April 1, 2012

Scripture and Commentary for Week Before Easter

Monday before Easter, Day Thirty-five


Morning - Psalm 71, Isaiah 42:1-7, John 14:1-14
Evening - Psalms 42 & 43, Lamentations 1:7-12, John 14:15-31

John 14:15-31

If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.


"Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known me, Philip? (vs9). Philip knew much about Jesus. He knew Jesus could heal the sick and raise the dead, for he had seen that with his own eyes. He knew Jesus was the Messiah, the One of whom Moses and the prophets wrote (Jn. 1:45). He had heard His sermons and seen His compassion. He had walked with Jesus for three years, sharing hardship, ridicule, and danger with Him. Yet he did not know Jesus. He did not know Jesus was God in human form (Jn. 1:1-14). He did not know Jesus was the revelation of the Father (Jn. 1:18). He did not know that if he has "seen" Jesus he has seen the Father.

Devotional Thoughts

To "see" Jesus is more than to simply view Him with our eyes. It is to see Him with understanding and faith. If we see Jesus in this way, we have seen God. But it is possible to see Him with neither understanding nor faith. To see Him as a good man, a prophet, a saint, but not Immanuel, God with us is to see Him without understanding, for it is to miss the real Jesus. To see Him as God, yet remain unaffected and unchanged by this knowledge is to see Him without faith. Let us not be as Philip. Let us understand and believe.

Tuesday before Easter, Day Thirty-six


Morning - Psalms 6 & 12, Hosea 14, John 15:1-16
Evening - Psalm51, Lamentations 2:10, 13-19, John 15:17

John 15:17

These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.


John 15 tells us those who abide in Jesus are like branches growing from a luxuriant vine. Those who do not abide in Him are like dead branches, and are removed and cast into the fire. To abide in Christ means many things, one of the obvious is to draw life from Him. Our physical existence comes from Christ. Remove His sustaining power from us and we cease to exist. But our spiritual existence comes from Christ also. Just as a branch that does not draw its life from the vine gradually withers and dies, a soul that does not draw its life from Christ dies.

Devotional Thoughts

A Christian's goal is to live a quiet and holy life every moment of every day. During Lent we have looked at what a holy life is, so as we come to the close of Lent it is natural that we ask ourselves a question; am I really serious about holiness? This is a difficult question to answer because we have a tendency to fool ourselves, and to convince ourselves that we are really doing better than we are. So we need to be brutally honest with ourselves, and we need to base our answers on evidence, rather than illusions. Are you serious about holiness? What in your life shows that you are?

Wednesday before Easter, Day Thirty-seven


Morning - Psalm 94, Zechariah 12:9,10, 13:1,7-9, John 16:1-15
Evening - Psalm 74 Lamentations 3:1, 14-33, John 16:16

John 16:16

A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.


Today's readings in the Gospel of John take us through the 16th chapter. Jesus and His disciples are still in the upper room where they have eaten the Passover meal and the Last Supper. Judas has gone (Jn. 13:30), and Christ is using the few precious hours left to teach the disciples. Christ speaks of many things, from the way the world will treat the disciples to the coming of the Holy Spirit, called here, the "Comforter" (17:7). The disciples understand nothing of what He is saying. His crucifixion will almost crush them emotionally and spiritually. Their faith in Christ will die with Him on the cross because they do not understand that He came to die for their sins and to bring them into a Kingdom of the Spirit. But their sorrow will be turned to joy (vs. 20) when they see the resurrected Christ. And they will understand when the Holy Spirit comes.

Devotional Thoughts

The Christian's goal is to grow in Christ every day. We have looked at Christian growth during Lent, now we need to ask ourselves how we are doing. Am I really seeking to grow in Christ? Do I see myself making honest attempts to seek and grow in Him? What positive steps am I taking to try to grow in Him? What am I really doing to conquer sin and reform my thoughts and attitudes and habits? These are not easy questions, but they are necessary. Be brave, ask them. Be heroic, answer them.

Maundy Thursday, Day Thirty-eight


Morning - Psalm 116, Jeremiah 31:31-34, John 13:18
Evening - Psalms 142, 143, Lamentations 3:40-58, John 17

John 17

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.


Thursday before Easter Sunday recalls the institution of Holy Communion. Passover began that evening at sunset, and Christ gathered His disciples into the upper room to keep the feast. After the meal Jesus took the bread and cup, saying, "This is My body. This is My blood." Afterwards they went to the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane, where Jesus was "captured" and led away for His "trials." The trials lasted through the night and into the next morning. Friday took Him to the cross, and by Friday evening He was dead. Thus, we see the awful finality in Jesus' words in 17:1, "the hour is come." The time has come for Him to go to the cross. The hour has come for Him to accomplish that for which He came into the world. His journey to the cross is almost complete.

