In the movie, A Princess Bride, one of the main characters, Westley, appears to have been slain and is brought to Miracle Max to see what could be done.Miracle Max examines him, lifts and drops the arm of the supposed corpse and declares, “I’ve seen wo…
I am the Good Shepherd. John 10:11There has been a lot written on the stupidity of sheep. So as we think about the metaphor of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, it is a l…
So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.
John 10:7-10 (Common English Bible)
When I was a little boy, I had a dog named Scamper who was small, black and white with a mask. He was a mutt but this didn’t diminish his value to me in the slightest. I loved him very much.
The bad thing about this dog is that he tended to run off when he got outside our yard. We would usually have to chase him down and he thought this was a great game!
Once, Scamper got out when we didn’t know it and he wandered off and got lost. We left the gate open and I prayed for him to be safe and to find his way home but he didn’t. Days passed and we didn’t see any sign of him. I became distressed when I went into the backyard and discovered that my parents had closed the gate! I quickly opened it up again and scolded them for this seeming loss of hope.
My prayers were answered the next day when my mother saw Scamper in a schoolyard playing with the children there. He must have been surviving on the lunch scraps these kids gave him at recess. When my mom called him he ran to the car and was so happy to see her. She took him home and he drank his weight in water and then ate a couple of bowls of food. She said that he then slept for the rest of the day.
He didn’t try to get out of the yard anymore.
|“Those gates are gonna swing wide!”|
As we think of Jesus as the Gate, I think about this lost dog of mine. I think about making sure the gate was open to him so that he could return home anytime he wanted. I think about the unwavering hope of a little child.
This divine metaphor of John’s speaks volumes to the human condition. As in the hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” we sing, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
It is comforting to know that the Gate remains open to us even then.
Picture by Albert Bridge [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Growing up, I spent several vacations in the Pacific Northwest because my older sister lives there. It was cool touring Portland and Seattle and seeing all the great sites in the area. We did a lot of hiking.I brought back actual ashes from…
Daily Devotion for Easter SundaySunday, April 5, 2015Mark 16:1-20 (NRSV)Thus we end the Good News of Jesus Christ. A man from Galilee who was baptized and taught as a rabbi. A man who healed people and exorcised demons. A man who comm…
Daily Devotion for LentSaturday, April 4, 2015, Day 40Mark 15:42-47 (NRSV)Joseph of Arimathea is an interesting figure. Mark only tells us that he is a Jewish council member. Other Gospels indicate that he is a follower of Jesus if only in …
Daily Devotion for LentGood Friday, April 3, 2015, Day 39Mark 15:1-41 (NRSV)As we consider the crucifixion, paintings and cinema lead us to imagine the cross towering over the people below. In all likelihood, the cross lifted the victim barely ab…
Daily Devotion for Lent
Thursday, April 2, 2015, Day 38
Jesus had already put the High Priest on trial and found him guilty when he turned over the tables of the money changes in the Temple courtyard. He had been putting the Pharisees and scribes on trial by flouting the cleanliness laws with whom he would eat. He healed the sick and exorcised demons but he sometimes did this on the Sabbath. He instituted a new Way of forgiveness that bypassed the rites of animal sacrifice.
Now they would have their say.
Not surprisingly, they condemn Jesus to death.
Normally, the Jewish sentence for blasphemy was stoning.
However, they did not have the authority to kill anyone and so they must turn Jesus over to the Romans and try to convince them that this was a crime worthy of the death penalty.
It is here that Mark interjects the denial of Peter.
His thrice denial of Jesus in this moment of extreme tension reminds us that sometimes our faith is challenged when things aren’t favorable.
|“The Crucifixion of Saint Peter”
by Jose de Ribera
Many of the early church writings indicate that Peter died by crucifixion roughly thirty years later. The Apocryphal “Acts of Peter” tell us that he was crucified upside down in chapter 37 but this source was likely written long after his death (possibly the second half of the 2nd century) and this detail of his martyrdom is more legendary than historically reliable.
His earlier denials may have actually strengthened his resolve. I believe that Peter’s life shows us that we can recover our integrity and learn from our mistakes.
The trick as Christians is not only to accept God’s forgiveness for ourselves but to remember our own denials when others need our forgiveness.
As Civil Rights Activist and Baptist pastor and theologian Howard Thurman writes, “It is very easy to sit in judgement upon the behavior of others, but often difficult to realize that every judgement is a self-judgement.”
Prayer by Howard Thurman:
Lord, open unto me
Open unto me — light for my darkness.
Open unto me — courage for my fear.
Open unto me — hope for my despair.
Open unto me — peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me — joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me — strength for my weakness.
Open unto me — wisdom for my confession.
Open unto me — forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me — love for my hates.
Open unto me — thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
Prayer by Howard Thurman, 20th Century
Picture by José de Ribera [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Daily Devotion for LentWednesday, April 1, 2015, Day 37Mark 14:43-52 (NRSV)When we read this account, I always imagine a kind of Temple guard arresting Jesus – a group with some kind of authority to take him into custody.We get this idea from John’s Go…
Daily Devotion for LentTuesday, March 31, 2015, Day 36Mark 14:26-42 (NRSV)The tension builds in today’s Gospel reading as Peter is told he will deny Jesus.He denies the denial!Any of us would likely do the same. However, it is kind of ironic that…