Category Archives: 40 Days to the Cross

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 103:8–14

Yahweh is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger and abundant in loyal love.

He does not dispute continually,

nor keep his anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor repaid us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so his loyal love prevails over those who fear him.

As far as east is from west,

so he has removed far from us the guilt of our transgressions.

As a father pities his children,

so Yahweh pities those who fear him.

For he knows our frame.

He remembers that we are dust.

Reading: Mark 14:53–65

And they led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter followed him from a distance, right inside, into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the officers and warming himself by the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, and they did not find it. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony was not consistent. And some stood up and began to give false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple made by hands, and within three days I will build another not made by hands.’ ” And their testimony was not even consistent about this. And the high priest stood up in the midst of them and asked Jesus, saying, “Do you not reply anything? What are these people testifying against you?” But he was silent and did not reply anything. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him with their fists, and to say to him “Prophesy!” And the officers received him with slaps in the face.

Reflection

Admire the self-command of the disciples, who relate these things with exactness. Here, we clearly see their disposition as they truthfully relate the things that seem to be scornful. Disguising nothing, nor being ashamed, they rather account it a great glory (as indeed it was) that the Lord of the universe should endure to suffer such things for us. This shows both His unutterable tenderness and the inexcusable wickedness of those men.… For neither did Christ fail in gentleness, nor they of insolence and cruelty in what they did and said. These things the prophet Isaiah foretold, proclaiming beforehand and by one word intimating all this insolence. For “like as many were astonished at you,” he said, “so shall your form be held inglorious of men, and your glory of the sons of men” (Isa 52:14 [paraphrase]).

… Indeed, they inflicted the blows that are most insulting of all—buffeting, smiting with the palms of their hands, and adding to these blows the insult of spitting at Him. And with words teeming again with much derision they spoke, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that stuck you?” (Matt 26:68 nrsv) because the multitude called Him a prophet.

But another disciple said that they covered His face with His own garment, and did these things, as though they had in the midst of them some vile and worthless fellow.…

These things let us read continually; these things let us hear again; these things let us write in our minds, for these are our honors. In these things do I take a pride, not only in the thousands of dead He raised, but also in the sufferings which He endured. These things Paul puts forward in every way—the cross, the death, the sufferings, the revilings, the insults, the scoffs. And now he says, “Let us then go … bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13 nrsv); and now, “who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Heb 12:2 nrsv).

—John Chrysostom

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

What does it mean to you that Christ suffered scorn and reproach for your sake? Jesus was brought outside of Jerusalem to die—like a criminal. Paul says “we must go outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13). What does it mean to you—that no matter how much shame you might feel—you must follow Christ? How is this radically present in your life?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 103:1–5

Bless Yahweh, O my soul,

and all within me, bless his holy name.

Bless Yahweh, O my soul,

and do not forget all his benefits:

who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

who crowns you with loyal love and mercies,

who satisfies your life with good

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Reading: Mark 14:43–52

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas—one of the twelve—arrived, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the one who was betraying him had given them a sign, saying, “The one whom I kiss—he is the one. Arrest him and lead him away under guard!” And when he arrived, he came up to him immediately and said, “Rabbi,” and kissed him. So they laid hands on him and arrested him.

But a certain one of the bystanders, drawing his sword, struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as against a robber, to arrest me? Every day I was with you in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me! But this has happened in order that the scriptures would be fulfilled.”

And they all abandoned him and fled. And a certain young man was following him, clothed only in a linen cloth on his naked body. And they attempted to seize him, but he left behind the linen cloth and fled naked.

Reflection

We are told in the Gospel that Judas, one of Christ’s friends and associates at the table, betrayed Him. Let me show you how this is foretold in the Psalms: “[He] who ate of my bread has lifted the heel against me” (Psa 41:9 nrsv). And in another place: “They gathered together against me” (Psa 35:15 nrsv). And again: “… with words that were softer than oil, but in fact were drawn swords” (Psa 55:21 nrsv). What then is meant by his words were made soft? “At once [Judas] came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him” (Matt 26:49 nrsv). Thus through the soft blandishment of a kiss he implanted the execrable dart of betrayal.

—Rufinas of Aquileia

A Commentary on the Apostles Creed

Response

Jesus was abandoned and betrayed in His final hours. Do you think Judas’ actions were any less devastating, despite Jesus’ prediction of them? Spend time reflecting on Jesus’ abandonment and His willingness to be crucified.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 95:6–9

Come in, let us worship and bow down;

let us kneel before Yahweh, our maker.

