Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Walking with Jesus through Good Friday (Part 2)

Below is the scriptural stages of the Cross,

Fourth Station: Jesus is Denied by Peter
Matthew 26: 69-75: Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, "You too were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about!" As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazorean." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, "Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away." At that he began to curse and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: "Before the cock crows you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly.

Peter did not clearly see himself, even when Jesus told him. He did not discern his heart level beliefs. He believed he loved God more than he did. Our own hearts are a labyrinth of an unknown design. It is a mix of pagan temples and mental cages with paths that lead nowhere, turning back in on itself, taking us back around to the same answers and idols as before. Yet unlike before we assure ourself that we have proven our case in sure logic and sound argument. In the end, We reinforce our original position and worship our old idols for we have only dabbled in the art of self-deception and traveled the path of a thousand fruitless journeys.

Only in the light of the Gospel do I see the danger of my own deception for I am a sinner. I see my life to be lived by the faithfulness of the Son of God who loves me. And the grace of freedom in the gift of the Spirit, who can transform a labyrinth of folly into a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, grant us the gift of honesty, the clarity of knowing how you see the world,
that we may not fear to speak the truth even when difficult.

Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate
Mark 15: 1-5, 15: The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, "Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of." Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.... Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.

Reflections: A way of viewing life that is not like the world sees. Pilate for all his learning could not discern the truth. The crowd in all their fervor did not discern their king right before them.

Lord, grant us discernment that we may see as you see, not as the world sees. May we know truth and live truth as you are the truth.

Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns
John 19: 1-3: Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,"Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly.

If we call ourselves Christians, we should expect a crown of thorns and not the red carpet. The more we let our light shine, the more we act out of step with the new morality. The more we live counter cultural, the more the "Pilate" of this world dismiss us. The more we stand up for the truth, the more the "political forces' of this world mock us and place on us the purple cloaks of satire. The oppression and marginalizing of the gospel message reveals both darkness in the hearts of the powerful and Jesus like courage in the hearts of his people.

Lord, grant us patience in times of suffering
that we may offer our lives as a sacrifice of praise. For we know and understand suffering for your name sake is a part of the Christian life.

Seventh Station: Jesus Bears the Cross
John 19: 6, 15-17: When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.

Reflections: Only Jesus could take up his cross. It was his purpose and mission in life. Our strength is directly related to our commitment to the mission and our dependance on God. Two things Jesus lived flawlessly. Even when faced with profound rejection he did not waver but remained fixed on the purpose for with he had come.

Prayer: Lord, grant us strength of purpose that we may faithfully bear our crosses each day and be on mission for your glory.

In Him
J. Dawson Jarrell

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