2255.) Luke 2:1-20

December 22, 2017

“The Nativity” by Federico Fiori Barocci, 1597 (Museo del Prado, Madrid)

Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

"Arrival at Bethlehem" by Johannes Swanepoel, 1995.

“Arrival at Bethlehem” by Johannes Swanepoel, 1995.

6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is an old, lovely, child-like carol — “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?”

And  HERE  is something newer — “Labor of Love,” sung by Point of Grace.

_________________________

luke2-visible-image

Colossians 1:15-20 (NLT)

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

_________________________

Music:

From Handel’s MessiahHERE  is “Glory to God.”

_________________________

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

from Monday Moments, by Dr. Michael A. Halleen:

Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened . . . (Luke 2:15)

Here are seven things to include for a joyful journey to Christmas . . .

  • People. Attend services and other events that celebrate the day, even if you are far from home.  This trip is best taken in the company of others.
  • Tradition. What “makes” Christmas for you?  Handel’s Messiah?  A special ornament on the tree?  For many, it’s the food.  (I can’t imagine Christmas Eve without meatballs, rice pudding and lingonberries.)  Some tell stories, some re-enact the stable scene.  Honor your traditions—hold on to them.  They add warmth to the journey.
  • Music. Turn off the television and put on some of the great music of the season.  We’re on a road meant to be filled with singing.  Let your voice be added to the chorus.
  • Generosity. Obey any impulse to be generous, even to those who are not expecting generosity from you.  “When in doubt, shell it out,” one of my crazy uncles used to say, and he was right.  Tip freely.  Christmas is a time for liberality.  It makes the way to Bethlehem easier for others and more enjoyable for you.
  • Healing. Take the opportunity to restore a lost personal relationship, to mend a broken friendship.  Take the initiative without worrying about who was right or wrong in whatever it was that divided you.  Get past it, and forgive.  Best to travel light on this road, without the baggage of unresolved conflict.
  • Discipline. Keep your wits about you.  Do everything in moderation, the Bible says, like eating, for example—or drinking, or driving.  We can overextend ourselves in a hundred ways at this time of year, thinking other people’s joy somehow depends on us.  In fact, we simply add hazards—for ourselves and others—on what’s meant to be a journey of peace and joy.
  • Smiles. Erase the frown from your brow for the season.  Think about what children see when they look into your face and consciously make it a smile.  Determine that only kind words will come out of your mouth—no criticism, no complaints.  Decide to let more love into your life—love for God, for God’s children, for life itself.  You’ll be blessed, as will the others you meet along the way to Christmas.

Let’s go to Bethlehem !

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

“Adoration of the Child” by Gerrit van Honthorst, 1620 (Uffizi, Florence, Italy)

17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Acts 4:20 (NLT)

“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”

The shepherds told their news. Who are you telling about Jesus?

19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Barocci.  http://www.wga.hu/art/b/barocci/nativity.jpg
Swanepoel.   https://www.artmajeur.com/medias/mini/a/r/artistjohannes/artwork/5865193_2_Arrival_at_Bethlehem_2008.jpg
Jesus the visible image.    http://www.jesusismyredpill.com/Colossians%201%2015-20.jpg
angels and shepherds.    http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Jesus%27%20Childhood/images/the_angels%27_song_and_the_shepherds%27_visit.jpg
Honthorst.    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f7/Gerard_van_Honthorst_-_Adoration_of_the_Child_-_WGA11655.jpg/1024px-Gerard_van_Honthorst_-_Adoration_of_the_Child_-_WGA11655.jpg
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2254.) Luke 1:26-38

December 21, 2017
"Annunciation," by Sandro Botticelli

“The Cestello Annunciation,” by Sandro Botticelli, 1489 (Uffizzi, Florence)

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

“The Annunciation: The Flower of God” by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1862.

The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came

Basque carol, paraphrased by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
With wings as drifted snow, with eyes as flame:
“All hail to thee, O lowly maiden Mary,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

“For know a blessed mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honor thee;
Thy son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;
“To me be as it pleaseth God,” she said.
“My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.”
Most highly favored lady. Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
In Bethlehem all on a Christmas morn,
And Christian folk through-out the world will ever say:
“Most highly favored lady.” Gloria!

