Tag Archives: Gospel of Luke

Holy Saturday

garden tomb

    There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character.  He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea.  He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used.  It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin (Luke 23:50-54, The Message).

On Saturday, the Sabbath, Jesus’ body rested in the tomb.  The Sabbath was created by God as a day for humanity to rest and reflect on God’s goodness and blessings.  Today the church rests in the story of Jesus’ passion.



Waiting for the new creation, the eighth day to dawn.   The stone will be rolled away and the world will never be the same.

Lord Jesus, I wait with you today.

Good Friday’s Promise

Jesus crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem.

Roman did not conduct quiet executions. They wanted maximum public disgrace when they executed an outlaw. The marched the convicts out through the public crowds to demonstrate their power over the population. They stripped the criminals of all clothing and possession.

And they chose a public place where all who passed by could see their display of power. To show that Jesus was no one special, they crucified him with two other criminals.  And to mock Jesus they printed a sign over his head, “King of the Jews.” The sign reminded all that any rebellion against Roman was futile.

If you want to be king, this is the kind of throne you will have, a throne of nails with a crown of thorns. Here is the kind of royal court you deserve, two criminals who share in your crucifixion. It will be your total humiliation and the complete demonstration of Rome’s power.

But the Romans were not alone. The temple priest and others joined in scoffing Jesus. They threw back at him his words of healing and hope. “He saved others, let him save himself.” Three times the word “save” is thrown at Jesus. But no saving angels came to rescue him.

Here was the miracle worker, who at his most desperate hour, had no miracle. Here was the great teacher, who from his bloody pulpit had no word for the crowd. From all outward appearances, Jesus was defeated, destroyed and dead.

From the outside all was darkness and pain. Jesus was utterly abandoned by his disciples, his friends, his powerful deeds and words. As the crowd stared at the cross, they did not see a Godly messiah, only a miserable joke.

But something else was going on behind the scenes. And only those who come with the eyes of faith will see it.

As the soldiers, priests and others mock Jesus, one of the criminal, for reasons unknown, spoke up to defend Jesus. He reminded the other criminal that they are being executed for just reasons, but Jesus had done nothing wrong. “Have you no fear of God?” he asks.

He turns to Jesus and says “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

Whether this criminal fully understood the words he spoke or not, we do not know. But Jesus had once said, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed, God will hear and act”(Luke 17:6). In many ways, this criminal echoes our prayer as we watch this battle between the powers of darkness and destruction and the power of God’s love. We ask that Jesus will remember us.

Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.

Jesus responds, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Lord Jesus, lock your promise in my heart today.


Stone Rejected

Stones from the Temple that were cast down by the Romans

Stones play a prominent role in the Holy Week story.

On Palm Sunday Jesus stated that if the crowd was quieted the stone would shout out (Luke 19:40).

Later when some of Jesus’ followers were admiring the Temple adorned with beautiful stones, Jesus responded, “As for these things you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down” (Luke 21:5-6).   Less than forty years after Jesus’ death, the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.

On Easter Sunday the stone covering Jesus’ tomb was rolled away to show how empty it was (Luke 24:2).

All this gives special meaning to Jesus’ comment to the scribes and chief priests during Holy Week.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Luke 20:17)

Jesus was rejected by humanity on the cross, but becomes our assurance of God’s love and grace.  While our trust shifts like sand, his love for us remains rock-steady.

In what ways have you rejected Jesus this week?
In what ways has Jesus become your cornerstone?

Lord Jesus, be my rock and fortress this day and always.

Who Is In the Ditch? – Part 2

The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880) shows ...

The Good Samaritan by Aimé Morot (1880) shows the Good Samaritan taking the injured man to the inn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last post, I suggested one way to read the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10 is to see ourselves as the one in the ditch, needing care. I contrasted this perspective with the standard view that we are to behave like the Samaritan and give care to those in need. I believe parables are open to a variety of interpretations; that is what makes them surprising and valuable as faith-building stories.

I hinted that there was third interpretation as well (and maybe more). The third view is to see where Jesus fits into the story.

The parable takes place on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. This would be the very road that Jesus will take later in the Gospel narrative when he went from Jericho to Jerusalem (Luke 19:1,28). Just before he started up that road, Jesus reminded the disciples of what he would encounter in Jerusalem,

Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18:31-33)

Thus, in a subtle way, the parable points also to Jesus’ coming suffering and death at the hands of the Gentiles. Thus the question comes even more poignant as to how we respond to the story. Will we turn aside and try to ignore Jesus’ suffering (like the Priest and Levite) or will we embrace him as the crucified one (like the Samaritan)?

Taking the story full-circle, as Cathy Seither commented on my last post, Jesus goes one step further. In Matthew 25:31-46, when the Son of Man comes in glory and judges the nations, he will state that the righteous are those who fed, welcomed, clothed and visited him when he was in need.

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Matthew 25:37-40).

When we give love and support to other who are “in the ditch,” we are serving our Lord Jesus.

Where do you see yourself in the story of the Good Samaritan?

Lord Jesus, once again open my eyes and heart to see those who are in need and to respond in love.