Devotional Thoughts

Many people think growing in holiness means increasing religious activities. It is true that a genuinely holy person will participate in Bible study, prayer, public worship, and other religious things. But these things alone do not make one holy. The people who put Christ to death were religious people. They were leaders in the "Church," but they were far from holy. They honoured God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. Holiness, then, begins with an attitude of Godliness in the heart. This attitude expresses itself in prayer, worship, and the other outward activities of holiness. To have the activities without the inward attitude is like having a body without a soul. Such a body is dead. To have the inward attitude without the outward actions is to have a phony faith. For real faith always moves us to outward actions.

Good Friday, Day Thirty-nine


Morning - Psalms 22, 40:1-16, 54, Genesis 22:1-18, John 18
Evening - Psalm 69:1-22, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, 1 Peter 2:11

John 18

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 1But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.


In addition to the daily readings from the Lectionary, the Prayer Book includes a reading from John 19:1-37, which records the crucifixion of Jesus. The reading from 1 Peter 2 is a fitting commentary on the reading from John. Verses 21-25 especially remind us why Christ suffered. He "bare our sins in His own body."


Both the inward attitude, call it "faith," and the outward actions, call them "faithfulness" are required if a person is going to be truly holy. But we cannot let ourselves assume that the only outward actions required of us are those we would normally call "religious." Religious activities are required, and one who will not take them up willingly needs to seriously look at his heart, for he will likely not find biblical faith there. But holiness also requires certain actions and attitudes toward other people, call them, "neighbors." As Jesus so clearly pointed out, our duty to God means we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and loving our neighbors generally means treating others the way we would like to be treated. No one wants to be mistreated in any way, yet, how often our actions and words offend and hurt is something we cannot know in this life. But God knows. Nor are we talking only about negative things, for love consist not only of "thou shalt nots," but of plenteous "thou shalts." There are enough of these in the Bible to keep us busy reading and learning them for some time, but some of them are compassion, empathy, encouragement, and emotional support. During Lent we have intentionally devoted ourselves to growing in holiness, both inwardly, in the heart, and outwardly, in our actions. Have our efforts included both love for God, and love for our "neighbors?"

Easter Even, Day Forty


Morning - Psalms 14, 16, Job 14:1-14, John 19:38
Evening - Psalm 27, Job 19:21-27, Romans 6:3-11

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.


"It is finished." We have come to the end of Christ's journey to the cross. We have followed Him from the outer reaches of Galilee to the courts of the Temple, to the hill of Golgotha. In every place and every time He resolutely followed the road to the cross. Nothing could turn Him aside from that great and terrible transaction by which He offered Himself for the sins of His people. When He had suffered our punishment and died our death, He cried with a loud voice, "It is finished." Let us remember it was for us that He died. It was for our sake that He was placed in the tomb. It was for our sin that He "Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified dead and buried." His entire journey to the cross has been for you.

Devotional Thoughts

It is difficult for us to imagine how the disciples felt that first Saturday after Christ died. They had given up everything to follow Him, and when He died all their hopes died with Him. They were in fear for their lives, lest they too should be tortured to death. But more devastating than fear was their absolute despair. God, they thought, had abandoned them. Their entire faith and meaning in life died with Christ. Today let us try to imagine their fear and despair. Try to feel what they felt when they placed His body in the grave, never, as they thought, to live again. But let us remember that their despair is only a hint of what we would feel if Christ were still in the grave. Their emotional emptiness would be the natural condition of our lives, if Christ were still in the grave today. Our existence would be as if someone had punched us in the stomach, and we were writhing on the floor, unable to breathe, unable to make ourselves do anything because of the uncontrollable pain and spasms. Only it would not be our stomachs or diaphragms that were hit, it would be our souls. But, more horrible than life without meaning is eternity without hope. Eternity spent in forced exile from the Author of all goodness and happiness is eternity spent in abject sorrow and absolute misery, so deep it makes the fires of Hell seem almost insignificant by comparison. As we imagine a world with Christ in the grave, let us see Hell yawning before us, pulling us in without mercy. Let us imagine unfathomable physical suffering that can only be matched by the anguish of the soul. And let us remember, that would be our fate forever, if Christ be not raised.

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