A CLENCHED FIST – Michelle Warren
What is the point of anger?
A harsh word here, a brawl over there,
A fist clenched in readiness to fight back:
Eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth.
Anger can swell up within us for good reason – telling us something is wrong.
Anger can be a gift, equipping us to act; empowering us to make things right again.
But what if our anger should turn to evil?
What if the clenched fist should be unleashed in uncontrollable rage?
Bruises, broken bones, casualties, death.
An escalation of harm, with ever-increasing power:
Guns, missiles, nuclear weapons; a holocaust.
Blind rage is fearsome to behold!
Blind rage has the power to destroy the world.
It can sweep across the nations, taking any number of sacrifices in its wake,
Justifying itself, in the name of self-defence.
Yet is blind rage our only option?
There is another way for anger;
There is another path we can take.
Sweeping aside the corruption in our own hearts, as Jesus swept aside the corruption in the Temple;
We can use our own clenched fist to instead grasp hold of innocence.
We can channel our anger, and even our rage, away from destruction and into a pursuit for restoration.
With our anger, we can seek life, and not death.
With our clenched fist, we can forge goodness, and not evil.
Corruption is a crouched tiger, waiting to devour us all,
But Jesus has offered to carry our corruption.
We can surrender our anger to his higher purpose;
We can offer our anger to be purified by his goodness.
There’s no greater love than that a man die for his friends.
There’s nothing so potent as sacrificial love to overcome anger.
Jesus’ love, shown on the cross, has unclenched my fist many times.
Maybe he can unclench your fists, too.
THE WEIGHT OF FEAR – Fay Pankhurst
Throughout the Bible, references to fear occur in nonreligious as well as in religious contexts, with two distinct areas of meaning.
The first involves emotional distress and alarm with intense concern for impending danger or the unknown. Certainly, those of us who have spent time with a terminally ill loved one or patient know fear is one of the recognized and understandable stages of dying.
The other area of meaning relates to allegiance to and regard for deity. If the fear of God involves worshiping the Lord with deep respect and devotion, you could say it implies obedience, love, and trust.
Now as far as Jesus and the disciples go… they had just come out of the upper room… they’ve had the Last Supper and Jesus has just washed their feet.
It was a time of comradery and fellowship, and then they head out, and are invited to witness his degradation and agony and to watch and pray with him.
When Jesus goes ahead of Peter, James, and John, Mark tells us he began to be distressed and agitated and said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death;
So something major has happened from the time they’ve left the upper room to now, and Jesus is greatly distressed, troubled, and sorrowful, dropping to the ground to pray.
We know what it is to pray for help, strength and guidance when we are apprehensive and distressed but this is Jesus who has performed miracles, healed the sick now displaying his human frailty, an entire range of emotions that we would all have, given his situation; he is asking God the Father to strengthen and help him just as he has always done.
He says, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”
Here we have the complete obedient surrender of the human will of Jesus to the divine will of the Father
This passage then expresses the two areas of meaning denoted by fear.
emotional distress and alarm with intense concern for impending danger or evil
and allegiance to and regard for, God in the form of obedience, love, and trust.
“The Garden Of Gethsemane” was a place of both suffering and strength…
Jesus entered the garden suffering but left after fervent and persistent prayer
strengthened able to face the cup of life given Him.
There will be times when we must enter our “Garden Of Gethsemane” times of distress, sorrow, loneliness but such times can also be a time of comfort and strength, provided we follow the same path.
30 PIECES OF SILVER – Penny Roberts
Yes, Judas betrayed Jesus, but more than anything he betrayed himself. The thirty pieces of silver were a side-show to the main act, that of betrayal.
His end in despair and suicide was so far from what God intends for each human being – to reflect the image of God in such a way that we are caught delightfully up into the great loving and restorative work that God himself is doing.
And what of us? When we avoid the opportunities God has for us to live more fully in him, do we not betray ourselves? When we cling to our insecurities and selfishnesses like hermit crabs, do we not limit our lives profoundly?
What happens to our relationship with God when he isn’t giving us the things we think we need in order to be happy?
It’s easy to follow Jesus when things are good. We all love God when life is going along as we hope, but when we’re not getting the things that we want will we still follow him? When it becomes obvious that faith will cost us what will we do?
It is more blessed to give than to receive said Jesus. Those who lose their lives for the sake of the gospel will gain it he also said.
But here’s the thing: Jesus betrayal betrays something about God. God’s love is so overwhelming that he turned that betrayal, in spite of all the suffering it caused, into the most profound blessing he could ever give us; salvation through the shed blood of Christ.
See from his head, his hands, his feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did ever such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
If for that love, I do not give my all – then let “Traitor” be written on my brow. A betrayal of God, yes. Some coins exchanging hands, yes – but never let me short-change myself, dear God.
SHAME LIVES IN THE DARK – Jonathan Gale
We’ve all of us felt shame from time to time. We can feel shame because we’ve done something wrong and we know God is hurt by it.
We can feel shame because we’ve done something inappropriate and we think others will think less of us for it. It may not even be anything wrong. It‘s just something that will command the disapproval of people whose approval we value.
But there is another kind of shame that is prevalent today and that is the kind of shame experienced by victims of injustice.
When someone is abused, whether it be sexual abuse, racial abuse or simply finding oneself excluded from the power bases of society, one feels shame.
How might Jesus have felt: a completely sinless person, mocked, and beaten up before being cruelly crucified?
The prophet Isaiah, looking ahead to the suffering of Jesus says He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
The shameful behaviour of humankind towards God’s Son is of course the very thing God uses to save humankind. Is it any wonder we read in Matthew 27 that when Jesus was crucified, 45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land* until three in the afternoon.
The most shameful act of all, the crucifixion of the Son of God, took place in the dark. It wasn’t only Jesus who was shamed by his abusers. They too were ashamed by what they were doing. The whole cosmos seemed to shut its eyes from this most foul murder.
Jesus even felt that his father had shut his eyes and he cries out My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46
All creation hung its head in shame.