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Posts tagged with: Luke

A flower blooming in the middle of the outline of a wooden cross.

After the Stations of the Cross: An Easter Postscript

During the fourteen days prior to Easter, I have been reflecting with you on the Stations of the Cross, to help us prepare for a deeper experience of the reality of Jesus’s death, and therefore a greater celebration of his resurrection. Today, on Easter Sunday, I want to add an Easter postscript to this series of devotions.

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The stone was rolled away.

The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb

In most human societies appropriate burial of dead bodies is a sacred tradition. It matters profoundly that we ensure the proper resting place for those who have died. Yet, after burials happen, we don’t generally mention them specifically.

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Jesus entrusts his spirit into God's hands.

The Thirteenth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross

At first glance, Luke’s version of the centurion’s response to Jesus’s death seems like a glaring understatement. “Certainly this man was innocent,” rightly identifies Jesus’s lack of guilt. It makes clear once again the fact that he didn’t deserve to be crucified for sedition against Rome. He was no ordinary revolutionary, no guerrilla warrior, no terrorist. So, yes, “this man was innocent.” But couldn’t Luke have done better than this in his telling of the story?

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The thief asks Jesus to remember him. Painting © Linda E.S. Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, contact Mark D. Roberts.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus Promises His Kingdom to the Good Thief

Three men being crucified, suffering excruciating pain, literally. (The word “excruciating” comes from the Latin cruciare, “to crucify.”) One man begins taunting Jesus, sarcastically calling out for salvation he believes Jesus can’t deliver. The other, sensing something that he has never felt before, defends Jesus as an innocent victim. Then, in desperate hope, he cries out: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In response Jesus says a most astounding thing, a most encouraging thing, a most curious thing: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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Jesus crucified. Painting © Linda E.S. Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, contact Mark D. Roberts.

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Crucified

“They crucified Jesus.” “They,” in this case, refers to the Roman soldiers. Rome alone had the authority and the audacity to crucify people, one of the cruelest forms of execution ever devised. Crucifixion was so disgusting that Roman authors rarely referred to it. It was better left unmentioned.

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The woman weeping for Jesus. Painting © Linda E.S. Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, contact Mark D. Roberts.

The Ninth Station: Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

Luke 23:27 notes that “a great number of people followed [Jesus]” as he walked to Golgotha. Luke gives no indication that they were crying out for Jesus’s death. In fact, by mentioning the women weeping for Jesus, Luke implies that at least many among the “great number of the people” were upset by what was happening to Jesus.

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Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to Carry the Cross. Painting © Linda E.S. Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, contact Mark D. Roberts.

The Eighth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross

Christians from all over the world come to Jerusalem to walk along the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering, the way of the cross. This path through the streets and alleys of Jerusalem is believed to be the path Jesus actually walked on the way to his crucifixion.

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Jesus Crowned with Thorns. Painting © Linda E.S. Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, contact Mark D. Roberts.

The Sixth Station: Jesus is Scourged and Crowned with Thorns

What cruel irony! Jesus finally received the words he deserved: “Hail, King of the Jews!” For once he wore a crown upon his head. Yet it was not the golden crown of sovereignty or the olive crown of victory, but the thorny crown of suffering.

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Pilate washing his hands of Jesus. Painting © Linda E.S. Roberts, 2007. For permission to use this picture, contact Mark D. Roberts.

The Fifth Station: Jesus is Judged by Pilate

There has been a tendency in the Christian telling of the Passion story to exonerate Pilate, or at least to make him an unwilling pawn of the Jewish leaders and crowds. Pilate, it is claimed, was a truth-seeking man who was caught between a rock and a hard place. Were it not for the pressure he received from the Sanhedrin and their supporters, he wouldn’t have crucified Jesus. This view of the noble Pilate seems at first to fit the facts of the New Testament Gospels. But, upon closer scrutiny, it falls short in a number of crucial ways.

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The Fourth Station: Peter Denies Jesus

Why did Peter deny Jesus? After all, he had been one of the first to follow Jesus, leaving so much behind to walk the uncertain road of discipleship. Peter had seen mighty wonders as his Master healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. Peter had witnessed the miracle of the transfiguration. And he had even walked on water for a few brief moments. So why did Peter, of all people, deny Jesus?

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The Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin

Have you ever wondered why Jesus wasn’t clearer about who he was and what he had come to do? I certainly have. It seems like it would have been so much easier for all, including those of us who seek to follow Jesus today, if he had only said, “Yes, I am the Messiah, but not in the sense you expect. I have been anointed by God to bring the kingdom, but not in a military-political way. The kingdom is coming through transformed hearts, communities, and cultures. Most of all, the kingdom is coming through my death, as I bear the sin of Israel, and, indeed, the sin of the world. As Messiah, I must also suffer in the role of Isaiah’s Servant.” Yet Jesus didn’t say this directly. It’s something we have to piece together from his words and deeds.

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The Second Station: Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested

Betrayal. I expect many of us have experienced it, and often in the course of our work. Betrayal happens when someone we have trusted turns on us, rejecting us, perhaps even injuring us. It’s not uncommon for people who work in highly competitive companies or industries to experience betrayal several times throughout their career. In praying with people who have been deeply hurt by others. I’ve felt betrayed a few times. And, if truth be told, I expect some former colleagues might have felt betrayed by me, no matter what I had intended.

The second of the biblical Stations of the Cross draws our attention to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas.

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The First Station: Jesus on the Mount of Olives

Today, as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter, I’m beginning a 14-part series of devotions based on the biblical Stations of the Cross. You may be familiar with the traditional Stations of the Cross, which are common in Catholic churches and retreat centers. But you may not know that in 1991, Pope John Paul II published another set of stations, each of these based on biblical passages related to the Passion of Jesus. These biblical stations take us through the last day of Jesus’s life, allowing us to contemplate what he experienced and why it matters so much.

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The horn of a gramophone.

Hearing God’s Voice (Part 1)

As Christian leaders, there is nothing more important than our ability to hear God. Instructions from God inform our journey as we lead others to a place of divine purpose. Without God’s direction, we are left to our own devices, which often prove futile. God’s voice brings direction, strategy, wisdom, correction, and even comfort. Hearing from God is important, yet how we hear him is critical.

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Figurines of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.

Christmas and Work: The Fruit of Ordinary Work

In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we noted that, after the first Christmas was over, both Mary and the shepherds went back to work. Mary was devoted to the care of her infant while the shepherds gave themselves to the care of their sheep.

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