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Jesus Condemned to Death

March 1, 2020

Theme: Pilate washed his hands of the guilt, he didn’t recognize who Jesus was and he chose to listen to the crowd rather than his own heart. He was afraid of what the people would do and was afraid of losing power and his position. What actions or lack of actions have we performed in our own lives condemning others or condemning Jesus? Have we allowed the actions of the crowd to dictate the response of our faith? Have we allowed our fear or desire for popularity of power to stop us from seeing Jesus or recognizing the needs of others? As we begin the Lenten journey through the stations we are invited to put ourselves in the story with the steps we walk with Christ. How are we walking with Jesus? And showing our faith in this journey, in the ways that we condemn ourselves or others. Pilate washed his hands of the fault, let us begin the journey washing our hands as an act of repentance and cleansing.

Scripture:

Matthew 27:11-16Psalm 32
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus[b] Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”[c] 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”[d] All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood;[e] see to it yourselves.” 25 Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;my strength was dried up[a] as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you,and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you;at a time of distress,[b] the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me;you preserve me from trouble;you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the torments of the wicked,but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Jesus Takes Up the Cross

March 8, 2020

Theme: Jesus was condemned as an imposter, mocked and beaten and tied down with the weight of the cross to walk the journey to the place of the skull. Jesus takes up the Cross, a symbol of suffering. We each have a cross, a trial or affliction that is hard for us to bear. Jesus told his disciples to carry their cross and turn their lives over to him. We are asked to do the same in our lives. Jesus does not simply call us to believe, but to commit our lives to him, trust in him and follow him. Our cross, the burden of being human, the burden of the world and so he goes before us and points out to us the way which leads to true life. What is the cross that we take on as Christians?

Scripture:

Luke 9:22-24Psalm 121

22 saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time on and forevermore.

The Heavy Burdens

March 15, 2020

Theme: Among insult and mockery Jesus carries the weight of the cross as he sets forth on the path to Golgotha. Jesus, the strong and mighty savior is overtaken by the weight of the cross on his back and the weight of each of our sins. He falls carrying our weakness and our sufferings and when the load becomes too heavy Jesus is given the assistance needed by Simon of Cyrene passing by. As we explore the physical burden of the cross that weighs down Jesus we are invited to look at the burdens we each carry from day to day, what are the burdens weighing us down? Shame, fear, old habits, lack of a job, lack of trust, bitterness, anger, heaviness of debt or the loss of someone or something dear. Is there something weighing you down that you need to give to Jesus allowing Jesus to carry them for you? In these moments who has helped you carry the cross? What are the people in your life who help you make it through the tough times, the people who helped you through pain?And how can you help others to hold up the heavy burdens in their lives?

Scripture:

Mark 15:20-22Isaiah 53:4-6
20 After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22 Then they brought Jesusa]”>[a] to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).

Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

The Women Who Supported Jesus

March 22, 2020

Theme: The stations of the women along the Via Dolorosa are not explicitly found in the gospels. When Jesus was dedicated in the temple as an infant Simone gave the prophecy to his parents (Luke 2:34) and Mary’s heart would be broken as she watched her son go to death, the death of a criminal. While a story about Veronica is not found in the Gospel there are a couple of interesting traditions associated with her station. One story is that Veronica was the woman who touched Jesus’ robe to be healed from her bleeding disorder. Another tradition says that a woman named Veronica saw Jesus stumbling under the weight of the cross and wiped his bloody face with her fail, the name Veronica means “true image.”

The women that lined the road as Jesus was lead to his crucifixion were crying and wailing in the streets. These women whether they be his mother who learned of the prophecy at his birth, or the one who wipes his blood stained face, or the nameless who mourn the man who gave them hope they all mourned the loss of Jesus as they see him on his way to die. They thought he would come to Jerusalem delivering them from the Romans instead, they are watching him go to a criminals death, the death on the cross. How would that make us feel? What is on your heart today as we approach the cross? Are there times in our lives when we stand with the women, mourning the loss of what we hoped would happen? They hoped for a new future in the ways that Jesus would deliver them, but that future seems to be no more. How are you carrying the image of Jesus into your lives to bring healing and hope? Who needs the healing touch of Jesus? Are you mourning with the women? Have you mourned the loss of someone or something very special to you? The women would soon be the ones to deliver the good news of Jesus’ resurrection, but until the day we wait with them and watch with them as Jesus carries the weight of the cross.

Scripture:

Luke 23:27-31John 19:25-27Psalm 137

27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

25 And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

By the rivers of Babylon—
    there we sat down and there we wept
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willowsa]”>[a] there
    we hung up our harps.
For there our captors
    asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing the Lord’s song
    in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
    above my highest joy.

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
    the day of Jerusalem’s fall,
how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down!
    Down to its foundations!”
O daughter Babylon, you devastator!b]”>[b]
    Happy shall they be who pay you back
    what you have done to us!
Happy shall they be who take your little ones
    and dash them against the rock!

Casting of Lots

March 29, 2020

Theme: Jesus striped of his garments. Clothing gave a person their social position, a place in society. Jesus is public stripped meaning that he no long as anything, he is an outcast. Jesus takes on the position of a fallen man, and at the foot of the cross the soldiers divide his clothing, his possessions. He is mocked, ridiculed, scorned, stripped naked and hangs before the world baring all the blame for each of us, suffering for each of us. Some scholars suggest that casting lots could have been some type of sticks, flatter stones, a made dice, or something similar. The comparison most often used today would be to that of flipping a coin. For today, flipping a coin is often a way to settle a dispute without arguing, deciding what to do, and a way of keeping the peace between two or more interested parties. How much more humiliation can Jesus experience?

After his long journey, he is stripped of his clothes, his dignity. How do we strip others of their dignity? Are we stripping others of their God-given gifts by jealousy or fear? Are we casting lots on others based on our own perceptions? How can we learn from the soldiers and turn our eyes to provide care and comfort in a world that tends to cast lots on the outcast and the lowly in our society?

Scripture:

John 19:23-24Isaiah 58:1-12

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

1 Shout out, do not hold back!
    Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
    and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
    they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
    Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
    and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
    will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
    and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicatora]”>[a] shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
    and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
    and satisfy your needs in parched places,
    and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring of water,
    whose waters never fail.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
    you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
    the restorer of streets to live in.

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