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Category Archives: Matthew

Matthew 5:11-12

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Matthew 5:11-12

Dear God, it’s important that the context of these two verses are the beatitudes. Jesus had just said that the poor, the mourning, the hungry for justice, the humble, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peace makers and the persecuted are all blessed. But here’s a question. What does it mean when you “bless” us? What does that blessing look like?

I don’t have a really great answer except that maybe it all goes back to the fruits of the spirit. The more I think about them (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, and self control), there are two that are different that the others. I’ve long pointed to peace as a litmus test for how I’m doing, but joy is a lot like it. All of the others are things that I can will myself into action on. I can will myself to love, be patient, be faithful, etc. I can’t, however, will myself to joy and/or peace. Those are things that grow from within and I think those are the things that you give to us in your blessing. When we are mourning, you are there. When we are persecuted, you are there. When we are poor, you are there.

Holy Spirit, be at home in me so that the Father might live and reach others through me. Jesus, thank you for loving me and for your sacrifice. I confess that I still don’t appreciate you or understand what you did for me as I should. And Father, I adore you. Please let your blessing be on me so that your kingdom will come and your will will be done on earth as it is in heaven through my life.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2019 in Matthew

 

Matthew 6:31-34

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:31-34

Dear God, the verse of the day was the “seek first part,” but I want to focus on the line, “Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Yes, it is.

A lot of what I’m about to say (and remind myself of) is what you taught me through C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters--the 15th letter, to be precise. He has a couple of lines in there that you used to change my life. It’s all about the future and the demon trying to preoccupy his human “patient” with it based on the argument that the present is the one point in time that interfaces with eternity (and you).

The biggest problem (and there are many) with being anxious about the future (which is exactly what I prayed to you about a week ago this morning) is that I will likely miss your calling for what you want me to do today. But I have enough to solve today. I have work to do for my day-job. I have a wife to love. I have children, family and friends to pray for. I have rehearsal for the play I’m in.

One of the tricks for me today is getting caught up in the latest headlines regarding President Trump. My life can have zero effect on the outcome of what’s happening in D.C. right now, but I’m allowing myself to be distracted by the news this week more than I normally am. Sure, I could say that I could contact my senator or congressman, but I don’t even know what I’d like them to do today. But Satan uses these distractions and divisions to keep our hearts out of this present moment and away from you.

Father, help me to stay in the moment today. Love through me. Live through me. Speak to others and bless/serve them through me. And thank you for everything.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Matthew

 

Matthew 16:24-27

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.
Matthew 16:24-27

Dear God, when my wife and I were praying together this morning, we talked about laying down our bitterness—the wrongs people have done to us that stick around in our minds. Forgiveness.

She told me about a great novel she read that, towards the end has one last argument between a husband and wife. The wife is pious but unforgiving and bitter. The husband is not pious at all. Just before he leaves to live alone for the rest of his life, he calls her on it. Paraphrasing: “I’m not pious, but you are. But you don’t forgive. What good will your piety do for you on the other side when you’ve never forgiven others?”

I think that feeds into this passage. “Give up your life for my sake.” That means giving up the hurt and the bitterness too. It means embracing the role you have for me to play in this world instead of caring about what role I have for me to play in this world. It means seeing another person’s offensive behavior for what it might be beneath the surface and disregarding how it impacted/impacts me. Not that I should allow myself to be abused. But once I’ve removed myself from the abusive situation, I think you call me to let go and prayerfully consider what actions you would have me take for that other person’s good.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, please guide me. Teach me. Holy Spirit, pray for me. Pray for those who are on my heart as I type this out. And I also want to pray for the two people today I know who are experiencing memorial services/funerals for their loved ones. Please ease their pain. Comfort them. They are people of faith in you. Please meet them and strongly support them.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2019 in Matthew

 

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Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

Dear God, sometimes the only way to take rocky soil and turn it into good soil is to take a jackhammer to it. Sometimes the only way to get rid of the thorns is to take a tool and completely rip the soil up so that I can get the weeds out by the root. Well, when it comes to my heart, I need you to be my jackhammer and my plow. If I want to have fertile soil in my heart into which you can plant your seeds then I need to be ready to have you deal with the parts that are not fertile.

