Mar 31

Fit for a King?

Was it fitting for Jesus to die this way? Is his death fit for a king? When a president dies, he is treated with the greatest dignity. His body lies in state in some public building so that mourners may come and keep vigil by his side. He is guaranteed, if he wants it, a funeral in one of the great churches of our country, the National Cathedral in D.C., perhaps, or some other similarly grand building. His death is a great and solemn event. But Jesus was given none of these tokens of greatness. He is treated with scorn, not dignity. His body hangs in the air on a cross, not in state. There is no funeral, and things are rushed along at the end, because everyone has other business to attend to. So again: is his death fit for a king? Was it fitting for Jesus to die this way? Continue reading

Mar 31

Four Questions

At the Seder, or Passover meal, the tradition is for a young child to ask four questions, four “whys” about the night and its special meaning. The idea, I think, is that the celebration of Passover is shrouded in mystery: the mystery of how God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, the mystery of celebrating the event 3000 or more years after it happened, the mystery of a night set apart. Continue reading

Mar 21

The Lord’s Prayer 6: Kingdom, Power, Glory

Kingdom, power, and glory: these might be the most tantalizing words in the Lord’s Prayer. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of ruling the world? If I were king, if I were president… What about power—which one of us hasn’t longed for some special power, to get people to do what we want, maybe, or to feel good about ourselves? And glory—wouldn’t it be great if people would finally recognize all the hard work we do, finally acknowledge how important we are, finally say, “Thank you, you’re wonderful!” Oh, if only we could have a little more glory! Continue reading

Mar 13

The Lord’s Prayer 5: Deliver Us

We began our series on the Lord’s Prayer, four weeks ago, by reading about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. As we learned to pray “our Father” with the only-begotten Son of God, we watched as Christ turned away each of the devil’s tempting offers: turn bread into stone; worship me, in exchange for power over this world; test God to see if he’ll really protect you. Jesus Christ is the new Adam, the new Eve, the Son of Man who overcomes temptation. But today, as we near the end of our series on the Lord’s Prayer, we meet Judas Iscariot, the old Adam, the man who gives in to temptation, the man who cannot resist what Satan has to offer. Continue reading

Apr 07

About Noon

It was about noon that day, when Pilate pronounced his judgment on Jesus: here is your King! It doesn’t sound like much of a condemnation to us, of course: isn’t Pilate just telling us who Jesus really is, whether or not Pilate himself realizes it? Well, yes, that’s all true—except for the “just” part. It is out of spite and cruelty that Pilate calls Jesus king; it is from the same pit of sin that Pilate’s decision to have written above Jesus’ head “the King of the Jews” emerges. Pilate is no naïve actor, no pawn, not even in John’s gospel. He holds the power here, and he and everyone else knows it. Rome had run into kings and would-be kings before. Pilate had plenty of options for this accused Jew, but he picks the one that will display Rome’s iron-fisted power definitively. “Here is your King!”

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