Genuine Faith

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-9 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith–being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 

Reflection: Maye and I owned and operated a jewelry store for nine years before entering into ordained ministry. 

We bought and sold 10K and 14K gold, and on occasion, 18K gold. 

Customers would often bring pieces of jewelry they would buy from someone – often at a very reasonable price – for an appraisal. I could usually tell by the color of the piece or its weight if the article was genuine precious gold or some other gold-plated non-precious metal.  

When in doubt, I had other ways to test for the genuineness of the piece. I would look for a manufacturer’s stamp, signs of flaking, and color variations.

If I still had questions, I would use a sulfuric acid test. The test works by lightly scratching a particular stone with the item, then putting a small drop of acid on the gold streak and watch for a reaction. If the streak bubbles or starts to turn green, it is not gold. 

The customers rejoiced when the item they brought for appraisal was found to be genuine precious gold, having more value than what they paid for it. They were distraught if they learned that their item was not precious gold, and they had been fooled.

Peter is encouraging his church to hold on to their present and precious eternal hope in Jesus Christ. He comforts a newly formed church that is undergoing the acid test of suffering for their faith. Peter assures them that God is protecting them through all their distress. 

He strengthens them by reminding them that God vindicated Jesus through the resurrection. He tells them of their love for Jesus, their indescribable and glorious joy when they first came to believe in Jesus, and of the eternal value of their souls. 

Sulfuric acid is caustic and highly corrosive. It causes severe skin burns, difficulty breathing, can cause blindness, and burn a hole through the stomach if swallowed. Yet, it cannot corrode pure gold. 

Peter recognizes that suffering, like sulfuric acid, is highly corrosive to our wellbeing and our faith. Distress causes favorable or unfavorable reactions to God and our faith. Troubles and dissappointment can turn us away from faith or lead our faith to become more dependent on the mercy and grace of God for persevering strength to endure trials.  He asserts that no amount of tribulation can corrode a genuine faith protected by the power of God to be revealed in the last time. 

Prayer: Loving and merciful God, protect the faith, and establish the living hope of those that are suffering from various trials this day who have believed in and love Jesus. Keep their hope alive, focused on the imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that is ours through Jesus Christ. Amen.


Scripture – Matthew 28:1-10 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him, the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” 

Meditation: Christ, our Lord, is risen today! Amen! Glory to God!

Dream Works Studio released the animated film, The Croods, in 2013. The film is about a Neanderthal family that hides in the darkness of a cave. Grug, the father, protects the family by the rules he has learned to survive in a dangerous world. One day, a sudden earthquake collapses their cave. 

When the family climbs over the wreckage, they discover a land with lush vegetation, much different from their usual surrounding of rocky terrain. As they head out into this new world, all Grug cares about is finding a new cave to hide his family to keep them safe from a dangerous world. 

Along the way, they are joined by Guy, a young man with bright ideas, who accompanies them on their trip. 

One day, Guy tells the family a story about a girl who was told she could go anywhere she wanted, but never to go near the cliff. But when no one was looking, she’d go near the cliff for the closer she came to the edge, the more she could hear, the more she could see, the more she could feel. Finally, she stood at the very edge. She saw light. She leaned out to touch it, and she slipped … and instead of falling into an abyss, she flew to a place called “Tomorrow.” A place with more suns in the sky than one can count. A bright place. A place not like today or yesterday, a place where things are better.

Grug rejects the notion of a bright place because he can’t see it. Guy reassures him that Tomorrow is real and that Tomorrow is the place where he is going. 

Just before reaching their destination, an earthquake opens a deep ravine in their path. The group must get across because the ground beneath them is crumbling under their feet. The land across the chasm is not fully visible, but a glimmer of light peeks through the thick cloud of dust, and Grug sees the light for the first time and believes in Tomorrow. Ugga, Grug’s wife, panics and says to Grug, “Listen to me. We’ve got to get back to a cave.” 

Grug’s heart is now transformed. He sees and believes the light of Tomorrow exists. He is no longer afraid. Turning to Ugga, he resolutely says, “No more darkness. No more hiding. No more caves. What’s the point of all this? To follow the light. Right now, that’s all you need.”

Grug throws each of his family members across the ravine and eventually gets himself to the other side. The family discovers an ocean-like area where the sun goes down over the sea. They settle down in this safe paradise-like environment. There is no more need to be overprotective; the family can now live with freedom and adventure.  

