Being Content with Jesus

April 16, 2020 Thursday

Luke 24:13-27

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

This week after our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection in Easter (which, by the way, happens each Sunday—one of the joys of being protestant is celebrating 52 Easters each year!), I’ve been focusing on implications of the incarnation.  The incarnation is important to the resurrection, or maybe we should say that in the opposite direction:  that the resurrection is important to the incarnation, because the resurrection validates both Jesus’ incarnation and ours. Not that God’s work needs validation, but in God’s grace we receive validating signs in his work.

On Tuesday, I said that God had made creation “good” (6x in Genesis 1 followed  by 1 “very good”) and that sometimes Christians don’t consider how God made us to be good at all.  We see the problems of the world caused by  mankind and see those as evidence of the  badness of our physical form—like  Plato’s thought that man’s spirit is good, but the body is bad.  This simply isn’t the case.  The dichotomy in NT between the evil “flesh” and the good “Spirit” is best understood as the evil of the fall which plunged our minds into continual sinful thoughts and blindness.  The good “Spirit” isn’t our spirits alone but rather the work of the Spirit (capital S=the Holy Spirit) on our spirits (lower case s=human spirits) and these two wage war in this life against each other. 

In this incarnate existence we suffer from that strife within.  One way we do so is in our relationship to Jesus, particularly in his perfect revelation of the Father.  In Luke 24 Jesus explains that all of Scripture pointed to him to Cleopas and the disciple without a name (cue America’s  “On  a Horse with No-Name”).  He showed them particularly that his mission had to include dying and being raised!  His work was to pay for the sins of his people, but for his people to understand that, Jesus had to reveal it.

God’s revelation of himself is the greatest grace we could ever receive from our heavenly father when we consider all that self-revelation includes.  If God’s self-revelation only included his holiness and our sinfulness, it would be a much different world indeed.  But that’s not what we find in Scripture.  We find a Father who loved his people enough to sacrifice his Son.  And a Son who extended grace upon grace in laying down his life and taking it up again.  Along with the Holy Spirit who is the gift believers receive through the work of the Son.  All  of  this is part of God’s self-revelation and is the source of the hope within us, and should give us great comfort today, and tomorrow, and forever.  Rest in Jesus, be content with God’s self-revelation in his Son.

Pastor Matt

Bodily Worship in the Body

I Love the Lord

116 I love the Lord, because he has heard

my voice and my pleas for mercy.

      Because he inclined his ear to me,

therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

      The snares of death encompassed me;

the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;

I suffered distress and anguish.

      Then I called on the name of the Lord:

“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

      Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;

our God is merciful.

      The Lord preserves the simple;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

      Return, O my soul, to your rest;

for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

      For you have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling;

      I will walk before the Lord

in the land of the living.

10     I believed, even when I spoke:

“I am greatly afflicted”;

11     I said in my alarm,

“All mankind are liars.”

12     What shall I render to the Lord

for all his benefits to me?

13     I will lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the Lord,

14     I will pay my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people.

15     Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.

16     O Lord, I am your servant;

I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.

You have loosed my bonds.

17     I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call on the name of the Lord.

18     I will pay my vows to the Lord

in the presence of all his people,

19     in the courts of the house of the Lord,

in your midst, O Jerusalem.

       Praise the Lord!

The titles of the Psalms in our modern Bible translations often reflect the translator’s title.  So, Psalm 116 is appropriately, I think, titled “I Love the LORD”.  I’m sure it received its title from the first line of the Psalm itself.

The Psalmist begins by praising God for hearing him when he prays.  This Psalmist is clearly giving thanks and worship to God for being his gracious deliverer.  He speaks of how God hears when we pray, how he has heard in the past which means that I will continue to trust him in the future (v.2 “therefore I will call on him as long as I live”).   The Psalmist recites some of the attributes of God:  he is gracious, righteous, and merciful.  God cares for the welfare of those who don’t have the means or wherewithal to care for themselves (which reflects all of us in some form or fashion).

Today I want to focus on the latter part of the Psalm where it moves from strict praise (telling about God and God’s mercy) to the author’s response.  This is where we should find our application as well.  It’s good and necessary to know about God and definitely to praise him, but we should also move to understand our response to understand how we should live life before our God.

