‘Day One’ Blog

Two Days of Silence – April 06, ’20

disbelief & disorientation

(The Holy Shroud – 1488 B.C.)

Meditation for the Soul ~

Truly, truly I say to you,
you will weep and lament,
but the world will rejoice.
John 16:20
For my sighing comes instead of my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.
For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
and what I dread befalls me.
Job 3:23-25
The Spirit himself intercedes for us
with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26

Reflection for the Mind ~

This Lent we have committed ourselves to being occupied with thoughts of Jesus and who He showed Himself to be in the last days of His earthly life. As we approach today’s entry, we do so with the premise that those who followed Christ were very much occupied with thoughts of Him in the two-plus days after He died.

There is no way to understand what Jesus’ followers would have been experiencing at the time of His death. Their Beloved had just been savagely tortured and then executed. The psyche’s immediate response to trauma is to put a temporary stop on all normal responses and shift into a shutdown mode for self-preservation. So I don’t think the extent of their bewilderment can be measured.

But the thing that takes their experience even further out of the known stratosphere is this: Jesus wasn’t just their beloved companion and teacher. He was the one who was going to save them. He was the Christ, the Messiah. He was the Son of God. He was their future hope – and He was dead.

Fear also gripped those left behind. They hunkered down trying to stay off of the Jewish leaders’ grid. That adds yet another complicated, significant layer to all the followers of Christ were trying to navigate. It was just a terrible, terrible time for them. Honestly, Jesus was so detailed trying to prepare them for His absence, but it didn’t appear as though much of it was able to come to bear for the disciples and others.

A few of Jesus’ followers, mainly the women, were able to make themselves useful by preparing His body for burial and taking care of the burial details. That might have been a helpful “if temporary” distraction. But the majority were left to do nothing but wait (in hiding) and pray that the cloud of disbelief and disorientation would mercifully dissipate.

Response for the Heart ~

Lord, even as Your Spirit takes me back to that terrible day, I grieve Your death. The idea that one could be without You, for a moment, let alone three interminable days is beyond my comprehension. I know You sustained Your devastated followers, though I doubt they would have been able to feel it. What would You have me understand as I sit in these days of silence? Speak to me Lord and teach me. I praise You and I worship You! ~ Amen

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All Was Now Finished – April 04, ’20

The Death of Jesus

Crucifixion of Christ (detail). Crete. 17th Century.
The Menil Collection, Gift of George R. Bunker.

(There will be nothing added to the four gospel accounts of Jesus’ death. My reflections would diminish the holiness of the scene.)

Luke 23:44-49 ~

It was now about the sixth hour,
and there was darkness over the whole land
until the ninth hour,
while the sun’s light failed.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.
Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”
And having said this He breathed His last.
Now when the centurion saw what had taken place,
he praised God, saying,
“Certainly this man was innocent!”
And all the crowds that had assembled
for this spectacle,
when they saw what had taken place,
returned home beating their breasts.
And all His acquaintances and the women
who had followed Him from Galilee
stood at a distance watching these things.
Luke 23:44-49

Mark 15:33-39 ~

And when the sixth hour had come,
there was darkness over the whole land
until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried
with a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means,
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
And some of the bystanders hearing it said,
“Behold, He is calling Elijah.”
And someone ran and
filled a sponge with sour wine,
put it on a reed and
gave it to Him to drink, saying,
“Wait, let us see whether Elijah
will come to take Him down.”
And Jesus uttered a loud cry
and breathed His last.
And the curtain of the temple was torn in two,
from top to bottom.
And when the centurion, who stood facing Him,
saw that in this way he breathed His last, he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”
Mark 15:33-39

