…they would not believe…
…they did not believe…
It’s interesting that the ones mentioned here, that didn’t believe, were the disciples and followers of Jesus. These were the ones who had been given the most information, who were the closest to Jesus, who knew Him best. To be fair they certainly were in shock and grieving. They were definitely living in fear, maybe for their lives. They were confused no doubt.
Whatever the reasons – even good and understandable reasons – they were not prepared to accept a miracle as the solution to the latest events.
It’s a challenge to me. Are my eyes and heart open to God’s miracle solutions or am I working on getting a contractor who can move the stone?
Then they (the soldiers) sat down and kept watch over him there. …those who passed by derided him…the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him,…The robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him…some of the bystanders heard him speak…many women there, looking on from a distance…
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
I’m just struck by how many people were keeping watch over Jesus for the six hours he hung on the across alive. Some of the onlookers came to be there because they loved Him (the women), some because it was their job (the soldiers), some who had something to prove (the priests, scribes and elders), some who were forced (the robbers) and some who were curious (the bystanders).
They seem to represent every mindset about God. No different from all of us today. Every person has an opportunity to decide who Jesus is to them. That decision will matter for all eternity.
And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
I guess dying has been on my mind this week because of the death of Kara Tippetts. At the discovery of what would be terminal breast cancer she determined to live her life with the purpose of living well and dying well. I knew her not at all in her living but it is in her dying that she has come to my attention. Now, I am drawn to learn how she lived in detail and let her life and love for Jesus influence me.
I think of this centurion and how his life may have been changed by the way Jesus died. We talk a lot about living like Jesus – WWJD and all that. We acknowledge that to live like Him we must die to ourselves. But I wonder if we think that it is in the way we are choosing and experiencing and living this “daily dying” that may be the greater witness.
But Pilate answered, “You take him…”
The Jewish leaders insisted, “…he claimed to be the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid”…why won’t you speak to me?
“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free…
On this day I image Pilate would have liked to have been somewhere or someone else. His power and position were nice perks to the job…until they weren’t.
It started as just a regular day of meting out Roman justice. The outcomes could be hard but they never touched him. Not personally. He was following rules…and Roman rules were fair. He might have a twinge of conscience on occasion but it was generally a “thumbs up thumbs down” sort of thing. It was a job – a well-paying job, but just a job – that was all.
He knew these Jews, the leaders who sucked up to him. He knew they too had comfy positions with perks they were not interested in losing. He let them have their little kingdoms – they were no threat to him. In fact, he saw this as delegating a little power to keep the Roman peace. They were fools he used.
Today they came shoving their complaint before them, looking to him for his keen judgement. He would do his due diligence. They would take his answer – be grateful – and go home.
Then the table turned upside down. The flogging didn’t satisfy. Pronouncing innocence didn’t cut it. He claims to be God, they said. What if he is? I’ve got to stop this!
I never expected my heart to ache for Pilate. His world went out of control. He tried but he couldn’t stop it.
In God’s plan, Jesus had to die. And he willingly suffered that death for each one of us, whom He loved and still loves beyond measure. And by God’s infinite grace, we were not allowed to interfere.
“…for he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.”
ENVY, I looked it up, is basically spite and resentment at the success of another together with a desire to possess what they have1. Unchecked ENVY “turns sour” into anger which leads to aggression. It didn’t take rocket science for Pilate to see what motivated the Jewish council to bring Jesus to him. Jesus had want they wanted to secure for themselves. It got ugly.
Thomas Aquinas said (in the vernacular of the 12th century) “Envy… is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life… Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.”2
I think charity means LOVE – ENVY is contrary to LOVE.
Interestingly, yesterday I spent a great deal of my day pondering “LOVE is kind.” I had been reading about Kara Tippetts and apparently this was a mantra of sorts for her life. Over burgers at S&S, I even had the great and rare privilege of visualizing Kara’s image of kindness with three amazing women who are artists (Aymi, Madi & Jessie). We thought about how we would draw it and the absolute power it would have if we just practiced kindness – even once a day.
It would change the world, right?
So, what troubles me is this. How often do I ENVY and what does ENVY look like “in me”? I know it might be ugly and painful to see, but if I’m taking on LOVE then ENVY has gotta go.
Holy Spirit – be the filter of my thoughts and feelings. Stop the weed of ENVY in its tracks! Gently if possible, but use Round-UP if necessary. Let there be fruit: LOVE, joy, peace, patience, kindness…
“And he broke down and wept.”
I have become so accustomed to writing first thing in the morning that my thoughts and feelings are likely to slip out on the written page before I can censor them. That happened this morning because I had to write Anne back before I could do anything else. We have been jotting short emails back and forth since Alain died and neither of us has heard anything from Ursula. It doesn’t seem to matter that Anne is actually in France and trying to reach her rather than me texting and emailing from here. So in Anne’s last message she asked about “how we were” and I put off answering. Today she asked if I had gotten her mail. It wasn’t fair to leave her hanging so I had to write her first.
It surprised me how raw my emotions were. Not just sadness but also love and appreciation and kick butt and joy and gratefulness. My heart is still full of all these feelings that I had no intention of noticing and much less intention of sharing.
