Midweek Lenten Service 5 Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Tonight’s Order of Worship
(No offering will be taken in the service this evening. The offering plates
will be in the narthex where you may leave your offering after the service.)
Pastor: Lord Jesus, in humility, silence, and repentance, we follow You to the cross of Calvary. All that happened to You because of our sin, would cause tears to fall from our eyes. Yet, in relief and gratitude, we remember the meaning behind Your suffering and death on that cross for us which grants us forgiveness and peace with God.
All: O Christ, You are the friend of sinners. Have mercy on us. You are the only eternal hope for a world lost in sin.
Pastor: In Your Passion, let us see the horror and misery that Satan, sin, and death brought into the world. Open our eyes to see that in our disobedience we deserved the torments and death of hell that You suffered in our place. But also open our eyes to see that by Your Passion You destroyed death for us, You reconciled us to God, and You purchased us to be Your own people forever. All this You willingly took upon Yourself.
All: In solemn repentance and yet in joyful hope give us faith to understand the sacrifice You made. Help us to receive its blessings with thanksgiving.
Pastor: In Your mercy provide whatever each of us may need for body and life. Protect the persecuted, comfort the depressed, heal the sick, and give rest to the dying. Watch over those whom we love from all harm and danger. Defend us from the onslaughts of the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. Turn the hearts of unbelievers to You. Continue through Your bounty to grant us daily bread, and through Your gospel eternal hope.
All: Graft us into You, the living Vine. Enable us in faith to receive life and power from You that bring forth fruits acceptable to You. Hear us for Your name’s sake. Amen.
The Hymn: “O’er Jerusalem Thou Weepest” 419
Reading of the Passion History: Jesus Condemned; Led to Golgotha
Patterned after the Lutheran arrangement that was printed in “The Lutheran Lectionary” of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America in the 1940s.
In the Savior’s Footsteps…to Golgotha: Condemned to Death
Part 5 of the Passion History
The Hymn: “Chief of Sinners, Though I Be” 342
Pastor: The LORD is my strength and my song;
Congr: He has become my salvation.
Pastor: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Congr: Indeed, the water He gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Pastor: If a man is thirsty, let him come and drink.
Congr: Whoever believes in Him, streams of living water will flow from within him.
Prayer (all): Lord Jesus, You have stopped me on my way, turned me around, and made me Your disciple. You give me work to do for You. You have asked me to suffer because I am Your disciple. These are small crosses to bear for You. I desire to walk with You each day of my life. At times I grow weary along the way. May Your cross strengthen me to serve You. May Your suffering and death give me the energy and will to follow You each day; for Your name’s sake I pray. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (Hymnal pg.14)
The Closing Hymn: “Jesus, and Shall It Ever Be” 346
Next Wednesday 7:00 pm, Midweek Lent 6: …To Crucifixion and Death
Where Do You Come From?
Were the disciples somewhere in the crowd early in the morning? They had all walked with Jesus to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what would happen there; he had told them plainly many times. They listened to His words and understood the danger. Thomas had said to the others, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). The disciples loved Jesus and desired to follow Him. But they were all paralyzed by fear, numbed by the brutality, and unprepared for how quickly it happened. Only after it was over did they really understand why it happened.
I follow Jesus too. In spirit I walk with Him each time I read or hear the story of His suffering and death. Instead of shouting for His death, I imagine standing at the edge of the crowd, tucked away in a doorway or archway in the dark shade of the early morning. I hear them shout in anger to hurt the One I love. But I would stand unable to change anything. I too would be paralyzed by fear for my own life and stunned by the brutality of the Romans and the hatred of the Jewish leaders. But I also know that Jesus was not helpless.
When the Jews told Pilate that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Roman governor became afraid. He wondered just who Jesus was. Pilate grew up in the world of Roman mythology, where the gods often entered human history. If Pilate didn’t actually believe the myths, he at least knew them. Perhaps Pilate thought for a moment that Jesus came from the gods. If that were true, Jesus could become angry and bring great suffering to Pilate and his family. He renewed his interview with Jesus asking, “Where do you come from?” Jesus remained silent at first. But when He finally answered, He spoke with calm dignity, as one in complete control.
The square where Pilate met with the crowd was still filled with morning shadows. The sun had not risen very high in the sky, and the walls and buildings of Jerusalem cast long shadows in the cool morning light. I can imagine myself standing in a shadowy corner, trying not to attract attention to myself – hiding in plain sight. I hear them argue, while Jesus stands quietly by.
Where does Jesus come from? He comes from above. He is not just a man; He is true God – not like the gods of the Greeks and the Romans, but the Lord God of all. Only His suffering and death can count for everyone. His one death was enough to pay for all sins.
Adapted from John Braun’s Up to Jerusalem
Midweek Lent 5 March 25/26, 2020
Theme: “Walking in the Savior’s Footsteps… 20:2184
Passion History Part 5: …From Pilate’s Judgment Hall to Golgotha
…Sentenced to Death
No way out. There seemed to be no way out for Pontius Pilate. But he tried. First, he tried to push the problem with Jesus off to Herod. However, when Herod tired of Jesus’ silence and failure to entertain him, he sent Jesus back to Pilate. No way out there.
As the Jewish crowd assembled before him, Pilate tried to offer them a choice: Jesus or Barabbas. Barabbas was a bad man who murdered people and rioted against the Romans. Jesus was quite the opposite – compassionate, loving, helpful, completely aligned in thought, word, and deed with His heavenly Father. Barabbas or Jesus? The choice should have been obvious. To Pilate’s alarm, the crowd chose the bad man, Barabbas. No way out there.
