Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners ...

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

In the Old Testament book of Job the lead character and his friends argued about the reasons for Job's hardships.. his friends blamed him.. Job asserted his innocence.. but at the heart of their cumulative thinking was the idea that someone was to blame for what happened.. and God was judging Job and his wife for some sin that they had committed. Though Job asserted his innocence he did not contest the basis of his friends claims. Job also believed that his hardship was God's judgment.. he just did not believe that he was guilty of a sin worthy of the judgment.

The moral of Job's story is that things are not always as they seem.. bad things happen to blameless people.. and it is foolish to blame God or invoke a theology of divine judgment when hard times come. I reject that kind of theology on a personal level and I also reject it for peoples hit by tragedies like earthquakes, tsunamis and other horrible events. The message contained in today's passage is that bad things happen to all sorts of people and that even so-called "good" people need to repent and be born of the Spirit to not perish when they die.

Help me Lord to not rush to judgment when bad things happen.

Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

The theme of this twelfth chapter of Luke is being ready for our last day on earth. Jesus has spoken to the crowds about the idea that this may be their last day.. he tells them to not hoard their wealth, or be concerned about their possessions.. he instructs them to seek the kingdom first and to not be captivated by fleshly worries. In this context he now speaks of settling debts. It reminds me of how he tells us to forgive and seek forgiveness from others.

Sometimes I think that we are our worst enemies when it comes to planning for the future. Even when we are old we often refuse to discern the season.. so many die without a will or insurance to care for their families.. it is like these refused to interpret their days in light of their death. Such is not the way that Christ wants us to live. In a sense living with an eternal perspective is understanding the brevity of life on earth and knowing how "to interpret the present time".

Help me to live and love today as if it were my last Lord.

I came to cast fire on the earth ...

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ have proven to be the most divisive acts of all of history. I wish it were not so but, in many Jewish homes especially, sons and daughters are disowned if they become Christians. A family member naming the name of Jesus is sometimes not welcome in non-Jewish families because of the changes that accompany Christian conversion. Jesus saw this even back then and called it a casting of fire on the earth.

This casting of fire came at a great price to Jesus Christ. In this passage he calls his crucifixion a distressing baptism. I wonder if part of his distress was knowing that his actions would be rejected by many. How strange it is that God himself would come to the earth, do many astounding miracles and teach many amazing things only to be killed in the vilest of fashion as people screamed for him to be crucified. And all of this brought division, not unity, to planet earth.

Help me Lord to reflect you in a world where unity does not always come.

To whom much was given ...

The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. ... Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

These verses communicate the idea that we are but managers, and not owners, of the earth and everything that is in it. In these sentences we understand that we have a responsibility to care for each other - especially the poor. We also see that there is a blessing connected to this sort of care and management. Yet the temptation is to act as permanent owners instead of temporary managers. It is so easy to become attached to the things and positions of this age.

In contrast Jesus paints a different picture of one who is not attached to this world but acts responsibly with what they have been entrusted with. It causes me to think of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who had a radical transformation when Jesus had a meal with him. He said: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And that day Zacchaeus released his ownership of his property.

I too cry out with Zacchaeus Lord. Help me to be a manager instead of an owner.

The Son of Man is coming ...

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

I once imagined that this parable was all about the second coming of Christ.. either in the rapture or when he comes at Armageddon. In some sense that works but it seems to fall apart because the scripture would not be applicable for the millions of people who have died since Jesus shared this parable. Like the story of the man who died building bigger barns (shared earlier in this chapter) I think this parable is all about death coming in an unexpected way.

I once heard it asked "What would you do differently if you knew today would be your last day?" The question opens up the idea that today very well may be our last day. To this Jesus speaks and instructs us to be wise in how we live. He warns us to be clothed in godly attire and to not fall asleep spiritually. It reminds me of how the apostle tells us in Ephesians to being clothed in the armor of God and ready to do battle with the forces of darkness.

Lord, help me to keep my lamp burning today and to be dressed in the armor of the Holy Spirit.

There will your heart be also ...