In verses 14 and 17 through 19 we see three principals at work for how to live life before the face of God. First, we are called to worship God corporately.  Just look at vv. 14 and 18, “in the presence of all his people”.  It’s a sad thing that churches are unable to meet to worship corporately right now out of their appropriate love for others.  This means that we should be working toward supplementing our family and private worship times to fill the void.  I’ve written this before in the devotions, this should just increase our longing for corporate worship again.  It should also increase our longing for heaven when we will be free from sin and the curse.

A second principle we see is that worship is religious.  Religious and religion seem to have a bad connotation in churches these days.  People will say I love Jesus but I don’t do religion.  Well, the Bible does religion and we see it here in the payment of vows (v.14 and v. 18 again).  There are parts of our worship that necessitate a religious work.  Work here is defined as outward, visible, physical actions in the worship of God.  It’s not all about your heart that is invisible (so, not your myocardial muscle pumping in your chest).  God’s rightful worship starts from a right heart but it also involves right outward responses.

And finally, there is a liturgical nature to worship:  “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (v. 17).  The outward forms need orderly expression.  Our worship should begin to change us or at least call us to change, not only in its content but also in its form.  The Old Testament had a very specific form or liturgy of worship to emphasize God’s holiness, mankind’s need, and redemption itself.  As any teacher knows, making use of multiple learning styles helps to cement truth in a student’s head.  Liturgy adds a kinesthetic element as well as an aesthetic element to worship that does form our thoughts in some way.  This is part of our being made in God’s image that we are able to glorify him in this way at all.  And it has everything to do with honoring how God made us:  in body and soul which is how He will redeem us.

In Jesus’ love,

Pastor Matt 

Nourished in Body and Soul

April 14, 2020  Tuesday

John 21:9-19  When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Christianity has been plagued by a certain “Platonism” since its beginning.  By Platonism, I am referring to a devaluation of the body in relationship to the spirit/soul.  The ancient Greek philosopher Plato taught this.  To him, the soul was good but had become trapped in the evil body.  For Plato, death released the soul from the evil cage of the body.  This type of thinking has seeped into Christianity since its beginning, mainly because of the influence that Classical Greek and Roman culture had on the earliest church.

This isn’t the picture we have in the Bible, which is what our passage today shows us.  Jesus was resurrected in the same body he had in life.  In John 20, Thomas was confronted with his raised Rabbi and knew him by the wounds on his hands and side.  In his body, now resurrected, Jesus greets his disciples on the beach one morning and prepares breakfast.  This demonstrates to us the goodness (remember the good, good, good, good, good, good, very good of Genesis 1?) of life both in body and soul. 

Jesus fed his disciples.  He cared so much for his people that following his resurrection, Jesus first nourished his followers with his presence and physical sustenance.  He didn’t just say, “see I told you so, now get to work!”  No, our savior “knows our frame, he remembers we are but dust” and gives rest, refreshment, and restoration to his children. 

Since they aren’t merely spirits without bodies, the disciples needed to be nourished bodily as well as spiritually.  We ought not deny the interconnectedness of body and soul.  Our physical health affects our spiritual and vice versa!  Take care of your physical health so that your soul will be healthy too.  Taking care of your spiritual health—making use of the means of grace (prayer, God’s word, godly fellowship, and the sacraments when we meet again)—serves your physical health. It’s much easier to serve the kingdom of God when you’ve been nourished in body and soul, preparing to serve in body and soul for the kingdom.

Jesus knew what he was doing.  He made fish for breakfast on a charcoal fire.  There’s only one other charcoal fire in the Bible and Peter is at both of them.  It was near that first charcoal fire that Peter denied Jesus three times.  Our Lord, caring, gentle, and loving used all of Peter’s senses to bring true restoration.  It was painful restoration at first for Peter, but at Pentecost (Acts 2) and following we see that Peter was truly restored.  Jesus restored Peter through a confrontation that made the Apostle remember his betrayal, repent of the betrayal, and then confirm his desire to follow Jesus in body and soul.

As we look forward to the day we can gather bodily together, take care of yourselves in body and soul. 

Pastor Matt

Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020

                                                                The Saddest Sabbath

Robert Frost, well-acquainted with grief, once penned a small poem during a bleak period of his life. “The rain to the wind said/ you push and I’ll pelt /They so smote the garden bed /that the flowers actually knelt/ and lay lodged, though not dead / I know how the flowers felt.”

