Category Archives: 40 Days to the Cross

40 Days to the Cross: Week Six – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 42:11

Why are you in despair, O my soul?

And why are you disturbed within me?

Hope in God, because I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Reading: Mark 16:1–20

And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased fragrant spices so that they could go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they came to the tomb after the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away (for it was very large). And as they were going into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has been raised, he is not here! See the place where they laid him! But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, because trembling and amazement had seized them. And they said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

So they promptly reported all the things they had been commanded to those around Peter. And after these things, Jesus himself also sent out through them from the east even as far as the west the holy and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. Amen.

Now early on the first day of the week, after he rose, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had expelled seven demons. She went out and announced it to those who were with him while they were mourning and weeping. And those, when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, refused to believe it. And after these things, he appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking, while they were going out into the countryside. And these went and reported it to the others, and they did not believe them. And later, while they were reclining at table, he appeared to the eleven. And he reprimanded their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him after he had been raised. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved, but the one who refuses to believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will expel demons, they will speak in new tongues, they will pick up snakes. And if they drink any deadly poison it will never hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick and they will get well.”

Then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed everywhere, while the Lord was working together with them and confirming the message through the accompanying signs.

Reflection

He that abides in Christ the crucified one learns to know what it is to be crucified with Him—and in Him to be indeed dead unto sin. He that abides in Christ the risen and glorified one becomes in the same way partaker of His resurrection life, and of the glory with which He has now been crowned in heaven. Unspeakable are the blessings which flow to the soul from the union with Jesus in His glorified life.

This life is a life of perfect victory and rest. Before His death, the Son of God had to suffer and to struggle. He could be tempted and troubled by sin and its assaults. As the risen one, He has triumphed over sin. And, as the glorified one, His humanity has entered into participation of the glory of deity. The believer who abides in Him as such is led to see how the power of sin and the flesh are indeed destroyed. The consciousness of complete and everlasting deliverance becomes increasingly clear. The blessed rest and peace—the fruit of such a conviction that victory and deliverance are an accomplished fact—take possession of the life. Abiding in Jesus, in whom he has been raised and set in the heavenly places, he receives of that glorious life streaming from the head through every member of the body.

—Andrew Murray

Abide in Christ

Response

Christ has defeated death! If you abide in Christ, you are a partaker of His resurrection life. Spend time today—every day—praising Him for this new life. Jesus leaves His disciples with words of encouragement and empowerment. How do you see His commission playing out in your own life? What steps do you take to fulfill it?[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 Six – Friday

Confession: Psalm 86:1–5

Incline, O Yahweh, your ear and answer me,

because I am poor and needy.

Watch over my life because I am faithful.

You are my God; save your servant.

I am the one who trusts you.

Be gracious to me, O Lord,

because I call to you all day long.

Make glad the soul of your servant,

because I desire you, O Lord.

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,

and abundant in loyal love for all who call to you.

Reading: Mark 15:42–47

And when it was already evening, since it was the day of preparation (that is, the day before the Sabbath), Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the council who was also himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came acting courageously and went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate was surprised that he was already dead, and summoning the centurion, asked him whether he had died already. And when he learned of it from the centurion, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And after purchasing a linen cloth and taking him down, he wrapped him in the linen cloth and placed him in a tomb that had been cut from the rock. And he rolled a stone over the entrance of the tomb. Now Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was placed.

Reflection

Consider that gratitude and thankfulness is the best service—being the end of all other worship—and is God’s due. It is the end why God gives matter and means by which, and for which, we should be thankful. Nothing is more beneficial than thankfulness, nor anything more mischievous than unthankfulness. Consider also that hearty and constant thankfulness is a testimony of uprightness; it excellently becomes the upright to be thankful. It is all the homage, and all the service which God requires at your hands, for all the good that He bestows on you. It is pleasant and delightful. It is possible and easy through the grace of God’s Spirit.…

Thankfulness elevates and enlarges the soul, making it fruitful in good works beyond any other duty. For the thankful man is often consulting with himself what he shall render to the Lord for all His benefits to him. This spiritual praise and thanks to God by Christ is the beginning of heaven upon earth—being part of that communion and fellowship which saints and angels have with God above. It is that everlasting service, which endures forever.