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”

38“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

My daily prayer:

Luke 1:38 (King James Version)

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.

“Head of the Virgin for Annunciation” by Pierre-Paul Prod’hun, 1811 (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia)

Annunciation
By Denise Levertov

We know the scene: the room, variously furnished, 
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.

       Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.

But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
courage.

       The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.

         God waited.

She was free
to accept or to refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

                  ____________________

Aren’t there annunciations
of one sort or another
in most lives?

         Some unwillingly
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
uncomprehending.

More often
those moments
      when roads of light and storm
      open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
                                 God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.

                  ____________________

She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child–but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.

Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,

  only asked

a simple, ‘How can this be?’
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:

to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power–
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.

                     Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love–

but who was God.

This was the moment no one speaks of,

when she could still refuse.

A breath unbreathed,

                                Spirit,

                                          suspended,

                                                            waiting.

                  ____________________

She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’

Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’

She did not submit with gritted teeth,

                                                       raging, coerced.

Bravest of all humans,

                                  consent illumined her.

The room filled with its light,

the lily glowed in it,

                               and the iridescent wings.

Consent,

              courage unparalleled,

opened her utterly.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is my favorite rendition of “Mary, did you know?” sung by the incomparable Voctave and featuring Mark Lowry.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Botticelli.   http://www.jackygallery.com/images/ANNUNCIATION-1.jpg
Burne-Jones.  http://www.abcgallery.com/B/burne-jones/burnejones10.html
Prud’hon.   http://www.abcgallery.com/D/david/prudon4.html

2055.) Luke 24:36-53

March 17, 2017
Oh, Jesus, how glad we are to see you, to know you are alive forevermore!

Oh, Jesus, how glad we are to see you, to know you are alive forevermore!

Luke 24:36-53   (NIV)

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

36While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

The cross was not some unfortunate obstacle that had to be hurdled. It was a necessary part of God’s redemptive plan for man, and that it would be in the name of a crucified and risen Savior that repentance and remission of sins will be brought to the world.

–David Guzik

48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

The Ascension

The Ascension of Christ, painted by Franz Anton Maulbertsch, 1758 — in a church in Sumeg, Hungary

50When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

“If he has blessed you, you shall be blessed, for there is no power in heaven, or earth, or hell, that can reverse the blessing which He gives.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

_________________________

Music:

Music for our ascended Lord!  HERE  is “Lord Most High.”

And  HERE  is “Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious.”

_________________________

52Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Psalm 84:10 (CEV)

One day in your temple

is better

than a thousand

anywhere else.

_________________________

The End of Luke’s Gospel. I invite you to share with our blogging online community anything that has touched your heart or mind in a fresh way as you have been DWELLING in the Word these few weeks with Luke.  Just reply and leave a comment below!  Thank you!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Jesus appears to the disciples.   https://www.lds.org/bc/content/ldsorg/church/news/March%202013/29th/580-MesaEaster-Mar29.jpg
Ascension.    http://www.hung-art.hu/kep/m/maulbert/muvek/4sumeg/sumeg04.jpg
reading Bible.    http://www.gifs.net/Animation11/Religious/Christian/Reading_bible.gif

2054.) Luke 24:13-35

March 16, 2017

“The Road to Emmaus” by He Qi

Luke 24:13-35 (NIV)

 On the Road to Emmaus

13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.

17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

From David Guzik:  He told them that the Messiah was:

– The Seed of the Woman, whose heel was bruised.
– The blessing of Abraham to all nations.
– The High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
– The Man who wrestled with Jacob.
– The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
– The voice from the burning bush.
– The Passover Lamb.
– The Prophet greater than Moses.
– The captain of the Lord’s army to Joshua.
– The ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer mentioned in Ruth.
– The son of David who was a King greater than David.
– The suffering Savior of Psalm 22.
– The Good Shepherd of Psalm 23.
– The wisdom of Proverbs and the Lover of the Song of Solomon.
– The Savior described in the prophets and the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.
– The Princely Messiah of Daniel who would establish a kingdom that would never end.

O for grace to study the Bible with Jesus as both our teacher and our lesson!

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.

The words are almost identical to those in Luke 22:19 at the Last Supper — “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them.”