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

I once heard a preacher say that he could determine a person's passion for God by looking at their checkbook. I would not say it quite that crassly but I do think that a person's spending habits is a bit of a spiritual thermometer. It is like a man who adamantly avows that he loves his fiancee and spends all of his money on himself - the woman would do well to not marry such a selfish man. Like the woman, what God really wants is our love - our heart.

In contrast Jesus says in this passage that our heavenly Father's will is to give us the kingdom. And He asks us, in like manner, to give lovingly and generously to the needy. The Lord seems to be linking His giving to ours. It is like he is saying that He gives to us as we give to the needy. Yet the message is an inconvenient one in that Jesus says that we should sell our stuff to be able to give. His desire is that we give from our need and not our excess.

Help me to let go of my possessions today Lord. Help me to help the needy.

Your Father knows that you need them ...

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
There is a mysterious aspect to prayer. When we pray God already knows what it is that we are going to say and he already knows how He will answer our prayer. It can boggle your mind if you think about it too hard. Yet the creator of all things, seen and unseen, invites us in to dialog with him about the ultra-person, the superficial and destiny of nations. And as we pray, somehow God factors our wants and needs into his will for our lives and our world.

The last sentence of today's passage speaks to the seeking, not asking, flavor of prayer. As I have said before, prayer is not simply an airing of requests, but a continuing heavenly dialog where we seek out the heart of God. This kind of prayer can cause worry to cease and peace to come as we turn our affections away from physical things and set our hearts to seek the Lord. And when we do, the Lord Jesus tells us that all of our needs will be met in Him.

You are enough Lord. I need you. Help me to seek you in all that I do.

Life is more than food ...

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
When I consider everything that life is all about I realize how little control that I have. Yes, I have great influence over what I eat or the clothes I put on my body but I have little control over the weather. For sure I can respond to those greater things. I can sometimes stay inside when the weather is bad but often I have to brave an inclement atmosphere to be at work on time. The point is that, in the big things in life, I have very little control.

To this Jesus speaks - It is like he is talking directly to the person who has a life threatening health condition and saying "don't worry". This is a hard message for some to hear because worry is the strange way that they seem to feel in control of things that are not meant to be controlled. Really, life is not meant to be controlled at all. We are not robots programmed by a heavenly genius. We are made in God's image and we are meant to trust Him and live worry free.

I surrender my worries to you today Lord and confess my trust in you.

Be on your guard against all covetousness ...

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying,
“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

When Ann and I moved in 2010 we downsized and got rid of about half of what we owned. It was an amazing feeling of freedom not to own a big house that was becoming a bit of a money pit. After we moved our lifestyle seemed to be simpler. For us, the abundance of possessions had morphed into something that no longer brought happiness but only an obligation to find a place to keep all of our stuff. The message of today's passage hits the mark for most of us.

What do you think it means to be rich toward God and how does one lay up treasure for oneself? It is obvious from the parable that it is not in the accumulation of physical things but I wonder if it might be the accumulation of spiritual things? Perhaps each time we love unconditionally we make a heavenly deposit of love? Maybe being rich toward God is all about loving Him, our neighbors and our enemies? Perhaps when we love we share more and covet less?

Lord, help me to erect a heavenly barn of love today instead of an earthly barn of wood.

The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit ...

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

The central character in today's passage is the Holy Spirit. Jesus first speaks to the fates of those who accept and reject the invitation of God's Spirit to follow Jesus. It is a simple message of ones who say yes and ones who say no. For sure, all of the work is done by the Holy Spirit - no one can boast because they say a simple yes to this glorious invitation. Yet many proudly boast about their rejection of the Holy Spirit thinking they are being so "intellectual".

The rejection of the Holy Spirit is called blasphemy by Jesus and this sort of rejection can not be forgiven as the person has rejected the means of forgiveness. In contrast our Lord speaks to believers about being persecuted by those who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. He tells them to be at peace and not concern themselves with what to day because he know that it is a purpose of the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom in such situations. Many believers understand this.

I am ever in your debt dear Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Help me to hear Him today.

Not one of them is forgotten before God ...

