A Prayer for Holy Tuesday – Acknowledging that We Too Were Christ’s Enemies

April 3, 2012

In today’s Gospel reading in the Lectionary (Mark 11:27-33) we read of how the Scribes tried to trap Jesus:

    And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”  (Mark 11:27-33 ESV)

It’s easy to be self-righteous and indignant as we read of yet another trap set by those who oppose and fear Jesus.

But, in his prayer for Holy Tuesday today at Heavenward blog, Pastor Scotty Smith reflects on the fact that we too were once enemies of Christ.  It’s a powerful prayer of confession and thanksgiving that brings this portion of the Lectionary alive for me today.

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Dear Lord Jesus, everything about Holy Week reveals the riches of your mercy for sinful, broken people, just like me. The tears you wept coming into Jerusalem, the anger you showed driving money changers from the temple—every encounter, parable, and action underscore Paul’s words…

  “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

Jesus, with no hesitation I gladly affirm, Paul was writing about me with those words. I’m one of the powerless, ungodly sinners for whom you died. Your death on the cross is the indisputable demonstration of God’s incomparable, irrepressible, indefatigable love for me—the rebel, fool and idolater that I am. I wasn’t God’s darling when you reconciled me to him through your death on the cross; I was his enemy (Rom. 5:10). May I never believe otherwise.

I would still be blind to the only thing that can bring peace if you hadn’t opened my eyes to see my need for you and your death for me. The gospel would still remain hidden from my eyes unless you’d given me sight to see you as the Lamb of God—the one who, alone, could take away my sin.

I have no right to sneer at a single Pharisee, Sadducee, priest, teacher of the law, or anyone else who tried to trick or trap you during Holy Week. I am just as worthy of judgment as any of them.

The full prayer is here.


Holy Tuesday Reflection: Mary’s Act of Devotion, Faith and Love

April 3, 2012

Music links updated 2014

[I know the story of Mary anointing Jesus' feet with perfume is not included in this year's lectionary for Holy Week, which is based on Mark, but it's something that's been on my heart to write about...]

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Yesterday’s Holy Week reflection at Barnstorming about Mary washing Jesus’ feet struck me quite strongly – the contrast between Mary’s belief in Christ’s prediction of His suffering and death and the disciples’ denial. 

Mary ACTED on her belief in Christ’s words and teaching.  The whole post is worth reading as it challenges us: what would faith lived out look like in our lives – how are we being called to serve and sacrifice?  What can we do out of love for Jesus today?

Here’s an excerpt which highlights the parallels between Mary actions and love and Christ’s actions throughout Holy Week:

Mary acts out of faith even when she confronts a painful reality–she acknowledges Jesus’ predictions of His death and burial–she believes what His disciples refused to hear.

Jesus prays a few days later to have the reality of suffering lifted from Him, but in obedience, He perseveres out of faith and love for the Father.

Mary acts out of her steadfast love for the Master–she is showing single-minded devotion in the face of criticism from the disciples.

Jesus, on the cross,  shows forgiveness and love even to the men who deride and execute Him.

Mary acts out of significant personal sacrifice–pouring costly perfume worth a full year’s wages–showing her commitment to Christ.

Jesus willingly gives the ultimate sacrifice of Himself–there is no higher price to pay.

Mary responds to His need–she recognizes that this moment is her opportunity to anoint the living Christ, and His response clearly shows He is deeply moved by her action.

Jesus, as man Himself, recognizes humanity’s need to be saved, and places Himself in our place. We must respond, incredulous,  with gratitude.

Jesus tells Mary of Bethany (and us),  in response to the disciples’ rebukes, that it is her action that will be told and remembered.   She did what she could at that moment to ease His distress at what He would soon confront.  She did what she could for Him–humbly, beautifully, simply, sacrificially …

The full post is here.

