Tuesday of Holy Week

April 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Tuesday Events A busy day for Jesus! He heads back to Jerusalem (Mark 11:20-14:11)

  • Disciples see the fig tree withered. (Matthew 21:19b-22, Mark 21:20-25)
  • Jesus’ authority questioned by the Chief priests. (Matthew 21:23-17, Mark 11:27:33, Luke 20:1-8)
  • The Parable of the Two Sons. (Matthew 21:28-32)
  • The Parable of the Tenants. A Parable against the Jews. (Mark 12:1-11, Matthew 21:43-46)
  • The Parable of the Banquet. (Matthew 22:1-14)
  • Questions to trap Jesus.
    • Paying taxes to Caesar with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:15-22)
    • Marriage and Resurrection with the Sadducees – exposes their ignorance (Matthew 22:23-33)
    • The Great commandment. (Matthew 22:34-40)
  • Jesus questions the Religious Leaders  (Matthew 22:41-46)
  • Jesus condemns the religious Leads for Hypocrisy (Matthew 23:1-33)
    • Jesus laments once again over Jerusalem. (Matthew 23:34 -39)
  • Widows offering. (Mark 12:41-44)
  • Two conversations answering two questions one about  Jerusalem’s destruction and the sign of the second coming. Both begin with the disciples amazement of the Temple’s stones. (Mark 13:1)
    • First conversation leaving the Temple focuses on the destruction of the Temple with some details about the second coming. The Disciples question concerns the destruction of the temple and the time that it will happen. This happened on the way out of the temple or in the temple.  (Luke 21:5-36)
    • Second conversation happened on the Mt. of Olives and was given to only Peter, James and John and Andrew.(Mark 13:3) The question this time is focused more on the second coming. (Matthew 24: Mark 13)
  • Three Parables about the second coming.
    • The parable of the 10 Virgins. Readiness. (Matthew 25:1-13)
    • Teaching on the talents. Stewardship. (Matthew 25:14-30)
    • The Sheep and the Goats.  (Matthew 25:31-46)
  • Jesus predicts his death. (Matthew 26:2)
  • Jesus anointed by Mary the sister of Lazarus (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:2-11)
  • Religious leaders plot against Jesus (Matthew 26:1-5, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 21:37-22:2)
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus to the Leaders. (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 21:3-6)

(Painting by Daniel Gerhartz, b. 1965)

Old Testament Parallel
Isaiah 49.1-6 The commission and call of Jesus, the Messiah.  “A light to the nations.”


  • God has gone up with a shout,  the LORD with the sound of the ram’s-horn. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is King of all the earth; sing praises with all your skill. God reigns over the nation;  God sits upon his holy throne. Psalm 47:5–8
  • Early in the morning I cry out to you,  for in your word is my trust. Psalm 119:147
  • Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your Name give glory; because of your love and because of your faithfulness. Psalm 115:1
  • For lo, your enemies, O LORD, lo, your enemies shall perish, and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. Psalm 92:8
Categories: Devotional

Monday of Holy Week

April 18, 2011 1 comment

[In place of counseling posts, each day this week is devoted to the events of Holy Week.  Take any part of these events, prayers or the art and consider meditating on them.  Read and reflect with heart, soul, and mind.]

After the triumphal entry in Jerusalem on “Palm Sunday,”  Jesus later wept over Jerusalem and predicted her destruction (Luke 19:41-44).  He also made a brief visit to the temple and then went back to Bethany for the night. Jesus had been staying in Bethany since Friday night.

(Painting by James Tissot, French, 1836-1902)

Monday Events (back to Jerusalem from Bethany, about 2 miles)

  • Cursing of the fig tree.  (Matthew 21:18-19, Mark 11:12-14)
  • Clearing of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48)
  • Healing at the Temple (Matthew 21:14)
  • Praise of the Children. Healing in the Temple (Matthew 21:14-16)
  • Greeks wish to see Jesus (John 12:20-22)
  • Discourse on the necessity of the Son of Man’s being lifted up. (John 12:20-36)
  • Jesus hides from the people (John 12:36-50)
  • Back to Bethany for the night. (Matthew 21:17, Mark 11:19)

More than likely  the disciples would have purchased a lamb for Passover on this day which was to begin at twilight on Friday evening (Exodus 12:1-6.) There would be thousands of people purchasing a lamb from the marketplace. The disciples would then care for and observe it for defects for four days. Any defect would eliminate it from being able to serve as a Passover lamb. If it proved to be worthy, the one year old lamb would be sacrificed as a remembrance of God choosing to “pass- over” those who had the blood of the lamb applied to the entrance of their homes ( Exodus 12:1-14).

