During Lent, the season leading up to Holy Week, we have been thinking and praying about renewal. (God renews us through gratitude, through dark times. Our spiritual appetite is renewed, our relationships are renewed, our vision is renewed.)
And now we have come to Holy Week - the time in which we, as a church, remember and contemplate how that renewal was accomplished for us. We are spiritually prepared to look at what Jesus did in order that we might be made new.
Usually -- almost always -- in worship I read about 3 minutes worth of scripture, then I talk about it for 15 or 20 minutes. This week, we’re going to reverse that. I’m going to talk for 3 minutes, then read the story of Jesus’ Passion from the Gospel of Luke. It's about 15 minutes long.
The story has many interesting, compelling aspects and characters: The fickle crowd which shouts both “Blessed is He” and “Crucify Him!” , Treacherous Judas. Political Pilate. Cowardly Peter. The women. The darkness.
(One thing I noticed this year, because of the Ten Commandment scholars receiving their Bibles, is how many of the Ten Commandments are violated by the people around Jesus. I think maybe all of them. And how the last line that we’ll read is about Jesus’ followers keeping one of the commandments. Scholars - you might listen for those things and tell your families what you heard.)
But the center of the story isn’t any of those interesting sidelights. The center if Jesus. And so, as you listen, watch for what Jesus does and says. It’s amazing! His grace and generosity. Jesus’ gentleness and faithfulness. His courage and the cost of making all things new.
In the midst of their confusion, he encourages his disciples. Knowing of Judas betrayal, Jesus still shares the bread and the cup. At his arrest, in a violent situation, he brings healing and calm. When lied about, he tells the truth. Out of his own pain, he prays forgiveness. And, even as he dies, even to a criminal, he offers hope of eternal life. This is the One who makes all things new.
Listen with me for the Word of God.
Luke 22:14-23:56 - The Message (Eugene Peterson’s translation)