“The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens– wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting. The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?” (Isaiah 50:4-9a)
If you have read through, with great courage and fortitude, all that I have quoted and said so far this Holy Week – I thank you. Not being able to chose what to use and what to set aside, I have used all the the Revised Common Lectionary provides for each day of Holy Week. We have reached mid-week, and some of the passages are very familiar – ones that I have spoken too not so long ago, like the passage from Isaiah 50. It was featured in the Liturgy of the Passion, and as I look back I see that I dealt with it pretty thoroughly. So instead let me pen a few lines as a teacher, if I may. The style of scripture commentary I am doing this Holy Week is a sort of stream of conscious writing. It is modeled after the “Lecto Divina” which a four step of reading the passage, meditating (or pondering on it) , praying about it (or talking to God concerning it), and contemplating it (or discerning how it fits into one’s life). The idea is to NOT study it, but experience it taking one’s time.
What I do is read the passage until something in it speaks to me; I pause and think about that and then right out my reflections on it, offering it both to you, beloved reader and God.
“Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O LORD, make haste to help me! Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life. Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor who desire to hurt me. Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!” turn back because of their shame. Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!” ( Psalm 70)
We have talked so far about Jesus entering into his final week of life on this earth, and how we journey while on this earth. We have talked about knowing who we are, and knowing who God and Jesus are, and our place in God’s kingdom. Today we are thinking how plan for God to be in our lives. The passage from Isaiah confirms that God is with us, guiding us, fortifying us facing what comes in this life. The passage from Psalm confesses that we need God in our lives. And the Hebrews passage instructs us as to what to do in our lives because of what Jesus did for us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
But to plan for God being in our life does not necessarily mean that we are planning to follow and honor God. Many acknowledge the existence of God; a smaller part of that many allow God to impact and influence their lives. And still yet a subset of that group have taken up God and Jesus Christ’s example as a model for their lives.
“After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples–the one whom Jesus loved–was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.” ( John 13:21-27)
What place do you think Judas considered Jesus to have in his life. It seems like whenever Judas is mentioned in the gospels, there is a foreshadowing of what he will do. Judas did have a plan; or most accurately, Judas willingly took on a plan concerning Jesus.
“After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.” (Verses 27-30)
Have you ever considered, beloved reader, that Judas was actually a vital part of how Jesus’ mission on earth turned out? And have you considered how you might plan to be a part of God’s and our Lord Christ’s mission in the world?
“When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.” (Verses 31 – 32)
Will it be to bring glory to God? Or not?
Important questions to ponder this Holy Week. Selah!