Friday, March 27, 2015

Jesus is buried

3.27.2015 Friday of Lent 5                             Mark 15:33-47 Death and burial of Jesus

Jesus is buried

Jesus pays for the sins of the world on the cross, opening the way to God through faith in Him. As God and man in one person, He dies under the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:14-15). The penalty for sin is death. (see Romans 6:23a)

Friends bury the body of Jesus quickly. The approaching Sabbath Day was holy to the Lord, and no work could be done (Exodus 20:8-11). Even in the tomb, death does not conquer Jesus – His body does not decay (see Acts 2:31). Jesus completes His mission with this last step in His state of humiliation> He has fully paid for the sins of the entire world![2]

Mel Gibson’s movie the “Passion of the Christ” is a vivid portrayal of the Roman style of execution called crucifixion. It is a rendering of what took place in Jerusalem during those short three hours on Good Friday. This movie is an apt depiction of what crucifixion was really like. No wonder the world feared the Romans! No wonder some still today cannot bear to see this film. No wonder the Romans had a law, which read: Roman citizens may not be crucified. The scourging, whippings and beatings Christ endured was pure violence.

And yet, Gibson’s film is not “gratuitous violence.” To the contrary - there is a higher good, which comes from the sufferings and the passion of the Christ.  Your sins, oh man, are gone. Your sins are buried in the tomb of Christ never to be seen again. The Father now separates them as far as the east is from the west and He remembers your sin no more.

There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ who was crucified. This is why we call that day “Good Friday”, for on a Friday - in time - the Son of God suffered to set you free. And this is good.

O Lord, you relieve our necessity out of the abundance of your great riches: Grant that we may accept with joy the salvation you bestow, and manifest it to all the world by the quality of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The crucifixion

3.26.2015 Thursday of Lent 5                   Mark 15:16-32 The passion and crucifixion of Jesus

The crucifixion

Jesus is crucified, bearing the punishment for the sins of the world. This is what it costs to atone for sins. At any time, Jesus can halt the proceeding, save Himself, and condemn His enemies. His love for us and His obedience to the Father lead Him to make this sacrifice instead.[2]

Hanging on a cross - suspended between earth and heaven - the Son of man suffers – as no one has ever suffered – before or since. Stricken, smitten and afflicted see Him hanging on that tree – He hangs there - for you and for me.

Today we witness Jesus as He offers Himself as a sacrifice for the life of the world. The old song sings: “Make me see thy great distress, anguish and affliction,”

The distress of Jesus is one no one has ever experienced. The physical torture was tremendous. But even greater was the spiritual torments He received. On that bloody and cruel cross Jesus was abandoned by God and by men.  Thus the Savior’s affliction and anguish was the highest cruelty. The wrath of an angry and offended God was poured out on the Son of man on a hill called Calvary. Heaped upon Him was a double load.

He suffered as no man should. He suffered innocently the righteous for the unrighteous. Jesus suffered great distress, anguish, and affliction. He suffered in time so we could be in bliss with God eternally.

O God, you have called us to be your children, and have promised that those who suffer with Christ will be heirs with him of your glory: Arm us with such trust in him that we may ask no rest from his demands and have no fear in his service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, fo ever and ever. Amen[3]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Collect for Thursday of Lent 5,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Attitude of Opportunity

Mid-week Lent #6
March 25, 2015
Zachariah 9:9-10
The Attitude of Opportunity
What a King!

What kind of King do we want to rule over us? Though we do not have a king we do have a president; and in the midst of a national election year that is the question that many are asking themselves these days “what kind of leader do we want to lead us as a people?”  

This can lead to a number of questions for us to consider.  Who or what is the master (king) of your life?  In our lesson for today, we are told that the King is coming.  Is the King (Messiah) coming to take charge of your life?  Jesus offers to be our king in fulfillment of the promise “Lo, your King comes to you.”  What kind of King would He be?

A humble King – “humble and riding on an ass”. The Messiah comes riding on a common beast of burden. He is a humble king. He does not ride a horse, which is reserved for a mighty king.  An ass is a humble animal, which symbolizes peace.  The ass carried the Christ to the people. Today we see this same humble king coming to us to take away our sin. He has stilled God's anger and taken away our reproach. His innocent suffering and death save us.

A victorious King – “triumphant and victorious is He” Jesus began the week as He rode into the city of Jerusalem triumphant accepting the claim and the praises of the people.  By the end of the week, He was condemned to die with two common thieves.  His early success turned to scorn along with it the horrors and tragedies of Good Friday.

And yet, we too can triumph with Jesus even though we know that it meant the cross. Even in the midst of pain and gore, there is joy.  Jesus endured the cross for the joy, which was set before Him.

The joy is that the Savior is coming to die for our sins and to assume His rule over us in our daily lives. Because of the cross, Jesus truly is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Yes, He is a victorious king.

A peaceful King – “He shall command peace to the nations.” His victory over sin, over death, and over the power of the enemy guarantees for us peace with God. He has become our peace.  Not a peace, which is only temporary.  He gives us a peace that lasts.  And of His kingdom, there shall be no end!  Jesus has come to bring blessings and life.  In Him, there truly is peace on earth and good will to men. Rejoice in His mercy and the peace that He alone can give.

This is how God chooses to come to us.  He chooses to come to us in a sacramental way. This is how He chooses to deal with us.  We do not come to the King.  Rather, the King chooses to come to us. He comes to us personally to bless us.  We do not decide for Christ. Rather, He decides for us.  We do not choose Christ, but Christ chooses us. God initiates the act of grace. And we live and dwell in safety under the watchful eye of our gracious and humble peaceful king.

