Day 376 | Tuesday, 30 March 2021
“Holy God, walk with us this week, take us deep into the events of Jesus' life and reveal to us our own complicity in the trials and betrayals of life. Help us not only to examine our fears that lead to tragic actions but also to look at the unworthy places we put our hope.
Ultimately, God, draw us closer to you, to know the mystery of your love that overcomes darkness and death and to feel Easter rise in us like the morning sun.
Holy God, stay with us. Amen.”
Continuing our journey through this Holy week, I will pick up on the passion story as told in Matthew. The Pharisees continue testing Jesus. 22:35 One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: 36 "Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?" 37 Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' 38 This is the most important, the first on any list. 39 But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' 40 These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."
Who were the Pharisees – “Pharisee a member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. and that differed from the Sadducees chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.”
A modern day Pharisee is a sanctimonious, self-righteous, or hypocritical person.
“In first-century Israel, Sadducees were a religious faction that wielded societal power in nearly every aspect. These men hated Jesus and were the Jewish aristocrats of their day, known as much for their wealth and corruption as for their religious devotion.” “A member of a Jewish sect or party of the time of Jesus Christ that denied the resurrection of the dead, the existence of spirits, and the obligation of oral tradition, emphasizing acceptance of the written Law alone.”
In Matthew 23, Jesus condemns these legal experts. Several times Matthew repeats the verse “How terrible it will be for you, legal experts and Pharisees! Hypocrites!” Jesus knew that these people did not have the best interest of the people in mind. I suppose that we might compare them today to politicians who think only of themselves and have the idea of “What’s in it for me?” Or, to keep it in the religious world, we might compare the far right and the far left to the Pharisees and Sadducees because of the lack of open mindedness and flexibility.
Jesus literally cries over what has happened to Jerusalem, as the chapter ends. Chapter 24 continues with Jesus’ prophetic critique. While sitting on the Mount of Olives with his disciples, he issues a warning about 11: “Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” V 24: “False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer great signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen.” In this chapter we hear the admonition v 42: “Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know what day the Lord is coming.” V 44: “Therefore, you also should be prepared, because the Human One will come at a time you don’t know.”
“Loving God, hold us close so we may look at the depths of our souls and the agony of your Son and not turn away. Let the awareness of our own denials and betrayals lead us to the throne of mercy, where living water washes away our grief and fills us with abundant new life. Holy God, open our hearts and minds to your confronting and healing Word. Bring us through this week to the glory of Easter and a risen Lord. Amen