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

The writers of the psalms and proverbs both acknowledged that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Those words reflect the sentiment that faith begins with a healthy fear of God that acknowledges the condition of sinful man and the authority of Almighty God. But sadly many live lives that reflect a total disregard for the existence and authority of God. These atheists and agnostics live in rebellion to the transcendent understanding and knowledge of God.

Even so, the Lord turns the topic from fear to love when he speaks of us having worth and value in the kingdom of God. Many today seem to be beat down with the idea that their relationship with God is based in fear and not love. These seem to believe that the fear of the Lord is the end, and the beginning, of wisdom. Not understanding that there is no fear in love these have a difficulty accepting the love of God and the love of others.

You know my name Lord. You love me for who I am. I have value in your eyes. Hallelujah!

Beware ... hypocrisy ...

when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word (hypokrites) that was used to describe actors in a play. Similar words today are faker or poser. Hypocrisy means pretending to someone that you are not. It is really a much deeper problem that we think. It is a nasty business because it causes us to hide from each other and never really get past superficiality. We all want to be deeply known and deeply loved but hypocrisy prevents us from being vulnerable.

So why do you think that people hide behind hypocritical behavior? What is it in us all that fears being revealed. For the Pharisees I think that it was the curse of self-righteousness. For some I think that it is a deep insecurity. For others there is a fear of judgment by others. I think that from birth we are trained to be actors in this play of life strangely looking for the applause and approval of our fellow actors instead of the heavenly audience above.

Lord deliver me from hypocrisy today. Help me to not act but be who I really am.

You load people with burdens hard to bear ...

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! ... Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

In a setting filled with Pharisees and lawyers Jesus does not shrink from telling them the truth. The fact that they felt insulted is evidence that the words of Christ were not falling on deaf ears. Jesus message to these religious experts and theologians came from years of observation. In his short life Christ watched the poor suffer under the leadership of greedy and self-centered men. These leaders violated their obligations to their followers and to God.

In these few sentences above the Lord defines the essence of hypocrisy in the words "you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers." Such men are an abomination to God because they not only hinder their own spiritual growth but the maturity of those who listen to them. It was a travesty then and an even greater one now. Spiritual leaders have a responsibility to those in their care and to God.

Awaken my heart dear Lord that I might walk in a way that lightens the burden of those I meet today.

Inside you are full of greed ...

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

Often in the gospels that we get the idea that Jesus saw the Pharisees as his enemies. Yet in passages like this one we get a picture of Jesus dining with them and wanting to be a part of their lives. Yet the way Christ is treated by the Pharisee speaks strongly to Jesus' reaction. Can you imagine how you would have reacted to a host who criticized you, an invited guest, because you did not abide by their religious customs. Such is the setting that Jesus finds himself in.

Greed is a spiritual sickness that often manifests itself, in religious people anyway, in hypocrisy. Greed causes one to neglect the spirit of law in deference to the letter of it. The presence of greed is an evidence, to a degree anyway, of spiritual death. Jesus describes people who behave in such a way as being dead on the inside - the outer gravestone may be magnificent in appearance but the grave is filled with decaying bones. It is a graphic image of greed.

Deliver me from greed Lord Jesus. Cause generosity to spring up from my heart and slay greed in every way.

Your eye is the lamp of your body.

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

When I think of a lamp and the light it gives my mind is not drawn to the beauty of the lamp but what its light reveals. When I walk into a dark room I do night turn on the lights to see the lights but to see other things in the room. I turn the lights on so that I might see where everything is and avoid tripping over things. The lamp reveals what the darkness covers. Such is the lamp of the Holy Spirit. When we believe He illuminates our way through spiritual darkness.

Saint Augustine once said: “I believe that I may understand.” “I believe that I may see.” In a sense, faith is a spiritual eye in that it allows us to see things that are not visible to the physical eye. When faith is alive our lives can be filled with light even when we walk though dark valleys. Yet when we reject simple childlike faith our lives can be filled with darkness. It is an issue of inner vision and of being illumined by the Holy Spirit.

Help me Lord to walk in the light as you are in the light.

Something greater than Solomon is here ...

