Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

The Passion Week Day 5

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When I was a kid I thought they were saying it was Monday Thursday, and I was so confused. 

As I got older I realized it was Maundy Thursday which helped a little because I figured out it wasn’t a new blended day that came once a year for me to keep track of. 

At all ages though, for as long as I can remember and even before I knew the deeper meaning, I got that it was a somber day of remembering.

 Growing up our churches did not shy away from too many services in a week and so we were there for Maundy Thursday where we shared the Communion together in a darkened sanctuary. 

And we reconvened for another somber service on Good Friday. 

My mom wouldn’t let us eat meat on Good Friday and she frowned on any kind of fun or frivolity and I was ok with that. 

I was born with an old soul and heart drawn to quiet and reverent worship. 

Sarah once told me I probably could have been a nun if they would have let me still marry Russ and have our family. 

So true. 

So as I read the passages surrounding the Thursday of Holy Week, I find detailed and much similar information in the four Gospels, although Luke and John add some extra pieces that are intriguing, with John including the most narrative of all. 

There are so many different parts to this whole day and evening and I pray to land on just one that would be a place to ponder together before we head out into whatever Thursday will look like for each of us. 

In all four accounts, when Jesus is taken to the high priest and put on a mock trial with dishonest witnesses and yet still they cannot prove Him guilty…

they finally declare Him to be who He is and when He does not disagree…

they spit in His face…

blindfold Him…

beat Him…

and then taunt Him with jeering for Him to prophecy who just hit Him.

Read that again. 

Slowly.

Picture it. 

Picture the perfect and sinless Son of God who just came fresh from washing the feet of His disciples before they ran off and left Him to be taken to this place of injustice. 

Picture Him with the spit of men dripping down His face and a cloth thrown over His eyes as one by one they slapped Him and beat Him and mocked Him. 

And remember and know and declare.

This is your King. 

This is your God. 

Willing to be humiliated.

Willing to be falsely accused, beaten, mocked and crucified.

For us.

Today on Maundy Thursday 2019, I will be tending those little grands I love with all my heart. 

I have things packed in a bag to help make our time together special. 

Meditative silence and deep pondering of the Scriptures will have to be set aside as I chase bikes and kites, color eggs and put stickers on foam crosses and I will invariably settle some argument and reinforce the rules and try to remind them in little ways of why Easter is such a big deal. 

They won’t get it yet.

They won’t get it all completely understood and neither will I.

I have to remember the little girl who used to think it was Monday Thursday and only grasped bits and pieces but grew to love her Lord to the point that to think of Him being treated so cruelly produces hot tears.

 Every. Single. Time.

I pray they grow each year in their understanding of His love for them. 

I pray we all do <3

Scripture:

  • Matthew 26: 17-75
  • Mark 14:12-15:72
  • Luke 22:7-65
  • John 13:1-18:27

Passion Week Day 4

So we have come to Wednesday of Holy Week and as we search the four Gospels for what Jesus did on this day, we find nothing but silence. 

The only references to this day’s activity are to record Judas as he steals away to the chief priests and offers to hand Jesus over to them for a sum of money. 

As I read the passages from yesterday, I notice that this betrayal by Judas follows a full day of Jesus teaching and countering every attempt thrown at Him to trip Him up by those who were supposed to be shepherds of God’s people.

In Matthew 22: 15, it says the Pharisees went and plotted ways they could entangle Him with His words. 

They were going to trick The Word who spoke Creation into stumbling over His spoken words…wow.

It didn’t work. 

But Satan joins the party and enters Judas. 

It is interesting to note in two of the Gospels this follows a dinner the night before where Jesus is anointed by a woman. 

She breaks open a bottle of expensive oil and pours it on Him and her extravagant gift is criticized by some for it could have been sold and the money used for the poor. 

We have to wonder if one of the grumbling voices was Judas…who we also know from John 12:6… liked to dip into that money bag for his own personal needs. 

Like a movie where we watch two scenes unfold, we are only privy to the details of one for Wednesday.

Judas scurrying down the back streets of Jerusalem, with a heart full of disdain and hate and greed… the chief priests with their own hearts darkened by the same sin sickness as Judas…plotting…planning…agreeing to betray. 

And somewhere in Bethany, perhaps? We don’t know…but Jesus quietly waiting. 

Perhaps spending time with Lazarus whom He had recently called forth from the tomb? 

Perhaps alone in some isolated place praying?