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Some songs that tie in with this reflection on the theme of Mary’s offering to Christ:

(Hopefully the playlist will work, but I’ve been having problems with WordPress and audio files this week. If the music does not play, try these links:  Pour my love, Alabaster box, At Your Feet.  But please respect copyrights and purchase the songs if you plan to keep them.)

art credit:  SusanBaily.org

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In reading the account of Mary and Jesus found in John 12, I was startled by the verse that suggests that the perfume Mary’s sacrificed was worth 300 denarii (silver coins, perhaps worth about $20 each).  Yet Judas, who complains about Mary’s wastefulness, sold Jesus for only 30 silver coins! (It’s not specified that these are denarii, Scripture merely says “pieces of silver.”*) I have never consciously juxtaposed these two figures before.  Comparing Mary and Judas is sobering – do I give to Jesus without counting the cost or am I always trying to protect my self interest – no matter how petty?

In closing, I like  how one commentator describes how Mary’s sacrifice prefigures Christ’s lavish grace towards us all:

She had possession of the alabaster box and she chose to share it with her Lord.  She did not hoard it for herself or try to sell it, as the disciples would have liked, merely for monetary gain.  Its contents were more precious to her than any amount of money.  In fact, she gave expecting nothing in return, kind of like how God bestows us with His Grace even though we don’t ask for it.  It’s a free gift.  The perfume from that alabaster jar was like God’s grace poured out for all of us.

art credit: (Alabaster Jar)

*note:  The ESV online study Bible notes for Matt 26:15 suggest these pieces of silver paid to Judas may have been worth 4 months wages, which would make them equivalent to 120 denarii, still less than the perfume.

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Update: not to get distracted by numbers and monetary values, but I found a cool online calculator which lets you convert Hebrew Biblical units into Roman Biblical units – thus you can convert from Shekels to Denarii.  The ESV notes for Matt. 26 suggest that Judas may have been paid 30 Shekels – in accordance with the passage in Exodus that sets the reimbursement for a slave gored by an ox at 30 Shekels.

So my question was, how do 30 Shekels compare with 300 Denarii?

This Biblical Unit Converter gives an idea: according to that site, 30 shekels = about 89 denarii.  Or, in reverse, 300 denarii = 101 shekels.  No matter how you measure it, Mary’s sacrifice is staggering when compared with the “rewards” of Judas’ betrayal of Christ.


Holy Week Quotes: The Jerusalem in our hearts

April 3, 2012

I found the following quote in a Palm Sunday sermon at a blog called Interrupting the Silence.

Today is a strange mixture of gospel readings, emotions, and contrast. We began with a parade; shouts of “Hosanna,” a declaration of praise and a cry for salvation; and the waving of palms, the ancient symbol of victory and triumph. We end with a death march, a cry of forsakenness, and a last breath.

The liturgy is holding before us the reality of our world and our lives. We know what it’s like to live in the tension of victory and defeat, joy and sorrow, life and death. At the center of this tension lies Jerusalem, Jesus’ destination.

Today marks Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. It is a threshold place and it is the most troubled place in the world; a place of division, struggle, conflict, and confrontation. Jerusalem, however, is not located only in Israel. Within every human heart there is a Jerusalem. (emphasis added)

The full sermon is here.

It’s a very interesting way to look at Holy Week, reflecting on how each of Jesus’ entrances into Jerusalem during the week reflect a way we need Him to enter our hearts and lives more fully.  See what you make of it.


From Our Archives (2007): Tuesday in Holy Week

April 3, 2012

Several of our 2007 entries for Tuesday of Holy Week have been re-entered here as separate entries in recent years, including A Litany of Humility.  Here are other posts from the 2007 Holy Week archives.

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Holy Tuesday: Collect & Readings

The Episcopal Collect:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Readings:  [note this is the 2007 Holy Week lectionary - not that for 2012]
Isaiah 49:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
John 12:20-36
Psalm 71:1-14

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Read the rest of this entry »


Mark 11:27-33

April 3, 2012

Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?” But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John–was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.” And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’”–they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mark 11:27-33)
      St. Augustine said, “I believe in order to understand.”

      Holy Spirit, move the hearts of the leaders and teachers of the Episcopal Church to belief in Jesus so that they may understand what he is doing and saying.

      Father, set the clergy and seminaries of the Episcopal Church free from the false scholasticism which analyzes without faith. Raise up faculty in the seminaries who will teach with genuine faith in Jesus.

