Gospel Reading: John 11:45-56 (alternate reading: Matthew 1:16-21)
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him; 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation." 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; 50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim; and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?"
Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 37:21-28
21 then say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all sides, and bring them to their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves any more with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
24 "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow my ordinances and be careful to observe my statutes. 25 They shall dwell in the land where your fathers dwelt that I gave to my servant Jacob; they and their children and their children's children shall dwell there for ever; and David my servant shall be their prince for ever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore."
Meditation: Do you allow fear or opposition to hold you back from doing God's will? Jesus set his face like flint toward Jerusalem, knowing full well what awaited him there (Luke 9:51; Isaiah 50:7). It was Jewish belief that when the high priest asked for God's counsel for the nation, God spoke through him. What dramatic irony that Caiaphas prophesied that Jesus must die for the nation. The prophet Ezekiel announced that God would establish one people, one land, one prince, and one sanctuary forever. Luke adds to Caiphas's prophecy that Jesus would gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. Jesus came to lay down his life for the many, but not in a foolish reckless manner so as to throw it away before his work was done. He retired until the time had come when nothing would stop his coming to Jerusalem to fulfill his Father's mission.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) wrote:
"The passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the hope of glory and a lesson in patience... He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself? Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory."The way to glory and victory for us is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to take up your cross and follow Christ in his way of victory?
"Lord Jesus, may we your disciples be ever ready to lay down our lives in conformity to your will, to willingly suffer and die for you, that we may also share in your victory and glory."
Psalm 22:1, 6-10
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far
from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
6 But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
8 "He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you kept me safe upon my mother's breasts.
10 Upon you was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
A Daily Quote for Lent: The crucifixion is always lived, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"The crucifixion is something that must continue throughout our
life, not for forty days only, although Moses, Elijah, and Christ
fasted forty days. We are meant to learn from them not to cling to
this present world or imitate what it says, but to nail our
unregenerate selves to the cross." (excerpt from
from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of
Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches
of Christ in the United States of America. Used by
permission. All rights reserved. Citation references
for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can
be found here.
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