Category Archives: Passion Week

Passion Week – The Resurrection of Christ: John 20:1-10

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. It is titled “Christ Risen” and was created by Edward Knippers.

John 20:1-10 [ESV]
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’s head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

Dear God, I’m so grateful this morning. I’ve spent the week trying to sink into the depths of this Passion. Sure, I didn’t really go all the way. I had work. I had other things that took my attention. But I can say that this is likely the most thoughtful I’ve ever been about Holy Week. And here we are.

When I woke up this morning and made my breakfast, I played four songs. “Sunday’s on the Way” by Carman, “He’s Alive” by Don Francisco, “Easter Song” by Keith Green, and then “Gotta Tell Somebody” by Don Francisco. The first three were about Easter and Jesus’s resurrection in one way or another while the fourth was about a grateful father who just had to tell somebody what Jesus did for him. It was fun and worshipful. You are alive! And you have done great things for me.

Father do I “gotta tell somebody?” Have I counted my blessings and shared your greatness and mercy with others? Do I live with the joy that you are alive? Help me to do better. Live through me. Love through me. Let you kingdom come and your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Passion Week – The Descent from the Cross: John 19:38-40

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image was created by Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn and is called “Descent from the Cross by Torchlight.”

John 19:38-42 [ESV]
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Dear God, I’ve been thinking about this story all day long. It’s the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter morning. As I right this, it is a little less than three hours until midnight. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about the Passover traditions of the Jewish people, but a couple of things strike me about this story:

  • Bustard actually pairs this image in the book with Mark 15:37-47, but I chose John’s telling of the story instead because he gives us a character the other three Gospels don’t give: Nicodemus. John is the only one who ever mentions Nicodemus at all, but he brings him up three times: chapters 3, 7, and 19. In chapter 3, he asks Jesus how someone can be born again and Jesus goes on his rant that includes several things including the now-famous John 3:16. In chapter 7, the Pharisees are trying to arrest and ultimately kill Jesus, and Nicodemus is there to subtly defend him (verses 50-51). And now he appears again. He went from seeker in chapter 3, to closet disciple and defender in chapter 7, to open disciple and lover in chapter 19. And it was at the lowest moment of defeat and despair that he came out. He and Joseph both. These verses in chapter 19 are my favorite Bible story because John tells us so much in just 11 verses.
  • Each man probably worked very silently as they handled the body. Their grief and anger must have been unbearable. John basically shows us a lot of anger towards the Pharisees in this scene. Pilate is angry with them and puts “Jesus of Nazareth: The King of the Jews” (19:19) on the cross, in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, no less (19:20) just to goad them (19:22). Now he shows two men whose grief an anger drives them to change their earthly lives forever. There was no turning back now. The love they had for Jesus in that moment is something that I have to question about myself when I hold myself up to their example. Do I love you that much?
  • What was that Sabbath night like for them? After they lay Jesus in the tomb and went home, what happened next? That’s what I mostly thought about today. How much pain were they in? How much anger or support did they receive from their wives/families? What did Saturday night look like after the Sabbath was over? There were a couple of times today when I just tried to get my head into theirs just a little.
  • How hard was it to remove Jesus from that cross? Did they have to pull the nails. This image shows one of Jesus’s feet still nailed to the cross while they lowered him. It also shows presumably Joseph preparing the linen shroud on which the men will place him. Did Rembrandt think about Nicodemus being there? Is he one of the men shown?

Father, tomorrow morning is Easter. To quote a Christian singer from the 80s and 90s, Carman, “It might seem like Friday night, but Sunday’s on the way.” Tomorrow morning is where we find our victory. It’s where we find the power in your mercy. It’s where we find our relief and our peace. I’m sure that Joseph and Nicodemus couldn’t believe it when they heard Jesus was alive. Did they get to see him over those next 40 days before he ascended? Were they there when Peter gave is great sermon and the Holy Spirit descended? As for me, I just hope I can live up to their legacy and be the one to show you love, regardless of what form you take in my life, and regardless of how confident I am that everything is working out the way you want it to.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Passion Week – The Crucifixion: John 19:23-30 / “Thief” by Third Day

The above image is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image itself is called “The Crucifixion” as was created by Eric Gill.