Friends, Easter is a story of Tomorrow that makes us alive with God’s resurrection power to live with freedom and hope today. Jesus announced Tomorrow (the Kingdom of God) was to come, and, he said, Tomorrow is already at hand, already operative in our hearts. Tomorrow is a compelling vision that empowers us to live today free from the dark caves of sorrow, despair, fear, and sin we hide in. Tomorrow is a compelling vision that invites us to go the edge of what we know, where we see Christ’s light, step out with faith and fly. Tomorrow is so exciting that we can’t stop ourselves from helping others to see it for themselves, inviting them to join us in walking toward the glimmering light of Tomorrow, today.

Jesus Christ, Our Lord, is risen today! He waits for us Tomorrow … and walks with us today until we get there!

He is risen, indeed!  


Lectio: John 19:29-30A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Contemplation: “It is finished.”

Meditation: Jesus prays for his disciples after the Passover meal was observed in the upper room in Jerusalem. In his prayer, he says that he has glorified God on earth by finishing the work God gave him to do. The work of God is to provide all that was needed through time and space so that whosoever believes in Jesus, as the Son of God, the Messiah sent by God, shall not perish but have abundant and eternal life. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit act in unity to finish the work. God Sends the Son. The Son sends the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit draws people to Christ through the conviction of sin, and through Christ, into God’s abundant and eternal love and life. Now that the work was finished, Jesus prays for the reestablishment of the glory he had together with God before the world existed (John 17:1-5). 

On the cross, Jesus again says his work is finished so that the world may know. Christ’s finishing work is now perfect, complete, and whole.  His life, death, and coming resurrection can now begin to yield lives that are now able to receive as a gift of God’s life that is abundant and never-ending. Christ’s finishing work is not static; it is perpetual and transcends time and space and is available to “whosoever believes in him.” His finished saving work has left a priceless and limitless legacy that all people in all times have access to and are invited to receive.

Today, I meditate on the finished work of Christ that continues to bless generations upon generations and produces the fruit of abundant and eternal faith in people of all ages, nations, and races in all times and places. I am grateful for the gift of sharing with others, past, present, and to come in Christ’s inexhaustible legacy. 

Prayer: I pray for the grace to leave a legacy that blesses generations to come.

Thirst for Life

Lectio: John 19:28 – After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”

Contemplation: “I am, thirsty.” 

Meditation: The use of imagery and metaphors by John in his gospel is central and essential to communicate the truths about the nature, person, and work of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God as well as the hidden inward dispositions of the human condition. 

The purpose of John’s gospel is to present Jesus as the truth, the Son of God, sent by God into the world so that whosoever believes in him shall receive life. This new life is a different dimension that is present and abundant but invisible. Those that believe in Jesus can perceive the new reality through divine revelation, which then redefines them and radically re-orients their lives, their thinking, their values, their hopes, and their worldview.

This takes us to the first of Jesus’ sayings in the gospel of John, “I am thirsty.” 

On one level, Jesus was physically thirsty. A human being can go for more than 21 days without food. As a general rule of thumb, a person can survive without water for about three days. By this time in the crucifixion process, Jesus’ state of dehydration is such that his kidney function is shut down. His tongue is swollen in his mouth. His nose is bleeding. He is beginning to hallucinate, soon to pass into a coma and die. So, of course, Jesus would be physically thirsty.

But, the word “thirst” as a metaphor, also implies a desire for a more profound and life-giving faith. For example, the woman at the well in chapter four of John’s gospel is thirsty for living water. The living water Christ offers is a life-giving and abundant faith. When she sets down the water jar, she sets down her old life and runs to share the good news that Jesus sees and receives her then sends her out to bear witness of God’s love in Christ by telling the world. 

At the festival of booths, or the Festival of Joy, Jesus invites all that are thirsty for God’s provision to come to him and “drink” from him. 

As Jesus is lifted up on the cross, he is drawing all people unto him. The sacrificial self-giving of his life on the cross is an expression of his love for us. His “thirst” is his desire that the world comes to him and drink from the life he gives: a life abundant that begins at the moment of belief, knows no end, an eternal life. 

Prayer: I pray for the grace to thirst for the abundant and eternal life Christ offers.


Lectio: Mark 15:33-34 (NRSV) When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Contemplation: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Meditation: Mark notes that it was three o’clock in the afternoon, and the whole land was under the shroud of darkness. This is important because Jewish law made it the duty for all Jews to pray three times daily: in the morning, the afternoon, and at nightfall. The pattern for praying three times a day is based on the prayer practices of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Israel’s three patriarchs. Abraham prayed in the morning, Isaac, at noon, and Jacob in the evening. The darkness of the day and the nearness of his death made this moment Jesus’ nightfall prayer time.