When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Before the cross.. before the resurrection.. Jesus gave many illusions to, and spoke directly of, his death and return to life. It amazes me how people of that day, and even our day, miss it when he speaks of the prophet Jonah who was in the belly of a great fish for three days and then was given a second chance to live. It is often said that Jonah must have been some sight when the fish spit him up on the beach. Even so the sight of the risen Christ was greater.

I wonder went through the minds of those present when Jesus compared himself to the man who is often considered the wisest man who ever lived. The proverbs written by King Solomon offer great spiritual insight. Yet even the wisdom of Solomon cannot compare to the teachings of Christ. The teachings of Jesus are without comparison both then and now. He went beyond the law and prophets and spoke authoritatively about the heart and kingdom of God.

You are greater than all who have ever lived Lord Jesus. You are God and I worship you.

Blessed rather are those who hear ...

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

In the epistle named for him, the apostle James speaks of being a doer of the word and not a hearer only. He says that we deceive ourselves if we think that faith is a mere intellectual ascension to facts. He reminds us that faith that does not produce commensurate actions (or works) is a dead faith and not really faith at all. It is a great reminder for those of us who have a theological bent. The study of scripture is meaningless unless we allow it to change us.

My heart soars when Jesus speaks of the blessing that is attached to hearing and keeping of the word of God. We are blessed when we obey the commandments by keeping the spirit of the bible. There is a way to keep the teachings of the bible in an intellectual way and miss the blessings contained in it. For what good is it if we embrace the bible with our heads but keep our hearts far away. How can we experience the blessing if our hearts are not fully engaged?

I need to understand with more than just my head. Help me to embrace the blessing with my heart.

Why do doubts arise in your hearts?

As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things

When we are dealing with people who struggle with the concept of the resurrection it is always helpful to remember that the disciples who knew him best also struggled. These who watched Jesus Christ suffer and die had doubts in their hearts when they heard the reports of his return to life. Even when he appeared in the room with them they were frightened and doubted. I wonder if they would have believed at all if they had not touched him and talked with him?

I love how he opens their minds to understand the prophetic messianic scriptures. If they ever doubted that he was the Messiah they now doubted no more. And it is with this new understanding and faith that Jesus commissions them to proclaim the good news of his suffering, death and resurrection. These, who moments prior doubted, would be the ones who would turn the world upside down. It is an encouraging message for those who struggle to believe.

Please open our minds and our hearts to believe and understand what is written of you in the scriptures Lord.

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down and wrapped it in a linen shroud and laid him in a tomb cut in stone, where no one had ever yet been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

It is Saturday. The day after the brutal crucifixion. Nothing much is written about what the disciples did on Saturday. I wonder if they were haunted by the events of Friday? Perhaps these last words of Jesus committing his spirit rang strong in their hearts? I was there when my first wife breathed her last. The imagery of such situations make a strong and lasting impression. The darkness descending and the temple curtain tearing were such surreal events.

Perhaps they were also thinking about the courage that Joseph showed defying the council and asking Pilate for the body of Jesus. Interesting how God often meets our needs in the strangest of ways. Joseph's story is an encouraging one. Through this man of courage and generosity the Father provided a tomb for his Son. Yet he would only need it for a short time. For in just a few days the tomb would be empty and available for use once again.

Even in death you are there meeting our needs Lord. Thank you that the tomb would be empty on Sunday.

Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves ...

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Have you ever noticed that there was "a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him"? Sometimes we focus so much on the crowds who yelled "crucify him" and those who mocked him while on he hung on the cross that we forget these who were moved deeply by the sight of his beaten body. I cannot imagine how horrifying it must have been to see the one who they called Teacher beaten to a pulp and unable to carry the cross.

Jesus' response to their tears is so telling. In deep physical pain, and on his way to a horrible death, he speaks prophetically to them about their own humanity. He seems be teaching them about the difference between weeping on the outside and weeping on the inside. He instructs those who were outwardly moved to tears to turn their tears inside for a culture that would mistreat a fellow human being the way that the religious and secular leaders mistreated him.

Help my tears reflect a lasting inner repentance Lord.

I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you ...

