Archive for May, 2021
“And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing” (Luke 22:23).
News that the hand of the betrayer was with Jesus at the table (v.21) must have been a shock to the disciples. Though Judas would become one of the most despised names in history, the actions of the other disciples over the coming hours would provide a more comprehensive truth—betrayal has many names and faces. While every disciple betrays Jesus in myriad ways, it’s such as these that become the most effective messengers of a merciful redemption. Those who realize they are but products of God’s grace are, themselves, more gracious toward others.
“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers” (3 John 1:6).
Acting for the benefit of those with whom we are familiar and have a relationship is normal and even expected. The life and teachings of Jesus, however, as well as the inspired writings of the apostles, indicate that a greater degree of faithfulness is revealed in our actions towards those who are strangers; those outside our normal context of association. How long, and often, must we hear it to know that true faithfulness isn’t our perfunctory religious performances but our practices toward others.
“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26).
Though each word is translated as “anger” the apostle, Paul uses three unique and distinctive Greek words in verses 26 and 31 that capture the nuances of anger; two of which should be avoided and the one diligently pursued. One is a raging anger, associated with losing one’s temper. This stands in contrast to the other, a repressed anger that stews and simmers beneath the surface, keeping you awake at night. The last is a righteous anger, with the distinguishing quality of always being directed at an injustice and never a person.
“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19).
Since this verse is normally associated with the observance of communion, our tendency is to hear it as an admonition for the continuance of a commemorative exercise. The imperative charge, however, and the only fitting remembrance of what Christ has given, is the offering of one’s own life in selfless sacrifice; it is to be fully mindful of what God has accomplished in Christ Jesus, to the degree that it is actually being translated into our lives.
“And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves’” (Luke 22:17).
Most never consider that in the sharing of the Passover meal, each of the disciples would have had before them their own cup. To drink from a common cup, designated by Jesus, was to heighten the awareness of the communal relationship into which they had entered, and would have left a profound impression upon these disciples. In so doing, they were acknowledging a willingness to share in that person’s destiny, even his suffering and death. Unbeknownst to them they would, and did. The greater issue of the day, however, is, will we?
“And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer’” (Luke 22:15).
In his hour of suffering Jesus desired to be with what was, essentially, his church family. These disciples with whom he constantly fellowshipped, and studied the scriptures together for three years, were the core group of what would become the church. So immersed were their lives together, they had come to learn the benefit of shared life experiences. When suffering made its visitation, Jesus wanted the company of his faithful gatherers not those who showed a sporadic or seasonal interest in his life.
“When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him” (Luke 22:14).
The hour Jesus said was coming has come. Such is the nature of suffering; you never know when but, without fail, it always shows up. There is no amount of “name it and claim it theology” that will keep it at bay. To better reconcile personal suffering, a better attitude is to be found in Paul’s writing, “For it has been granted to your that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). By this attitude, our suffering becomes a platform for the testimony of the faith and hope dwelling within us.
“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ but for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27).
Since the prediction of Simeon (Lk.2:34) at the temple dedication of Jesus, the cross has cast its long shadow across the pages of the gospels. Jesus would himself speak of the approaching hour of his suffering and death; it did not come unexpectedly or as an accidental occurrence. And though he would pray that the hour might pass him by (Mk.14:35), his undistracted intent was to fulfill the purposes of God for the redemption of humanity. While all suffering is the result of a fallen creation, broken by the ravages of sin, the life, ministry, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus reveals that, through suffering, unimaginable things are accomplished in the greater, redeeming purposes of God.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).
The duration of any physically demanding task is dependent upon ones’s endurance. When strength fails, performance falters. In the life of faith, however, our strength is from the Lord. In fact, as followers of Christ, it is only when human strength has failed that the strength of the Lord can flourish. Sometimes the first enemy to be faced in a battle is ourselves.
“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19).
Because we are so consumed with the benefits of a particular product, we fail to heed the warnings that are often associated with its use. Such is the life of faith. While everyone is interested in eternal life few give consideration to the cost of discipleship. Jesus gives ample warning that following him is no walk in the park; that because, as his followers, we are not rooted in this world we will be hated. Remember, the symbol of our faith isn’t a feather-bed but a cross.