Good morning friends, today is the final day in the gospel of Matthew. In addition the death and resurrection of Jesus, it also includes the grief of Judas and the anger of the crowds. It's a powerful dichotomy between the reactions to Jesus death and I think thats something interesting I haven't considered enough before. While I'm confident you've heard the Easter message dozens of times before in your life, there is something different about reading it after all the other stuff we've read up until now. Least I felt that way. How will you respond?
** Trigger Warning: Suicide - if this is something that has effected your life in a way that causes returning trauma and pain I recommended skipping past the first half of the first chapter **
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
Are you sympathetic to Judas?
Have you felt like God had abandoned you? What helped you through that? How can you share that story with others?
Jesus death is the peoples wrath against God whereas the psalm calls for God's wrath against the people. What is your reaction to this dualism?
- My Thoughts -
I have so many thoughts but I vow to keep these short because there is also a Bible Project video to show.
The theologian Peter Rollins shared a profound thought about Judas that has always stayed with me. Judas is described in the non canonical gospel named after himself as "the best friend of Jesus." Peter Rollins suggests that Judas, who grew up hearing the stories of Isaac and Ishmael, thought he was hearing the voice of God (and not the devil) and led the soldiers to Jesus for an ambush. The evidence of the disciples carrying swords with them suggests that some type of defense was being prepared for. When Jesus was arrested and did not fight back Judas has distraught with grief at his mistake and took his own life. Peter Rollins suggests that the story of Judas is not a story of a traitor, but miscommunication and crippling regret. What are your thoughts to this?
The release of Barabbas and Jesus. Okay, this story is so dumb if you really think about it. No evidence suggests that a prisoner would be released on passover and even if that were a real tradition I doubt they would release a dangerous murder back into the streets. maybe a petty criminal but a murderer? I'm less inclined to believe that. And EVEN IF they would go that far and do that why in the world would Rome be the one to release the prisoner? Rome didn't care about jewish traditions or its people. Rome would have been happy to kill both of them and laugh about it. The theory I learned about this story is that there was no Barabbas - it was only Jesus. If you break down the name Barabbas into bar-abba it translates to son of (bar) God (abba). The theory that I stand by is that Rome was jeering about Jesus saying should we release Jesus the Nazarene or Jesus the son of God? The people in outrage shouted for the son of God to be released. But since it was the same person, no one was released, hence proving to the crowd that he was not the son of God.
Finally, the great commission is one of the greatest lines of scripture in all of the Bible and such a powerful scene. How does it speak to you?
Lastly, I invite you to check out the Bible Project's video on what it means to be a witness to God's love and to live out the great commission.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is hymn 249 in our United Methodist Hymnal - There's a Song in the Air. Maybe you're usually a person that meditates on the hymn, try to hum today. If you hum, try to sing, and if you sing, try to meditate. Changing our prayers and trying something different is scary but it's allows us to center ourselves with God in different ways and grow in confidence in our ability to pray.
1. There's a song in the air! There's a star in the sky! There's a mother's deep prayer and a baby's low cry! And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
2. There's a tumult of joy o'er the wonderful birth, for the virgin's sweet boy is the Lord of the earth. Ay! the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing, for the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!
3. In the light of that star lie the ages impearled; and that song from afar has swept over the world. Every hearth is aflame, and the beautiful sing in the homes of the nations that Jesus is King!
4. We rejoice in the light, and we echo the song that comes down through the night from the heavenly throng. Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring, and we greet in his cradle our Savior and King!