Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
4 The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
6 I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.
8 He who vindicates me is near.
Who then will bring charges against me?
Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
Let him confront me!
9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
the moths will eat them up.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death-
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus Before Pilate
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge-to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisonerchosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[a] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue himnow if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
The Death of Jesus
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[b] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[c]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[d] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
This week, we find in John chapter 4 that the same Jesus (filled with the Spirit at his Baptism) who was compelled into the wilderness to face temptations alone (Luke 4.1) is now driven into Samaria ” Now he had to go through Samaria…” to encounter the spoken and unspoken limits of mission.
Which would be preferable to us? Perhaps we would prefer to face our Lenten deprivations as we contemplate the sacrifice of Jesus in the privacy of a wilderness. Or consider our own feelings of anxiety as we enter situations with people whose demeanor, story, and questions can feel overwhelming.
Notice that Jesus is weary, hungry and thirsty in both settings.
Celebrate that Jesus is equally capable in both.
(I sometimes ask the devil for a drink and exorcise difficult people, but that is not ideal.)
Looking again at this familiar conversation at the well gives us renewed opportunities to move a bit closer to Jesus as he guides us in his way towards Jerusalem and the Holy Week that begins to color our horizon.
As we do that, I was reminded of a popular book many of you have perhaps read or appreciated. Tom Rath’s How Full is Your Bucket explores the reality of our needs and how they are met through community, our approach to others and the power of affirmation. Much in the book is helpful, and its strategies have been successfully implemented to aid in classrooms, workplaces and families. You can see a 6 minute children’s video of the idea here.
You can listen to an excerpt of the original book from the publisher’s website here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for “The theory of the dipper and the bucket”
You can read an excerpt of the book and see the idea in practice here.
The woman at the well speaks in terms of buckets and dippers as well. Jesus’ replies to her, and our own replies to the people in our lives, have an important choice to make. The path Jesus takes with her and with us turns the wilderness into wetlands, and that same path is open to us as we reach out to our neighbors, friends and especially our families.
See you Sunday,
Happy Lent. We begin our journey to the joy of Easter by following the way of Jesus.
Last year, I shared this short video that artistically depicts the 40 days of temptation Jesus endured at the beginning of his ministry. As you watch it, notice Jesus’ experience in the wilderness. The artist includes many images that connect to Jesus’ later teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and the foreshadowing of Holy Week near the end of the video is also very good.
This weekend, the scriptures have us stop in the garden and the wilderness as we face the reality and the unreality of temptation.
Temptation is certainly real enough, as Adam and Eve will sadly testify, but temptation traffics in much that is so obviously unreal- fantasy, imagination, trick. Whether it be the falsely advertised results promised by Satan under the tree, Satan in the wilderness, or Satan in our ear, this obvious reality rooted so deeply in unreality confronts us as all as we each fall-in behind the Christ.
Jesus takes us on a particular path towards Easter; a path that includes all the areas of real life, his life primarily. And now through faith, our life as well.
This path, as Lent reminds us, is the way of the cross, a singular event that casts its shadow and its glory across the paths of all who walk with him as friends and disciples.
Faithful and unfaithful followers have imagined these twin temptation stories for millennia, comparing and contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of our first parents in paradise and the promised one in the wild. Imagining the contours of the deception and the thinking of the tempted are other approaches. Or the extremes of failing in an umblemished world but success by an unblemished Savior.
This Sunday, we will open one window on the work of Jesus in temptation as we consider Jesus’ approach to unfinished business. How do temptations spring from the unfinished business in the world, in our own lives, and in the lives of neighbors who don’t yet know Jesus?
As we enter Lent, take advantage of the several ways we are committing ourselves as individuals and a parish to draw near to God in worship, prayer and the word. You may use our Daily Devotional and you may borrow a Bible or a Book of Common Prayer from the church if you do not yet have one. Other opportunities are listed in the weekly bulletin and in upcoming events emails.
The prayer which began our Ash Wednesday service is worth reflecting on as we travel together towards Easter. It is on page 264 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
See you Sunday,