31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

"Supper at Emmaus" by He Qi

“Supper at Emmaus” by He Qi

Open our eyes, Lord . . . we want to see Jesus.

32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

luke24-candles

Psalm 94:19 (NASB)

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.

33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

"The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus"  by Tissot

“The Disciples on the Road to Emmaus” by James Tissot (1836-1902)

We are all “on the road to Emmaus,” and all similarly preoccupied with our own woes in this world to see clearly to salvation at most times. Even when the answer is directly in front of me, I have trouble seeing it because I’m looking for a different answer — one within my experience, and one that I can assign within the taxonomy of my own reason, intellect, and will. This reminds me of a scene from the film Bruce Almighty, where the title character is imploring God to send him a sign … while driving behind a truck filled with STOP and WRONG WAY road signs.

The Emmaus story tells us one way in which we can find the voice of God. The two disciples on the road walk with the stranger and spend the time telling him of their tragic week in Jerusalem. They are trying to fill the empty space with their own voices, and for very understandable reasons — they are stricken with grief, loss, and incomprehension.  Even though the sign of all signs has been related to them — the empty tomb — it doesn’t fit within their human reason and comprehension. But they do not begin to achieve understanding until they listen rather than talk, and reflect rather than lament.

Jesus appears to the two disciples in their grief to allow them to lean on him, but also to explain salvation history in order to increase their comprehension. We must also walk through salvation history through the readings of Scripture. This is the context which Jesus gives the two disciples after they quiet themselves and open up to hearing the Word of God — even though they are not quite aware that this is what is happening until their eyes are finally opened in the breaking of the bread. As the two disciples learned, if we want to understand salvation and invite God to speak to us, we need to stop talking and start listening.

–Ed Morrissey

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “I’ve Just Seen Jesus,”  sung by Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
He Qi, Road.     http://www.heqiart.com/uploads/2/3/5/9/23595908/s463025724710779803_p176_i66_w600.jpeg
Walk Thru the Old Testament.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/wt-ot.jpg
He Qi, Supper.   http://www.heqiart.com/uploads/2/3/5/9/23595908/s463025724710779803_p91_i76_w700.jpeg
candles burning.    http://lh4.ggpht.com/_TFsBS8u3bpk/TO7KnJed3JI/AAAAAAAADqs/6zI_6tuAS9g/imagesCAS68SVY_thumb%5B2%5D.jpg?imgmax=800
Tissot.   http://paintingandframe.com/uploadpic/tissot/big/the_disciples_on_the_road_to_emmaus.jpg

2053.) Luke 24:1-12

March 15, 2017

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, a popular site for pilgrims.

Luke 24:1-12 (NIV)

The Resurrection

1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.

Even as angels announced the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:8-15), so they also announced the resurrection of Jesus.

5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words.

Psalm 27:13 (ESV)

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!

“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.”

–N. T. Wright

Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’

–Phillips Brooks

_________________________

Music:

GLAD sings one of their classics, “The Easter Song,”  HERE.

The progressive Christian rock band GLAD was formed on the campus of West Chester State University near Philadelphia during the early ’70s.

_________________________

9When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

_________________________

B.C.  —  by Johnny Hart:  a comic for Easter Sunday.

luke24-wizard-of-id

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.    http://gointosail.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/garden_tomb_sunshine-729942.jpg
Hart.   https://twitter.com/thedanielmartin/status/714094793924546561

2052.) Luke 23:44-56

March 14, 2017
"The Burial in the Tomb" by Guercino

“The Burial in the Tomb” by Guercino (1591-1666)

Luke 23:44-56 (NIV)

Jesus’ Death

44It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45for the sun stopped shining.

The remarkable darkness all over the earth showed the agony of creation itself in the Creator’s suffering.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

luke23-temple-veil-torn

The tearing of the temple veil signified at least two things. First, now we have free access to the throne of grace by the cross. Second, no one should ever think again that God dwells in temples made with hands.

46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

This shows that Jesus gave up His life when He wanted to and how He wanted to. No one took His life from Him; He gave it up when His work was finished. Jesus is not a victim we should pity, but a conqueror we should admire.

Rather save your pity for those who reject the complete work of Jesus on the cross at Calvary; for those preachers who do not have the heart of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23, when he proclaimed the center of the Christian message: we preach Christ crucified.