For the first eight years of my Christian life, I had no fertile soil. I was young and my I didn’t know what suffering really was yet. I just knew that I was a sinner and I needed you to forgive me and make me clean. But the part of having the Holy Spirit come and take up residence in a fertile heart that would allow deep roots took something special.

Well, over 30 years later, I am still finding the rocky places that need attention. They need your hammer and your plow. And then I have friends and family members who need the same thing. As I am understanding this concept more and learning to connect the Holy Spirit’s power and authority in my life and the type of soil that my heart provides for the Holy Spirit to live in and grow, I can see how that plays out in others’ lives as well. It is giving me some clarity for them and ways to pray for them that I haven’t before. For the new Christian. For the scorned wife. For the person who has experienced tragedy. I am finding myself praying for them in different ways now.

Father, you know the individuals on my heart this morning, including myself. Make all of our paths straight so that they will lead straight into your presence. And when that soil is ready, we will then be able to have the Holy Spirit growing fruit in our lives (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, self control) that bring you glory and help your kingdom to come and your will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Matthew

 

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Holy Spirit Baptism

Dear God, I wrote yesterday morning about being baptized in the Holy Spirit. With Pentecost coming this Sunday, and me substitute preaching at the Presbyterian church, I want to spend some time on this issue with you. What is being baptized in the Holy Spirit all about?

First, I want to look at the passages that reference it.

  • John the Baptist – All four Gospels reference John the Baptist saying the Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Here is what Matthew says: “I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” [Matthew 3:11]
  • Jesus before the Ascension – Just before he ascended to Heaven, Jesus said this to the apostles: “John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 1:5]
  • Pentecost – This doesn’t specifically say, “Baptized by the Holy Spirit,” but it’s the follow up to Acts 1:5 and I’ve always taken it to mean that this is what happened to the early church: On the day of Pentecost[a] all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. [Acts 2:1-4]
  • Peter promises the Spirit – Now that Peter has just received it in that moment, he understands that it is an important part of the experience and he includes it along with repentance and water baptism: Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [Acts 2:38]
  • Samaritan believers were missing the Holy Spirit – I would say that this story certainly supports the idea of a two-stage baptism: When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there.  As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8:14-17]
  • Simon the Sorcerer tries to buy the Holy Spirit baptism – Simon is jealous of those who have this baptism, but finds out that being baptized in the Holy Spirit isn’t something you can buy or earn: But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”‘”Pray to the Lord for me, Simon exclaimed, ‘that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!” [Acts 8:20-24]
  • Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit before water baptism – The apostles were still figuring out what the New Covenant looked like and then had this experience with Gentiles: Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. For they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.Then Peter asked, “Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. [Acts 10:44-48a]
  • Peter has to convince the other apostles that Gentiles are welcome – Again, everyone is trying to figure this out. Isn’t it interesting that humans seem to have a tendency to think of themselves as part of a select class of humans? But you were teaching them: Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’  “‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’ “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. “Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’ “As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.” [Acts 11:1-18]
  • All are baptized into one body – The ultimate lesson the apostles and early church learned is that all humans are your children through this New Covenant. Jesus bridged the gap and your Holy Spirit is available to us all: The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.  Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. [1 Corinthians 12:12-13]

So when I lift all of these references to Holy Spirit baptism out and look at them together, it makes me think back on Jesus’s prayer for us in John during the Last Supper story. When he prayed for future believers he said, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. [John 17:21].” I think the Holy Spirit is our great counselor, teacher, and uniter. 

Father, I cannot imagine what a post-Jesus world would look like without Pentecost and the Holy Spirit arriving on the scene to baptize us all. I cannot imagine what my life would look like without the Holy Spirit. And I know that part of my job is to ensure that I continue to provide a heart with fertile soil that will not squelch the Spirit in my life, but provide the seeds he plants to thrive and grow into making my life what you need it to be. Thank you for your glory. Thank you for Jesus. And thank you for the Holy Spirit.