Perhaps fishing one more time with His disciples or walking the dusty roads and remembering their stories together?

Perhaps enjoying Martha’s hospitably with Mary sitting at His feet?

We do not know. 

And this not knowing makes my heart want to know Him more. 

So today I pray in the quiet moments where we just don’t know what He’s doing, that we would rest in knowing that He is…that He IS…that He exists and that He lives and that He is always doing His Father’s work…even today <3 

Scriptures for Wednesday:

  • Matthew 26: 14-16 (in context of 14-35)
  • Mark 14: 10-11 (in context of 1-31)

The Passion Week Day 3

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As with all things on this journey you have been invited to take with me, the things I write are more often than not from the immediacy of my heart.

So today, as I sit and ponder the Scriptures that cover the corresponding day of Jesus’ last week on planet earth as a flesh and blood man, I am stricken with a conviction in the very first passages of the readings. 

There are many readings for today and you will benefit far more reading God’s words than mine, so my meditation today is brief. 

In Matthew 21: 23 -27, we discover Jesus has returned from his night’s stay in Bethany and has entered the temple to begin a time of teaching. 

The chief priests and elders confront Him and ask Him to explain by what authority He has been given that He would be doing all that He is doing. 

Jesus counters their question with a question and if they can answer His, He will answer theirs.

It is not a difficult question. 

He is simply asking them what they believe.

“The baptism of John {side note: John’s baptism was the baptism of repentance from sins} — where did it come from? From heaven or from men?”

Matthew 21:25 NKJV

Now first off, do you notice they have come demanding to know who His authority is derived from and yet…He controls this whole interaction…hmmmm

But more to the point of this pondering…see how they respond. 

They don’t say they don’t know for sure right off the bat. 

Nor do take a stand on a solid, core belief that lives deep in their gut. 

They step aside in a circle like coaches conferring about the next play in the game and they reason together. 

They think hard about the outcome of any answer they might give. 

If we say it was from men, the crowd might turn against us. 

If we say it was from God, then He will catch us in our own hypocrisy because we didn’t believe John. 

So they opt for ignorance as their best choice in the moment and Jesus wins this round as they retreat and wait for a more opportune time. 

Oh, it’s not that they don’t have an answer…they just choose to not commit to it out of fear for how it will come back on them.

And we can see the hardness of their hearts and the twisted thinking of their deceived minds. 

Sadly they do not recognize that Jesus can read their hearts.

But once again, I can step away from the story and see myself in moments when pushed to ask what I believe, I have feared the crowd or feared losing face and I have reasoned in myself and whispered limply…

I don’t know…

and retreated rather than face the multitudes or my own seared conscience. 

What do you believe?

What do you believe about Me when everything around you rises up against the knowledge of the Truth buried deep inside your soul?

To what extent can you stand on the faith you proclaim when you are the last one standing? 

So I ask myself and then I ask you….

When was the last time you explained to your own soul what it is you really believe about the baptism of repentance, the new life you have received, the holy calling placed on you and the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you? 

What do you believe about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in payment for your sins?

And what threats around you could cause you to reason within yourself and opt to say… I just don’t know…rather than declare what you believe?  

Hard questions to ponder today. 

Much to think about in the Scriptures provided as we continue this journey to the Cross. 

Scriptures:

  • Matthew 21:23 – 24:51
  • Mark 11:20 – 13:37
  • Luke 20:1 – 21:36
  • John 12:20 – 38

The Passion Week Day 2

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Today I am focusing on the second cleansing of the Temple by a side of Jesus that takes my breath away. 

Raised to understand the power of rage and to know and to experience and yet to also admit my own capacity to possess the frightening hold that an ungodly temper can have on a human soul…

having cowered in fear of another’s temper unleashed…

and yet having felt my own heart rate increase, body temperature elevate and the death grip that anger can take on my own soul when it threatens to overtake the spirit of Christ in me…

I try to separate what I know of anger fueled by sin from anger in Christ who knew no sin. 

So I read the passages we are given and I try to imagine this Holy Anger loosed on a scene that had grown familiar to the people. 

It was commonplace…convenient…no longer considered out of the ordinary…that the beautiful Temple dedicated to the LORD God Almighty had become a market place and shortcut from one side of town to the other. 

And the Son of God said…in no uncertain terms…the people had forgotten what it meant to be set apart and holy and reverent and doing the business of God in the House of God.

Prayer.

Healing.

