Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reflections on Tuesday Readings for Holy Week

And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things. - Matthew 21:23-27 KJV

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. - Matthew 21:45-46

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.  And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians...The same day came to him the Sadducees...But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him.... - Matthew 22:15-16, 23, 34-35 KJV

When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. ... And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.- Matthew 22:22, 33 KJV

Jesus spends much of Tuesday in the Temple area teaching.  He starts off the day answering the Pharisees objection to his authority and condemning them in parables. In response to their humiliation in front of the crowds of people, the Pharisees want to kill him, but have to find something against him. Seeing that their other schemes and open attempts to attack Christ have not succeeded, the Pharisees try more indirect methods, so they attempt to catch him in his words.  The send the Herodians first, and then the Sadducees.  When both groups utterly fail to catch Jesus in his words, but rather marvel at his teaching, the Pharisees themselves seek to trap him, and fail themselves.  From this we can see God uses the wicked schemes of His enemies for a different purpose. Not only are they disappointed, and their expectations dashed, but they are even publicly disgraced. But in all his replies, Christ shows us the majesty of his glory, by compelling those men to depart crowned with shame.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reflections on Monday Readings for Holy Week

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. - Matthew 21:12-14

After Jesus cleanses the temple, the blind and lame come to him and he cures them. Jesus supported his authority to cleanse the temple by miracles, so that he might not be suspected of rashness. He cured the blind and lame in the temple so he could proclaim that the rights and honor of the Messianic office truly belonged to him. The lame and blind who were cured, were witnesses of the divine power of Christ. These miracles proved and verified what had been proclaimed by the multitude the day before.

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. - John 12:27-28 KJV

Here we see just how much our salvation cost the Son of God. Jesus was so troubled that he found it hard to find the words to express the intensity of his sorrow. We see though that in his sorrow, he gives himself to prayer. Jesus here implies that he prefers the glory of the Father over all other things. Even his own life is secondary to God's glory. God is most glorified at the Cross of Calvary. There he confirms in action, what he promises to Christ here in words.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reflections on Palm Sunday Readings

And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. - Matthew 21:9-11 KJV

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:39-40 KJV

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. - John 12:19 KJV

When the Queen comes to Canada, there are great crowds and much celebration. When Jesus arrived, the commotion made people wonder just who it was that was coming to Jerusalem? A king? A foreign dignitary? No, it was Jesus of Nazareth, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The fact is Jesus deserved, and continues to deserve, all the fanfare, praise, exuberance, and exultation that we can give him.

Christ's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem was not a secret matter. I find it interesting that the Pharisees didn't oppose this entrance. I mean, they definitely objected, but they didn't get their guards together and try and stop it. I think they didn't oppose Jesus and his royal welcome because they were taken off guard, and were likely surprised.

Calvin wrote about this occasion, "Under this despicable aspect of the flesh the majesty of the Spirit was apparent; for how would they have endured that Christ should be conducted into the city, attended by the splendor of royalty, with so great danger to themselves, if they had not been seized with astonishment?".

I pray that we all may be seized with astonishment and wonder at the majesty and glory of our Lord, and praise and exult him forever!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Readings for Holy Week

Well, starting tomorrow we are in Holy Week.  This is the week of the year we think about Christ's final week on earth.  (And it roughly happened at this time of the year as well).  Anyway... here are the readings for this week. Each set of readings is for what happened on that day. I am going to read through these this week.  Perhaps you can read through this with me as well?  I will be posting my reflections and thoughts on the readings for each day this week.

Palm Sunday

    Matthew 21:1-11
    Mark 11:1-11
     Luke 19:29-44
    John 12:12-19


     Matthew 21:12-19
     Mark 11:12-19
     Luke 19:45-48
    John 12:20-50


    Matthew 21:20 – 22:40
    Mark 11:20 – 12:34
    Luke 20:1-40


    Matthew 22:41 – 26:16
    Mark 12:35 – 14:11
    Luke 20:41 – 22:6
    John 12:2-8

Maundy Thursday

    Matthew 26:17-46
    Mark 14:12-42
    Luke 22:7-46
    John 13:1 – 18:1

Good Friday

    Matthew 26:47 – 27:61
    Mark 14:43 – 15:47
    Luke 22:47 – 23:56
    John 18:2 – 19:42


    Matthew 27:62-66
    Mark 16:1
    Luke 23:56

Sunday (Easter)                             

    Matthew 28:1-15
    Mark 16:2-14
    Luke 24:1-43
    John 20:1-25

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sunday - The Lord's Day

Here are some points to consider, making a case for corporate (think congregational) worship on Sunday as being a New Testament teaching.

1. Jesus made congregational worship his custom.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.
(Luke 4:16 ESV)

2. Jesus Christ was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that(B) the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
(John 20:1 ESV)

3. On the first day of the week, Sunday, the disciples were assembled together, probably to commemorate Christ's resurrection.

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
(John 20:19 ESV)

4. One week later, the disciples were again assembled together.

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."
(John 20:26 ESV)

5. The book of Acts also describes how on another occasion the disciples were assembled together on the first day of the week, Sunday. The meeting included the breaking of bread (Communion, the Lord's Supper) and a sermon by Paul.

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
(Acts 20:7 ESV)

6. Paul's Letters confirm the same thing.

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
(1 Corinthians 16:2 ESV)

7. John called Sunday, the Lord's day.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day
(Revelation 1:10-11 ESV)

(Note: This Greek phrase is completely different from "The Day of the Lord")

8. Besides all this, congregating is a command.

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSB)

9. Early Christian and Non-Chrsitian writers confirm the above points.

The Didache - (AD 70-120) Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day

But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.

Justin Martyr: A.D. 140
“But Sunday is the day which we all hold our common assembly, because Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day rose from the dead.” Apology, Chapter LXVII.

Anatolius, A.D. 270, Bishop of Laodicea, in Asia Minor:
“Our regard for the Lord’s resurrection which took place on the Lord’s Day will lead us to celebrate it.” Chapter X.

Cyprian, A.D. 250, Bishop of Carthage in Africa:
“The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.” Epistle 58, section 4.

Tertullian, A.D. 200, in Africa:
“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI.

A.D. 112, Pliny, governor of Bithynia (central-northern Turkey), explains the elements of their subversive worship:
(1) Hymns about Jesus sung as part of early Christian worship; (2) prayer to God "through" Jesus and "in Jesus' name," and even direct prayer to Jesus himself, including particularly the invocation of Jesus in the corporate worship setting; (3) "calling upon the name of Jesus," particularly in Christian baptism and in healing and exorcism; (4) the Christian common meal enacted as a sacred meal where the risen Jesus presides as "Lord" of the gathered community; (5) the practice of ritually "confessing" Jesus in the context of Christian worship; and (6) Christian prophecy as oracles of the risen Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of prophecy understood as also the Spirit of Jesus. (Pliny (the Younger), Epistles in J. Stevenson, ed., A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrative of the History of the Church to A.D. 337 (London: SPCK, 1974), 13-15.)