Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

He knows

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 8, 2022. Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

[Jesus said,] “But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. (Luke 22:21-23)

This is a chilling moment. The betrayer is in the room. He is at the table with them. It is one of the twelve. Who is it? Who could do such a thing?

The room explodes with questions. “Where were you last night?” “Who was that I saw you talking to yesterday?” “That’s a pretty nice robe. Where did you get the money for that?” “Why are you looking at me? I didn’t do it!” “Look at Thaddeus. Yeah, he’s sweating. I’ll bet it’s him.” “Oh, yeah? Come over here and say that!”

When Jesus told his disciples he was going to be rejected, killed, and raised, they were shocked. They couldn’t wrap their minds around his words. They didn’t even know what questions to ask. And now one of them was involved in the plot? This really shook them up.

Who can you trust? It’s estimated that over half of all murders are committed by someone who knew the victim. A quarter are killed by a family member. Think about that the next time you attend a family gathering.

How well do you really know the folks you go to church with? We do background checks for everyone who works with children and youth. But what about everyone else? Think about that the next time you attend choir practice or take a big scoop of the green jello salad at the potluck or go out to lunch with that friendly couple you met at worship today.

Yes, think about that the next time you kneel for communion. Look up and down the rail. You’re looking at those for whose sins Jesus died. Do you have any idea what they have done?

They are looking back at you. You were in on it. Jesus is the blameless one. He was nailed to the cross because of your sin. They don’t know what you did, but it must have been bad.

And yet, there we all are at the table. Jesus knows. He knows what you’ve done. He wants you to know that he knows. He wants to make sure you never underestimate how much it hurt when they crucified him in your place. He wants to be sure you never underestimate how much he loves you.

Lord, you know. I know you know. How could you still love me so much?

Posted in Stories

It’s time to go.

He thought about leaving early. His mind was mush. He just wasn’t getting much done. Maybe he should go to the gym. A quick workout now usually meant a productive evening later. 

Commotion from the hallway startled him.

By the time he heard the words, “You can’t got back there,” the man in the dark suit with credentials in one hand and a warrant in the other burst in. Laying the papers on the desk, he closed and scooped up the laptop in one smooth motion and left.

“Wait a minute…” he started, following him out the door. Other dark suits were already walking out with the computers, boxes of files and even the recycling bins. Stunned, no one was talking. No one was moving.

Except him. What choice did he have? As soon as the handcuffs were on, he was escorted out the door.

In just three short years, the business had flourished far beyond anyone’s imagination. They had to celebrate. They deserved it. He made arrangements at the best restaurant in town. Dinner was excellent. Glasses were raised. Bonuses announced. Laughter filled the room.

His own smile and laughter covered up the truth. A truth only he knew. As he looked around the table, he saw more than just employees. He saw friends. Yet he knew one of them would make the call. One of them would give up evidence. One of them would rat him out. One of them would betray him. And he knew exactly who it was. 

It was one of his first hires. Someone who knew a lot more about finance than he did. Someone who had helped them navigate a couple of audits. Someone he had always trusted. Someone who could be bought. Someone who would bring him down.

As he sat down in the back of the black sedan, a scuffle broke out in the office. Was that blood on the side of someone’s head? Don’t do that. Just go. He would take the fall. He would go to prison. Everyone else would walk. It was the only way.

Posted in Lent devotions

A kiss is just a kiss

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Sunday, March 7, 2021. Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. (Mark 14:44-45)

It’s night. It’s dark. The betrayer Judas has led a crowd armed with swords and clubs to a place where he knows Jesus will be with his disciples. Without a photo, a sketch or a wanted poster, how will they know which one to apprehend? Which of these Jewish men is Jesus?

Judas has it all worked out. “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and take him away. ” An innocent greeting would now deliver Jesus into the hands of his enemies.

Continue reading “A kiss is just a kiss”
Posted in Lent devotions

He knows

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Tuesday, February 23, 2021. Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (Mark 14:17-21)

Jesus certainly knows how to put a damper on the Passover festivities, doesn’t he? One moment they are drinking wine and remembering God’s powerful deliverance from Egypt. The next Jesus is accusing one of them of being a traitor.

The Chinese military general Sun Tzu and Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) in “The Godfather” both said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Who would have guessed Jesus followed that philosophy? After all, he hand picked the twelve. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. He knew all about their faith and their doubts. He knew who he could trust and who he needed to keep an eye on.

But for the disciples, Jesus’ words cut them to the heart. “One of you will betray me.” They all wondered out loud, “Could it be me?”

Imagine for a moment being in a room with Jesus and several of your closest friends. Imagine what it would feel like for Jesus to say, “I know that one of you is having an affair” “One of you is physically abusing someone in your family.” “One of you will is addicted to prescription medications.” “One of you is going to try and kill yourself.” How would you feel at that moment?

Can you feel the knot in your stomach? Are you wondering if Jesus is talking about you? Do you know that Jesus is talking about you?

Nothing escapes the eyes of our God. He knows when we wake up and when we fall asleep. He knows the number of our days. He knows the petitions of our prayers before we do. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He knows all about our faith and our doubts. He knows who he can trust. And who he can’t.

I hope you are really uncomfortable right now. I am. My deepest thoughts, fears, doubts, sins and secrets are all known to him. The one whom I invite to my meals with the words, “Come, Lord Jesus…” knows everyone of my secret sins. Every bit of my life is known to the one I praise, thank and witness about. He knows me better than I know myself.

And yet he loves me. He loves the twelve. He loves the one dipping bread into the dish with him. He loves all those who come and confess, “I deserve your temporal and eternal punishment…” He loves those who cautiously kneel at the altar to eat and drink his body and blood, fulling knowing that we are no better than any one of the twelve, not even the one who betrayed the Lord.

One of the blessings of our faith is confession. When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. A burden is lifted from our hearts and minds when we finally say, “I did it. It’s my fault. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” When our secret is no longer a secret we find grace in the one who knows, loves, dies for us.

We find grace in Him.

Heavenly Father, we know that you know. Thank you so much for making, knowing and loving me. Amen.

Posted in Lent devotions

Let’s make a deal

“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Saturday, February 20, 2021. Artwork by Susan Zendt copyright 2021 used by permission.

“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them. When they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him silver. So he looked for how he might conveniently betray Him” (Mark 14:10-11).

For two thousand years, we’ve been wondering, “Judas, why did you do it?” Why did you cut a deal with the chief priests to betray Jesus?

Continue reading “Let’s make a deal”