When we die, our Spirit goes to be with God. We give our Spirit up into the living and loving hands of God. We don’t become simply dust and ashes. We don’t simply say, “sayonara,” or “close the door on life,” or wave goodbye. Rather, we commit our Spirit into the loving care of our Father God.

–Pastor Edward F. Markquart

47The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Duncanson

“At the Foot of the Cross” by the 19th-century African-American artist  Robert Scott Duncanson (Detroit Institute of Arts)

GOOD FRIDAY
by Christina G. Rossetti

Am I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy Cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?


Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;


Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon–-
I, only I.


Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Jesus’ Burial

“The Entombment of Christ” by Sisto Badallochio, 1610 (Galleria Borghese, Rome)

50Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.

Customarily, the bodies of crucified criminals were left on their crosses to rot or be eaten by wild animals. But the Jews wanted no such horror displayed during the Passover season, and Romans were known to grant the corpses to friends or relatives for proper burial.

53Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  Selah sings, so mournfully, “Were You There?”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Guercino.   http://www.catholicviral.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/The-Burial-in-the-Tomb-Guercino-838×541.jpg
curtain of the Temple torn in two.   http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Temple-veil-torn.jpg
Duncanson.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/63/8a/47/638a473f88b87c2e4f2c74b9daa89fb9.jpg
Badallochio.     http://www.wga.hu/art/b/badalocc/entombme.jpg

2051.) Luke 23:26-43

March 13, 2017

“Crucifixion”  by Harry Anderson (1906-1996)

Luke 23:26-43 (NIV)

The Crucifixion

26As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

“Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross” by Eric Gill, 1917 (Tate Collection, London)

Before Jesus took the cross, He was whipped—scourged—as Pilate had earlier promised (I will therefore chastise Him, Luke 23:16).

“Scourging was a legal preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt.” (Edwards)

The goal of the scourging was to weaken the victim to a state just short of collapse and death. “As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then, as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive the cross.” (Edwards)

“The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a pre-shock state. Moreover, hematidrosis had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.” (Edwards)

Before Jesus was led away, His clothes were stripped off. “When the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus’ back, the probably reopened the scourging wounds.” (Edwards)

As Jesus was led away to be crucified, He was—like all victims of crucifixion—forced to carry the wood He would hang upon. The weight of the entire cross was typically 300 pounds. The victim only carried the crossbar, which weighed anywhere from 75 to 125 pounds. When the victim carried the crossbar, he was usually stripped naked, and his hands were often tied to the wood.

The upright beams of a cross were usually permanently fixed in a visible place outside of the city walls, beside a major road. It is likely that on many occasions, Jesus passed by the very upright He would hang upon.

So, because Jesus was in such a weakened condition, the soldiers forced Simon to carry the cross for Him.

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

27A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.

luke-23-daughters-of-jerusalem

28Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30Then

” ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘

31For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

It was customary for a great multitude to follow a condemned criminal on his way to crucifixion.

As they made their way, a Roman guard led with a sign that carried the man’s name and crime, and called out the name and the crime along the way to the place of crucifixion. They usually didn’t take the shortest way to the place of crucifixion, so as many people as possible could see how the Roman Empire treated its enemies.

32Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.

"Crucifixion" by Tintoretto, 1568

“Crucifixion” by Tintoretto, 1568

What was it like to be crucified? In days the New Testament was first written, the practice needed no explanation. But we would do well to appreciate just what happened when someone was crucified.

“Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering.” (Edwards)

The combination of scourging and crucifixion made death on the cross especially brutal. The victim’s back was first torn open by the scourging, then the clotting blood was ripped open again when the clothes were torn off before crucifixion. The victim was thrown on the ground to fix his hands to the crossbeam, and the wounds on the back were again be torn open and contaminated with dirt. Then, as he hung on the cross, with each breath, the painful wounds on the back scraped against the rough wood of the upright beam and were further aggravated.

When the nail was driven through the wrists, it severed the large median nerve. This stimulated nerve produced excruciating bolts of fiery pain in both arms, and often gave the victim a claw-like grip in the hands.

