March 25, 2011

Saturday, March 26, Day Sixteen

The Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 63, Genesis 35:1-7, 16-20, 1 Corinthians 9:1-14
Evening - Psalm 72, Jeremiah 6:9-21, John 11:45

John 11:45-57

 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Will Jesus come to the feast?  This question is on the lips of all in Jerusalem as they prepare for the Feast of the Passover (Jn. 11:56).  The chief priests and Pharisees are there, along with the devout Jews from Israel and the all Roman Empire. The conflict of the priests and Pharisees with Jesus, and their intent to take Him is well known (Jn. 11:57).  It is also known that Jesus has been staying in Perea on the east side of the Jordan, and that He has made trips into Israel, as He did to raise Lazarus.  Caiaphas' words show the deadly intent of the religious leaders (Jn. 11:50). John 11:53 shows their unanimity of purpose.  Thus, for Jesus to come to the Feast is to face certain death.  It is to accept the cross, or, more correctly, to embrace it.  The moment He crosses the Jordan His fate is sealed, and He knows it.

            Devotional Thoughts

One of our great problems is our ability to look at ourselves and say, “I’m not so bad. My sins aren’t so bad. I’m really O.K.”  You may be familiar with the parody of that great Gospel song, “Love Lifted Me.”  You recall that the song begins with the words, “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore.”  The parody says, “I was sinking deep in sin, yipeeee!”  This makes sin something to be joked about and winked at.  It carries the assumption that it really isn’t sin.  Today many reject the idea of sin.  Even clergy and denominations say sin isn’t sin.  It sometimes seems that the only “sin” left is to call sin “sin.”

By contrast, confession agrees that sin is sin.  Confession agrees that God hates sin, I hate sin, and I hate my sin.  If sin is as wicked as the Bible portrays it, we should not be surprised to learn that the One who is of purer eyes than to look upon it hates sin.  He hates it for all the suffering and death it has caused.  He hates it for putting children to bed at night in fear and hunger.  He hates it for making the streets of our cities crime-filled death traps.  He hates it for the abuse it causes, and for the way it causes us to use and discard people like paper plates.  He hates it for the wars and oppression, and crime, and hate, and grief and loss it has caused through the blood stained millennia of human history.  Do we not hate this sin?  And do we hate, not just sin in general, but our own sins in particular?  Can we not say with tears the General Confession of our Communion Service, “the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable?”  Repentance is not complete until we confess, and confession is not complete until we learn to hate our sin as God hates it.  God help us to confess our sin.