Daily Devotion for April 23, 2011
Detail from Scenes from the Passion of Christ by Hans Mamling, c. 1470. See the full painting
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.
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 Peace
We thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. We appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of you and confirm in them love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
A Prayer of Contrition
Merciful Father, I am guilty of sin. I confess my sins before you and I am sorry for them. Your promises are just; therefore I trust that you will forgive my sins and cleanse me from every stain of sin. Jesus himself is the propitiation for my sins and the sin of the whole world. I put my hope in his atonement. May my sins be forgiven through His name and in His blood may my soul be made clean.
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions.
Walk with me, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all whom I may meet.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 34:19-20 (NKJV)
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
John 19:31-42 (NIV)
The Burial of Jesus
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. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," [Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:11-13; Psalm 34:20] and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced." [Zech 12:10]
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.
Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Notes on the Scripture
Without going into the gory details of death by crucifixion, the reason the legs of the crucified were broken is that it guaranteed they would die quickly, and the reason the soldiers pierced Jesus' body with a spear is that blood and water flow faster from such a wound if the person has died. The Pharisees, who didn't want to dirty their hands by actually performing the crucifixion themselves, also didn't want to break their Sabbath — especially the Sabbath of Passover — by tending to dead bodies. The hypocrisy is very strong.
The part about "the man who saw it" is interesting. John wrote his account based on a story told to him by an unnamed person, who was present for the events. Nicodemus is another interesting character. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and is mentioned in the Gospel of John (but not the other gospels) three times. It was he who insisted that Jesus have a trial before he could be condemned. (John 7:51). And at the end, Nicodemus proves to be a secret admirer of Christ, by spending a great deal of money, and risking his life, to care for Christ's body.
Fear was rampant among Christ's followers. None of the apostles dared to get involved. As we learn later, they were hiding in a locked room. Joseph of Arimathea was a bit braver, perhaps because he was not as well-known as the twelve apostles. He managed to get Christ's body without exposing himself to the Jewish officials. He therefore went to Pilate, who really did not want to see Jesus crucified in the first place. He knew that Pilate was unlikely to stir things up further by accusing any of Christ's sympathizers; Pilate's primary concern was to prevent public unrest.
Jewish law requires that a person be buried a quickly as possible, at least within 24 hours; however, burial is a task that cannot be performed on the Sabbath. So the two men hurried to get Jesus into an empty tomb (most likely before nightfall).