Makes me think of Peter. He had plans to be the tough guy. And even though his adrenal glands were working overtime as he followed behind Jesus into enemy territory, he was still being brave, right? Until the horrible revelation crowed in his ears – “this is not bravery – this is betrayal.” “And he broke down and wept.”
Judas and Peter and I are all cut from the same fallen cloth. Because of sin we are betrayers… and not private betrayers either – because betrayal is not a secret sin. And when God allows us to see our weakness and frailty we are undone. Unraveled – but unraveled in a good way because while we were trying to “knit one and purl two” we slipped a stitch or two or four. And since we, who claim the name of Jesus, are being transformed into His image, there really can be no loose ends.
So, in mercy and with tender compassion, God undoes what we have built out of ego and bravado and stitches in a little more of Himself. Some days, when my heart is tender, it’s easier to let Him work.
“But he remained silent…”
There is a lot of writing this morning about Jesus knowing when to speak and when to be quiet; about meekness not being weakness and how He just didn’t get sucked in to defend himself.
But then there is the part where He did speak. He answered a question. However it is a bit inaccurate to say that was why he spoke because he had been asked two questions before that and on those he was silent. The difference to me was of defending himself against trumped up accusations verses giving a straightforward report.
I really was struck by what Lynne Burkholder posted:
Meekness understands the difference of when to remain silent and when to speak.
Meekness learns to remain on the offense while refusing to be pulled to the defense.
Meekness is understanding who you are and knowing when and where to declare it.
Meekness is facing accusations, facing lies, and death and continuing on the path you know to be true.
Meekness is knowing the truth and letting that provide you strength when others have a wrong opinion of you.
Meekness is knowing your purpose and keeping with it despite the lack of support.
The big question – to speak or be silent – keeps running through my brain this morning like a repeating digital marque. I’ve been hurt – certainly it is unintentional – but I feel discounted and marginalized. And worse I feel ashamed for having these feelings.
And maybe that is why I try to speak not about myself but about what these actions, if repeated, would do to someone else in my position. The listeners don’t get it. They don’t see the problem. They think I am being ridiculous and unreasonable and not a team player. And for the first time ever I seriously just don’t want to even be a part of this team anymore.
Lynne’s statements are clarifying for me. They identify the fulcrum of meekness that lies between the opposing actions of speaking or silence. So today I will prayerfully ask for meekness in my situation and if it becomes words… I will know the meekness of Jesus has settled within me when the message, prompted by hurt, can be delivered in healing.
I think this is a little weird. For these last 7-8 weeks I’ve been dragged into looking at the concept and practice of repentance and what I’ve experienced – well, not at first, but the lingering effect – has been peace. Here it is again in today’s reading.
All hell has broken loose. Jesus is surrounded by an armed crowd. For one second some do-gooder thinks swinging a sword will help. Now there is a bloody body part on the ground. It must be loud and scary. Tough guys grab Jesus. He speaks to the ridiculousness of their methods. His friends will soon desert him and yet – “But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” Peace.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” This is what this passage says to me about God. As a recovering perfectionist, I wrangle with the right way – kisses should not be used for betrayals, confrontations with swords should be met with bleeding ears, Jesus’ logical question should instantly change everyone’s mind. And we should fight to make all things look like God intended! God is supposed to win and it is supposed to look like…well, my definition of the right way.
Oh me, of tunnel vision, arrogant knowing and little faith.
Praise Jesus He has His own definitions, His own ways, His own plan.
My thoughts seem to be running ahead of the readings. A week ago I was totally frustrated by “being out of order” but now it makes me chuckle. At least, in this one particular thing, the peace of surrender lingers.
“…again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him.”
Yesterday, my words put the hearer in the position of not knowing what to answer. I knew they would not know how to reply but foolishly I pressed anyway. It was confusing even for me and I have lost sleep over the hurt I may have caused. (I am pleading with God for the words to seek forgiveness.)
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation,” is what Jesus said to Peter. Peter couldn’t keep his eyes open. Jesus got that. But his admonition was instructive even if it might only be used in the future. It was almost preventative medicine if there is such a thing when it comes to frailty of the flesh.
For me it translates to “don’t be surprised when you think you can just wing it and you find yourself coming up short. Remember the story I [Jesus] had told my disciples earlier about the vine and the branches? Apart from me even your good intentions can go awry. Practice the habit of being alert to pray, that you might not lean on your own understanding but offer mine instead.”
[Peter] said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
And we all say the same, too, as if our purposed, loyalty will save us. We think we are just that strong. And while we might excuse ourselves in a weak moment or on a hard day, for the most part we really do think we are the center of our strength.
Here’s a clue that addresses reality. When Jesus was in the garden right before he was arrested, he was praying – not for his sheep or some other selfless purpose – he was praying for himself. This was Jesus, God wrapped in flesh and humanity, asking His heavenly Father to save him from the task before him. “’Take this cup from me’ if you can; if there is any other way.” Because in this moment Jesus knew he was unable to just speak brave words or make oaths of commitment that would matter. He knew in his flesh and blood body he was weak and would run if he did not depend on His father.
So He did what I should also do when faced with the rising bravado in my thoughts – He confessed his own weakness and leaned on and into the strength of God…”not my will, but thine be done.”
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9