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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

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 3

"And as they passed by in the morning they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.'"
Mark 11:20-21

It may have been Tuesday of Jesus' final week. Peter sounded surprised when he saw the withered fig tree. It didn't take long! Indeed, it was only the previous day that Jesus cursed it for bearing no fruit.

No one should be more surprised when the word of God comes to pass. Yet all too often human nature is surprised. When Jesus said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again," the people disbelieved. When He warned Israel that "this generation will not pass until all these things take place, " the people yawned. When He warned the disciples they would all fall away, Peter boasted, "Even though they fall away, I will not."

But it didn't take long for these things to happen. God's word is "above all earthly powers," as Luther said. It brings life and strength to those who believe and warns of judgment on those who disbelieve. What a shame that many modern churches abandon God's word to make the Bible "more vigorous," as they say.

William Hill, the founder of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) was once criticized for his boring sermons. He was urged to utilize interesting stories from science or current news. But that same week an impoverished widow who was a member of his church was told her son had been killed in World War II. He was all she had. The entire church was devastated. Bill Hill rose to speak the next Sunday and said, "I've been asked to improve my sermons with illustrations from science. Well, science, what do you have to say about this boy who died this week?" And there was silence. "Science, you have nothing to say? News commentators, do you have anything to say?" Again there was silence. Then Bill Hill opened his Bible and said, "I guess we've got to go back to the good old Book!" Billy Graham once said that Bill Hill should be called Bill Mountain!

What makes the Bible "more vigorous?" Absolutely nothing! It has omnipotent vigor! The grass withers and the flowers fade, but His word stands forever. History is a stern teacher. Just look at the fig tree, withered to its roots. Just look at Israel. Unbelief and disobedience lead to ruin and it doesn't take long.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

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