Prayer acknowledges an intimate spiritual attachment and interdependency between the person praying and God. It is a pathway into God’s presence that includes praise and thanksgiving for God’s goodness and greatness, acts of penitence, followed by confidence and boldness to approach God with one’s petitions to receive mercy and find grace in time of need.

When Jesus prayed at three o’clock on that dark afternoon, he experienced forsakenness and a sense of being left exposed, unguarded, forgotten, ignored, and deserted. The schemes and plots of his enemies have succeeded. His appearance is beyond human semblance. His strength is failing. Trouble surrounds him. God is silent, far from helping him. His bones are out of joint. His heart is weak. He is afflicted and crushed with pain. He cries out to God for deliverance and salvation from the hands of his enemies. His prayer, while painfully honest, also expresses faith that God will respond, will deliver, and will rescue him from the hands of his enemies.

Today I meditate on the many people in our world, our nation, and in our communities that are lifting up nightfall prayers. The nightfall prayers express their exposure and seeming forgotten and desertion by God at a time when life has become unrecognizable, fear and doubt overwhelm, their vision dims, and their energy is drained. Their cries and prayers are signs of trust and hope in God who delivers from the darkness that shrouds and the troubles that surround.

Prayer: For the grace to trust in the deliverance of God during nightfalls.

New Beginnings

Lectio: John 19:25-27 (NRSV)Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Contemplation: “When Jesus saw his mother whom he loved.”

Meditation: The image of a mother standing by her crucified son is a dramatic yet tender scene from a human perspective. Jesus sees and attends to his grieving and panging mother, who is close enough to hear his last dying words. He ensures that she is taken in and cared for by John, his beloved disciple, when he says to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”

The gospel of John does not record the infancy narratives of Jesus, like the gospels of Matthew and Luke. In John, the mother of Jesus is not mentioned by name only as “the mother of Jesus.” The mother of Jesus is a person of initiative; she makes things happen. On both the wedding at Cana and now the cross, she mediates between endings to new beginnings. At the wedding, the wine runs out, and the celebration is threatened to end. The mother of Jesus intercedes, new wine is generated, and the wedding feast continues. At the cross, the dark hour of Jesus’ death has arrived. The mother of Jesus stands there, mediating, anguishing, laboring to do her part in bringing for the birth to the new life waiting to burst forth through the resurrection. On both occasions in John’s gospel, the mother of Jesus is compassionate, present, mediating between endings and the birth of new beginnings.  

Today I meditate on all the nameless women of initiative that intercede and panged to help birth new and promising beginnings through others and on behalf of others. I give thanks to my mother Olga, who I love, and who is still alive. I also give thanks to Maye’s mother, Maria Luisa, who is now with the Lord. Both of these women stood by Maye and me, mediating the endings and new beginnings of the different phases of our lives. I also give thanks to Maye, my life-long friend, and spouse. I continue to see her intervene and mediate when our children, and now our grandchildren, move through endings and new beginnings in their lives. 

Prayer: I pray for the grace to be a ready and willing mediator that pangs for necessary endings and new beginnings.

Who Is This?

Lectio: Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV) When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Contemplation: “Who is this?”

Meditation: Bethphage, “house of unripe figs,” is a small village on the eastern slope of the Mt. of Olives, two miles away from the city of Jerusalem. Bethphage is the place where Jesus cursed the fig tree for not producing fruit, where he met Martha after Lazarus died, and where the disciples found the donkey required for his entry into Jerusalem.

A procession from the Bethphage Church to Jerusalem, reenacting Jesus’ last entry into Jerusalem, is held every year for Christian pilgrims that travel to Israel during Easter. The Holy Land tours I have been on the last two years include a reenactment of the procession from the top of the eastern slope down to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mt. of Olives. The hill sharply declines and passes by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cemeteries that sit directly across from Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. 

During Jesus’ time, the cemetery would have already been 1,000 years old and contained the graves of the greatest leaders, rabbis, and prophets. From the cemetery, you can look across the Kidron Valley to a grand view of the whole city of Jerusalem. It is possible to believe that when Jesus got to this point in his Palm Sunday journey to Jerusalem that he paused, and beholding the city, wept over it. He then said,  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, if you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! You do not recognize the time of your visitation from God” (Lk. 19:41,44). The tears of Jesus demonstrate great love for the city and its people. They also reflect a deep sorrow because he knew that, like many of the prophets before him sent by God to Jerusalem to bring them back into a covenant relationship, he too would be rejected and killed. And he shed tears because he could envision the violence and destruction the city would undergo by Rome. 

The multitude that accompanies the Lord to Jerusalem was composed of two groups of people that converged somewhere between Bethphage and Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, those gathered in the eastern villages the night before and those that came out from Jerusalem to meet Jesus waving palm branches to welcome him (John 12:13). 

