you.” And not that that has really anything to do with the point, but just in case you were wondering about the efficacy of the following from the hand of Julio Vincent Gambuto. What caught my attention was how it reveals some of the same aspects of life after Jesus had risen from the dead and how that drama - in a good way, drama - affected the lives of his followers.
Mr. Gambuto wrote, “very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal….Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. It will come in the traditional forms — a billboard here, a hundred commercials there — and in new-media forms — a 2020–2021 generation of memes to remind you that what you want again is normalcy. In truth, you want the feeling of normalcy, and we all want it. We want desperately to feel good again, to get back to the routines of life, to not lay in bed at night wondering how we’re going to afford our rent and bills, to not wake to an endless scroll of human tragedy on our phones, to have a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and simply leave the house for work. The need for comfort will be real, and it will be strong. And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming.
For the last hundred years, the multi-billion-dollar advertising business has operated based on this cardinal principle: find the consumer’s problem and fix it with your product. When the problem is practical and tactical, the solution is “as seen on TV” and available at Home Depot. Command strips will save me from having to re-paint. So will Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser. Elfa shelving will get rid of the mess in my closet. The Ring doorbell will let me see who’s on the porch if I can’t take my eyes off Netflix. But when the problem is emotional, the fix becomes a new staple in your life, and you become a lifelong loyalist. Coca-Cola makes you: happy. A Mercedes makes you: successful…. Smart marketers know how to highlight what brands can do for you to make your life easier. But brilliant marketers know how to re-wire your heart. And, make no mistake, the heart is what has been most traumatized this last month. We are, as a society, now vulnerable in a whole new way.”
Incidentally, I don’t offer that piece as a criticism of the advertising industry, because that is how some individuals put food on the table and pay the bills. And sometimes, they come up with some pretty good stuff. It is, however, just a reminder that we have some responsibilities to think about as life continues forward.
The timing of the world’s current pandemic is so interesting, surrounding one of Christianity’s most sacred week’s and day. If churches could be open, I wonder how many would be filled - literally - with people looking for the Good News that Christians boast about.
On that first Easter Resurrection morning, after finding the empty tomb, before Jesus ascended back to God, there must have been so many crazy thoughts going through the followers’ minds. Now what do we do? We’ve been following Jesus for three years and he said to continue in his ministry. But how? How will we eat? Where will we sleep? What if any of us gets sick? Who will care for us? And the bigger, more gut seated thought - I wish I could go back to my simple life as a fisherman or tax collector or whatever else aspects of life that the first disciples missed in their ease and seeming simplicity.
Being 21st century followers of Christ, we know - and celebrate - the fact that he rose form the dead and went back to God, waiting for each of us to go home, too. It’s just that sometimes that knowledge doesn’t seem as strong or relevant as it might or could be. And that “uncertainty” is certainly not new, either. Which is why it’s an important thing that we celebrate not only Christ’s resurrection, but his love in the cup and life in the bread and meal that we share together.
As we share this bread, we do so in similar fashion as Christ shared it with his disciples that last night in the upper room, after having given thanks for it, blessing it, and giving it to the disciples to eat, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then taking a cup, and when he had given thanks, giving it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. And the apostle Paul reminds us that every time we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, we proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection. In the tradition of this church family, all are welcome at this meal, as Christ serves us, just as he did back then and all through the ages since then.
Let us pray. Holy and Glorious God, thank you for giving us your most precious gift - that of your son - your risen and ascended son who has given us the promise of life after our own deaths, that eternal life with you, your son, your Spirit, and all those who have gone before us. Thank you for reminding us to seek not that which may be “normal,” but that which is true and right and noble and eternal. Deepen our understandings of what it means to be followers of Christ, and the faith that it takes to be such a one. As we wait for the day when we can join together once again, help our hearts to be concerned with what is important, and to let go of those things that only drag us down. In the gratitude of being your sons and daughters, your people of life and light and love, all your people say, Amen.
First Congregational Church
April 10, 2020
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Welcome to this time and place of worship at First Congregational Church of Frankfort, MI. It is Good Friday, the day we remember Christ’s last day, with his trial and death in a garbage dump called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. Last evening we heard scripture passages from all the Gospels surrounding Jesus’ last night with the disciples in an upper room, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his arrest and trial before Annas and Caiaphas.
Using a parallel bible and the gospels as the basis, I will continue the practice used for last evening’s time of worship: eliminating duplicate passages and summarizing those that can be summarized. If all the parts, including the duplicate passages, were read, we would need to be here for well over an hour. Erring on the side of “the impact being greater without repetition,” we begin this afternoon’s time with prayer.
Holy God of Insight and Foresight, we have come this day to hear of this odd “Good Friday,” in this “Holy Week.” Perhaps appreciating the unsettledness of that time so long ago, in ways we might not ever have anticipated, help these - your words - to awaken places in our hearts and minds and souls that may have felt dead or dull. Give us eyes and ears and a mind to grasp all that you need us to hear in this moment, for the days ahead. For the gift of your Son and your Holy Spirit, never leaving us alone, all your people say, Amen.
