Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Luke 23:44-49; Three reactions

Jesus breathed his last and gave up his spirit. The sun stopped shining and the veil was torn. The world changed -- physically and religiously.

Luke records three groups of people around and their reactions. Those who come from a different walk of life that make a declaration of a new faith. Those who feel something deep inside and walk away sad. Those who stand at a safe distance and watch.

Life seems to still fall into those three groups of people when it comes to responding to Jesus. Some start at radically different places in life but along the way they truly see Jesus and are moved to faith. Some are touched but walk away. It is the same reaction to a great movie or sad story. Yes it was powerful but not life changing. Then there is the third group that stands at a distance. Will they engage in faith or will they walk away? Eventually it would seem that they must respond.

Today, which will I be?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Luke 23:26-43; Cross Perspectives

Luke presents very little of the actual passion of Jesus. He does not focus on Jesus on the cross but rather on the reactions around. The women are in tears feeling sorry for Jesus while the rest of the crowd just watches. The rulers, soldiers and even a criminal all mock and insult him.

Yet Luke always shows us both sides. The women are taught by Jesus that this is not the worst that is to come; they need better vision. The crowd, soldiers and rulers get no response from Jesus; that will come with his resurrection. One criminal is rebuttaled by the other. The second is approved of Jesus and blessed.

Luke seems as concerned with perceptions as with the event. How the event is interpretted is critical. So how do I interpret the life and sacrifice of Jesus? Do I have spiritual myopia like the women and do not really understand? Do I stand with the crowd in silence, not taking action either way? Do I call myself educated or powerful and mock him in disdain? Am I a fool, outcast in one life and condemning myself for the next? Or do I really see who this man is and submit to him?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Luke 23:1-25; Insurrection

The words insurrection and rebellion show up multiple times in this section. Jesus is accused of insurrection. Pilot questions him about it. Barabbas was convicted of it. But to be honest, it was the crowd that committed it.

How must Jesus have felt letting the events unfold? What must it have been like to be accused of a crime that you did not commit by a crowd that was in the process of committing it? As the mob took shape and organized around a theme, I wonder what went through his mind?

No matter what goes wrong today, I'm doubt I will be attacked by a rebellious mob that accuses me of rebellion. Since he held his tongue under such adverse conditions, maybe today I can hold mine under lesser ones.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Luke 22:63-71; The Answer

This entire exchange seems like a chess match to me. They ask if he is the Messiah, the promised one. He said they wouldn't believe him even if he spoke plainly; then he answered regarding another prophecy about the Son of Man. They counter with "Oh are you therefore claiming divinity?" He responded with a strong affirmation. They seemed relieved with "that's all we need to hear" type response.

In the exchanged Jesus spoke to their closed-mindedness and then they demonstrated it at the end. He also spoke to the fact that he was even more than they realized; they could not hear nor comprehend his words.

They were looking for one thing and one thing only. It concerns me to see this. I wonder how often I come to scripture looking for one answer which I already have formed in my mind and because of that miss God speaking to me? I also wonder how often I do that in daily conversation with the good people around me?

Today I will strive to really listen.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Luke 22:54-62; Strong feelings

This section is filled with strong feelings; it is filled with powerful words, especially verbs. They did not escort Jesus but rather seized him. How do you seize God? You only do what he permits; the seizure action indicates a total lack of understanding of whom they are arresting.

Peter followed at a distance then sat down with the wrong crowd. When he made his final denial, Jesus turned and looked straight at him. I wonder what that look was like. I wonder what was going on when he turned. Was Pilot speaking to him? Maybe the soldiers were mocking him. Maybe the high priest was addressing him. Jesus broke from all the passion of the moment and turned to make eye contact with Peter. The result was Peter's brokenness.

I wonder how Jesus would look at me today? Am I close to him in what he is trying to accomplish or am I lagging behind, sitting with the wrong crowd? How would he look at me? What effect would it have on me?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Luke 22:47-53; Act or ask?

This little section seems so familiar to me; perhaps because I live it out so often.

The apostles ask a question of Jesus. "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" Then no one waited for the answer. They only had two swords among them and Peter used his to jump into action. They asked a question and then acted without waiting for the answer. It begs the question of "why bother asking if you don't really want to hear the response?"

