Daily Devotion for April 21, 2011
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.
Since John does not give a lengthy account of the Last Supper, I thought this beautiful (and very Jewish-sounding) song was appropriate, setting the Christian celebration of the Last Supper with the holiday of Passover, which Jesus and his disciples celebrated.
Prayer for the Morning
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Purity of Thought
Almighty God, who alone gave me the breath of life, and alone can keep alive in me the holy desires your Spirit brings; I pray to you, in the name of your infinite compassion, to sanctify my thoughts and endeavors this day; that I may not begin to act without a pure intention or continue it without your blessing. And grant that, having the eyes of my mind opened to behold things invisible and unseen, I may in heart be inspired by your wisdom, and in work be upheld by your strength, and in the end be accepted by you as your faithful servant; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Dedication to Service
Now, oh heavenly Father, I ask to be called as a witness to your love by the love I extend to others; a precursor of your justice by my unfailing commitment to what is right and good; a lamp set on a hill, reflecting the light of Christ in my forgiveness, mercy and compassion; and a harvester of souls through my humble and dedicated servanthood. In Jesus' name, I pray,
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 22:16-18 (NKJV)
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
And for My clothing they cast lots." [Psalm 22:18]
Therefore the soldiers did these things.
Notes on the Scripture
Consistent with the nature of the entire book, the Gospel of John does not provide as many gory physical details of the crucifixion as do the Synoptic Gospels. John prefers to make a theological point. And often, he does it by analogy, symbolism and analogy.
One might question why he spends so much time telling us what became of Jesus' clothes; it is a very minor matter, compared to all that we know happened. But it gives him an opportunity to make two observations.
The first is spelled out. Psalm 22 has become (somewhat unexpectedly) a poem of prophesy, for we see in it a prediction of the circumstances of Christ's death. Many of its six lines, written in the past tense, describe a scene from the crucifixion. It reads like an elegy to the crucifixion written after the event. Much of John is given over to proving the divinity of Christ, in order to help readers be convinced and converted. One way of accomplishing this is to show that his coming was prophesied, with details, centures before.
The four Roman soldiers (who may well have been Jews) divide up Jesus' clothing, but his tunic (or robe) they leave whole, instead of dividing it into equal portions of cloth. Of course, there is a logical reason for this; one would imagine a complete garment would be more valuable than four pieces of cloth. But it is also symbolic of his doctrine.
These clothes are the only physical possession Christ leaves behind. His tunic , like his life, has no seams; it is perfect. And his words and doctrine, like his tunic, were not and should not be torn into pieces. Christ's life and teachings, which he leaves behind for us, will endure in their entirety; they lose their value when torn into bits. Just think of how badly Christian doctrine can be misrepresented by quoting Bible verses out of context.
And, in an odd bit of irony, it is Rome which will become the keeper of his words for many centuries.