Friday, 21 March 2008

Today's Readings

Today, as you know, is Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus at Calvary. Here are the day's readings:

John 18: 1 - 19: 42

When he had said these things, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley. There was an orchard there, and he and his disciples went into it. (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, knew the place too, because Jesus had met there many times with his disciples.) So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.” He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. (Now the slave’s name was Malchus.) But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath! Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up. They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)
Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas. (Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard.) But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door. So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside. The girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You’re not one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” He replied, “I am not.” (Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire they had made, warming themselves because it was cold. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.)
While this was happening, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. and in the temple courts, Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues where all the Jewish people assemble together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said. They know what I said.” When Jesus had said this, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face and said, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus replied, “If I have said something wrong, confirm what is wrong. But if I spoke correctly, why strike me?” Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.
Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself. They said to him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” Peter denied it: “I am not!” One of the high priest’s slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the orchard with him?” Then Peter denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.
Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s residence. (Now it was very early morning.) They did not go into the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal. So Pilate came outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They replied, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”
Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!” The Jewish leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.” (This happened to fulfill the word Jesus had spoken when he indicated what kind of death he was going to die.)
So Pilate went back into the governor’s residence, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked, “What is truth?”
When he had said this he went back outside to the Jewish leaders and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against him. But it is your custom that I release one prisoner for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?” Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” (Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.)
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely. The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they clothed him in a purple robe. They came up to him again and again and said, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly in the face.
Again Pilate went out and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no reason for an accusation against him.” So Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Look, here is the man!” When the chief priests and their officers saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify Pilate said, him! Crucify him!” “You take him and crucify him! Certainly I find no reason for an accusation against him!” The Jewish leaders replied, “We have a law, and according to our law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God!”
When Pilate heard what they said, he was more afraid than ever, and he went back into the governor’s residence and said to Jesus, “Where do you come from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you know I have the authority to release you, and to crucify you?” Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.”
From this point on, Pilate tried to release him. But the Jewish leaders shouted out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar! Everyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!” When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus outside and sat down on the judgment seat in the place called “The Stone Pavement” (Gabbatha in Aramaic). (Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon.) Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, “Look, here is your king!”
Then they shouted out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked, “Shall I crucify your king?” The high priests replied, “We have no king except Caesar!” handed him overThen Pilate to them to be crucified.So they took Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” (called in Aramaic Golgotha). crucified There they him along with two others, written and fastened to the cross, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had a notice which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.) So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says,
They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”
So the soldiers did these things.
Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!” He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!” From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.
After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!” A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth. When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Then, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not stay on the crosses on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was an especially important one), the Jewish leaders asked Pilate to have the victims’ legs broken and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified with Jesus, first the one and then the other. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately. And the person who saw it has testified (and his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth), so that you also may believe. For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.” And again another scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus (but secretly, because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission, so he went and took the body away. Nicodemus, the man who had previously come to Jesus at night, accompanied Joseph, carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about seventy-five pounds. Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it, with the aromatic spices, in strips of linen cloth according to Jewish burial customs. Now at the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb where no one had yet been buried. And so, because it was the Jewish day of preparation and the tomb was nearby, they placed Jesus’ body there.

Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5: 7-9

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered. And by being perfected in this way, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him...

Isaiah 52: 13 - 53: 12

“Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted–
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;
his form was so marred he no longer looked human–
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.
Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?
He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.
All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.
He was led away after an unjust trial–
but who even cared?
Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
They intended to bury him with criminals,
but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,
because he had committed no violent deeds,
nor had he spoken deceitfully.
Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.
“My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins.
So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,
because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”




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