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Ascension

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:44-53, NRSV)

Jesus blessed the disciples and helped them understand that everything that happened was because of scripture and then as He was with them He was carried into Heaven.

Jesus left the disciples. And in history, this is before Pentecost. So the disciples at this point in Luke’s gospel have not yet received the Holy Spirit. They are without God. But not alone, for they are in the temple continually blessing God and worshipping.

What would we do if we were without God?

 

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The Death of Jesus

16Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. 17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. 21They 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. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. 25It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:16-39, NRSV)

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani. This seems a weird thing for Jesus to say from the cross. Why would Jesus cry out, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Well, it could be because Jesus feels like God is nowhere near Him and He has been forsaken or left by God. Saint Teresa felt this in her life and often commented on it as the dark night of her soul. Is that it?

I don’t think that is why Jesus says this. If you know your Hebrew Scripture, you would know that My God, My God, why have you forsaken me is the first verse to Psalm 22. And in my understanding in Jesus’ time when a person wanted to pray a psalm they only needed to say the first verse to call all of at that psalm to cover them.  And Psalm 22 starts out dark and like the writer had been left by God, but then becomes light and talks of God’s ruling over the world.

27  All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,   and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
28  For kingship belongs to the LORD,   and he rules over the nations.
29    All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;   before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,   even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30  Posterity shall serve him;   it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31  they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.

They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn, that He has done it!!! Jesus died to complete something that none of us could have done. And it is something we will not understand until it doesn’t matter.

But know that God never left Jesus and God will never leave you.

 

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Crying out to God

1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
3Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
5To you they cried, and were saved; in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
6But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people.
7All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
8“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”
9Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
15my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me. My hands and feet have shriveled;
17I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me;
18they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.
19But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
21Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
22I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.
25From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
26The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!
27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
28For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
29To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and I shall live for him.
30Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord,
31and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.
(Psalm 22:1-11, NRSV)

Here we see the writer crying out to be saved and at first, it seems like God is not going to be there, he is mocked and seemingly left to die…

Yet read it again and see that God never left and through God there is victory!

 

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The Unexpected Hour

36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. (Matthew 24:36-44, NRSV)

We don’t know the date or time that Jesus is coming back, according to Jesus he doesn’t even know.

Can you imagine that car ride, God the Father driving and Jesus behind him kicking the seat, “is it time yet, dad?” “How about now?”

We are not to know the time because we aren’t supposed to be focused on that. We are supposed to be living the way he told us to be living, loving God and loving our neighbors and helping everyone see the love God has for them.

Don’t worry about when Jesus is coming, just know he is coming and we just need to be following him so we are ready.

 

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A Mother’s Request

20Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. 21And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:20-23, NRSV)

I have always found this verse interesting. Because we confess weekly in the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God. Now I know James and John’s mother didn’t know this when she was asking but the one that would be on Jesus’ left would be sitting on the throne of God. I say this to say do we always know what we are asking?

It is not for us to decide who sits where at the heavenly banquet. I mean can you imagine that seating chart!

We are to follow and serve and known that God will always look out for us.

So where do you want to sit?

 

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Genuine Piety

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6, NRSV)

Why do you give when you give to something? Is it to be seen by others so they will know how generous you are?

Do you make sure people see you and call attention to your self as you go to give?

The that is truly your award. But is we give because we have been blessed, then it is out of our hands on what we get, if we get anything. Sometimes I find that giving in itself is enough of an award,

So don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…

And give because you have been blessed by God to be a blessing to the world.

 

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left or taken

161201Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them—it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:22-37, NRSV)

Which is better to be taken or to be left?

We always hear about the end and read in the gospels that one was taken and one was left, and from extra biblical sources we hear that it is better to be taken, but these passages are unclear as to which is better, to be taken or to be left.

But here is the real kicker, it doesn’t really matter which is better. You see if we are following after Jesus and focusing on Him, we will be in the right spot.

The other example in our reading on this is Lot’s wife. They were told not to look back as they left, but she couldn’t help it. And because of that, she turned into a pillar of salt. (Now guess which shaker she is in the picture!) We are to focus on Christ and follow where He leads us, not looking back, but always pressing forward with Christ.

 
 

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hope in Him

I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked. The thought of my affliction and my homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24, NRSV)

I am in darkness with no light.

I am left alone and all my bones are broken.

I am encircled by tribulation and filled with bitterness.

He has left me here…

Yet when I find myself here, I remember:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

There is always hope!

Always Hope in Him!

 

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give me what I want

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;  they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.” James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:32-45, NRSV)

I am amazed at the disciples, but know that I am going to be in good company when we all finally arrive at the great banquet!

I mean James and John must be really thick skull individuals! Jesus just gets done telling them that when they get to Jerusalem, that He will be handed over and condemned to death and then He will be mocked, spat upon, flogged and killed. And then James and John pull Jesus aside and say, “Do what we want, and here it is, we want to sit with you in glory, one on your right side and one on your left side.”

Did they just miss the conversation? I mean I know I don’t always hear everything, but really!

And Jesus replies, “you don’t know what you’re asking, can you drink the cup I will drink?” Meaning, can you take the death I will. And they will, but to sit on His right and left is not Jesus’ to grant.

Plus who is sitting at Jesus’ left hand in glory? We confess it every week, that He (Jesus) ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. If Jesus is at God’s right hand, then God the Father is at Jesus’ left hand. So James or John wants to take the Father’s seat! Not what I want.

But thanks be to God, that James and John were apostles and disciples, because that gives all of us hope!

 

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