Holy Saturday is the day we commemorate our Savior’s death as he lay in the tomb.  Yesterday, the disciples watched their Savior die. Likely the previous few days plagued their thoughts as they grappled with the fact that their Messiah had been killed. The triumphant crowd, angry mob, crowing rooster, humiliated savior, bloodied, thorn-crowned head all pointed to the cruelest defeat. And then there was the guilt… denying the savior. His piercing words to them as they fell asleep, “Why? Why are you sleeping?” If yesterday was the world’s darkest day, this Sabbath was likely theirs.

It was a quiet day, being the Sabbath, where work stopped and businesses halted. Jews walked to the temple, but few, if any, activities were observed: there would be no working, mending, plowing, planting. One needs only to think briefly about the disciples’ frame of mind to imagine the kind of defeated hope, and unrelenting anguish they felt. They went home Friday evening “beating their breasts”—a sign of desperate grief. Today nothing could be done; nothing which could possibly serve as a small distraction from their loss. To add to their sorrow, it was Passover, a celebration of life. This was the time of year that the Jews remembered and celebrated their God who had saved them from tyranny, slavery—death. But all this served as a painful reminder of today’s truth: If he really had been the Messiah, he wasn’t alive today to let them know.

The disciples must have understood Christ’s death in a way even those of us who are acquainted with grief have not experienced. They had been given the beautiful privilege of walking with the Lord. This was their teacher, friend and confidant who never sinned, loved perfectly and gave completely. When Jesus asked them who they believed him to be, Peter exclaimed without hesitation, “You are the Christ!”  Likely now they thought of Christ’s words: The sheep know my voice. Before Abraham was, I am. I am the bread. I am the truth. I am the life. I am the resurrection.  Surely on that fateful Saturday, their heavy hearts lay lodged.  Perhaps today they reflected on the past few years. Had been duped… conned? Maybe Jesus was only just Jesus; a great teacher, but not the Christ. Or perhaps, he had been the Messiah, but their God was simply not big enough to save them… after all, he had just let his own son be killed.  Before them stretched (what they thought might be) years to consider and mull over these dark questions.

With Jesus as a Savior and friend, it had been a taste of Eden—a type of paradise. They had become used to communing with the Lord, only to have his life come to an abrupt end by Judas, a devil. And what had this dear friend saved them from! Sin and ugliness in their lives was replaced with righteousness. This was, after all, the man who came not to the righteous but saved sinners; healing his followers physically and spiritually. To give this up—beauty for ashes—must have seemed too much. History was repeating itself, with only a few variants. Instead of sinful man cast from a perfect creation, the perfect man was cast from a sinful world. Jesus, like Eve, had been betrayed by a devil. Communion with the Creator was again forfeited by death, and their beloved, long-expected Messiah was killed. As they drifted off to sleep that Saturday night, their hope of God’s kingdom being ushered in was in vain. Any hope of a risen Savior would be dismissed as an idle tale. Tomorrow, their hearts would burn within them as they spoke to Jesus, but today was not that day. Today was the quiet stillness of deep sorrow, fear of a life apart from a Savior. It was the wind and rain that had pushed, pelted, and won; the cursed world which killed the God-man. The baby that had cooed, giggled, drooled and toddled some 33 years ago was now just as dead as he had been alive. Now his body grew cold and began its decay process. No longer would their Savior calm their storm, enter into their pain, speak truth into their lives, bind up their broken hearts. It was a day to be still, but not know if He was God. The truth seemed, to the disciples, that of defeat and death. The sting of death had come to the savior just as surely as the Savior’s would take it away. And the God who said “He watching over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps” had a child who not only did both, but wasn’t going to wake up today.  Death had won, defeat was realized, Christ was conquered, and Satan rejoiced.

This Saturday, do not rejoice. Let your hearts lament and feel the coldness of a world without God. Mourn for those who have not received their resurrected savior. Mourn for those whose hearts are as heavy as the disciples were on that Sabbath because they will not only experience the sting of death but the fire of hell. They occupy the position of God’s instruments, but have not acknowledged him as Lord. Today, let us pray for a world that lives as though their Savior is still in his grave. And let us live, and have that life more abundantly, because He is risen indeed.

In Jesus,
Courtney

Family Worship Helps for Good Friday

Prayer of Preparation:

Almighty and everlasting God, You willed that Your Son should bear for us the pains of the cross, that You might remove from us the power of the adversary: Help us to remember and give thanks for our Lord’s Passion that we may obtain remission of sin and redemption from everlasting death; through the same, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture reading:

Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1 John 4:13-19  13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

Hymn of Praise:  O Jesus, We Adore Thee #255 [https://hymnary.org/hymn/TH1990/255]

Confession of Sin:

Most Merciful Father, who sent our Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, we have sinned in many ways against You and Your commandments:

We confess that we have not believed in You, our one God and Father, but have put our faith and trust more in creatures than in You, our God and Creator.

