Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Friday... Sunday's Coming

Sermon by E.M Lockridge

Passover and the events of Good Friday - Partial

Many people are confused by the events of the Last Supper and the night that Jesus was arrested.

What cups are they talking about and what do they mean?

Why is Jesus so hard on His disciples who are tired?

Why did they come to arrest Him at night?

How did the leaders get so many people together for a rowdy crowd during the trials?

Why would they conduct a trial at night and violate normal judicial procedure?

Much of these can be understood if you take into account the practices during the Jewish Passover.

The Jewish days start at 6 PM, so the day the Passover meal is eaten continues through the night until 6 PM the following day. All of the events of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion happen on the same “day” in the Jewish mind.

I’ve always wondered about these questions until my wife and I found something to explain the custom of the Jewish people on the day of Passover. It stems from Exodus 12:42—“If was a night of vigil in honor of the LORD, because He would bring them out of the land of Egypt. This same night is in honor of the LORD, a night vigil for all the Israelites throughout their generations.”

After the Passover meal, they were supposed to stay awake all night. So when Jesus comes back from prayer and finds the disciples sleeping, they are supposed to be awake, not just because He had asked them to, but because of the Passover. Incidentally, Peter and John were the ones sent ahead to prepare the Passover meal so they had been working through the day to get it ready—I’m sure they were wiped out.

The fact that they were supposed to be awake explains in part why the guards were there to arrest Jesus and they expected to find him awake. It explains how the Jewish leaders were able to rouse a sympathetic crowd at such unusual hours since they were supposed to eat the meal, not in their pajamas, not ready for bed but with their clothes on, their belt tightened, their shoes on. They were symbolically ready to move out and leave, but it also meant they could go and be anywhere at a moment’s notice.

It explains why the leadership would be able to hold a trial at night—all of the people necessary would be awake and available. Normally, it would not be proper to conduct such a trial at night, many people unavailable, many others still sleepy and not ready for the day, but this was not an ordinary night. Enough people were awake and present to conduct these events—the normal routine beginning at dawn—all giving enough time to have Jesus up on the Cross by 9 am. He was taken down off the Cross not long after the 9th hour (according to Mark) which is 3 pm. That makes all these events of Messiah occurring on the same day as the Passover (by Jewish reckoning).

The Jewish Passover ceremony with it’s four cups is also why Jesus was praying about “cups” in the Garden of Gethsemane. The cup of Sin & Judgment and Wrath was the cup that was about to be poured out on Him. It was this cup that makes the next cup of the feast, the Cup of Redemption possible. Jesus’ blood was poured out to cover over, to atone for our sin. The wrath passes over us when the Blood is seen.

There are several other points that I may make about the Passover at in a later post

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Reflections on James 1:23-24 - Man in the Mirror

James 1:23-24—“Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was.”

I think I like this translation even better than “immediately forgets what he looks like”. James is speaking very practically and not hypothetically so I realize this is probably not exactly how James meant it. With that disclaimer, I think this is still accurate.

When we look into a mirror, we are not just looking for the physical traits—is my shirt wrinkly, my hair brushed. We are also really looking at the kind of image or persona we want to convey.

Professional, clean cut, confident.

Tough guy with the unshaven look and muscle shirt.

How we look also says something about the kind of man we want to be and the message we want to convey to the people we meet.

In this sense, when James says we are looking in the mirror, we are supposed to be putting on the persona of the person of faith. But if this persona stays in the mirror and does not exist anywhere but in the mirror—in other words does not go with us into our life as defined by our actions, then our faith is no more real and tangible than the man in the mirror.

Why bother putting on the costume of faith and spend time trying to make things look right if as soon as you step away from the mirror—that costume and appearance you don’t try to live?

It’s like having a part in a play—say, you are Quasimodo—the Hunchback of Notre Dame. You spend weeks on your costume, over an hour on your makeup. You’re supposed to walk with a limp, bent over at the waist. You’re supposed to speak with a heavy lisp which you’ve practiced since you got the part. Then on the night of your first performance, you leave your dressing room with all of the costume in place, but forget to act the part on stage--no limp, no lisp, no hunched back or bend at the waist.  The costume does little at that point to convince the audience that you actually are Quasimodo

Here’s another level that is amazing:

2 Corinthians 3:18—“We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (progressive glorification); this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. (from the Spirit of the Lord).

We are supposed to be in the process of transformation—from looking like ourselves to looking like Jesus. We are to Reflect Him. In our mirror, our reflection is to look more and more like Jesus.

So do you look in the mirror and see Jesus at all?

Do you look in the mirror, see Jesus, then walk away and forget who He is? Is that even possible?

In your mirror, you need to see more of Jesus and not forget that He is who the world is supposed to see everywhere we go. Our image, our reputation is not nearly as important as His. Our lives not only reflect on our reputation but His.

Who do you see in your mirror? Are you putting on Christ even more than a clean shirt? Have you forgotten what kind of man He was… or do you remember and so live in such a way that changes your life and impacts the world?