Stripping the Dead

Standard

Stripping the Dead

1 Peter 4:1-8

Good Stewards of God’s Grace

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention (for whoever has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin), so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

John 19:38-421

The Burial of Jesus

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

There wasn’t much in terms of clothing to strip from the body of Jesus when they took Him down from the cross. Some might say that He had stripped away the last bit of humanity from Himself by then, but I’m not so sure. I’m not sure that “humanity” and “flesh” mean the same thing. Was there even anything left to take from Jesus?

I think that the resurrection may have begun, even if only as a tiny seed, the moment Jesus breathed His last and died on the cross. Many of those crucified with Him were buried in mass graves and lost to time. Yet while He was still on the cross, two influential men, Joseph and Nicodemus, begged for His body and buried it with dignity in a tomb meant for the wealthy. The first thing Jesus got back after His death were His friends who had abandoned Him for fear of losing their own lives. Then He got back a small measure of dignity.

What was stripped from His body then and there was the injustice and humiliation He had received earlier that day. The spittle from the crowd and the blood from His gaping wounds was washed. The inhumanity bestowed upon Him was replaced with the basic human dignity of a child of God. Too little, too late? Not for the Son of God.

The same kindness shown this day, by these men and women, would be replayed again Easter morning, where their next attempts to give Jesus a measure of basic human dignity would be met with frustration at first, and the jubilation. Those who persecuted Christ will run and hide at His return, but those who, even seemingly too late, allowed the power of the resurrection to begin in them as they repented and showed even a small measure of love towards the savior they had deserted, will find their sins covered over and the love of Christ shining anew in their lives. Resurrection starts small, but like that mustard seed of the kingdom, grows into a vast bush that houses all the birds of the air.

What small seed of grace has God planted in you this season?

What inhumanity do you need to strip away in order for that seed to sprout and grow?


  1. (Mt 27:57–61; Mk 15:42–47; Lk 23:50–56)

It is Finished!

Standard

It is Finished!

John 18:1-111

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 18:12-14

Jesus before the High Priest

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

John 18:15-182

Peter Denies Jesus

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

John 18:19-24

The High Priest Questions Jesus

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

John 18:25-27

Peter Denies Jesus Again

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

John 18:28-383

Jesus before Pilate

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” “

John 18:39-19:424

Jesus Sentenced to Death

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:16-305

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.”

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:31-37

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

John 19:38-426

The Burial of Jesus

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

If you were there during the crufixion of Jesus, where do you think you would be and what role would you have played?

What feelings does this stir up in you?

Where do you most strongly sense God’s love in this event?


  1. (Mt 26:47–56; Mk 14:43–52; Lk 22:47–53)
  2. (Mt 26:69–75; Mk 14:66–72; Lk 22:54–62)
  3. (Mt 27:1–2, 11–14; Mk 15:1–5; Lk 23:1–5)
  4. (Mt 27:15–31; Mk 15:6–20; Lk 23:13–25)
  5. (Mt 27:32–56; Mk 15:21–41; Lk 23:26–49)
  6. (Mt 27:57–61; Mk 15:42–47; Lk 23:50–56)

The Example

Standard

The Example

John 13:1-17

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-261

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Real life examples is one of the best ways we learn. That is the reason that churches, marketing groups, and educators use personal testimony to get our attention and convince us that we should follow that example. Personal testimony is powerful and persuasive, and actions speak even louder than words.

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. It was probably the last thing they or we ever expected Him to do here in His final hours. His last supper, His last requests, were spent serving others, like a prisoner doing community service before the execution – not because He was forced to, but because this is what He desired. It is not the action itself that so inspires us. It was what the action revealed about the heart behind it

When Jesus took this precious time to invest in others (and yes, some times are more precious than others) He showed them what all those teaching times looked like when they were lived out. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, I say to you, love your enemies, take the plank out of your own eye first before you try to take the speck out of your brother’s eye… Jesus leads with a strong love that says, “I love you whether you love me back or not.” He was committed to dying to show us that love, even if no one else would go with Him. There was no stopping Him.

Paul was not there to get his feet washed, but his feet were washed by those Jesus had touched and the example lived on in him. The love, the service, the sacrifice… it was all there present every time the people of God gathered to celebrate the One who brought them together and made them who they were, and it still brings us together and transforms us today.

Who sets an example for you to follow?

Who is following your example?


  1. (Mt 26:26–29; Mk 14:22–25; Lk 22:14–23)

The King of Humility

Standard

The King of Humilty

Matthew 21:1-111

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,

Look, your king is coming to you,

humble, and mounted on a donkey,

and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” “


  1. (Mk 11:1–10; Lk 19:28–40; Jn 12:12–19)

Seeing is believing

Standard

Seeing is believing

A Third Time Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection1

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”

“Behold!” He said.

It was not the first time Jesus had this discussion with them. At the beginning of their time following Him, Jesus had told them there would be a cross involved. They would suffer, as He would suffer. This was not the second time either. This was the third time He sat them down and explained what was going to happen in Jerusalem, and now it was almost too late to turn back. They had spent 3 years together trying to get to this place, and here they were in the home stretch. Jesus was preparing them for the big finale.

