Monday, 30 March 2015

I Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14: Instruction concerning the Passover meal.
II Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord.
Gospel: John 13: 1-15: Now he showed how perfect his love was.
We have gathered this evening not as individuals but as a family to commemorate the Last Supper or the Last Meal of our Lord Jesus on earth before on the night he suffered. He is in our midst and we are around Him, as the twelve disciples were with Him. Jesus is already in our midst though we cannot see him with our eyes of flesh, he welcomes us at this very moment, repeating to us the very words he spoke to his twelve disciples on that occasion. “I have eagerly desired to eat this meal with you” (Lk 22:15).
On this Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the two sacraments: The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of the Holy Priesthood.
We are lucky to have the priests of the Lord to celebrate the Eucharist in this church daily and all over the world to eat and drink the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ.
The readings of today speak to us about the three groups of people:
1.     The Jewish family: God gave instructions to the people of Israel through Moses to celebrate the most important event of the year: The Passover Meal. That meal was meant to remind them how their ancestors had been delivered from the slavery of Pharaoh in Egypt. In celebrating the Passover, the eyes of the Jews were set on their past: they praised God for the love he had shown to their ancestors.
2.     The group of the twelve disciples around Jesus: The Gospel speaks of a new family created by Jesus and his twelve disciples; who represent the new Israel and new people of God.
At this time Jesus was giving to the Passover Meal a new meaning. At his Last Supper, Jesus celebrated a new deliverance, one he would carry out the next day on the cross: the deliverance not just of one nation but of all mankind from the slavery of the devil; he would obtain it at the price of his own blood. Jesus anticipated the deliverance, so to say: he took bread, and by his power, he changed it into his Body. He took a cup filled with wine and changed the wine into his own Blood. He gave his Body and Blood to his disciples for them to eat and drink. He said to them “Do this in memory of me.”
 Jesus gave his twelve disciples the power to do what he had just done. They were to do it time and again till he would again, that is, until the end of time.
The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. Jesus instituted it both to carry out the deliverance of people from sin and to thank his Father for that same deliverance.
Jesus performed three main actions at his Last Supper:
i)                   He washed the feet of his twelve disciples.
ii)                He instituted the Holy Eucharist.
iii)              He gave to his disciples the new commandment of love.
These three actions were meant to go inseparably together: service and love for the brothers and sisters in the community were to precede and to follow the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
3.     The Christian community at Corinth: In the second reading of today Paul rebukes his Christians of Corinth in strong terms, because they did not celebrate the Eucharist the way the Lord had commanded. There was something very wrong with their mutual love and lack of concern for the poorer members of the community which was very harmful. That moved Paul to warn them in the strongest terms: if they went on celebrating the Eucharist without mutual love, their community was in very serious danger (1Cor 11:30).
The Eucharist is essential to the life of the Christian community; without it, the Church would cease to exist. The readings of today provide precious guidance for the Christian community to celebrate the Eucharist the way Jesus wanted it celebrated.
When celebrating the Eucharist we should keep our mind fixed on the past, which is on the Last Supper and on Jesus’ Passion, remembering that he saved us from the slavery of sin at the cost of his life. We should also keep in mind in the present that Jesus goes on with his work of setting us free of sin each time we celebrate the Eucharist. We should also keep our thought fixed into the future, waiting for his final coming when he will set us completely free, free for ever.
Christ wants us to celebrate the Eucharist not individually but as a family (Ex 12:11). On this day we must ask God to give us priests from our children in the believing Christian families to carry out the mission of Jesus on this earth and to establish the kingdom of God in the world especially in this parish church.

The Demonstration of Royal Service, John 13: 1-17
The disciples had been arguing over who would hold the leading positions in the government Jesus was about to set up (cp. Lk 22:24; Mk 10:35-45, esp.v.41). They were caught up in the ambition for position, power and authority. How the heart of Jesus must have been cut! He had so little time left for them to learn that the way to glory is through service and not through position and authority. it was this that led Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet and to demonstrate what true royalty is: serving others.
1.     In the Upper Room right before the Passover (v.1)
2.     The impetus for royal service (v.1-2)
a.     Knowing His time, His hour had come
b.    Loving His followers to the very end
c.      Knowing His enemies
3.     The extreme demonstration of royal service (v.3-5)
a.     Knowing His mission
b.    Laying aside His outer clothing
c.      Washing the disciples’ feet
4.     The prerequisite for royal service: washing and cleaning (v.6-11)
a.     Washing is misunderstood
b.    Washing has a deeper meaning: spiritual cleansing
c.      Washing is requested
d.    Washing is thorough and permanent
e.      Washing is not automatic nor by association
5.     The meaning of royal service (v.12-14)
a.     To serve Jesus as Teacher and Lord
b.    To serve other believers royally, sacrificially, leading them to be washed and cleansed
6.     The reasons for royal service (v.15-17)
a.     Because of Jesus’ example
b.    Because believers are not as great as the Lord
c.      Because of resulting joy


I Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9: I did not cover my face against insult.
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25: The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the Scripture say he will, but alas for that man by whom he is betrayed.
The Messiah Betrayed by Judas: The Picture of a Ruined Life, Mt 26:14-16
Judas stands as a great warning to every person including the strongest believer. Judas was one of the original twelve apostles chosen by Jesus Christ. He was a man with so much potential that he was chosen to serve with God’s very own Son during his earthly journey, but he failed and came ever so short. Just why he failed needs to be closely studied and heeded by all.
1.     Picture 1: a great call rejected (v.14)
2.     Picture 2: the gnawing sin of greed and the love of money (v.15)
3.     Picture 3: deceit and intrigue (v.16).
Thought: Judas’ great potential and terrible tragedy teaches so much:
1)    It is not ability, but availability that counts.
2)    Gifts do not assure permanent success; Christ assures permanent (eternal) success.
3)    Walking alone godly people does not assure salvation; allowing Christ to enter one’s heart and life is the only assurance of salvation.
4)    Christ sees the potential of every person’s gifts. What is lacking is person’s seeing the necessity of Christ in the use of his gifts.
5)    Greed or lust is a growing sin and very dangerous sins.
6)    It is not money that is sinful. It is the love of money (1Tim 6:10).
7)    Judas allowed his strength to become his weakness. This is often true with us.
8)    Judas not only rejected but also sought to destroy Jesus.
9)    Finally Christ gave Judas an opportunity to repent but he still betrayed Jesus.


I Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6: I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Gospel: John 13:21-33. 36-38: One of you will betray me...Before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.
The Prediction of the Betrayer: A Picture of Apostasy, 13:18-30
This is a clear picture of betrayal and apostasy, of a man who turns away from Christ to the world. It stands as a strong warning to every man who professes to follow Christ.
1.     There is the heartbreak of betrayal (v.18)
a.     Betrayer is not chosen
b.    Betrayer is of the basest sort: Eats with, yet turns away
2.     There is the prediction of betrayal (v.19-20)
a.     To assure that Jesus is the Messiah
b.    To strengthen the dignity of the Lord’s call
c.      To give assurance of God’s indwelling presence
3.     There is the last chance given to the betrayer (v.21-26)
a.     The betrayer’s presence exposed
b.    Jesus’ distress
c.      The disciples’ perplexity, nervousness and self-consciousness
d.    Peter’s gesture for John to inquire further
e.      John’s inquiry
f.      Jesus’ indirect and merciful identification: The giving of a last chance
4.     There is the warning against betrayal (v.27-30)
a.     The evil possession
b.    The charge: Act now
c.      The deceiving of the disciples by the betrayer
d.    The judgement: Seen in the betrayer being separated immediately

Thought: To do sin is to be possessed by sin and by Satan himself.


I Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7: He does not cry out or shout aloud.
Gospel: John 12:1-11: Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial.
Jesus and Reactions to His Revelation
Jesus Christ had just revealed Himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. John gives four reactions to that revelation.
1.     Jesus dined in a home in Bethany (v.1-2)
a.     The place where Lazarus was raised
b.    Six days before Passover
c.      Martha served
d.    Lazarus was present
2.     The supreme believer (v.3)
a.     The repentant love
b.    A sacrificial and costly love
c.      A believing love: The Christ the anointed
3.     The hypocritical, unbelieving disciple
a.     He followed Jesus but he criticized believers
b.    He expressed concern for the ministry, but he had an ulterior motive
c.      He worked for Jesus, but he did not love Jesus
4.     The half-sincere seekers (v.9)
a.     Came to see Jesus
b.    Came to see the spectacular
c.      Came for socializing
5.     The fearful, self-seeking religionists (v.10-11)
a.     They plotted to destroy Lazarus
b.    They feared personal loss
Thought: Note how Mary demonstrated her love and faith.
1)    Mary gave the most precious possession she had to the Lord.
2)    Mary publicly demonstrated her love and faith in Jesus Christ.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem
I Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7: I did not cover my face against insult- I know I shall not be shamed.
II Reading: Philippians 2:6-11: He humbled himself, but God raised him high.
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47: Passion and death of Jesus Christ
A.   Jesus’ Death is Plotted:
A Picture of the Passover & Jesus’ Death, Mk 14:1-2
This passage begins the final stage of Jesus’ life before he was killed. In dramatic fashion Mark sets the stage for what is coming. In two short verses he mentions the Passover, and then he mentions the religionist’s plotting Jesus’ death-two scenes as opposite form one another as can be imagined.
It was a celebration of God’s glorious deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Yet during the very days of this joyous celebration, Jesus’ murder was being plotted. And tragically it was being plotted by religionists, the very people who should have taking the lead in the Passover. On the other hand, there was the celebration of deliverance, the saving of life; on the other hand, there was the plotting of death, the taking of life. This passage deliberately sets the stage for what is to come.
1.     Picture 1: The Passover (v.1)
2.     Picture 2: The religionists’ plotted Jesus’ death (v.1-2)
a.     Plotted by all the leaders
b.    Plotted by deception: To arrest Jesus on false charges after the pilgrims had left the feast

B.   Jesus’ Anointing at Bethany: A Study of Love, Mk 14:3-9
John tells us that the woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, who anointed Jesus (Jn 12:1f). The title of this passage could easily be, A Study of Sacrifice. The result is a strong lesson on sacrifice or sacrificial giving.
1.     The woman’s love was selfless and costly (v.3)
2.     The woman’s love was questioned and rebuked harshly (v.4-5)
3.     The woman’s love was a good and lovely thing (v.6)
4.     The woman’s love  grasped the opportune time (v.7)
5.     The woman’s love did all it could (v.8)
6.     The woman’s love was rewarded (v.9)

C.   Jesus’ Betrayal: Why a Disciple Failed, Mk 14:10-11
Judas Iscariot denied and betrayed Jesus- two terrible sins that doomed him eternally. This is most tragic, for Judas had known Jesus personally. He had walked with Jesus during the Lord’s earthly ministry, professing to be one of the close followers of the Lord. The fact that he could know Jesus so well and still end up failing and being doomed is a warning to all of us. All of us must heed why Judas failed so miserably.
1.     Judas was personally irresponsible (v.10-11)
a.     Was full of jealousy
b.    Was full of ambition
c.      Was full of greed
d.    Was devil-possessed
2.     Judas sought sin, to deceive and betray Jesus Christ (v.11)

D.   Jesus’ Last Chance to Judas: The Appeal to a sinner, Mk 14:12-21

Jesus was forced to make secret arrangements for keeping the Passover. Judas had just plotted with the authorities to betray Jesus (Mk 14:10-11). They wanted to arrest him in a quiet spot where the people would not be present and rise to his defence. Judas was just waiting for the right place and time. The Upper Room would be an ideal place and time. Jesus knew this, so he made secret arrangements.
The points of the present passage is to show that Jesus knew about Judas’ betrayal and to show how Jesus went about giving Judas a last chance to repent.
1.     The Passover was approaching (v.12)
a.     The disciples asked where they were to observe the Passover
b.    It was Jesus’ habit to worship
2.     Jesus knew about Judas’ denial and betrayal (v.13-17)
a.     He kept his plans and movement secret
b.    He shared only with his trusted disciples
1)    He had pre-planned the arrangements
2)    He sent trusted disciples to carry out the arrangements
c.      He kept his plans despite the betrayal
3.     Jesus gave Judas every chance to repent (v.18-20)
a.     The 1st chance: He tried to stir conviction
1)    Stirred sorrow in the faithful
2)    Stirred self-examination in the faithful
b.    The 2nd chance: Revealed monstrous deception
4.     Jesus gave Judas a last warning (v.21)
Thought: Jesus worshipped and kept the feasts of the Jews. He did not neglect the meeting together with others. The disciples knew this (Heb 10:25)