Daily Devotion for April 21, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
And perhaps we'll never meet any more,
Till we gather in Heaven's bright city
Far away on that beautiful shore.
If we never meet again this side of Heaven
As we struggle through this world and its strife,
There's another meeting place somewhere in Heaven
By the side of the river of life.
Where the charming roses bloom forever
And where separations come no more,
If we never meet again this side of Heaven
I will meet you on that beautiful shore.
Oh, they say that we shall meet by the river,
Where no storm clouds ever darken the sky,
And they say that we'll be happy in Heaven,
In the wonderful sweet by and by.
prayer for morning (e. e. cummings)
i thank God for most this
day; for the leaping greenly
spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;
and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes
[everything which is infinite]
Prayer for Fellowship
Oh Holy God, who has taught us that we should not be yoked with unbelievers, and that righteousness has no fellowship with unrighteousness; I pray that you will send into my life people who confess the name of Jesus Christ, people who love you and follow you and seek to grow in your Spirit every day. Let me be honorable and worthy before the profane world, dear Father, but also let me find more friends of sincere convictions, that I may follow your command to be in fellowship with other saints, and thus be reinforced in the holiness and purity of Christ to which I aspire.
And let me live in harmony and unity with other Christians. Let me know them and spend time with them, that we might share the blessing of your love. Grant that I might never feel lonely in my faith; and help me to let others feel the comfort of Christian community. In Christ's name, I pray,
As I travel through the rest of my day, may the God of hope fill me with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I may abound in hope.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
“You do not fall because you are weak. You fall because you think you are strong.”
~ Yiddish Proverb
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”
Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Notes on the Scripture
The timing of our read-through of Matthew has us studying the arrest of Jesus the day after Easter, which might feel a bit odd. Maybe we can think of it, not as repetition, but as a fortunate coincidence that deepens our focused study of the crucifixion and resurrection, instead of trying to cram it into a few days.
We will learn in John that the disciple who cuts off the servant's ear is Peter. He is throughout the Gospel depicted as the bravest and also rashest of the apostles. He was possessed of a pervasive love for Jesus and we must realize what it meant, to pull his sword on a detachment of Roman soldiers.
But then, the last line: “The disciples all left him and fled.” Not even the stouthearted Peter could long stand and face certain death, once Christ was arrested. The behavior of Peter and the disciples, from this time through the Pentecost, informs the nature of Christian courage for all ages. It demonstrates the courage that can come from God. We see Peter break when God, in the person of Christ, is taken from him; but as Christ has promised, the Holy Spirit will be sent to the disciples, and we will see a dramatic return of both moral and physical courage, beyond that which they possess by nature, when God returns to them in person as the Holy Spirit, the “Paraclete”.
In other words, the apostles have a normal amount of natural courage. We will be able to see how they behave, relying on their natural courage, in the period between the arrest of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit, while they do not have a person of God with them. And we will thus have a baseline to demonstrate the courage that comes only from God, by their behavior after the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them.
The other great lesson of this passage is the reminder of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-48), when Christ orders Peter to sheath his sword. The electrifying commandment Christ gave not to resist evil, to “turn the other cheek”, is not popular with a lot of people. If one tried to pick the passage in the Bible that is the most widely ignored, passed over, distorted, and/or rationalized into non-existence by professed Christians, it would be a prime contender.