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Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 6

"'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'"
Luke 23:43

Jesus came to seek and save the lost and give His life a ransom for many. Even with His last breath He saved a lost, unworthy thief. Centuries earlier Isaiah predicted that the Savior would be numbered with the transgressors. And so on Calvary hung Jesus, with thieves on either side who respected neither the law of God nor the law of man. They were seconds away from a hellish eternity.

Public opinion had turned against Him—quite a change from five days earlier. Even His disciples had forsaken Him. A great friend once said, "When a toxic person can no longer control you, he will try to control how others see you!" Indeed the toxic religious leaders turned public opinion against the Lord.

Admittedly, Jesus didn't look like a Savior. How could the Messiah suffer crucifixion? How could the Son of God, as He claimed to be, die? No one in the crowd was pointing at Him and saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" It was all a huge stumbling block to the Jews and utter foolishness to the Gentiles.

What could Jesus possibly do on the cross? His first words proved that He was still the Savior: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

When we are in pain we seldom think about anyone else's needs. If we are in severe pain we become entirely selfish. We want relief and we want it immediately. But Jesus, in spite of His agony, was ever the Savior. He offered a short prayer for His murderers that became a saving sermon! The thief's heart was quickened and he responded with a short, desperate request: "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." A very short sermon led to a very short request which led to an eternity in Paradise!

Even as He died Jesus saved others. To this very day He is still saving the lost. Count Zinzendorf once wrote a beautiful hymn, one stanza of which says this:

Jesus, be endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me,
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid!

The unworthy thief received boundless mercy and the assurance of immediate, everlasting paradise! And the same blessedness is available for all unworthy sinners who repent and call upon the Lord: "Lord, remember all of us when You come into Your kingdom!"

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 5

"'A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.'"
John 13:34-35

Thursday evening the disciples had supper with Jesus in the Upper Room. He had less than 24 hours to live. Bloody sweat and passionate prayer in Gethsemane was just a few hours away. But before leaving the Upper Room, He washed the disciples' feet and issued the "new commandment."

What is new about the new commandment? To love our neighbor as ourselves was not new! But to love as Jesus demonstrated was unheard of: "'If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.'" The Lord was a servant! The King was a commoner!

I've just started watching Downton Abbey. Kristen graciously watches it with me, though she and Rachel watched it together several years ago. One is constantly reminded of the stark differences between the aristocrats and everyone else! The "haves" were not to marry the "have-nots." The aristocrats were waited on hand and foot. Never were they to swap places with the maids, footmen, valets, etc.

But Jesus swapped places with the lowliest of servants. Against his objections He washed Peter's feet. Knowing of his pending betrayal He even washed Judas' feet. And then, He commanded us to love friend or foe, disciple or traitor, as He had shown.

Our salvation would not have been possible had Jesus not "emptied" Himself, made Himself nothing, taken the form of a servant, and become obedient to the point of death on the cross. He came to serve, not to be served. He was rich beyond all splendor but became poor for our salvation.

Do you want the world to know you are Jesus' disciple? If so, find someone who has betrayed you and "wash their feet." We have more in common with them than we like to admit. Someone writes, "I looked at my brother through the microscope of criticism and said, 'How coarse my brother is.' Then I looked at him through the telescope of scorn and said, 'How small my brother is.' Then I looked at him through the mirror of truth and said, 'How like me my brother is!'"

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 4

"'...What will you give me if I deliver Him over to you?' And they paid him thirty pieces of silver."
 Matthew 26:15

You may have heard the expression,  "Those who danced were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Judas could not, did not, would not hear the "music," in spite of being with Jesus for three years.

Wednesday of Jesus' last week may have been the day when Judas negotiated with the chief priests. In John 12 we learn he was a "thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it." John made this statement right after Judas criticized Mary for anointing Jesus with expensive ointment. Unlike Judas, Mary heard the "music!"

Judas was shrewd, though. He expressed his unrighteous indignation behind a thin veil of altruism: "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" He sounded very spiritual and missional. Had he said, "Mary wasted the perfume," or "Mary is insane!" he might have been rebuked. But to allege a concern for the poor was a clever way to criticize Mary and enhance his own reputation.

Judas, though, was anything but benevolent. He was selfish. "What will you give me?," he asked the chief priests. He stole. Mary gave. He betrayed Jesus. Mary worshiped Jesus. Not surprisingly Judas criticized Mary because her conduct condemned his.

Sincere, sacrificial, extravagant worship of our Lord will always evoke the misunderstanding (at best) or hostility (at worst) of the world. Cain murdered Abel because Abel's worship was costly and extravagant. Michal despised David when he danced enthusiastically before the Lord. Read of the recent vitriol directed against Mike Lindell, owner of My Pillow. It's the same story over and over again throughout the centuries. "Those who danced were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

He who has ears to hear, let him hear the "music" no matter what the world may think.

Posted by Jim Bachmann