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture

and the sheep of his hand.

Today if you will hear his voice:

“Do not harden your heart as at Meribah,

as in the day of Massah in the wilderness,

when your ancestors tried me.

They put me to the test,

even though they had seen my work.”

Reading: Mark 14:32–42

And they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took along Peter and James and John with him, and he began to be distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” And going forward a little he fell to the ground and began to pray that, if it were possible, the hour would pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you! Take away this cup from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Were you not able to stay awake one hour? Stay awake and pray that you will not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing. And again he came and found them sleeping, for they could not keep their eyes open, and they did not know what to reply to him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go! Behold, the one who is betraying me is approaching!”

Reflection

With eternal foresight, and with lifelong, fond intention, our glorious Saviour entered into His passion. “I come to do your will, O my God.” That will was that He—Jesus, the Son of Man, God of God, the Holy One—should pass through and feel, as if it were His own. He experienced the torment and the horror of all sin in expiation of the crimes of the whole world. “And He began to be exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.” O Jesus, we bow down our hearts before your sacred heart, which, in the garden, alone, cried out to heaven with the agony God laid upon it. “See if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.” We adore that dear, submissive heart, burning with love for God and man, but wrung with anguish, sweating drops of blood.

—Bernard of Clairvaux

Saint Bernard on the Love of God

Response

Christ remained obedient to the Father in all things, even leading up to His death. Write a prayer of thanks for Christ’s obedient sacrifice in the space below.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Monday

Confession: Psalm 69:5

O God, you yourself know my foolishness,

and my guilty deeds are not hidden from you.

Reading: Mark 14:22–31

And while they were eating, he took bread and, after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them and said, “Take it, this is my body.” And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you that I will never drink of the fruit of the vine any longer until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” And after they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written,

‘I will strike the shepherd

and the sheep will be scattered.’

But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” But Peter said to him, “Even if they all fall away, certainly I will not!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that today—this night—before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times!” But he kept saying emphatically, “If it is necessary for me to die with you, I will never deny you!” And they all were saying the same thing also.

Reflection

Behold this mystery, then, thoughtfully before God. See how carefully, faithfully, and devoutly our Lord does every action … And then, as a memorial of His love, He adds, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 nrsv). This is that memorial which, when the grateful soul receives by eating or by spiritual meditation ought to be inflamed and inebriated with love.… For nothing could He leave for us dearer, sweeter, and more profitable than Himself. For He who comes to us in the sacrament is the same who was wonderfully conceived and born of the virgin. He endured death for you, rose again, ascended gloriously, and sits at the right hand of the Father. He it is who created heaven, and earth, and all things, and who rules and guides them. On Him depends your salvation. It is in His power and will to give or not to give the glory of paradise. He it is who is offered for you and is given to you. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

—Saint Bonaventure

The Life of Christ

Response

Take a moment to think about the greatness of the sacrifice Christ made for you. He has died, defeated death, and in His resurrection He has brought you new life. Whatever your circumstances are, are you filled with the hope of His resurrection?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Four – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 62:1–2

Only for God my soul waits in silence.

From him is my salvation.

Only he is my rock and my salvation,

my high stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Reading: Mark 14:12–21

And on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare, so that you can eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” ’ And he will show you a large upstairs room furnished and ready, and prepare for us there.” And the disciples went out and came into the city and found everything just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

And when it was evening, he arrived with the twelve. And while they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, that one of you who is eating with me will betray me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one by one, “Surely not I?” But he said to them, “It is one of the twelve—the one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man is going just as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if that man had not been born.”

Reflection

Ask Him why He chose Judas, a traitor? Why He entrusted to him the bag when He knew that he was a thief? Shall I tell you the reason? God judges the present, not the future. He does not make use of His foreknowledge to condemn a man though He knows that he will hereafter displease Him; but such is His goodness and unspeakable mercy that He chooses a man who, He perceives, will meanwhile be good, and who, He knows, will turn out badly, thus giving him the opportunity of being converted and of repenting.

This is the apostle’s meaning when he says, “Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds” (Rom 2:4–6 nrsv).

—Jerome

Against the Pelagians

Response

Spend time reflecting on God’s extravagant kindness to you. Write down the ways He has been kind—especially through the work of Jesus. Pray that you would be filled with thankfulness to Him.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.