The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Readings for Holy Week: Friday

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Isaiah 52:13-53:12

It Was Our Pains He Carried

13"Just watch my servant blossom! Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd!

14But he didn't begin that way.

At first everyone was appalled.

He didn't even look human–

a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.

15Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback,

kings shocked into silence when they see him.

For what was unheard of they'll see with their own eyes,

what was unthinkable they'll have right before them."

Isaiah 53

1Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD's saving power would look like this?

2The servant grew up before God–a scrawny seedling,

a scrubby plant in a parched field.

There was nothing attractive about him,

nothing to cause us to take a second look.

3He was looked down on and passed over,

a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.

One look at him and people turned away.

We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

4But the fact is, it was our pains he carried–

our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,

that God was punishing him for his own failures.

5But it was our sins that did that to him,

that ripped and tore and crushed him–our sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

Through his bruises we get healed.

6We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.

We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,

on him, on him.

7He was beaten, he was tortured,

but he didn't say a word.

Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered

and like a sheep being sheared,

he took it all in silence.

8Justice miscarried, and he was led off–

and did anyone really know what was happening?

He died without a thought for his own welfare,

beaten bloody for the sins of my people.

9They buried him with the wicked,

threw him in a grave with a rich man,

Even though he'd never hurt a soul

or said one word that wasn't true.

10Still, it's what GOD had in mind all along,

to crush him with pain.

The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin

so that he'd see life come from it–life, life, and more life.

And GOD's plan will deeply prosper through him.

11Out of that terrible travail of soul,

he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.

Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,

will make many "righteous ones,"

as he himself carries the burden of their sins.

12Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly–

the best of everything, the highest honors–

Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,

because he embraced the company of the lowest.

He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,

he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

The Message at Navpress NavPress

Psalm 22

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Psalm 22

A David psalm

1God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?

2Doubled up with pain, I call to God

all the day long. No answer. Nothing.

I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.

3And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,

leaning back on the cushions of Israel's praise?

4We know you were there for our parents:

5they cried for your help and you gave it;

they trusted and lived a good life.

6And here I am, a nothing–an earthworm,

something to step on, to squash.

7Everyone pokes fun at me;

they make faces at me, they shake their heads:

8"Let's see how GOD handles this one;

since God likes him so much, let him help him!"

9And to think you were midwife at my birth,

setting me at my mother's breasts!

10When I left the womb you cradled me;

since the moment of birth you've been my God.

11Then you moved far away

and trouble moved in next-door.

I need a neighbor.

12Herds of bulls come at me,

the raging bulls stampede,

13Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,

like a herd of buffalo on the move.

14I'm a bucket kicked over and spilled,

every joint in my body has been pulled apart.

My heart is a blob

of melted wax in my gut.

15I'm dry as a bone,

my tongue black and swollen.

They have laid me out for burial

in the dirt.

16Now packs of wild dogs come at me;

thugs gang up on me.

They pin me down hand and foot,

17and lock me in a cage–a bag

Of bones in a cage, stared at

by every passerby.

18They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,

and then throw dice for my clothes.

19You, GOD-don't put off my rescue!

Hurry and help me!

20Don't let them cut my throat;

don't let those mongrels devour me.

21If you don't show up soon,

I'm done for–gored by the bulls,

meat for the lions.

22Here's the story I'll tell my friends when they come to worship,

and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:

23Shout Hallelujah, you God–worshipers;

give glory, you sons of Jacob;

adore him, you daughters of Israel.

24He has never let you down,

never looked the other way

when you were being kicked around.

He has never wandered off to do his own thing;

he has been right there, listening.

25Here in this great gathering for worship

I have discovered this praise–life.

And I'll do what I promised right here

in front of the God–worshipers.

26Down-and-outers sit at GOD's table

and eat their fill.

Everyone on the hunt for God

is here, praising him.

"Live it up, from head to toe.

Don't ever quit!"

27From the four corners of the earth

people are coming to their senses,

are running back to GOD.

Long-lost families

are falling on their faces before him.

28GOD has taken charge;

from now on he has the last word.

29All the power-mongers are before him


All the poor and powerless, too


Along with those who never got it together


30Our children and their children

will get in on this

As the word is passed along

from parent to child.

31Babies not yet conceived

will hear the good news–

that God does what he says.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

The Message at Navpress NavPress

Hebrews 10:16-25

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16This new plan I'm making with Israel

isn't going to be written on paper,

isn't going to be chiseled in stone;

This time "I'm writing out the plan in them,

carving it on the lining of their hearts."