Words –464
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –86/1%

Reading Level -4/0

The Annunciation of our Lord

 O Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ, by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Woodcuts by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld © WELS

Jesus before Pilate

3.25.2015 Wednesday of Lent 5                 Mark 15:1-15 Jesus before Pilate

Jesus before Pilate

Jewish leaders bring Jesus to Pilate, hoping to get a death penalty conviction from him. The world does not understand the kingdom of God, where God rules by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, nor does the world understand its King. Jesus endures His trial silently, without making a legal defense. He willingly goes to the cross for us.

Despite knowing that Jesus is innocent, Pilate condemns Him to death by crucifixion under pressure from the Jewish leadership and the crowds. Even though Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he sentences Him to death to keep himself out of trouble. Often, Christians face similar temptations to act contrary to God’s Word and will for their own safety. We can pray that the Lord would grant us courage to trust His will and share His will. He has promised to give us His Holy Spirit to strengthen us for every challenge.[2] 

Jesus, the innocent victim is sentenced to death – a death He did not deserve – yet a death He will bear for your salvation. In the most blessed Sacrament, which He instituted before His arrest, you receive the tokens of His sacrifice – His body, broken - His blood, shed - that you might receive absolution and clemency for your offenses.  Thus we are moved to pray, “O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.”

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of your mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, widen our charity, and make us ready to serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen[3]

[3] Collect for Wednesday of Lent 5,

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jesus before the Sanhedrin & Peter's denial

3.24.2015 Tuesday of Lent 5                        Mark 14:53-72 Jesus before the Sanhedrin
Jesus before the Sanhedrin  

The Council will convict Jesus of blasphemy. When asked by the high priest, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? Jesus simply answers, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated sat the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Jesus stands alone. All His friends have deserted Him. He stands bearing the sin of the world.

As Jesus stood trial before Caiaphas, out in the courtyard Peter denies that he even knew Jesus Fear leads us to do things we later regret. Only God can give us the courage to face difficult situations, especially persecution.[2]
Peter's denial  

The story of Peter is your story. It is also my story. Peter is so strong; so sure of himself, so bold – yet so often he stumbles, fumbles, flops and falls. “Peter gave it scarce a thought when he God rejected.”

Peter was so sure of himself. He felt secure in his faith. After all, he was one of the twelve and of the twelve, one of the three whom Jesus gathered together to be part of His inner circle. He was fixed firmly in his own ability to stand confidently with the Savior.

Just hours before Jesus’ arrest in the garden Peter had pledged his loyalty to the Savior. “And [Simon Peter] said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death. But Jesus said, I tell you, Peter, before a [single] cock shall crow this day, you will three times [utterly] deny that you know Me.” - Luke 22:33-34

When he would eventually deny the Savior he thought he was only finding a limb on which to climb. It was for him a way of “saving face.” “I wasn’t really denying my Lord,” he could argue, “It was merely a case of “mistaken identity.” Peter said to the crowd, “You’re talking to the wrong man!”

What happens in our life? – Do we give a “false witness” when we, for example, compromise clear Biblical principles in order to fit in at work, or at school? What price will we pay to acquire acceptance, approval, acquiescence? Every time we sin willfully we are doing nothing short of what Peter did on that fateful night.

Like Peter we often “give it scarce a thought” when we compromise principle for convenience or for what is expedient at the time.

After the resurrection Peter and Jesus had another heart to heart meeting. Three times Jesus would ask Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” John would remind us in his gospel account, “Peter was grieved because Jesus said to him for a third time do you love Me?” – John 21:17

Roman Catholics maintain that Peter was the first Pope. To this day Protestant parishes in Europe will place a rooster instead of a cross on the top of their spires as a not so friendly reminder of Peter’s seedy past. Not much has changed over the years. Have there been instances in our lives when we have not acted as becomes a child of God? Have you had to be reminded of that moment only to relive it once again?

Each of us can recall those moments in our lives in which we are not proud! Peter’s’ denial crushed him – but what he found was restoration by the Savior! 

Peter’s freedom came at a price – the price of Jesus’ life. To be crushed by conscience and the Law is never a pleasant thing. But Christ’s redemption leads to recovery – to be reconciled to the Father and also to each other – all has been made possible by the Savior’s amazing grace!

Almighty God, through the incarnate Word you have caused us to be born anew of an imperishable and eternal seed: Look with compassion upon those who are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant that they may be built as living stones into a spiritual temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen [4]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Lutheran Study Bible © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jesus in Gethsemane

3.23.2015 Monday of Lent 5                Mark 14:32-52  Jesus at Gethsemane and His arrest

Jesus in Gethsemane 

Jesus is arrested by members of the religious ruling Council. They apprehend Him at night, outside the city to avoid causing a riot or an uprising. Although it appears that His enemies have the upper hand as these events unfold the Father is in completely in control and all of these events. His plan of salvation will be worked out according to His divine plan.  Nothing is left to chance.

Earlier that evening Jesus had prayed. The cup of suffering He is about to drink will not be removed. Three times He had asked the Father that it be removed if there were another way, another opportunity, another alternative, another course of action. But, of course there was none. There could be and now is only one plan of salvation, only one moral standard, only one program for the ages. The Old Testament prophets spoke of future events. Now their predictions will be verified. The trial, passion, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus is about to unfold.       

Be gracious to your people, we entreat you, O Lord, that they, repenting day by day of the things that displease you, may be more and more filled with love of you and of your commandments; and, being supported by your grace in this life, may come to the full enjoyment of eternal life in you everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen[2]

[1] Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
[2] Collect for Monday of Lent 5,