We confess that we have erected idols in our hearts, and bowed down and served them;

We confess that we have misused Your Name, that we have sworn falsely or lightly by it, and have not professed it or kept it holy as we ought;

WE confess that we have not kept the Sabbath holy, nor have we rejoiced in the work of six days but have grumbled against your day and been negligent in our work;

We confess that we have not honored our parents, and have been disobedient to them and to all those to whom we owe honor and obedience;

We confess that have not respected life, but have murdered in our hearts, venting our anger against our neighbors whom we are to love;

We confess that we have been unchaste; we acknowledge all our sins of the flesh and all the excess and extravagance of our whole lives in eating, drinking, clothing, and other things, and our intemperance in our thinking, seeing, hearing, and speaking;

We confess that we have stolen.  We acknowledge our greed; WE admit our love of the world and the things of the world; we have dishonestly gained and kept what we have, and greedily held what belongs to others;

We confess that we have borne false witness, that we have been untrue and unfaithful toward our neighbor, that we have shaded, twisted and denied the truth;

We confess that we have coveted the possessions and spouses of others; we acknowledge in summary that our whole life is nothing else than sin and transgression of your holy commandments and an inclination toward all evil.

We thank you, God our Father that your forgiveness for all our sins is forever sure in the perfect person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His name, Amen.

Hymn of AdorationWhat Wondrous Love is This #261 [https://hymnary.org/hymn/TH1990/261 or a choral version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsVnvN3EVxY]

A Reading—it’s designed to be responsive but as always you can adapt for your group or family:

O my people, O my Church,
what have I done to you, or in what have I offended you?
I led you forth from the land of Egypt
and delivered you by the waters of baptism,
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I led you through the desert forty years and fed you with manna;
I brought you through times of persecution and of renewal
and gave you my body, the bread of heaven;
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I made you branches of my vineyard
and gave you the water of salvation,
but when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar and gall
and pierced with a spear the side of your Savior. 

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I went before you in a pillar of cloud,
but you have led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.
I brought you to a land of freedom and prosperity,
but you have scourged, mocked, and beaten me. 

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I gave you a royal scepter, and bestowed the keys to the kingdom,
but you have given me a crown of thorns.
I raised you on high with great power,
but you have hanged me on the cross.

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

My peace I gave, which the world cannot give,
and washed your feet as a servant,
but you draw the sword to strike in my name
and seek high places in my kingdom. 

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I accepted the cup of suffering and death for your sakes,
but you scatter and deny and abandon me.
I sent the Spirit of truth to lead you,
but you close your hearts to guidance.

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I called you to go and bring forth fruit,
but you cast lots for my clothing.
I prayed that you all may be one,
but you continue to quarrel and divide. 

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I grafted you into the tree of my chosen people Israel,
but you turned on them with persecution and mass murder.
I made you joint heirs with them of my covenants,
but you made them scapegoats for your own guilt. 

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

I came to you as the least of your brothers and sisters.
I was hungry but you gave me no food,
thirsty but you gave me no drink.
I was a stranger but you did not welcome me,
naked but you did not clothe me,
sick and in prison but you did not visit me. 

Holy God,
holy and mighty,
holy and immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

Hymn of ThanksgivingLet All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence #193[https://hymnary.org/hymn/TH1990/193 or a choral version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxd7rWLhCMc]

Homily:  The Dereliction of Jesus Christ:  the Death of the Light and Life of Men

Texts: Matthew 27: 1-50; John 13:1

Family Worship Helps for Maundy Thursday

Worship Helps for Maundy Thursday 4/9/2020

The video will be available Thursday afternoon, these helps are available for you to use, if you so desire. There are prayers, hymns (which you can consult hymnar.org or youtube for accompaniment and lyrics), and readings. I pray these might be a blessing to you in the worship of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pastor Matt

Prayer of Preparation: O LORD, it was on the evening before His death that Thy Son, my Savior, didst show such great love for His people in instituting His supper and washing their feet.  As He prepared to be crushed for my iniquity and wounded for the disease of my sin, my Lord Jesus scrubbed the dirt from my feet instead of being selfish, He was ever self-less.  Teach me to love him, winnow from my soul the self-love that corrupts my mind and directs my sight away from you.  Amen.