Matthew 27:45-56 ~

Now from the sixth hour
there was darkness over all the land
until the ninth hour.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out
with a loud voice, saying,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is,
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said,
“This man is calling Elijah.”
And one of them at once ran and took a sponge,
filled it with sour wine,
and put it on a reed and gave it to Him to drink.
But the others said,
“Wait, let us see whether Elijah
will come to save Him.”
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice
and yielded up His spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two,
from top to bottom.
And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
The tombs also were opened.
And many bodies of the saints
who had fallen asleep were raised,
and coming out of the tombs
after His resurrection
they went into the holy city
and appeared to many.
When the centurion and those who were with him,
keeping watch over Jesus,
saw the earthquake and what took place,
they were filled with awe and said,
“Truly this was the Son of God!”
There were also many women there,
looking on from a distance, who had
followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him,
among whom were
Mary Magdalene and Mary
the mother of James and Joseph
and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
Matthew 27:45-56

John 19:28-30 ~

After this, Jesus,
knowing that all was now finished,
said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”
A jar full of sour wine stood there,
so they put a sponge full of the sour wine
on a hyssop branch
and held it to His mouth.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said,
“It is finished,”
and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

John 19:28-30

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The Crucifixion – April 01, ’20

(The crucifixion is recounted in all four of the gospels. I highly recommend reading all of them carefully so that you have the fullest picture possible. There are links for your convenience.)

Meditation for the Soul ~

So they took Jesus, and He went out,
bearing His own cross,
to the place called The Place of a Skull,
which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.
There they crucified Him, and with Him two others
one on either side,
and Jesus between them.
Pilate also wrote an inscription
and put it on the cross.
It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Many of the Jews read this inscription,
for the place where Jesus
was crucified was near the city,
and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.
So 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.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus,
they took His garments
and divided them into four parts,
one part for each soldier; also His tunic.
But the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from top to bottom,
but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.”
This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things,
but standing by 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 nearby
 He said to his mother,
“Woman, behold, your son!”
Then He said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother!”
And from that hour the disciple
took her to his own home.
John 19:16-27;
(See also: Luke 23:26-43; Mark 15:21-32;
Matthew 27:32-44)

Reflection for the Mind ~

John, “the disciple whom He loved,” was recalling what he witnessed at Golgotha. He is the only one to record Jesus’ words in this part of our Lord’s ordeal, and they are highly personal. Once again Jesus was the caregiver, knowing what His inner circle’s needs were. As He hung on the cross dying, He saw to it that His mother would be properly cared for. It’s a stunning act of other-centeredness, something no ordinary human would be capable of.

Meanwhile, the Jewish leaders were straining at gnats about the wording of the sign Pilate had hung over Jesus’ head. The soldiers who crucified Jesus gambled for His clothing, and passersby jeered as Jesus was suffocating to death. The thieves who hung on either side of Him made their own contribution to the degrading dialogue, but that exchange ended in the salvation of a man’s soul… one more act of other-centeredness from Jesus.

Response for the Heart ~

Jesus, the pain of crucifixion was known to be beyond description. Just the thought of it would send fear into any heart. So, I cannot understand the level of pain you were in let alone how You were able to care for Your mother, for the soldiers who nailed You to the cross, and for the criminal beside You. Praise You for all Your marvelous, sacrificial works in those final moments. I pray You would lead me in my thoughts and feelings as I meditate upon You there. I love You, Lord, and I thank You!
~ Amen

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Do Not Weep For Me – March 30, ’20

(Christ Falling on the Way to Calvary,
Raphael, 1516–1517)

Meditation for the Soul ~

And as they led Him away,
they seized one Simon of Cyrene,
who was coming in from the country,
and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.
And there followed Him
a great multitude of the people
and of women who were mourning
and lamenting for Him.
But turning to them Jesus said,
“Daughters of Jerusalem,
do not weep for me,
but weep for yourselves and for your children.
For behold, the days are coming when they will say,
‘Blessed are the barren
and the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed!’
Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 
‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’
For if they do these things when the wood is green,
what will happen when it is dry?”
Luke 23:26-31

Reflection for the Mind ~

Weep for yourselves,” said Jesus to those who followed Him along the road to Golgotha. Those deeply distressed women caught Jesus’ attention, and in His grave condition He paused to speak to them. Their sorrow was understandably directed at Jesus but He needed them to understand it was misplaced. His chilling, prophetic warning was meant to help them shift their focus and consider what was actually at stake. They did not understand.