Old Testament Parallel
Isaiah 42.1-9 emphasizing the mission of our Servant, Jesus.


  • Let my mouth be full of your praise and your glory all the day long. Do not cast me off in my old age; forsake me not when my strength fails. Psalm 71:8–9
  • O LORD, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you. Let my prayer enter into your presence. Psalm 88:1–2
  • Show me your ways, O LORD, and teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long. Psalm 25:3–4
  • Deliverance belongs to the LORD.  Your blessing be upon your people! Psalm 3:8
Categories: Devotional

Sabbath Evenings: Speechless

April 17, 2011 3 comments

Over the years I have meditated on the events of Holy week, which begins today — it is the week above all weeks — the week when the followers of Jesus end the 40-day season of Lent and enter into the most significant event in human history:  God’s saving work through Jesus. The week is now here and I am keenly aware of how the mood shifts quickly to “a full week of emotional highs and lows and the reconciliation of many terrible contradictions.” (Peter Giersch) Jesus in triumph and Jesus in agony is a compelling contrast that reduces me to silence.

Today is Palm Sunday and recalls Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  The atmosphere is anything but silent. Loud Hosannas.  Palm branches strewn along the way for the Son of David.  In worship today the words of Matt. 21.1-11 were read.  The words of v. 10 captured my attention:  “And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying ‘Who is this?’ WHO IS THIS. I will not be silent here!  This is my Jesus!  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest “Matt. 21.9.

Since this morning’s jubilant worship, the reality of a tragic week in my Savior’s life is settling in. I am quieted.  I wonder . . .

Do you remember a painful event in your life when you were silenced? When your world came to a deafening hush? Or do you remember receiving tragic news that left you speechless? Emotions were stirred; angst, confusion, disorientation, sorrow, and grief. And yet, the words would not come. Even if you wanted to protest and cry out, you couldn’t because disbelief and powerlessness were stuck in your throat.

This describes how Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy week impact me.

The ancient church, for hundreds of years has observed these three days to be the final events of Jesus’ life. On Thursday night Jesus launched The Lord’s Supper, washed the feet of his disciples, gave the new commandment of love, and was arrested.  Friday, or “Good Friday,” Jesus suffered a gruesome crucifixion and death. Saturday, we identify with our dear friend lying in the tomb meditating on His death and descent into hell to defeat Satan. “In ancient times, Christians would read from the Old Testament stories of salvation history all night long, and then celebrate resurrection with the dawn.” (Peter Giersch)

I have a tradition on Good Friday morning to stay in bed for several minutes. I lay there considering and meditating on the fact that by the time my alarm goes off, Jesus had been awake the entire night facing betrayal, mockery, and brutal scourging. “I offered my back to those who beat me and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard. I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.” (Is. 50.6)  He was bounced from court to court moving Him closer to His death. I feel a queasy pit in my gut. I feel the angst and shock that this would have to happen to my Lord. Even knowing that He was submitting to the Father’s will, and what the Easter resurrection would bring — I am disquieted.  “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,  and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,  he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.” (Is. 53.10) All this for you – for me.  I’m silenced.

What language shall I borrow
To thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
(O Sacred Head, Now Wounded by Paul Gerhardt, 1607-1676)

“Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20

Honestly, it would be easier for me to dismiss everything I have just shared with you.   But I have learned that it is a right response to be offended and shocked speechless by the reality of the cross. I will turn away from pretending these days are the same as any other carrying on with my usual chatter and small talk conversation.  To be silenced by the events of the coming week may be one of the Christian’s deepest acknowledgments of God’s complete story of love and sacrifice. My soul needs quiet reserve before fully celebrating the glorious redemption at the end of these dreadful days.

I urge you to do the same, dear reader and enter once again into the meaning of it all.  Do not be afraid to think on such outrageous and scandalous events born out of a radical love for you and I. Take time to reflect on the Father’s  mighty act of salvation through Jesus, His only Son.  The Father had a beautiful purpose in giving up His Son.  You. Me. God.  Forever.