      Jesus, please help each of us to believe and to publicly confess our belief in you and share the good news of what you have done for us.

A word received: Pray for those who are wrongfully persecuted for righteousness sake.

Tuesday: 6, 12 * 94; Lam. 1:17-22: 2 Cor. 1:8-22: Mark 11:27-33
Tuesday in Holy Week Holy Communion: 71:1-12; Isaiah 49:1-6; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 12:37-38,42-50 or Mark 11:15-19
Wednesday: 55 * 74; Lam. 2:1-9: 2 Cor. 1:23-2:11: Mark 12:1-11
Wednesday in Holy Week Holy Communion: 69:7-15,22-23; Isaiah 50:4-9a; Hebrews 9:11-15,24-28; John 13:21-35 or Matthew 26:1-5,14-25

      Notes from the Front Line

***** Start now reading and reflecting on the lessons for Sunday so that you can receive all that God has for you (Easter Day: 118:14-29 or 118:14-17,22-24; Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9; Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43; Mark 16:1-8 ).

***** Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2012
From: Nigel Mumford
Subject: Gosh it is so good to be alive…

Date: Mon, 02 Apr 2012
From: Nigel Mumford
Subject: Daily Quote…
      Lynn and I have just returned from double header healing missions in Charleston and Greenville South Carolina. We rented a Hertz car with GPS. The voice was calm to start and then SCREAMED at us. “In five hundred feet turn right on “BURBON STREET.” The voice was very calm in giving the directions but then a new voice would SCREAM at us giving the name of the street. “In two miles turn left on MAIN STREET” oh man! The GPS was like it had two personalities. Still we got to where we needed, laughing our heads off whenever it gave directions. I now wish I had taken a wrong turn on purpose just to see what she would do! Smoke and fury? More screaming? I thank God that Jesus does not shout at us.. Jesus prays for us as “Gods positioning system” is clarified in the gift of eternal life through His prayer from the seventeenth chapter of the gospel of John. Please read John seventeen as Jesus prays to the Father, for the disciples and for us, today. Turn right in three hundred yards into CHURCH STRET. Ok already… You have arrived. Phew!

Lynn speaking in Greenville SC

***** From Praying The Nicene Creed
who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven,
      Jesus, thank you for being willing to give up the glory of heaven to come and live with us. Thank you that day by day your Holy Spirit is willing to live in us in the midst of all our sin.
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
      Holy Spirit, thank you for Mary’s willingness to receive your over-shadowing and her willingness to risk all to bear Jesus for us.
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
      Thank you, Jesus, for what you endured on the cross for us.
he suffered and was buried;
      Jesus, thank you for dying for us while we were still sinners. You went to the cross and the grave for us because of your love for your father and for us. Thank you.
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
      Holy Spirit, thank you that you enabled Jesus to rise from the dead. Thank you for his victory over sin and death. Please bring us to new life in him.
and ascended into heaven,
      Jesus, thank you for your ascension into heaven to sit at the right hand of your father. Thank you that you ever live to make intercession for us.
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
      Father, thank you for giving Jesus such a place of honor; please help us honor him by our words and deeds and belief.
and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead;
      Jesus, you are Lord and you are judge; help us to fall into your hands and not the hands of men.

Albany Intercessor


Holy Week Devotional & Family Resources

April 3, 2012

A few links to some resources that look helpful for Holy Week:

Presbyterian Pastor Mark D. Roberts  has a devotional guide /.series of reflections for Holy Week based on the seven last words of Christ.

He also has a devotional guide for stations of the cross

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Christianity Today:  Suggestions for Bible Readings and Family Activities for each day of Holy Week.

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Passionate Homemaking Blog has what looks to be an excellent Family Devotional Guide for Holy Week

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Children’s Ministry.Com has a short guide with ideas for Sunday School activities for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter

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This is a link I’ve posted before, but I want to repost it again this year:  the CRI Website has a good overview of Holy Week, including ideas for a Christian Seder.  The overview helps explain the reasons and traditions of various special church services during Holy Week.

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I will try to add to this list and welcome readers’ recommendations and links!


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