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The prophet reminds us of the importance of obedience to God. The Psalm: 31:9—16 We commend our spirits to God. The Second Lesson: Paul describes Jesus’ obedience to God. The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke in the 23rd Chapter Glory to you, O Lord Luke 23:1-49 23:1 Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. 23:2 They began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king." 23:3 Then Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He answered, "You say so." 23:4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no basis for an accusation against this man." 23:5 But they were insistent and said, "He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place." 23:6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean.
2 23:7 And when he learned that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 23:8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. 23:9 He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. 23:10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 23:11 Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. 23:12 That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies. 23:13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 23:14 and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 23:15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 23:16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him." 23:18 Then they all shouted out together,
3 "Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!" 23:19 (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 23:20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 23:21 but they kept shouting, "Crucify, crucify him!" 23:22 A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him." 23:23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 23:24 So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 23:25 He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. 23:26 As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 23:27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 23:28 But Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me,
4 but weep for yourselves and for your children. 23:29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' 23:30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us'; and to the hills, 'Cover us.' 23:31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" 23:32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 23:33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 23:34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 23:35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" 23:36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 23:37 and saying, "If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!" 23:38 There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews."
5 23:39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" 23:40 But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 23:41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." 23:42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 23:43 He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise." 23:44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 23:45 while the sun's light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 23:46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." Having said this, he breathed his last. 23:47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, "Certainly this man was innocent." 23:48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 23:49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.
6 The Gospel of the Lord Praise to you, O Christ Blind Man’s Bluff Just the other day, for the third time, Jesus told his followers: “We are going up to Jerusalem. And there I, the Son of Man will be handed over, mocked, flogged, and killed. The disciples do not understand— Jesus’ words seem hidden from them, somehow. Today Jesus and his friends begin their walk toward Jerusalem. They stop in the city of Jericho. Jesus sees a blind man sitting by the road. The man begs Jesus to restore his sight. “Son of David have mercy on me,” he cries as Jesus passes by. Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus speaks, “Receive your sight, your faith has served you.” Immediately his sight is restored. The man leaps to his feet, and joins the crowd following Jesus. He follows the crowd as they walk south from Jericho toward Jerusalem. The new follower talks with the others, those who have come from Galilee with Jesus. He hears stories. Apparently he is not the first person to be healed by this wandering prophet. There was that boy possessed by an evil spirit, and the foreign woman whose daughter had a demon.
7 Everyone has a story to tell the new follower. One tells of the deaf man whose ears were opened. That reminds another of the blind man at Bethsaida, who, like the follower regained his sight. As the follower hears the stories and sees the devotion of Jesus’ friends, he can hardly contain his joy. He has found the Messiah, the one sent from God to bring healing and hope and salvation to the people. It is almost too much to believe. All in the same day, he sees the light of day for the first time in a long time, miracle enough, and now he has found the Savior of the world. Ten miles down the road from Jericho, the crowd comes to the village of Bethany, just two miles outside of Jerusalem. As the people fill the dusty streets of Bethany, they share water and food and rest in the shade. Now the follower hears even more of the story. It seems that this Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to free the people from oppression, the oppression of poverty, disease, and persecution. The follower is so excited. Here he is, no longer a blind beggar by the side of the road, but traveling with the one who will enter Jerusalem as a victorious King. This is the one who will bring liberty to the people, people like him, the poor, the ill, the oppressed. The mighty rulers will be thrown down from their thrones, and this new King will rule. Prosperity and peace will reign throughout the countryside. And he, the follower will be right there to see it happen.
The follower is eager for the crowd to gather and walk with Jesus the final two miles into Jerusalem, where Jesus will undoubtedly be crowned King by the people. Instead of leading the crowd out of Bethany, however, word spreads that Jesus has sent one of his disciples to the neighboring village to bring him a colt. “A colt!” the follower wonders. “Why on earth would the new ruler of the universe send for a colt?” The follower watches as two of the men lead the colt into Bethany. He watches quietly as they place their cloaks on the colt’s back, and as Jesus climbs onto the animal. The follower is puzzled, but he decides that this colt must be just a temporary solution. Jesus must want to save his strength for the final triumphant entry. There will probably be a horse and chariot waiting outside the city walls of Jerusalem. There Jesus will climb down from the colt and ride into the city victorious, in style, and with honor. The entourage gathers at the edge of the village and heads out to walk the last two miles to Jerusalem. Now things are really getting exciting. The people are singing and shouting: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” They spread their cloaks in front of the colt carrying Jesus. “He rides his donkey down the street. The children run along. Their palm leaves hush his donkey’s feet. “Hosanna” is their song.”
9 By this time, the follower is very confused. This is not how it was supposed to be. Who ever heard of a victorious new ruler riding into the city on a humble donkey? This cannot be right. Don’t these people know who Jesus is? As the frenzy grows around him, as people shout and sing praise, the follower grows quiet. He may be just a few hours removed from being a blind beggar sitting by the road, but he knows some things about Kings and Roman rulers and power. There is something wrong with this picture. Jesus, riding on the donkey, leads the crowd to the steps of the temple. Among cheers and singing, Jesus climbs the steps, as he turns back toward the crowd, overlooking the city, the follower sees that Jesus is weeping. “Why?” the follower wonders. This is no time for tears; it is a time of celebration and joy. “Now,” thinks the follower, “Now is the time. Jesus will make a great speech from the steps. The people will dethrone the Roman emperor. His henchmen who rule the temple will flee. Jesus will be crowned ruler of all Judea.” His excitement grows again, as he watches Jesus enter the temple. He rushes forward so as not to miss a single detail. Most of the crowd stays in the street,
10 singing and dancing. But the follower makes his way through the people and slips in through the temple doors. There is Jesus with some of his friends. The follower waits for the proclamation, the coronation, the celebration. He watches in amazement as Jesus enters the temple and furiously drives out the merchants, scattering money and animals and people. “Yes!” the follower says to himself, “Now he will claim the throne!” Then, as the confusion and dust settle, Jesus . . . sits down . . . and begins teaching the crowd. There is no coronation, no celebration. This Jesus, it seems, is only a rabbi, a mere teacher, not a king after all. Turning away from the temple, the follower decides it is time to go home. He is very glad, of course, for his new found sight. He is grateful, but disappointed. There will be no new King crowned in Jerusalem today. He might as well go home. He consoles himself with the thought that as least now he will be able to work and make a living. He leaves the temple, makes his way through the crowd, and heads back down the road to Jericho. Days later, the follower finds a job. He is working in the wheat fields and saving a little money so that he can buy his own land. He’s dreaming of the future as he works, who knows, now that he can see, now that he can work, maybe there will be a house, a wife, some children.
11 He overhears the farmer talking to another worker. “Seems that prophet named Jesus, you know, the one who passed through town last week? Well, seems he was betrayed by the temple rulers and turned over to the Romans. They crucified him just outside Jerusalem.” The follower pauses for a moment to gaze at the wheat field gleaming in the sunlight, grateful for eyes that can see. He sighs and turns back to his task. He harvests the golden wheat that will become the bread of life.
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