Yet somehow it took them all by surprise. Why was that?

As wild as our imaginations can be sometimes, they are all fairly limited to recycling material we have seen before. I find it oddly humorous to note the number of television episodes that are based on real life situations. We cannot invent enough new crimes for late night TV so we borrow from the local newspaper and spice it up a bit. Then someone watching that program is inspired to commit a crime of their own based on that, with a twist. They end up on the internet news the next day and the TV writers have new material to work with. It’s an endless cycle of rehashing the same old stories.

Even Disney got involved, not only reselling age old fairy tales, but remaking their own former versionsof them and marketing them as such. (I’m excited to see what Guy Ritchie will do with the Aladdin remake!)

All that to say, when it comes to imagining totally new things, we are not so good at it.

So when Jesus tried to explain that victory over sin and death would come from a cross and that new life for everyone would come when He was brutally executed… well, remember these people had never seen movie special effects. I’m sure they passed it off as something to be taken spiritually or philosophically, but not literally. I mean, even for those who actually saw it all happen, most could not even believe it then.

A few months ago I had the privilege of riding on an airplane during a thunderstorm. It was Incredible watching the lightening bounce from cloud to cloud, so high up in the air. It struck me then, like it must have struck the first astronauts about how few people in the history of the world had ever seen what I was witnessing right then and there. Seeing something as simple as lightening expanded my beliefs about what God can do. What about you?

What has Jesus told you that you may have to see to truly believe?

Can you walk with Him a little further today, even if you cannot see the big picture yet if where He is taking you?


  1. (See also: Mt 20:17–19; Lk 18:31–34)

Tough Decisions

Standard

Tough Decisions

Philippians 1:21-30

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. “

Suffering is only temporary, but not in the way we might hope.

I wonder why Jesus died so quickly on the cross. Two thieves may have hung there longer than He. Don’t get me wrong, He did not deserve any of it. Yet for those who claim He took our punishment upon Himself, I wonder if our own crucifixion would have been as short. Why does Jesus give a loud shout and die when most die slowly of suffocation? I don’t know.

One of my professors, Robert Tuttle once told me that the suffering of Christ did not begin on the cross, it began in the manger. If he was right, than Jesus really did have one of the longest punishments – 33 years worth! What all would that include then?


  1. Being born helpless and vulnerable.


  2. Being hunted


  3. Being misunderstood by his own family


  4. Being tempted by the devil himself

…and that is all before he actually starts any of his ministry. It also does not count much of the first 33 years of His life for which we have very little information on.

It was fairly downhill after that. Doubts, questioning, betrayals… people always around trying to use Him for their own agendas. Some of those were the ones He called friends. Most of them called themselves leaders and upstanding citizens. A few called themselves revolutionaries. Jesus called Himself the Son of Man). Those who knew Him best called Him the Son of God and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Paul called Him Christ, which means messiah or “anointed one”. Somehow knowing the suffering of Jesus inspired Paul to carry on despite his own suffering. As far as starting new movements went, Paul was not terribly successful in his own lifetime. He was kicked out of more towns than he had friends, and even the places he was able to establish Christian communities were often corrupted by false teachers who followed after him. It was then and continues to be an act of God that the church perseveres.

In all this Paul wonders, would it be better to die and be with Jesus than to continue suffering through the day to day pains of trying to be a witness for God to a world that wants nothing to do with Him? That is a question we all have to answer for ourselves.

Paul found his answer in the same way Jesus found His own. He loved God, and he also loved all those around them. Well, he may have struggled to love all of those around him, but he certainly loved some of them. He knew that death might bring him some relief and maybe even some joy. But he also knew that those left here on earth would suffer without him. Even if he could not end or even ease their suffering, there was something powerful and loving about being willing to suffer with them. There is a word for that. It is called compassion(which literally means to suffer with).

What tough decisions do you face today?

What role does suffering play in these decisions?

What choice most reflects the compassion of Jesus?

What the Lord sees

Standard

What the Lord sees

1 Samuel 16:11-13

“Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.”

Samuel learned about the vision of God when Saul failed as King and Samuel was sent to find his successor David. To outward appearances, David was too young in age, and last in his family – so much so that when the prophet came to his home, looking for a young man to make king, David’s own father did not even consider him. Neither, by all accounts, did David argue that point. Instead of taking advantage of this opportunity to advance himself, David contented himself by tending the family sheep.

I think part of what made David a man after God’s own heart was that he chose dedication to his work over aspiration for position. If you follow David’s career, apart from a handful of mistakes and several major misdeeds, he dedicated himself to serving God and the people of Israel. He saw himself as their shepherd and sought to be a good one.

But it is also important to note that, like Jesus, David went through his trials and temptations as well. Although he was anointed as a young man to be king over Israel, he had to wait 20 years before taking the throne, and unlike many would-be kings in history, David waited with patience. I think he was able to because he saw each day as an opportunity to serve God, wherever he was, rather than as an opportunity to advance himself.

How important is position to you?

What can you do today to be a servant of the Lord?