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Mark 15 recounts the events of Jesus’s crucifixion. In verses 24-26, Jesus is nailed to the cross, with a sign identifying him, ironically, as “The King of the Jews.” Then, “at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (Which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (15:34).
In Isaiah 61:2-3, the prophet Isaiah envisions joy arising from the lament and speaks to us this Lenten season as we long for a better world to arise from the brokenness we see. The good news is that beauty springing forth from the ashes is the heart of the gospel, the good news that centers on the Easter reality we are looking forward to celebrating soon.
For many Christians around the world, the season of Lent begins with the service of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is really a worship service of lament. Jesus’s words in John 16 include this theme of lament as well. In verse 32, Jesus is telling his friends and partners in ministry that they will abandon him. Ash Wednesday reminds us that the Easter story is preceded by abandonment. The whole season of Lent is a reminder that Jesus experienced and understands abandonment and betrayal.
When I read Psalm 64, I cringe at the very first line: “O God, listen to my complaint.” I picture God flinching, getting ready to hear something he’d rather not hear. I wonder if God ever gets tired of hearing people’s complaints.
One of the great “discoveries” in recent times, made by many biblically grounded Christians, is that work can be worship. This insight is based, in part, on the fact that one of the key Old Testament words for worship, avodah, also means “work” or “service.” Moreover, Scripture teaches in many places that when we offer our work to the Lord for his purposes and pleasure, we are worshiping him, every bit as much as we do when we praise him in church gatherings.
There’s no doubt that Peter truly believed he would never, ever deny Jesus. He and his fellow disciples were sure that they would die for Jesus rather than deny him. But, of course, before long all the disciples did what they felt to be impossible, and Peter most of all.
But if Jesus was not using God’s own name in reference to himself, why was he accused of blasphemy (14:63-64)? What did he say that deserved punishment, even death, in the eyes of the Jewish officials?
After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to the home of the high priest, where he was interrogated by Jewish leaders from Jerusalem. Many witnesses offered testimony against Jesus, but their stories were not sufficient to condemn him. As he was being accused, Jesus remained silent.
God still speaks! God still speaks to humanity, and desires to speak with you. Because our Sovereign King is unseen, we often envision him as an entity that is close enough to see all things, but also too far for personal interaction. But nothing is further from the truth. God was not only invested in our creation and formation, but he continuously invests himself in our daily activities and agendas. In fact I would say that communication with man is something God delights in!
Today’s text describes the seed falling into good soil. So, what makes the soil good? As our last set of reflections suggested, part of the answer lies in our giving conscious, sustained and disciplined attention to Jesus’ way of life and leadership. However, this is not merely an exercise in acquiring leadership knowledge or technique. Jesus’ teaching challenges us at the core of our being as leaders.
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