Francisco de Zurbarn (1598-1664), “Agnus Dei” (1635-40)

Categories: Sabbath Evenings

Fridays Are For Photographs

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

© Lisa Lessing, 2011, "Blue Barn"

The Friend – Henri Nouwen

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen (The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey)

Categories: Relationships

Fridays Are For Photographs – Ryan’s [Amazing] Moon

April 1, 2011 1 comment

Photo taken by my friend, Ryan Smith near Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. This was the Supermoon of March 19.

Categories: Uncategorized

“The Middle Seat” by Kristin Rathje

March 30, 2011 3 comments

[Guest writer for this post is Kristin Rathje. Kristin  teaches upper level English at Lutheran High School North in St. Louis, Missouri.  She bonds with about a hundred kids per year, writes, reads, and monitors curriculum for a staff of about 40  She is also my friend!  Enjoy a bit of her writing.]

At the end of a lovely visit to San Francisco, I woke early, went for a run, and then returned to my hotel to prepare for my flight.  As I fit all my conference goodies into my suitcase, it dawned on me that I could have the concierge print my boarding pass before I left for the airport.

Anyone who travels one of the popular airlines that has open seating knows that if you want a decent seat, you should print your boarding pass much earlier than two hours prior to the flight.  However, being lost in the beauty of San Francisco, I had overlooked this detail.

I double-checked my room to make sure I had all my possessions and took the elevator to the lobby.  The concierge easily looked up my flight and printed my boarding pass.  You guessed it; my boarding letter was ‘C’.  You know ‘C’, it’s what comes after ‘A” (all one through sixty passengers) and ‘B’ (all one through sixty passengers).  Oh, well, I had just been to a conference that had challenged me to look for the bright spots, so riding in the shuttle to the airport, I took in all the sights of San Francisco one last time, not giving a second thought to my boarding pass.

Upon arrival at the airport, I noticed that my flight was delayed about 25 minutes.  This normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but according to schedule, I was only going to have 40 minutes between flights in Denver.  So, I checked my bags, waded through the security check, and then walked to my gate.  The agent assured me that even though we were departing a little late, we would arrive with plenty of time to get my connecting flight.  So, I put my worries out of my mind, visited a gift shop, bought myself some lunch, and enjoyed some Internet browsing.

As the time for my flight arrived, I again moved to my gate and noticed that every seat in the waiting area was filled.  I sat down in a nearby area and waited some more.  Finally all the passengers with ‘A’ lined up and then boarded.  Then  ‘B’.  Finally ‘C’.  As I walked past the gate agent, she remarked that only middle seats remained, so please take the first available one so that the flight could get moving as quickly as possible.  Well, I am nothing if not a rule follower.  I found the first middle seat and asked if I could sit there.  The man at the window and the woman on the aisle of course said, “Sure.”

Only once I was seated did I realize why some non-rule-followers passed this spot.  The man at the window was probably close to double my size.  He couldn’t help but spill over the armrest.   The woman on the aisle also used up all her space and a bit more.  It wasn’t until she started calling him George and they began to pass a bag of Combos back and forth that I realized that my seatmates were married – to each other!  “He likes to sit by the window, and I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle again,” she said.

Even as I write this I’m chuckling.  What a bright spot.  Even though my flight was running late, even though I would have to run to meet my connector in Denver, even though I had ‘C’.  I had found something to laugh about.   I chuckled and warned them that I was rather sleepy and I might just cuddle up to one or the other.  They didn’t seem to mind.

I did indeed nod off a few times.  We made our connecting flight. (Yes, they live near St. Louis, too.) And now, as I write this, I am on the aisle in a much larger plane, sitting next to another couple, each reading a book in silence, neither larger than the seat they occupy.  And you know, the only reason I’m still laughing is that I’m remembering the ridiculous arrangement I had on the last flight.

Saving the Pieces:

On a day that could have left me grumbling: leaving a place as beautiful as San Francisco, having non-preferred seating, running late, and being squished, I was, by God’s grace able to see a bright spot.  We are given opportunities to see the bright spots each day in the middle of all the things that come up in human life.  I pray that as I walk back into the reality of my life – laundry, lesson plans, and little annoyances, God continues to turn my eyes toward the bright spots.