While it was still early, after having been beaten, spat upon and bound,
the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor, Pilate. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” 6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders stirred up the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas.”.
“Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) 20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” 22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.” 23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed.
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Pilate’s palace and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
When they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. 26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.
27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
31 For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the rebel criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.
23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.
23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
29 The soldiers and those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
John 19:25-27 - Mark 15:40-41
25 Near the cross of Jesus, some women were watching from a distance. 41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. Among them stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so immediately one of them soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that,
46 he called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
42 It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders.
44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
John 19:38-42 / Matthew 27:60
39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb cut out of the rock, in which no one had ever been laid. 42 Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there in Joseph’s own tomb. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
If this story were new to us, and we stopped here, there would be no mystery to the numbers of people lined up on high bridges, ready to jump. But we know this story. We know that it is not the end. We know there is much more to come.
We have been gifted with hearts and minds and souls and compassion and understanding and an ark full of other blessings. We haven’t been given these blessings just to keep on a shelf, but to use. So we can use our hearts and minds and souls in these next hours to understand more clearly what Christ did on our behalf. We can embrace his love for us - more dearly - as the precious gift of grace that it is. And we can bolster our faith that what may seem to be the end is so far from that mirage. Until we come together again, may God bless you, and keep you. May God’s face face upon you, and be gracious to you. Amen.
First Congregational Church
April 9, 2020
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
Welcome to this time and place of Worship at First Congregational Church of Frankfort, MI. It is Maundy Thursday, the day we remember Christ’s last night with his disciples and his time in the garden. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word “command,” as in Jesus’ command to “love one another as I have loved you.” But I wonder how many of us fail to appreciate the complexity of that command, that last night together, mostly because we don’t often get the whole story in one shot.
There are a couple of little known sorts of Bibles that come in handy at this time of year. One is a chronological Bible, which essentially arranges the whole Bible into a progression of how it probably came down in history. The other sort is a parallel Bible - which lines up the four gospels against each other, so you can see which parts are similar and which parts are different. One of the greatest benefits of these Bibles is when it comes to the end of Jesus’ life.
If we were to read all the pieces that the Bible has about Jesus’ last night, we’d be here about an hour and a half. So for our time together tonight, and to set our minds for the coming days, I’ve taken out all the duplicate parts and summarized the parts that can be summarized. As it is always good, let us begin this time in prayer.
Holy God of Time and Life, we are here this night to remember your greatest gift to us - that of your Son, Jesus Christ and what he means to us. Take the words spoken this night - your words - and weave them into our hearts in ways that are perhaps new to us, pricking our ears and minds to insights we haven’t comprehended before. May these words, this night, draw us closer to you and to one another. In your holy name we pray. Amen.
Just four days ago, on Palm Sunday, we were reminded that Jesus sent Peter and John to arrange for the Passover celebration. So we pick up the story in the Upper Room of the man carrying a water pitcher.
Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
J13:2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. J13:3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; J13:4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. J13:5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. J13:6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” J13:7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” J13:8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” J13:9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
1J13:0 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” J13:11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
J13:12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. J13:13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. J13:14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. J13:15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. J13:16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. J13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
L 22:24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. L22:27 Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves. L22:28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. L22:29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, L22:30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
J13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ J13:19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. J13:20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
T26:2 As they were eating, Jesus said, “One of you will betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
K14:18 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” J13:25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
J13:26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” T26:24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” J13:26 Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
J13:27 So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” J13:28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor.
T26:26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
J13:33Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” J13:36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” J13:37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
T26:31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
L22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” L22:34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” K14:31 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
J10:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The Spirit of truth. J14:25 The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“Come now; let us leave.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus taught the disciples about the Vine and the Branches. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Then Jesus prayed for himself, saying, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” He prayed for his disciples: “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.” Then Christ went on to pray for future believers: “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.
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. When they came to Gethsemane, Jesus said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be sorrowful, deeply distressed and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going about a stone’s throw beyond them, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “Abba, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) But Jesus answered, “No more of this! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. Put your sword away! All who draw the sword will die by the sword. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then everyone deserted him and fled.
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people. Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. It was cold, 230 and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.”
“Woman, I don’t know him,” I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another (person) saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, a Galilean; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately a rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face ; they blindfolded him, and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” And the guards took him and beat him and said many other insulting things to him.
Very early in the morning, all the chief priests with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”
This night seems so sad, so void of hope. But Jesus didn’t give up or give in. By example, throughout the whole ordeal, he embodied his command to “love one another as I have loved you.” And there were prophecies fulfilled. Jesus prayed not only for himself and his disciples, but for us, all of the “us-es” from that night and on to eternity. Just because it seemed as though it were all hopeless and void of hope, it was not the truth of the matter. In any of our lives, and any place in our lives, we may face similar nights of hopelessness or moments void of hope. However real those moments are, there is always more going on in them. And the story is not finished. I encourage you to continue the story tomorrow - as we celebrate that Good Friday at noon. May God bless your evening, morning and sleep.
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.