In your family’s Worship of God these scriptures may be read by one to all, or responsively:

 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Christ died once for the sins of his people, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all.

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The Prayer of Invocation 

ASSIST us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Ascription of Praise (read by all in unison)  To him who loves and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and honor and glory and blessing!  Amen.

Hymn of Adoration: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross #252

Readings for meditation:

Before our Savior was arrested, he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, “Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Jeremiah tells us about that cup in chapter 25, listen to the anger of God which our Lord Jesus is preparing to endure.  “Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it:

Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day; Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his officials, all his people, and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod); Edom, Moab, and the sons of Ammon; all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the coastland across the sea; Dedan, Tema, Buz, and all who cut the corners of their hair; all the kings of Arabia and all the kings of the mixed tribes who dwell in the desert; all the kings of Zimri, all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of Media; all the kings of the north, far and near, one after another, and all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth. (Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World! JOhn 1:29)

And after them the king of Babylon shall drink. “Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’

“And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink! For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the Lord of hosts.’ “You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

“ ‘The Lord will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the Lord.’ “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth! “And those pierced by the Lord on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.”

Hymn of Response:  O Sacred Head, Now Wounded  #247

Call to confession :  Isaiah 53:4-6   Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Prayer of Confession:  Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:  Isaiah 53:10-11  Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Hymn of Thanksgiving:  261  What Wondrous Love is This?

Homily:  Jesus’ Love is Better than the World’s Hate 

Text: Matthew 26:17-29 (John 13:1) 

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 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. 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, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 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.”

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.

Final Words: He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  he trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him.  For he said, “I am the Son of God.  And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.  Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.  And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God!  Why have you forsaken me?”

Devotional: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Good Friday Collect 1 from The Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

Leviticus 5:14 Loving Your Neighbor

14 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 15 “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. 16 He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

The guilt offering was the sacrifice that sought to make repayment for a violation against your neighbor.  In addition to making repayment for a sin committed against a neighbor it dealt with other types of guilt, too.  Specifically, it dealt with three instances which incurred guilt:  against the holy things of the Lord, against God’s commands by mistake, and sins against his neighbor.

When the Bible mentions the “holy things of the Lord”, it means the holy furniture and articles used for worship in the tabernacle, the sacrifices themselves, and the portions of sacrifices designated for the priests.  They were made holy by God when he accepted them as part of his worship.  Somehow, the worshiper profaned one of them in his carelessness (it most likely wasn’t done intentionally, see Nadab and Abihu in Lev. 10).

Sometimes we make mistakes, we mess up and do something wrong, but don’t know it at first.  That’s the second type of guilt this offering covers.  ““If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, though he did not know it, then realizes his guilt, he shall bear his iniquity.” (Lev. 4:17)

The sin against neighbor, like the sin against the holy things requires a 20% addition to it.  This is kind of the payment for damages.  The whole worth of whatever the priest determines your sinful action requires must be repaid, but in addition 20% more has to be added.   In this sacrifice we see a striking difference to Christ.  It’s presupposed here that repayment can be made, but in terms of our sinful condition, there’s nothing we can do to repay what we owe. 

This sacrifice has a lot to say about the people of God.  We are made into a people, not just individuals who love God and sometimes come together for our good and God’s glory.  We are truly united by Jesus’ work.  This sacrifice acknowledged that aspect of our relationships.  While David said in Psalm 51, “against you only (God) have I sinned”, he said in the ultimate sense of the word.  That God is good and he alone defines sin, and that all sins are ultimately committed against God.  Yet, we still understand that we can and do sin against other people.

It didn’t matter who you were in Israel nor who you offended.  If you sinned against your brother or sister, you were liable to repay its value to them plus 20%.  And your guilt incurred against your brother meant that you also were guilty in God’s eyes.  There are two important principles there:  first, all of God’s people are equal—equal in sinfulness, equal in righteousness, equal in restitution; second, God cares about his people, if you sin against your brother, God holds you guilty too.

Christ came and paid for our sins, not so that we can be free to sin again, but to be free from our sins.  To love our brothers and sisters as Jesus does. To seek God’s help in loving one another as He does.  Jesus said the two great commandments are “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  And You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Having trouble loving your brother or sister in Christ?  Remember that Jesus died for them too.  Remember that Jesus loves them as a perfect husband loves his bride.  Remember that Jesus is even now working in them to present his bride spotless before the throne of God.

In Jesus’ everlasting kindness and love,

Pastor Matt