John 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
This is the second time the phrase – “the day of Preparation” with that same capital “P“ appears in this chapter. I am convinced God has shown me that capital “P” to teach me something important about the celebration of Passover, and Lent. The capital “P” Preparation is Jesus; the one very real difference between the preparation for the celebration of the Jewish Passover and the celebration of Lent that leads to Easter morning. Both celebrations recognize the need for an annual, dedicated break in time with sacrifice so the heart might remember with thanksgiving and worship what the Eternal, Almighty, Righteous God has done in the past to make new beginning a reality.
• Passover is the dedicated break in time for devout people whose desire is to remember the blood of the perfect lamb that saved them in the past.
• Lent is the dedicated break in time for devout people whose desire is to remember the blood of the perfect lamb that saved them in the past.
• The Passover remembrance begins with the recognition of need for removal of the decay that leads to ruin.
• The Lenten remembrance begins with the recognition of need for removal of the decay that leads to ruin.
• The hope of Passover lies in the Eternal, Almighty, Righteous God’s acceptance of their sacrifice for Him…so He might be pleased with them.
• The hope of Lent lies in the Eternal, Almighty, Righteous God’s sacrifice of Jesus for them…so He might be pleased with them.
John 19:14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
“The day of Preparation” has been like a flashing light pushing me to read…and ponder this one verse from John 19. Did you notice that capital “P”? I’ve come to the conclusion what little I understand about timing and calendars and the observance of Passover is related to that phrase. That makes it very important to me. Jesus has eaten the Passover meal with His friends. Friday was considered the day of preparation for the Sabbath which began at sundown. This particular Sabbath preparation day has occurred during Passover week. Preparation for Passover week always includes the complete removal of all leaven from the home and the diet for the entire week’s observance. It’s a separation of time with a meaningful purpose.
The removal of leaven is a remembrance of the Jew’s misfortune at being driven out of Israel, the intention of the evil against them and a sacrifice of time to interrupt an expected cycle. FYI: Leavened bread was created by the decay of wheat and water that created yeast-like bubbles of fermentation that could raise the dough and change the texture of the bread. There is a tipping point in that cycle of fermentation where the dough that has been slightly soured is still edible and must be used, or it will be ruined. Timing is everything. During Passover Week, the removal of leaven becomes that separation of time that gives evidence of the desire to remove what is past and look forward to a new beginning.
That has become my beacon of light from God. Little did Pilate or the Jewish priests and leaders realize they were participating in “the day of Preparation” God had already planned. The “Preparation” was Jesus. He interrupted that preparation at just the right time to give evidence of God’s desire to prevent the expected cycle of ruin and offer Himself as the “Bread of Life.”
I’m diverting from II Corinthians because at the moment you’re reading this I’m on the high seas for a 3-day cruise but thanks to WordPress I can schedule this story and at the appointed time [I hope] it will be told.
Thank you Lord for the image of “your” new life, your Son, lying in a Cradle of circumstances. This time of preparation shows us how important this annual pilgrimage is to our celebration of that birth and that Cradle. It was your own preparation for us that made Advent a celebration at all and Jesus your special gift of access for us.
We all enter the Kingdom of God through that same Cradle: another “new” life born in the midst of a broken world. The Cradle still contains the memory of God’s preparation. It still holds the promise of what new life can become through the stories of wise men, shepherds and angels, even in a still-broken world. That Cradle is the shelter of God’s provision for us when there doesn’t seem to be room for us anywhere else. This annual journey shows us one more time where we’ve come from, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. There will be emotional and physical joy and hardship involved in that journey but…
• We have wise men today that have found their special path to that Cradle to offer their treasure and then share their story with us so we can follow and find our way too.
• We have shepherds today who despite their own fears rise and boldly share your Story.
• We have angels in our lives who sing your praises and share your promises of renewal, restoration and grace that prepare us to recognize and receive your gift of forever…again this year.
It’s glorious to remember isn’t it?
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I know my heavenly master but I haven’t paid enough attention to the awareness that while I don’t have a job and a boss, real life is my earthly master. I spend many hours each week in the Word and in thought dedicated to learning to live in this world “with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” That’s where “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you” comes into play for me.
I struggle to string together a coherent prayer built on God’s perspective for the dismal realities of that earthly master. Those are situations so far removed from my own life; serious world situations and leaders that I have absolutely no control over. I’m startled by the realization that I’ve let what I work at with all my heart, my dedicated preparation to know my heavenly master, insulate my mind from the only possible option I have to obey that earthly master. It’s a revelation for me to accept the only frame of reference I have for those dismal situations I can’t control is prayer. May that new “sincerity of heart” continue to be so!
•Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.
•Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. [Deut. 8:3]’”
Jesus was sending his disciples out for a very special purpose. That didn’t just happen, it took time to prepare. That’s what makes his instructions to the disciples so interesting. “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” It seems like comfort and convenience weren’t to be a part of their preparation. I wondered about the “no” parts.
The disciples were prepared to go out to “proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick” but why not send them out with those small things that could give them comfort and convenience? Did Jesus have in mind his own experience of being tempted in the wilderness as he gave them those instructions? His own temptation had not been about hunger at all. The tempter had used comfort and convenience in his failed attempt to entice Jesus to settle for any means to an end and become a “convenient” Messiah.
Jesus still wants his disciple’s focus of preparation to be on proclaiming the truth that protected him from the temptation to settle for any means to an end – the word of God. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” There’s bread enough to last until tomorrow morning. I invite you to check back then for fresh Maundy Thursday Bread.