I pray all of this in worship of you through Jesus’s name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2019 in 1 Corinthians, Acts, Matthew

 

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Matthew 20:17-19

Matthew 20:17-19 [NLT]
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man[a] will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”

Dear God, the biggest thing I think of when it comes to passages like this is that, on the rare occasions when you give us insights into the future (and they are very rare), they are more about comforting and reassuring us than they are about letting us in on the secret. In this case, the disciples didn’t have to know this information in order for it to all happen. In fact, their response to this knowledge might have gotten in the way. But the reason you NEEDED them to know was that you knew that they would need to be able to remember back to these moments and realize that this was part of the plan all along. Twenty or 30 years down the road, as Matthew thought back on this and put pen to paper, he could be assured that this was all okay.

I can’t say that I’ve gotten a lot of words of prophecy from you. One of my many one-liners is that you keep me on a need-to-know basis and I very rarely need to know. But I can almost always look back on events in my life and see your providence, even when, at the time, I felt like all was lost. I have had some trials (no worse than anyone else’s to be sure), but I can almost always look back on them after a good amount of time and see what you were doing for me, for those I love, or within me to grow me into a place where you need me to be.

Father, thank you for your patience with me. There’s a Keith and Melody Green song called “Make My Life A Prayer To You.” In it, there’s a line that says, “I want to thank you now for being patient with me. It’s so hard to see when my eyes are on me. So I guess I’ll have to trust and just believe what you say. Lord, you’re coming again. Coming to take me away.” So to finish this prayer with the chorus of that song, “Make my life a prayer to you. I want to do what you want me to . No empty words and no white lies. No token prayers. No compromise. I want to shine the light you gave through your son you sent to save us from our self and our despair. It comforts me to know you’re really there.”

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2019 in Matthew

 

Passion Week – The Last Supper: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image itself is called “Bitter Herbs” and was created by Tanja Butler.

MATTHEW

Matthew 26:20-35
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

MARK

Mark 14:17-31
And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

LUKE

Luke 22:14-38
And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had 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.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21 But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. 22 For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

JOHN

John 13-17
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 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 just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. 14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. 16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Dear God, it’s Maundy Thursday. I thought I would spend some time with all four Gospels and how they tell the story of The Last Supper. Keeping with the theme of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) vs. John’s Gospel, the first three tellings of the story are quite similar and John’s is much more detailed. Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial makes all four stories, as does the breaking of the bread and pouring of the wine. Luke gives us the part about selling cloaks for swords (very odd and controversial), but John really goes off and captures Jesus’ mood in a different way. The washing of feet. The teaching that happened.

As I look at the image “Bitter Herbs” created by Tanja Butler, Jesus is at the head of the table, and Judas is at the end, looking away. Bustard says of the image, “In this print, Christ offers Judas bread with his own hand, a gift the defecting disciple receives with a distracted mind and heart.” That’s not how it hits me. I see it as Judas not being able to look Jesus in the eye. Everyone else has their attention on Jesus–either on his face or his hands. But Judas has to look away.

I honestly don’t know how Jesus even got through this evening. This meal. This last time with his disciples. This last moment before great pain and suffering. But meals can be bonding.

I happened to read a great article this evening that my son pointed out to me. It was about how Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs uses food and wine to build his team into a family. It was a great piece that I read out loud to my wife and then forwarded to several people. I wonder how many meals these men, these 12, shared like this.

I could go on an on. I could talk about all of the things that Jesus said in John as he tried to leave them with one last piece of himself. But at the end of the day, this meal is about relationship. Eleven men are in as much relationship with Jesus as they can humanly be, while one knows it’s already too late. Thankfully for the first 11, even though Jesus tries to warn them, they are not completely aware of what the next 18 hours holds.

Father, thank you for providing a Passover Lamb for me. Thank you for giving my home blood on the doorpost and causing the angel of death to pass over it (with my “home” being my body). I can never fully appreciate what happened this night nearly 2,000 years ago, but to the extent that I can, I am very grateful that the fruits of it have poured all of the way down to me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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