Worship.

This was what should be happening in the Temple. 

But instead it had been defiled and dirtied by anything but it’s God ordained purpose.

And now we are His temple, you know. 

He has made His dwelling in us who believe. 

He has saved us and rescued us and placed His Spirit in us, human temples. 

Not that we are our own gods…silence that lie of our culture today, my friend.

No. 

We have become a dwelling place for the Lord God. 

Small and fragile and insignificant  jars of clay in which the Living God, 

Jehovah I am, Yahweh has made Himself a place of residence that His light and life would shine out. 

We are His temple and thus a place of prayer, worship and reverence. 

We attend churches where the focus should be prayer, worship and reverence.

In Christ’s Revelation to John, we see that He is still very interested in cleansing of His Churches:

We see the indictments against the Church in the subtitles of Chapters 2 and 3:

  • The Loveless Church
  • The Compromising Church
  • The Corrupt Church
  • The Dead Church
  • The Lukewarm Church

Matthew Henry says this in his commentary:

“No observances, professions or supposed revelations, will profit, if men do not amend their ways and their doings. None can claim an interest in free salvation, who allow themselves in the practice of known sin, or live in the neglect of known duty. They thought that the temple they profaned would be their protection.

But all who continue to sin because grace has abounded, or that grace may abound, make Christ the minister of sin; and the cross of Christ, rightly understood, forms the most effectual remedy to such poisonous sentiments. The Son of God gave himself for our transgressions, to show the excellence of the Divine Law, and the evil of sin. 

Never let us think we may do wickedness without suffering for it.”  

Matthew Henry commentary on Jeremiah 7:11 from ebible.com

As we pause on Monday of Holy Week, it is good to examine our own “temple” and ask God to reveal where we have allowed other things to defile this holy place in us where God alone should dwell. 

Along with the passages below, I highly recommend one of the most powerful teachings I have ever heard based on the passages regarding the cleansing of the Temple from Jim Cymbala. The link, My House Shall be Called a House of Prayer is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U79YOKje2zU

Be blessed today with a holy awareness of God’s presence within  you.

May it fill you with such joy that your own righteous and pure anger would rise up and drive out anything that would dare to defile the dwelling place of God IN your precious heart, body, soul and mind. 

Allow the Passion of Christ to do a holy cleansing in you today.

You are so deeply loved <3

Scriptures: 

Matthew 21:12-13 and 14-16

Mark 11:11 and 15-19

Luke 19:45-48

Jeremiah 7:11

Isaiah 56:7 (in context of Salvation of the Gentiles vv.1-8)

Revelation 2:1-3:22 

The Passion Week Day 1

www.laurareimer.net

The people had heard of His miracles. 

The blind were healed…the lame had not only walked, they had danced.

Lepers with rotting flesh had run to priests with clean skin and joyful hearts. 

A widow had walked away from her son’s funeral with her boy by her side. 

He had fed thousands. 

Twice.

He spoke and taught with authority.

And now He was coming in triumph to do the impossible. 

He was the long awaited King of Israel…and He was entering the city just as it had been prophesied He would. 

So they celebrated and rejoiced and cheered. 

All of this was true. 

They just didn’t understand.

They didn’t understand that His Kingdom never was of this world. 

And the way He would save them was not in the political arena but before the very judgment seat of God Almighty.

How often have I expected Him to come into my circumstances and do what I want Him to do in exactly the way I think He should do it?

How often have I worshipped Him for what I assumed would be His plan only to withdraw from Him when He didn’t come through in that excellent way of my mind’s agenda?

How I love the celebration and avoid the suffering….

So today, yes. 

We watched with joyful hearts as palm branches waved across the front of the church and little voices sang Hosanna with so much enthusiasm we feared a couple might topple into the laps of the parishioners in the first row. 

We participated in the procession and renewed our love for our Christ. 

And now let’s enter in to Holy Week, fully engaging in the events.

Fully acknowledging our own capacity to swing from happy throng to angry mob when things begin to go in an unforeseen direction.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

I pray you will meet me here each day with Bible and heart open to how God would like to lead you and me through this important week on the liturgical calendar.

Each day this week I will offer a mediation and passages of Scripture relating to that day’s events.

I encourage you to read these aside from my words and experience the remembering of the last days of Christ’s first coming.

For Palm Sunday:

Matthew 21:1-11

Mark 11:1-11

Luke 19:28-44

John 12: 12-19