John 19:23-30 [ESV]
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Dear God, I spent some time with this image this morning before I left town for the day, and I’ve thought about it a lot since then. Now, its late in the evening and my wife has gone to bed. I have some time to really sit with it and consider what Eric Gill wanted to share.

  • Jesus is obviously the focus of the image. He has the halo around him that Catholics and some others put around Saints and the Holy Family. He looks thin. He has his thorn of crowns. He is totally naked, but Gill gives him some modesty by covering him with someone’s outstretched hands. Could this be Jesus’s mother helping to cover her boy?
  • It appears that three women have the halo as well. One has her face hidden and the other two are shown. Is this Gill showing us Mary, Jesus’ mother, Mary’s sister, and Mary Magdalene?
  • There is one man in the picture. Is this John? He is standing near the three women, so I would say it is probably John, readying to take care of Jesus’s mother.
  • Oh, there are two other men in the picture too. One is on the cross on the left and the other on the right. The one on the left is only shone by his face, but he has the Saint halo. There are five haloed people in this image, and he is one of them. The other man on the cross is shown not only with no halo, but his nakedness is shown as well. Gill allowed Jesus and the other dying man some modesty, but to the man who mocked Jesus Gill gave a complete humiliation.
  • Gill included the writing at the top of Jesus’s cross, and he gives us the version of the cross that looks more like a capital “T” than a lowercase “t.”

Last night, I sat with the image of the last supper. Now, this image shows the culmination of what happened over the next 18 hours. It happened that fast. No due process. No jury of peers. Just humiliation and death.

I was talking with my dad this evening about how sometimes the plan we would lay out on paper is the wrong plan, and the plan that will accomplish your actual will looks terrible on paper. I would say that this whole thing with Jesus is a prime example of that.

Then there is the haloed man on the cross to Jesus’s right. While I was driving today, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in about 20 years. It’s called “Thief” and is by Third Day.

“Thief” by Third Day

I am a thief, I am a murderer
Walking up this lonely hill
What have I done? No, I don’t remember
No one knows just how I feel
And I know that my time is coming soon

It’s been so long, oh, such a long time
Since lived with peace and rest
Now I am here, my destination
I guess things work for the best
And I know that my time is coming soon

Who is this man? This man beside me
They call the King of the Jews
They don’t believe that He’s the Messiah
But somehow, I know that it’s true

They laugh at Him in mockery
And they beat Him ’til He bleeds
And they nail Him to the rugged cross
They raise Him, yeah, they raise Him up next to me

My time has come and I’m slowly fading
I deserve what I receive
Jesus when You are in Your kingdom
Could You please, please remember me?

And He looks at me still holding on
The tears fall from His eyes
And He says I tell the truth
Today, you will be with Me in paradise

And I know that my time, yes my time is coming soon
And I know that my time, yes my time, is coming soon
And I know Paradise, Paradise is coming soon

Songwriters: Bradley B. C. Avery / David Carr / Johnny Mac Powell / Mark D. Lee / Samuel Tai Anderson

Father, in the end, so much happened in 18 hours. The world changed in 18 hours. All of human time and space changed in 18 hours. Mercy came to the world in those 18 hours. And the plan looked absolutely terrible on paper, but it’s exactly what we needed. We needed our Passover Lamb. I needed a Passover Lamb. I needed mercy. I needed grace. I needed freedom. And the sacrifice all came in these 18 hours. But at this point on that Friday night, the plan looked like it had all fallen apart. We just never know what you’re up to. They didn’t know it then, and I don’t know it now. But I trust you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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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 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 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 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 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,



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Passion Week – Killing the Master’s Son: Matthew 21:33-41

The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image is called “Parable of the Vineyard” and was created by Anonymous.