Jesus came to rescue sinners. He came to give life. While His death was imminent, He was perfectly secure in His own destiny. There was no need for tears. But the future of the multitude following Him was NOT secure, and so our Lord addressed their need. He would use even those arduous moments to try to waken sleeping hearts.

Response for the Heart ~

Jesus, only the Holy Spirit in You could have caused You to be able to think clearly, let alone respond to those grieving for You. Simon was just given Your cross to carry because You could not bear it. But the Spirit WAS alive in You and so You made one more passionate plea to those following You on the road. I praise You for Your selflessness. I praise You for showing me what it looks like to love with every breath and every ounce of energy; to love even when one has no strength. Thank You, Jesus! And now, what would You have me understand about Your words to that crowd? Speak to me, Lord. ~ Amen

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Behold, Your King! – March 28, ’20

(By (James) Jacques-Joseph Tissot, French, 1836-1902.)

(These moments are recounted in all four of the gospels. I highly recommend reading all of them carefully so that you have the fullest picture possible. There are links for your convenience.)

Meditation for the Soul ~

From then on Pilate sought to release Him,
but the Jews cried out,
“If you release this man,
you are not Caesar’s friend.
Everyone who makes himself a king
opposes Caesar.”
So when Pilate heard these words,
he brought Jesus out
and sat down on the judgment seat
at a place called The Stone Pavement,
and in Aramaic Gabbatha.
Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover.
It was about the sixth hour.
He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
They cried out,
“Away with him, away with him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered,
“We have no king but Caesar.”
So he delivered Him over to them to be crucified.
John 19:12-16
(See also: Matthew 27:27-31;
Mark 15:16-20; Luke 23:11;)

Reflection for the Mind ~

Jesus was mocked by people assuming there was no possible way He could be who He said He was. I cannot get the irony of that scene out of my mind. There was Jesus, beaten nearly to death, taunted, spit upon, and endlessly ridiculed for claiming to be the Son of God and King of the Jews. His mock-kingly attire made for the cruelest kind of make-believe. But the pièce de résistance: “Hail, King of the Jews!” Mock-worship.

God the Son, presumed to be either a lunatic or a dangerous insurgent, was on display before the crowds and in full view of God the Father and perhaps even the celestial beings. No one viewing from heaven or earth was on the fence in those horrible moments. Of course, Pilate’s radar was up for sure, but he was in no way ready to defend Jesus’ innocence in the face of the demands of the frenzied crowd. And there’s a big difference between finding Jesus innocent and believing Him to be the Son of God.

When Pilate brought Jesus out before the masses that morning, he presented Him saying, “Behold, Your King!” Truer words were never spoken. All of Heaven understood precisely who Jesus was. A few believers were likely scattered in the crowd too, but their voices would never have been heard above the cries to crucify Jesus. And so the King of all kings was given over to be executed, immensely pleasing His enemies.

One day you and I will find our King coming down from the heavens just as He ascended. I make up in my mind the Father saying, “Behold, Your King!” and in response, the Church crying for joy. There will be no mock-worship that day. Every knee will be bowed before Him. All will know who He truly is!

Response for the Heart ~

Lord Jesus, how I long for Your return. How I long for the day when the whole earth will understand who You are! And You will finally be worshipped by all humankind, even by those who refuse Your gift of life. I am sorry we mocked You and abused Your body so terribly. I am sorry we would not see You as our King and worship You then. I thank You for the few who did believe, and for their faith in the midst of all the staunch opposition. I am humbled by their faith in You. Speak to me now Lord, in these passages that describe what You endured. I ask for this in Your name, Jesus.
~ Amen

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