Thursday’s Song Service

This year, our Easter week coincides with the Hebrew Passover celebration. They do not always coincide on our modern calendar as they did on that first Easter. That is why the Last Supper is normally viewed as the Lord’s celebration of the Passover with His disciples. On Thursday of His passion week, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples with the Seder meal. Hopefully, you have been reading some of the gospel accounts of this week in the Lord’s life. Today I would suggest you read two passages that would help you recall and meditate on the Lord’s Thursday.

First, spend time reading John 13 – 16. Here you can read of the event as remembered by John. Being written later than the other gospels, John does not merely repeat but expands on what they have already written. His emphasis on Christ’s teachings on His last night with the apostles before his crucifixion is illuminating to anyone who wants to be used of God. In John’s gospel account, he spends twelve chapters revealing who Jesus is through a powerful display of signs and wonders and powerful claims (I Am) to deity. It is as though He is convincing people to come and believe in Jesus. Then, beginning with chapter thirteen, it is as though John now begins to exhort those who have come and believed to go and make disciples. Here he records for us the instructions given to the disciples on that last and fateful night before His crucifixion. These are important words and should be read and re-read by all believers. Christ’s example as a servant and then His multi-faceted teaching on the new covenant, the new commandment and a new relationship with the Spirit will bless and equip you.

Also, consider spending some time in the “Hallel Psalms.” Psalms 113 – 118 were commonly sung (and still are) by Hebrew families during the Seder service at Passover on Thursday night (a High Sabbath). We assume that Jesus sang some or all of these with the disciples. As you read them, certain verses should jump off the page at you. These verses are prophetic, messianic, and especially poignant because they were sung by Christ to His Father on the night of his betrayal. Imagine Christ lifting His voice along with Peter, James, John, Thomas and the rest and singing these verses form His heart:

The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.    (Psalm 115:17-18)

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.    (Psalm 116:15)

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.   (Ps. 118:23-24)

O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us:and the truth of the LORD endureth forever. Praise ye the LORD.    (Psalm 117)

Read with your Bible marker in hand. Some of these verses will comfort and counsel your own heart.

Tuesday’s Passion

One of the most interesting days during the last week of Jesus’ life was Tuesday. Interesting, that is, to those who like to learn for it was a day of teaching. On Tuesday He delivered His scathing sermon denouncing the religious leaders (Matt. 23). The “woes” poured out on the Scribes and Pharisees revealed their religion to be all about themselves. Consumed with perfection, obedience to tradition, and subsequent self-righteousness, they had little concern for anybody else or for God’s glory. Another major sermon, preached at Mount Olivet (Matt. 24-25), taught He would return someday as King (the Second Coming). Parables of warning about that return (the vineyards, the talents, the ten virgins) were also on His agenda.

There were some unplanned moments such as when the Jewish parties schemed to trap Him with questions. No problem for the Great Rabbi. He took time to ask His own question and trapped them instead. They could not answer Him or they would have revealed their motives. Having failed to trap Him, they retreated to plan another strategy to get rid of Jesus.

Later in the day, two events give us a glimpse of our Savior’s passion. One was true worship. I am speaking of the widow’s offering. Christ, who was overly familiar with false worship (Matt. 23) points His disciples to a worshiping widow. Finally, a true worshiper. Why? What qualified her measly gift as worthy worship? It was all she had. “This poor widow has put in more than all those. . . For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44) Total sacrifice made this pure worship. Here, the One who is about to make total sacrifice to the Father, is moved by her total sacrifice. She too understood how to worship His Father. She gave her all. I wonder, “Will I ever join the company of the widow and Jesus and offer pure and total sacrifice?” Rather than run a laundry list of motives that pass through my mind when called upon for sacrifice, suffice it to say that I too want recognition and comfort. Self seeks to exert itself over God. Even in worship. Worthy worship is not so easy as we think, is it? Even on Sunday mornings in our “go to meetin’ clothes.” But this poor lady modeled it perfectly enough that He, the Lamb, pointed to her as an example. This is a glimpse of His passion to come.

Also, note the occasion John speaks of when Greeks showed up trying to meet Jesus (12:20-36). Their arrival “troubled” Him. Literally, He was deeply and emotionally moved. The Greeks’ request caused Christ to recognize that the “hour” He had always defined as future had now become present. It pulls a prayer from His throat almost as by force. “Father, glorify your name.” And the Father answers audibly affirming the “hour’s” arrival and its sure success. The world (Greeks) seeking Him moved Christ to recognize the “hour “ to give Himself as the Lamb of God for the sins of the whole world had come (I John 2:1-2). His passion is deeply stirred.

These Tuesday events – a widow’s true worship through total sacrifice and a world needing His total sacrifice – give us a glimpse of His passion. It is a passion that will pour out in a hot torrent on Friday for Christ’s Calvary work was the most authentic worship ever offered on this earth to God. It was complete sacrifice for the glory of God. Jesus noticed that even a widow is able to offer such worship. Are we?

Monday of the Passion

And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. 19 And when even was come, he went out of the city. (Mark 11:15-19)

Mondays usually pass quietly for most people. Everybody is getting back into the routine at work and most are coming up to speed. Of course, the pace quickens through the day and week but Monday is usually one of the quieter days of the week. Not so for Jesus. Continue reading

Quit Giving Away Rubbish!

Most Bible believing Christians are in the habit of passing out a lot of rubbish. In doing so, they keep back what the world really needs from them. Yesterday in church, we looked at the vivid contrast between rubbish and righteousness found in Philippians 3:1-9. There are numerous applications to be found here – the main one being that real righteousness can be found only in God and granted to us through faith in Christ Jesus alone. However, the personal application I am making this morning is how eerily familiar Paul’s Pharisaical thinking is. It reflects how I sometimes think (and maybe you too?) and reveals that we give out a lot of rubbish. Continue reading

Loving Your Neighbor

Entering week two of my treatment is not a milestone, but it is a step toward the end. Six
more weeks of treatment will bring more side effects than I am presently experiencing,
but the present side-effects are sufficient to let me know that the radiation is doing
something! So far, the experience has been positive. The clinic and staff are professional,
well trained, and personable. Marcia and I feel secure under their care. But we are being
cared for by many more in in a number of ways. Prayers, words of encouragement, and
sacrifices made by others remind me daily of what it means to love your neighbor. Continue reading

Expecting Grace

Read this today and it blessed my heart:

“All honey would harm us; all wormwood would undo us; a composition of both is the best way to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul that the warm south wind of mercy and the cold north wind of adversity do both blow upon it. And though every wind that blows shall blow good to the saints, yet certainly their sins die most and their graces thrive best when they are under the frigid, drying, nipping north wind of calamity, as well as under the warm, nourishing south wind of mercy and prosperity.” (Thom. Brooks) Continue reading