Jesus receives the accolades and Kingly acclamations from the crowd that follow him from the Mt. of Olives into the city through the Golden Gate, a gate associated with the approach of the coming Messiah. But once in the city, turmoil begins. The Judean residents in Jerusalem for the Passover, ask, “Who is this? 

The question about Jesus’ identity from the Judeans is important because most of Jesus’ ministry occurred in the northern part of Israel around the region of Galilee. Jesus only came to Jerusalem for the Passover three or four times during his ministry.  While he was well known in the northern part of Israel for his teachings, healings, and miracles, Jesus was not well known in the southern part of Israel, or the region of Judea. 

The Galileans and other northerners accompanying Jesus, answer the question, “Who is this?,” by showing pride in Him as from Galilee, their own prophet. They proudly proclaim, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

That answer was later adopted to set the people of Judea against him resulting in his rejection and crucifixion (John 7:52).

I meditate today on how our conscious and unconscious biases about people based on the group they belong to can lead to rash decisions and discriminatory practices that have harmful outcomes.

Prayer: I pray for the grace to be self-aware of my biases so that I may do no harm.  

Mature Forgiveness

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.”  The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, what it says about human nature, what it says about our relationship with Christ and others, and what I sense God is calling me to do, refrain from doing, or be mindful of as I seek to follow Christ “by his side.” 


Lectio: Luke 23:34 (NRSV) – Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

Contemplation: “Forgive them.”

Meditation: Forgiveness is a dominant theme in the gospel of Luke. To compare, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John mention forgiveness eleven, nine, and one time, respectively. Luke, by comparison, speaks of forgiveness seventeen times. God is the one that takes the initiative to forgive in the gospel of Luke. Jesus acts on earth to forgive sins with God’s authority. He tells his disciples to forgive the trespasses others commit against them as God forgave them. He also taught his disciples this: “If the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”

The character and quality of the forgiveness Christ offers are redemptive and restorative, opening the possibility for an offender to stop offending and change for the better. It goes far beyond releasing a person or a people that cause injury and suffering from one’s power, concern, or attention. The forgiveness Christ offers does not erase a fault, but rather his forgiveness reacts to the gross misconduct against him without first desiring retribution or revenge against the offender. This quality of forgiveness allows the Holy Spirit to lead the offender to grow away from the sin condition that generated the fault toward God-centered moral, ethical, virtuous, and noble behavior. Growing apart from sin and toward Christ’s righteousness is a sign of repentance that arrives at the completion and absolute forgiveness of sin by God.

I meditate today on the spiritual maturity that true forgiveness requires so that the process of forgiveness itself comes to maturity. Mature forgiveness requires humility, patience, and confident hope in the power of the Holy Spirit to change people from sinners to saints. Mature forgiveness understands the need for space and time so that repentance can occur and the process of forgiveness completed and matured. When Jesus prays for the forgiveness of those that partook in his crucifixion, he was interceding between the people and God, pleading that God would withhold retribution and give the people time to repent of their sin and turn to him. Jesus created space and time for the process of forgiveness to mature. Its when we get to Luke’s second book, the book of Acts, that we see the process of forgiveness mature. 

When Peter preached at the festival of Pentecost in Jerusalem, 50 days after the crucifixion, he charges his fellow Israelites of not knowing what they were doing when they acceded to the crucifixion and killing of Jesus (Acts 2). He then proclaims that God raised Jesus from the dead and made him Lord and Messiah. When they heard Peter’s charges and proclamation in the power of the Holy Spirit, they were cut to the heart and asked what they should do. Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

When Jesus was praying from the cross for the forgiveness of the people that did not know what they were doing, he was opening up space and time for the Holy Spirit to bring about repentance and change in their lives. On that Good Friday two thousand years ago, his intercessory prayer opened up space and time for our repentance and forgiveness long before we came through those times in our lives when we did not know what we were doing. The space and time Jesus opened on Good Friday when he offered forgiveness allowed the Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance, the forgiveness of sins, and the invitation to partake in costly discipleship that is met by God’s abundant grace. 

Prayer: I pray for the grace to offer mature Christ-like forgiveness that creates space and time for the Holy Spirit to work for the transformation of people and the world.  

Our Public Notice

Note: The Lectio Divina based devotion below follows a Lenten journey called “By His Side.”  The order for daily scriptures throughout Lent comes from “Praying with Passion,” by Ken Taylor. The daily scriptures chronologically follow the passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the crucifixion. I focus on a particular word or phrase from the day’s reading and meditate on what the passage says about Christ, what it says about human nature, what it says about our relationship with Christ and others, and what I sense God is calling me to do, refrain from doing, or be mindful of as I seek to follow Christ “by his side.” 