Once more Pilate tried to free Jesus by arousing the crowd’s pity. He had Jesus tortured, brutally whipped and abused by his Roman soldiers. But, on seeing Jesus the blood thirsty crowd cried even louder for His death, threatening to go to Caesar against Pilate if Pilate did not comply with their wishes. No way out there either.
Much like today among our own soldiers, the Romans were motivated by a sense of duty and honor. Roman rule and law emphasized justice. Jesus was innocent. Pilate knew it and saw it his duty as judge at His trial to release Him. But Pilate was also a practical Roman, a realist. This trial was turning into a political firestorm as Jerusalem appeared to teeter on the brink of a riot. That meant bloodshed in the streets, which would cause his superiors in Rome to question Pilate’s leadership abilities. Although he held a sense of honor and duty towards justice, the risk to Pilate’s future was too great. With no apparent way out, only one course remained. Pilate sentenced Jesus to death, choosing his career over Jesus. By worldly standards, it made sense.
The world is still full of Pilates, ignoring the obvious and choosing to follow worldly standards that make sense to man’s way of thinking. Such people have self-centered vision and do not see Jesus for whom He is. When it comes to push or shove, or if it seems like there is no way out, the Son of God is not as important in their lives. Careers appeasement of people, keeping the peace, being practical, not taking the risk, and other things become more important. If one has no spiritual vision, then one has no time for Jesus. Worldly concerns occupy a person’s time, energy, and well-being. There is nothing left, not even one hour a week, for Jesus. If Pilate had understood, if people knew, priorities would change.
Sometimes I wonder at my own priorities. I may be a disciple of Jesus, but I also know that my own vision can become cloudy. Do I always see Him and His ways as clearly as I should? Do I follow His direction when my back is against the wall and there appears to be no way out for me? Do I choose other people’s ways over His? Are the risks too great? I must look more carefully at Jesus. He willingly stood next to Pilate, taking the injustice so that we could have forgiveness before God. Washing one’s hands does not cleanse the heart. But the Bible assures that Christ’s blood does. God above was willing to make that unjust sacrifice of His Son for our good. So was the Son. Thereby our hearts were freed from sin, but Christ was bound and sentenced to death. So it was that Pilate handed Jesus over to his soldiers for crucifixion.
While the captain made the preparations for the execution, the soldiers amused themselves by making fun of Jesus. They dressed Him in a purple robe, such as kings wear, to mock His claim of kingship. They pushed a crown made of thorns down upon His head. They placed a stick into His hand for a scepter. Then they fell on their knees before Him and cried out with cruel laughter, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Taking the stick from His hand, they struck Him over the head again and again. How painful and humiliating it was. But Jesus looked for no way out for Him. Indeed, He bore it all most patiently, meekly, and without complaint.
When the preparations were complete, the gates of the Roman fortress opened. A small company of soldiers emerged and escorted a procession through the narrow city streets. The time was a little before 9 in the morning. The streets were beginning to fill with people. The festival was in full swing. But a way was cleared for the procession – 3 condemned men dragging their crosses, Jesus among them, led by the soldiers. Behind them followed a curious crowd, among them priests and leaders whose hearts were filled with hatred for the man Jesus, sentenced to death. Behind them followed a few friends of Jesus, crying, faithful to the end, but not understanding what all was involved. When Jesus faltered, the soldiers blocked the path of a man named Simon who had come from the northern coast of Africa to celebrate the festival. They forced him to drag Jesus’ cross the rest of the way.
I wonder how Simon felt. Rome interrupted his plans that day. Really, it was God who did. Simon carried Jesus’ cross the rest of the way to Golgotha. What do you think it meant for Simon?
Undoubtedly, he shared the experience of that morning with his family for carrying the cross of Jesus did more than alter Simon’s plans that day. It altered his life and the life of his family.
The New Testament records the names of his two sons, Alexander and Rufus (Mk.15:21). Both these names are recorded later in connection with Paul. We can’t say for sure, but could it be that these companions of Paul, along with their mother, (Acts. 19:33/Ro.16:13) were Simon’s family? If so, the cross of Christ had claimed new disciples. It might not ever have happened if Jesus were not sentenced to death and led to Golgotha.
You and I have encountered Jesus too. His sentence of death on the cross has changed our lives. Although by nature we were dead in sin and enemies of God, Jesus stopped us in our tracks and made us see the value of His cross. He has chosen us as His disciples for as He told the Twelve, “You did not choose me, but I have chosen you” (Jn.15:16). He has chosen thousands and thousands of others to be His own. And what does He tell us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt.16:24).
As we Walk in the Savior’s Footsteps from Pilate’s Judgment Hall to Golgotha, I must share my Savior with my family and others. How can I see all that is taking place with Jesus and remain unaffected and unchanged?
Jesus once said that there are many people who have eyes, but do not see. He did not mean that they are blind, but only that they do not understand the things they see. There were plenty of eyes in Jerusalem that early Friday morning many years ago. There are plenty of eyes still today that can read the account of all that took place there. Do they see and understand and believe? We pray God this Lenten season and always that they will, for to all who walk with Him in faith and do not regard the risk too great, He will walk with them through life and one day receive them, forgiven, to Himself where they will Walk at the Savior’s side forever – God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.