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

What comes to mind when you hear the words "Holy Communion"? Perhaps you remember the part of the church service where people stand in line waiting to partake of a morsel of bread and sip of wine or grape juice? Or maybe your church uses those little plastic cups? Regardless the means, those expressions seems pretty alien to the warm and friendly last meal that Christ shared with his disciples. I love how his last hours are filled with intimate fellowship.

Even so, however we choose to remember Jesus in communion, we should always remember that, for Christ, the wine and bread were symbols of his life that would be poured out for us in just a few hours. We look back when we eat the bread and drink the wine but he and his disciples were looking forward at the last supper. Perhaps communion involves a bit of both - we look back to the cross but we look forward to our own resurrection. Each image creates hope in us.

We remember Lord. And we give thanks for our salvation and our hope of being with you in heaven.

He is not God of the dead, but of the living.

There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question ... And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Jesus spent his last week on earth doing in Jerusalem what he did in other places - namely teaching and preaching about the nature of the kingdom of God. Yet the Sadducees, like many today, could not understand how a person's life could possibly transcend death. Their ignorance resulted from a focus on the earthly kingdom and not the heavenly one.. what is seen rather than things unseen. Many today still believe the error of the Sadducees.

And some, even today, think that the new birth, taught by Christ to Nicodemus the Pharisee, is a concept limited to the New Testament. These would do well to hear the words of Jesus in this passage. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive today even though their flesh died many years ago. Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration and were recognized by the disciples. We who have been born of the Spirit are like these in that our lives will survive death.

How can I express my joy Lord? Knowing that I will be with you forever astounds me and thrills me to the core.

My house shall be a house of prayer ...

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

It is no coincidence that this righteous scourging of religious robbers in the temple court would, by weeks end, result in the scourging of God incarnate. The profit of religious leaders at the expense of the poor is anathema to the Almighty. It has always been and will always be. We who name the name of Jesus are called to bless the poor and not steal from them. Unfortunately, religion can become an ungodly profitable profession for some. And sadly, God is far from them.

What image comes to mind when you hear the words "house of prayer"? Perhaps your mind goes to the altar rail at church or maybe your house of worship has kneelers affixed to each pew? How much formal praying do you actually do in this place that you envision as a "house of prayer"? I wonder if the message in these words could be translated "house of seeking God together"? I like that because it communicates the idea of drawing near to 'our' Father together.

Fill us with yourself O mighty God that we might overflow together with prayer and worship.

You did not know the time of your visitation.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

The day began with the spreading of palms and shouts of praise. It must have been a joyous experience for the Lord as he rode through the crowds on that donkey. But now the harsh reality of the week has set in and all that Jesus can do is weep for the people who would soon nail him to a cross. There is a remorse present in the Lord's voice as he cries for those who he was sent to rescue from their sins. Would that they had known who he really was.

Sometimes in life we get a second chance - I have heard it said that God is all about second and third chances.. the scriptures testify to how God never gives up on us. Yet, while that is true, it is also true that there are times and seasons that are never repeated. Such was this last entrance to Jerusalem by the Son of God and this day might be such a one for you. If you sense His voice today please do not reject Him. For this might the time of your visitation.

Open the ears and eyes of my heart Lord to sense your presence in my life.

The very stones would cry out ...

And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

When I read this account I often think of how the crowds turned on Jesus in less than a week's time. In a few days shouts of blessings would morph into ones demanding crucifixion. I wonder what it was that caused the masses to turn? Could it be that these expected a different kind of Messiah altogether? Possibly they saw a King riding on a colt, coming in God's name, to conquer the Romans instead of one coming to save their souls?

Yet there is something amazing and wonderful in this last donkey ride into Jerusalem. Jesus knew of his fate on Friday but (as it is written earlier in Luke) "he set his face to go to Jerusalem". His entry into Jerusalem is nothing less than an amazing display of courage and determination. Our Lord would not be thwarted in his journey to the cross of our salvation. No wonder he speaks of stones crying out. How could they be silent? How can we not bow down in worship?

With all of creation I bow down in worship to the one who would not be stopped in His journey to the cross.
With the saints of all ages I join in with a loud voice saying blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!