Lectio: John 19:19-22 (NRSV) “Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

Contemplation: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Meditation: Jesus is called by many names in the gospel of John. Each name connotes varying levels of knowledge or spiritual revelation and insight into his true identity. For example, in John chapter one alone, Jesus is called nine names. He is called the Word, Life, True Light, the Son of God, Lamb of God, Rabbi, Messiah, and son of Joseph from Nazareth. In John 1:49, Nathaneal first recognizes Jesus as the King of Israel.

Besides Nathaneal, the people and Pilate recognize Jesus as a King. In chapter six of the gospel, Jesus withdraws to the mountains when he perceives that the people were going to take him by force to make him king. On the first day of the Passover, the people took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!”

Pilate also recognized Jesus as a King. After hearing the allegations against him at his headquarters, Pilate summons Jesus and, in private, asks him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus acknowledges that he is a King, but that his kingdom is not from the world. Pilate presses, “So you are a king?” Jesus answers, “You say that I am a king.” Pilate finds no basis for the allegations against Jesus and tries to release him. He asks the people if he should release the King of the Jews, but the people adamantly reject his offer. Pilate eventually condemns Jesus to crucifixion against his own judgment and says, “Here is your King!” He then directs that a conspicuous multi-language inscription for public notice, be put on the cross that read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The inscription on the cross also served to slight his subordinate, Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, who sought the title of King for himself.

A dispute soon arose at the Place of the Skull between the chief priests and Pilate about the semantics or meaning of the multi-lingual inscription written and put on the cross. The chief priests raise an objection to Pilate and ask that he amend the inscription because of its implications. The inscription, as written, declared and acknowledged Jesus to be the King of the Jews, rejected by his own people. The amended inscription lobbied for by the chief priests would convey the meaning that Jesus self-proclaimed to be King of the Jews, and was therefore crucified as an enemy of the Emporer and the Roman Empire. It was all about the optics or perception about who would be blamed for Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate holds to his decision by stating, “What I have written, I have written.”

Today I meditate on the many verbal and written inscriptions of Jesus I have heard and seen over the years. I realize that the statements characterizing Jesus’ claims and message influences whether Jesus is handled with disregard, ambivalence, or reverence. I also meditate on who I would publically profess Jesus to be if I had the opportunity to put an inscription or public note on the cross for all the world to see.

Prayer: I pray for the grace to fully know and make Jesus Christ fully known in all of his love, truth, and glory.

Moving Past the Past

Lectio: John 19:23-24 – “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.  So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing, they cast lots.”

Contemplation: “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.”

Meditation: Those condemned to crucifixion were assigned to a four-member Roman execution squad. The squad’s job included stripping the prisoner of all clothing, leaving him to hang on the cross in nakedness, which the Jews regarded as a wanton shame. The crucified and naked prisoner would be unprotected from the natural elements, socially humiliated and dishonored. The message of the crucifixion was direct and straightforward. That is, crucifixion and death is the destiny of every enemy of the Roman Empire. 

The execution squad would then pillage and divide the prisoner’s private property, such as clothing and other personal effects, for their use or as trophies. John records that when the soldiers get to Jesus’ seamless tunic, they decide not to tear it up and divide it, but instead, to keep it intact and throw lots for it, the winner takes all. 

Today I imagine the long-retired and aged centurion that won Jesus’ tunic on a gamble going over to his chest of war trophies one afternoon and pulling out the seamless robe. As he holds the garment in his hands, he vividly remembers the Friday of Jesus’ crucifixion. He visualizes the flogging, Jesus’ arduous walk to Golgatha, the crucifixion, Jesus’s loved ones and followers standing helplessly near the cross, the tender words of Jesus to his mother, the piercing and flow of water and blood from Jesus’ side, the darkness, and the removal of the body from the cross. 

I wonder if the centurion ever felt sorrow for what he had done to Jesus and others he helped crucify during his time on the execution squads? I wonder if the Spirit ever penetrated his conscience and convicted him of his sin, leading him to seek forgiveness from God? I wonder if he was ever able to move past yesterday’s pain, step out of his darkness, and into Christ’s light, truth, life, and way?   

Today I meditate and pray for people that have suffered from heinous acts of injustice, violence, and dehumanization at the hands of others, and that can’t move past yesterday’s pain. I also meditate and pray for people that tortuously relive the devastating consequences of their past actions and that are in desperate need of God’s forgiveness but do not know how to seek or find it.   

Prayer: I pray for the grace to not harm and point people to God’s healing and forgiveness.