Matthew 21:33-41 [ESV]

33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

Dear God, one question I’m asking myself this morning that I’ve never asked before is, Why do we do it? As I look at this image of the two men beating and killing the son, I wonder about their motivation. It’s interesting that the artist drew them as being more in “Robin Hood” times than biblical times, but the question still remains: Why?

What do we think we will gain by kicking you out of our world and running it ourselves? Bringing it down to the personal level, what do I think I will gain by kicking you out of my life rather than living it under your authority? I suppose it comes down to instant gratification that ultimately kills vs. the idea that you might call me to delay my gratification or to never experience gratification at all. It’s easy to judge others and our society as a whole, but how am I doing with the vineyard of my own life that you have leased to me? When you come, do I embrace you or snuff you out?

I have been thinking about the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris yesterday. I know it is Easter week and a lot of people will make their once-a-year visit to church on Sunday, but I wonder how many more will be shaken by this sad tragedy. How many vineyard workers will be shocked into realizing that they have taken the master for granted. It makes me think of Congress standing on the capitol steps in September 2001 and singing “God Bless America” together. Will this shocking even that damaged something we have taken for granted for nearly 900 years remind us to worship you? Will you use this to call some of us home?

Father, remind me that all of this starts with me. I’m not here to judge anyone else. I’m not here to try and list the people I think have rejected your authority over their lives. I’m here to look in the mirror. I’m here to ask your forgiveness. I’m sorry for being a poor tenant and acting like the landowner instead. You are my God. This life I’m living is your life. Help me to be the steward of it that you need me to be.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Passion Week – Cleansing the Temple: Matthew 21:12-17

The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image was created by Albrecht Durer and is called “Christ Driving the Moneylenders from the Temple.”

Matthew 21:12-17

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

Dear God, I’ve read this story and heard about this story so many times that it can be hard to come at it fresh. But this image from Mr. Durer helps a little. There are some striking things about it:

  • Jesus is holding a whip. It’s different than the one that will be used on him later in the week, but it’s interesting to see a violent Jesus. Is there a time and a place for violence?
  • The man on the ground seems to be knocked out or incapacitated in some way. I know this is just the artist’s rendition, but it’s an interesting thought as to what extent of physical damage Jesus did.
  • There is a man holding a lamb. People were there to get what they needed for the Passover. Jesus would become their lamb. In fact, in reality, there would become no need for these things again. It makes me wonder what the disciples did for the Passover in the y ears to come. Did they still follow all of the Jewish rituals? I’ll be they did.
  • I think I see a Pharisee’s hat way in the background on the right.
  • Jesus is very heavily clothed. I don’t normally picture him with that much clothing.
  • The artist decided that Jesus was right-handed. I wonder if he really was.

Here i what the author of the book had to say about this image:

in contrast to Late Gothic depictions of a delicate or fragile Christ, in this piece, Durer created an intense, militant, and manly Christ. A modern Jesus would politely ask the money changers to leave. But that is not the Jesus of Scripture. He forcefully drives the money changers out, overturning tables and throwing seats. Jesus acts in this audacious manner because he knows he owns the temple. He is defending his place in the same way a home owner would defend his own house. Jesus is violent, defiant, and takes into his own hands the removal of those who desecrate the temple. This work was part of a larger series of prints called The Small Passion, and was quite relevant to the time. A Christ who as fighting for holiness rang true with young Reformers.

I guess the thing that I would also add is that this is the beginning of a violent week. Jesus is very intense in his emotion and his passion (little “p”). He only has a little bit of time left and there isn’t any to waste.

Father, help me to not grieve you the way these moneychangers grieved you. As I raise money for a nonprofit, help me to aspire to the best parts of philanthropy and not manipulate people for my own purposes. During this Passion Week, help me to be very mindful of who you are, what you did, and what that means to me today. Help me to worship you well and follow your leading.