Then I look at my life and wonder how often it looks the same. How often to I ask a heart felt question of God and them immediately jump into action. How hard it is to really listen. How hard it is to wait.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Luke 22:39-46; Close but only physically

Luke has a short garden scene. He does not present Jesus going back and forth three times. Rather he presents Jesus as perhaps more direct. His points seems to focus more on the exhaustion, stress and anguish. He speaks to his disciples before and after but not during his prayer time.

I wonder how much the apostles had understood by this point? They were exhausted with sorrow according to Luke. Yet their responses later indicated a lack of preparation. They were unable to pick up on what was going on in Jesus' life.

How easy it is to be close in proximity to someone and yet not pick up on what is going on in their life. How easy to get a little idea of their feelings but miss the bigger picture. How easy to be focused on self to the degree that we can't focus on others.

Today I pray that I am able to see and feel what is going on around me in the lives of others. I pray that I will not be so full of me that I can't be filled with the needs of others. I pray that others will not be suffering in the garden while I sleep.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Luke 22:33-38; Enough

Jesus cut off the apostles quite abruptly. While giving instructions they finally became excited about something. They finally felt like they understood a piece of the future puzzle he kept laying out for them. They could understand violence and open rebellion. It seemed like the time had come to prepare for battle and Jesus told them to get swords. When they showed him how ready they were at the moment, Jesus responded with one word "Enough". He then cut off the conversation.

I wonder how bewildered the apostles felt then? More than that, I wonder just how Jesus felt? Perhaps he did not explain anything more since he knew that they would only get the point by watching his non-violence. Yet I still have to wonder what he felt inside knowing that in the final hours of his life, these closest followers of his had not yet understood who he was and what his kingdom was about.

If I feel misunderstood at anytime, it seems quite overshadowed by this moment in his life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Luke 22:31-32; Test

In these two verses there are things that jump off the page.

Why did Jesus call him Simon . . . twice. Jesus reverted to the name of the man which was used before his call. To me it speaks of the two sides of all of us. There are times in life where we do our best and are very focused spiritually. However, Jesus was telling Peter that this was not one of those times for him. He was about to respond like he would have outside of a relationship with Jesus. How often do I do the same? How often do I fall back on old behavior and quit living out of a spiritual point of view?

Satan had asked God permission to attack the apostles (the "you" is plural). It rings of Job. Obviously from the rest of the story, God granted the permission. Yet Jesus prayed for Peter's faith to not collapse. That he prayed is interesting; we think of prayer as something we do to get God's help. Here is God incarnate praying for another person.

And Jesus proclaimed Peter's fall. "And when you turn back" is tragic. Yet it is also hopeful. Failure is not the end of those who seek a relationship with Jesus. It is temporary if we make the decision to "turn back".

Friday, March 5, 2010

Luke 22:24-30; Rank

In the middle of the passion experience as Jesus' emotions must have been tumultuous just below the surface, the apostles get into a fight. It sounds like mom and dad driving to a funeral for a grandparent but having to give attention to the preteens in the backseat arguing over who is sitting in who's space. Even Jesus seemed to not be able to "catch a break"; life just seems to find ways to be unfair -- even in the little things.

Actually, that is encouraging to me. Often I feel that life is supposed to follow an orderly path, like it does in all the fake movies. Yet even the Son of God did not experience life that way. Why should I expect otherwise?

The subject of the argument was who is greatest. The irony of the argument is that the one who was not debating was the obvious answer, i.e., none of the apostles was greatest, Jesus was. I wonder how much time and energy we could recover in our lives if we just recognized that fact and quit arguing over points connected with human pride.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Luke 22:17-23; Poured out

It strikes me that the words "poured out for you" sound like a libation offering. Throughout history the Jews had poured out water or wine as an offering to God. Now Jesus uses the same terms for his sacrifice; his own blood would serve as a libation offering.

It also makes me think of the sacrifices given to sanctify the tabernacle and begin worship there. Over one hundred animals were sacrificed that day. The ground around the area would have been purple with blood. I can imagine the area squishing under the steps of the priests as they walked on it. The blood had been "poured out".

Who am I poured out for today? I wonder if God looks at my life as a libation offering that soaks everything I do in my giving to him?