17He concludes,

I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.

18Once sins are taken care of for good, there's no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.

Don't Throw It All Away

19-21So, friends, we can now–without hesitation–walk right up to God, into "the Holy Place." Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The "curtain" into God's presence is his body. 22So let's do it–full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. 23Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. 24Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, 25not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

The Message at Navpress NavPress

John 18-19:42

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John 18

Seized in the Garden at Night

1Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it. 2Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. 3So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. 4Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, "Who are you after?"

They answered, "Jesus the Nazarene."

5-6He said, "That's me." The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.

7Jesus asked again, "Who are you after?"

They answered, "Jesus the Nazarene."

8"I told you," said Jesus, "that's me. I'm the one. So if it's me you're after, let these others go." 9(This validated the words in his prayer, "I didn't lose one of those you gave.")

10Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant's name.

11Jesus ordered Peter, "Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I'm not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?"

12Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. 13They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. 14It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.

15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest's courtyard. 16Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.

17The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, "Aren't you one of this man's disciples?"

He said, "No, I'm not."

18The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm.

The Interrogation

19Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. 20Jesus answered, "I've spoken openly in public. I've taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I've said nothing in secret. 21So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard." 22When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, "How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!"

23Jesus replied, "If I've said something wrong, prove it. But if I've spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?"

24Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.

25Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, "Aren't you one of his disciples?"

He denied it, "Not me."

26One of the Chief Priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"

27Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed.

The King of the Jews

28They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn't enter the palace because they didn't want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and spoke. "What charge do you bring against this man?" 30They said, "If he hadn't been doing something evil, do you think we'd be here bothering you?"

31Pilate said, "You take him. Judge him by your law."

The Jews said, "We're not allowed to kill anyone." 32(This would confirm Jesus' word indicating the way he would die.)

33Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, "Are you the "King of the Jews'?"

34Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?"

35Pilate said, "Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?"

36"My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king."

37Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?"

Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice."

38Pilate said, "What is truth?"

Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, "I find nothing wrong in this man. 39It's your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the "King of the Jews'?"

40They shouted back, "Not this one, but Barabbas!" Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.

John 19

The Thorn Crown of the King

1So Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. 2The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it on his head, threw a purple robe over him, 3and approached him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" Then they greeted him with slaps in the face. 4Pilate went back out again and said to them, "I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime." 5Just then Jesus came out wearing the thorn crown and purple robe.

Pilate announced, "Here he is: the Man."

6When the high priests and police saw him, they shouted in a frenzy, "Crucify! Crucify!"

Pilate told them, "You take him. You crucify him. I find nothing wrong with him."

7The Jews answered, "We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God."

8When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared. 9He went back into the palace and said to Jesus, "Where did you come from?"

Jesus gave no answer.

10Pilate said, "You won't talk? Don't you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to–crucify you?"

11Jesus said, "You haven't a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That's why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault."

12At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down: "If you pardon this man, you're no friend of Caesar's. Anyone setting himself up as "king' defies Caesar."

13When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside. He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14It was the preparation day for Passover. The hour was noon. Pilate said to the Jews, "Here is your king."

15They shouted back, "Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!"

Pilate said, "I am to crucify your king?"

The high priests answered, "We have no king except Caesar."

16Pilate caved in to their demand. He turned him over to be crucified.

They took Jesus away.

The Crucifixion

17Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), 18where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle. 19Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read: JESUS THE NAZARENE THE KING OF THE JEWS.

20Many of the Jews read the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was right next to the city. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21The Jewish high priests objected. "Don't write," they said to Pilate, ""The King of the Jews.' Make it, "This man said, "I am the King of the Jews."'"

22Pilate said, "What I've written, I've written."

23When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, 24so they said to each other, "Let's not tear it up. Let's throw dice to see who gets it." This confirmed the Scripture that said, "They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat." (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!)

While the soldiers were looking after themselves, 25Jesus' mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. 26Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." 27Then to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.

28Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, "I'm thirsty."

29A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. 30After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done . . . complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.

31Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn't stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. 33When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn't break his legs. 34One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.

35The eyewitness to these things has presented an accurate report. He saw it himself and is telling the truth so that you, also, will believe.

36These things that happened confirmed the Scripture, "Not a bone in his body was broken," 37and the other Scripture that reads, "They will stare at the one they pierced." 38After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.

39Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40They took Jesus' body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. 41There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. 42So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Want to see it in another translation? Click here.


Written by Monte

April 14, 2006 at 12:38 am

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