Beyond the excruciating pain, the major effect of crucifixion was to inhibit normal breathing. The weight of the body, pulling down on the arms and shoulders, tended to fix the respiratory muscles in an inhalation state, and hindered exhalation. The lack of adequate respiration resulted in severe muscle cramps, which hindered breathing even further. To get a good breath, the victim had to push against the feet, and flex the elbows, pulling from the shoulders. Putting the weight of the body on the feet produced searing pain, and flexing of the elbows twisted the hands hanging on the nails. Lifting the body for a breath also painfully scraped the back against the rough wooden post. Each effort to get a proper breath was agonizing, exhausting, and led to a sooner death.

“Not uncommonly, insects would light upon or burrow into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, and nose of the dying and helpless victim, and birds of prey would tear at these sites. Moreover, it was customary to leave the corpse on the cross to be devoured by predatory animals.” (Edwards)

Death from crucifixion could come from many sources: acute shock from blood loss; being too exhausted to breathe any longer; dehydration; stress-induced heart attack, or congestive heart failure leading to a cardiac rupture. If the victim did not die quickly enough, the legs were broken, and the victim was soon unable to breathe.

How bad was crucifixion? We get our English word excruciating from the Roman word “out of the cross.” “Consider how heinous sin must be in the sight of God, when it requires such a sacrifice!” (Clarke)

The most significant thing about Jesus’ suffering was that He was not, in any sense, the victim of circumstances. He was in control. Jesus said of His life in John 10:18, no one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. It is terrible to be forced to endure such torture, but to freely choose it out of love is remarkable.

34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

luke23-forgive-them

Pure grace. A word of pure grace. This is the most powerful example of grace and forgiving love in the whole Bible. While in so much pain, Jesus asked God to forgive his tormentors. In this Jesus fulfilled His own command to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good for those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

It is precisely because He did not save Himself that He can save others. Love kept Jesus on the cross, not nails!

38There was a written notice above him, which read:  THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

luke23-remember-me

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Music:

A Taize song —  HERE  is “Jesus, Remember Me.” Lord, in your great mercy, hear our prayer.

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43Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

luke23-in-paradise

Jesus makes a huge promise to the robber next to him on the cross: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Today. In your hearts, write down the word, “today.” Immediately. Instantaneously. Now. Not tomorrow. Not in a hundred years. Not in a thousand years. Not in a in a million years. But today.

You. In your hearts, write down the word, “you.” That means you and me. We too will be in paradise with God when we die. At Christmas time, we often say, your name needs to be on the present for you to receive the gift. Christ’s promise is not only towards the thief on the cross but Christ’s promise is directed towards you and me as well. To be a Christian, you need to realize that God’s gift is for you personally.

With me. In your heart, write down the words, “with me.”  We then go to paradise to be reunited with our long lost mother, father, brother, sister, spouse who have died before us. But that is not the emphasis in the Bible. What the Bible emphasizes is better, much better. We will be with Christ, and when we are with Christ in paradise, we are with pure grace, with God’s Presence which is pure love, who forgives us all our sins.

In paradise. There is that word again, that word found in the very beginning of the Bible and at the very end of the Bible. “Paradise.”  We will see the incredible beauty all around us. We will seen the face and glory of God. We will be with loved ones. There will no war nor starvation nor evil for these things will have been all destroyed. And our hearts, knowing all of this, will be filled with praise and thanksgiving.

–Rev. Edward Markquart

Psalm 17:7   (NRSV)

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries.

We see Jesus functioning as prophet, priest and king, at His death.

He was a Prophet to the Daughters of Jerusalem.

He was a Priest when He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross.

He was a King when He authoritatively assured the penitent criminal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom.

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Anderson.    http://www.dst-corp.com/james/PaintingsOfJesus/Jesus13.jpg
Gill.     http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=5225&searchid=4721&tabview=image
daughters of Jerusalem.   https://faithlutheranofjackson.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/women-of-the-passion-daughters-of-jerusalem.jpg
Tintoretto.    https://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/crucifixion.jpg
forgive them.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/c1/ec/6c/c1ec6c8aa44ecfe9e9a83546552b1099.jpg
remember me.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/RGB2E0NzO2A/hqdefault.jpg
in paradise.   https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51GEfnVcrOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg