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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

Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 2

"And He said to it, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again!'"
Mark 11:14

According to Mark 11, Jesus took a short two-mile walk to Jerusalem on Monday morning. Along the way He cursed a fig tree because He was hungry but it only had leaves. Upon entering Jerusalem, He went to the temple and drove out the moneychangers. Passover was big business for those who sold sacrificial animals. But Jesus took drastic action again and overturned their tables and seats.

What do these two events have in common? First, Jesus was looking for the fruit of righteousness among His people. Sadly, all they had were "leaves." They had even profaned the sacred temple. They were only days away from crucifying the Son of God! His own people broke the covenant and received Him not. As covenant breakers, they must receive the curses of the covenant and be destroyed by the Romans within a generation.

Second, Jesus was demonstrating His authority to curse and cleanse. Soon the chief priests, scribes, and elders challenged Him and asked by what authority He took these actions. But He never answered their question! He knew their evil hearts and rejected their authority even though they were "religious" leaders.

Bill Murray once said there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Neil Diamond and those who don't. Blaise Paschal said it better when he said there are two kinds of people in the world: sinners who think themselves righteous and the righteous who think themselves as sinners. The chief priests, scribes, and elders thought themselves very righteous. But in truth, they were consumed by their jealousy and blind to their sinfulness.

Far better to be righteous (in Christ) and think ourselves sinners! Indeed, the more Christ-like we become the more we mourn our sin, grieve our selfishness, and hunger for the fruit of righteousness.

Posted by Jim Bachmann