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Passover Preparations

10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him. 12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 13So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 16So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. 17When it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” 20He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. 21For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” (Mark 14:10-21, NRSV)

Judas went to the chief priests to “betray” Jesus.

Betray is a word that is interesting to me. We can only betray someone if we have power over them, and did Judas have power over Jesus?

Do any of us have power over God?

While Jesus may not have had all the answers, i.e. when the end of the world would come, Jesus said only the Father knows this, he was not under the power of Judas. Jesus knew what was going on and who was going to “betray” him.

I looked up the Greek word here, and it is the word παραδοῖ the third person singular aorist active subjunctive version of παραδίδωμι which means hand over, deliver over.

So Judas made plans to hand Jesus over, which was really all part of the plan.

How do we do what God wants even when we may not understand it?

 

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Bless the Lord, O My Soul

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
(Psalm 103:1-5, NRSV)

Every time I read this Psalm I think of the camp song.

God does so many wonderful things at camp and for us always. We should always bless the Lord!

So let your soul bless the Lord!

 

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The Passover is Celebrated

19On the fourteenth day of the first month the returned exiles kept the passover. 20For both the priests and the Levites had purified themselves; all of them were clean. So they killed the passover lamb for all the returned exiles, for their fellow priests, and for themselves. 21It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by all who had joined them and separated themselves from the pollutions of the nations of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. 22With joy they celebrated the festival of unleavened bread seven days; for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:19-22, NRSV)

What traditions do we keep for the Lord? The Jews had not celebrated the Passover for many years, but here they were able to celebrate the Passover and so they celebrated at the proper time in the proper way. Traditions are important for who we are. We should uphold and celebrate them as we are supposed to. How do we worship God in a way that upholds our tradition?

What do we do that connects us with the Lord?

 

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The Servant’s Mission

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. 2He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” 4But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” 5And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— 6he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:1-6, NRSV)

We are the servant of the Lord. The Lord formed us and has a plan for us.

God will take care of us, even when it seems that everything is falling apart around us, the Lord will never let us down.

This doesn’t mean there will not be heartache and pain in our lives, but that through it all the Lord will always be with us.

So know you have a mission and the Lord will always be with you.

 

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Love the Lord Your God

4Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NRSV)

This is the Shema. A prayer Jewish people say every morning and every evening.

The Lord is our God. We need to love God with all our heart, our soul, and our strength.

They bind these words to their hands, forehead and on their homes. These words are important to say and remember.

How would your life change if you said, believed, and did these words?

 

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God gives a Promised Child

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” 7Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.8Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. 9They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’14Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” 21The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. 2Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. 3Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. 4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. 6Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” 7And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7, NRSV)

When have you laughed at something that you thought couldn’t happen?

Here we see a person who sees some visitors and offers them hospitality. He gave them water to wash their feet and gave them a place to rest. Then he went and enlisted the help of Sarah for bread and a servent to help prepare a calf. He then was a good Wisconsin resident and grabbed some curds and milk with the bread and calf, and the reading seems to imply that Abraham prepared it all, as he sat it before the visitors.

But the visitors had a reason for visiting. They asked Abraham who was with them alone, “Where is your wife Sarah?” Now they knew this couple well enough to know their new names God had given them. and they asked where Sarah was. Did they not know where Sarah was or was this something deeper? But Abraham says in the tent as if to possibly say where else would she be? So the visitors continue, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah laughed because she didn’t believe in her old age that she would have pleasure with her husband. She didn’t understand how this would be possible. The whole narrative here implies there is tension between Abraham and Sarah and they are not happy. The laughing is not because it is funny, the laughing is that nervous laughter of unbelief. Sarah and Abraham did not believe God could do what the visitor said.

And then when Sarah and Abraham have a son, not by miraculous ways but the way it always happens and they name him Isaac, which means laughter! Because God has brought their relationship back together and brought joy to their lives, even when we can not see it, the joy in the Lord is there.

Know that even in the darkness that the laughter will come.

 

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A New Covenant with God

8God finds fault with them when he says: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord. 10This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11And they shall not teach one another or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” 13In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:8-13, NRSV)

I always have an issue with this verse and the fact we still do Sunday School. We teach about God, but this passage says that they shall not teach on another, for we will all know.

So does that mean that the new covenant has not been established yet?

And how many of us really know the Lord? If we did know the Lord would we be doing things for our own interests or would we be living as Jesus taught us?

 

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