In Jesus’s name I pray,



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Passion Week – The Triumphal Entry: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-16

The image above is from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups by Ned Bustard. The image is called “The Triumphal Entry” and was created by Diego Jourdan Pereira.

Matthew 21:1-11

As Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.” This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said, “Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.’” The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in highest heaven!” The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked. And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Mark 11:1-11

As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” The two disciples left and found the colt standing in the street, tied outside the front door. As they were untying it, some bystanders demanded, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They said what Jesus had told them to say, and they were permitted to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields. Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left because it was late in the afternoon. Then he returned to Bethany with the twelve disciples.

Luke 19:28-44

After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?” And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

John 12:12-16

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s cold.” His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.

Dear God, I want to spend some time with the Triumphal Entry today. It is Palm Sunday after all. My wife and I went to a special church service this morning where a man who is with “Jews for Jesus” came to walk the congregation through the different parts of the Passover meal. So now, as we enter Passion Week, I want to take some time to really sit with this week in a different way than I ever have before. Of course, that starts with Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups and what I’ve been getting out of the different artists’ interpretations of the stories.

So here I am with the Triumphal Entry. The first thing I did was look to confirm that the story shows up in all four Gospels. It does, although John seems to have a different focus than the other three. The first three give a lot more backstory, but John focuses on the crowds, the excitement, how the prophecy angle impacted the disciples after it was all said and done, and the Lazarus connection (remembering that one John gives us the Lazarus resurrection story).

So what did Diego Jourdan Pereira notice in this story? First, this image is a little difficult for a left-brained person like me to decipher. It’s hard to tell what I’m seeing here. I see the donkey with its head down. I see Jesus, who appears to have his head down. Are those lines in the background palm branches? I ended up having to go to the commentary on this piece a little sooner than I like. Here’s what Ned Bustard said about the piece, including a quote from the artist:

According to Jewish tradition the glory of God appeared through the Beautiful Gate and will appear again when the Messiah comes (Ezekiel 44:1-3). And it is said that Jesus entered through this gate on Palm Sunday. But the gate, disciples, crowds, cloaks, palm branches, and hosannas are all missing from this depiction of the Triumphal Entry. All that remains is a downcast donkey and a sorrowful Jesus. The artist explains, “The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that while everyone else was celebrating around him, Christ’s mind was elsewhere. He was thinking about the destruction of Jerusalem and his own impending fate on the Cross. His tears are internal as well as external.” But Jesus would not turn aside from the path. Luke 9:51 says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

I’m having so many thoughts, it’s hard to sort through them. I guess my day started with a revelation that might have been more obvious to other Christians–you intentionally made Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection part of Passover. Jesus could have been killed any time and in any way, but your plan was to have his death and resurrection exactly coincide with the Passover celebration in Jerusalem that year. Why had I never thought of that? I guess I can be a little dense.

Then I have the thought from Luke 9 that Bustard brings out in the end of his description–that Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem.” We’ll see the emotions of Jesus play out over the next few days. In fact, he probably shows more emotion during this week than he does in the rest of the stories about him. He clears the temple out of anger. He curses a fig tree. He sweats blood. But when it comes down to it, he didn’t have to do this. He could have bailed, except for the fact that he was following your will, and your will was for him to walk this path. He was to be our Passover lamb.

Father, hep me to sink into this week. Help me to spend this week worshipping you–every aspect of you. You are GREAT and yet you are humble. You are all powerful, yet you are sacrificially loving. You can look through the screaming crowds of the Triumphal Entry and see the wickedness in each of us, and yet you proceed. You knew better than to believe the love you were getting from the crowd. You knew that some would turn on you and some would simply disappear. The more I sit with these ideas the more humbled and thankful I am.

In Jesus’ name I pray,



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