Saturday March 24, 2018

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.
Mark 14:10


Friday March 23, 2018

POLITICS MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS, the saying goes. So does religion – or to be more precise in terms of Mark’s story [in Mark 3:1-6], so does opposition to Jesus’ interpretation of sabbath. The text singles out two otherwise estranged groups united by such opposition: Pharisees and Herodians.
Pharisees served as leaders for those who viewed the heart of Judaism to be faithful adherence to the Jewish law or Torah. During and since the time of exile, sabbath keeping emerged as central to both Torah observance and Jewish identity. The Pharisees were not some fringe group in Judaism, religious extremists akin to the political fanatics who came to be known as Zealots. The Gospels sometimes overstate the conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees. . . .When the early church and Judaism began to take increasingly separate paths, the church (and the writers of the New Testament materials) sought to trace their differences with Pharisaic Judaism to Jesus’ relationships with the Pharisees.
The truth is, Jesus and the Pharisees were not that far apart. The Pharisee Nicodemus declared to Jesus that “we know that you are a teacher who has come from God.” Other Pharisees warned Jesus of the danger posed to him by Herod Antipas (Luke 13:31). …Jesus’ teachings about keeping the law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:17-20) reflect the essence of the Pharisees’ teachings. …
The pairing of Pharisees and Herodians seems like a match made anywhere but in heaven. At best, Herodians paid lip service to Torah observance. The law certainly did not restrain their titular head, Herod Antipas, from marrying a woman who was both his niece and sister-in-law. But like the elite of any day, their overriding goal was to maintain the status quo, seeing as how they balanced on top of that heap. Any unrest, civil or religious, would not be appreciated. The perceived undermining of a bedrock societal foundation like sabbath keeping would have been most unwelcome. As a result, an unspecified number of Pharisees and Herodians conspire to destroy Jesus. …
This encounter that unleashes rejection by some religious and civil leaders of Jesus’ day merits catution in our own. Keep in mind what evoked their rejection: an innovation in established tradition by Jesus.We miss the point of this encounter if we say that since we no longer have the same scruples about observing sabbath, that this story is just about an ancient Jewish issue. Friends, it is a Christian problem too. Innovation in tradition can be a problem for any religious tradition, especially those where the lines between religious and civil authorities blur. Rejection came then because Jesus rocked the boat. Rejection still is apt to come now when we open our lives and churches to something more than a “gentle Jesus meek and mild.”

Thursday March 22, 2018

ON THE PALM OF YOUR HAND you write my name, O God.
Through the pages of creation, my life unfolds.
In the chambers of your heart, I have a home, O God,
where every cry is heard, every tear seen,
every thanks
whispered in the dark or sung to the morning
is known to you.
And still, I am slow to thank, to ask, to trust.
O God, who is great and good,
help me to pray.

Wednesday March 21,2 2018

I’M LEARNING THE IMPORTANCE OF REST. If I’m always on the go, I’m exhausted. I need some quiet time. My physical health depends upon it. My emotional health depends on slowing down. To deal with the stress of life, I need a time of calm. My spiritual life depends on it. I can’t make it on my own but depend on my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday March 20, 2018

Psalm 31:9-16
31:9 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.

31:10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.

31:11 I am the scorn of all my adversaries, a horror to my neighbors, an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.

31:12 I have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.

31:13 For I hear the whispering of many– terror all around!– as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.

31:14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

31:15 My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

31:16 Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.

Monday March 19, 2018

Isaiah 50:4-9a
50:4 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.

50:5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.

50:6 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.

50:7 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;

50:8 he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.

50:9a It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?