—Henry Scudder

The Christian’s Daily Walk

Response

Is thankfulness your first response to Christ’s saving work? Spend time today—Good Friday—reading and reflecting on Mark 15. Then, turn to God in prayer.[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 Six – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 141:7–8

As when one plows and breaks up the earth,

so our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol.

But my eyes are toward you, O Yahweh, my Lord;

I have taken refuge in you. Do not lay bare my soul.

Reading: Mark 15:37–41

But Jesus uttered a loud cry and expired. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion who was standing opposite him saw that he expired like this, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” And there were also women observing from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses, and Salome, who used to follow him and serve him when he was in Galilee, and many other women who went up with him to Jerusalem.

Reflection

It was God’s love that sent Jesus Christ to die for sinful men, rise again from the dead, and ascend to the right hand of the Father in glory. And it will be God’s love that will send Him back again to earth when the fullness of time for that greatest event in all this earth’s history has come. Heaven and all its glories, Hell and all its horrors both have their origin in the love of God.

Yes, “God is love” is the key note of the Bible, the secret of history, the explanation of nature and the solution of eternity’s mysteries. This manifestation of God’s love is greatest of all. This manifestation of God’s love is stupendous. It seems past believing, but we know it is true.

—R. A. Torrey

The Gospel for Today

Response

Other Gospel accounts record how Jesus’ followers were scattered and afraid after His death. Are there times in your life when you have doubted God’s love and sovereignty?[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 Six – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 141:1–5

I call on you, O Yahweh; hasten to me.

Listen to my voice when I call to you.

Let my prayer be set before you as incense,

the lifting up of my palms as the evening offering.

Set a guard, O Yahweh, over my mouth;

keep watch over the door of my lips.

Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,

to practice wicked deeds with men who do iniquity;

and do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous one strike me in kindness,

and let him chasten me.

It is oil for my head; let not my head refuse.

For still my prayer is against their evil deeds.

Reading: Mark 15:33–36

And when the sixth hour came, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) And some of the bystanders, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he is summoning Elijah!” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone! Let us see if Elijah is coming to take him down.”

Reflection

Oh, the blessed shadow of Christ’s cross! All the flocks of the Lord lie down under it, and rest in peace. Millions of souls are delivered by it from the heat of vengeance, and myriads more shall find a covert within it from the wrath to come. Dear reader, are you within the shadow of the crucified? Does He stand between God and your soul to ward off the burning beams of justice, which your sins so richly deserve, by bearing them Himself? If you die in the fierce heat of divine wrath, you will have yourself alone to blame, for there is the shadow of the great propitiation, cool and refreshing, and it is at every moment accessible to simple faith. If you refuse to believe, and count yourself unworthy of salvation, your blood must lie at your own door.

Come, now, into the sure and blessed shelter, lest the sunstroke of despair should wither you. Once beneath the shadow of Jesus, the sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night; you shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “Yahweh is your protector; Yahweh is your shade at your right hand.” (Psa 121:5).

—Charles H. Spurgeon

Hindhead

Response

What does it mean for you to live your life within the shadow of the crucified Christ?[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 Six – Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 123:1–2

I lift up my eyes to you,

the one enthroned in the heavens.

Behold, as the eyes of servants

look to the hand of their master,

as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

so our eyes look to Yahweh our God,

until he is gracious to us.

Reading: Mark 15:21–32

And they forced a certain man who was passing by, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), who was coming from the country, to carry his cross. And they brought him to the place Golgotha (which is translated “Place of a Skull”). And they attempted to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him and divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots for them to see who should take what. Now it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. And those who passed by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! The one who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” In the same way also the chief priests, along with the scribes, were mocking him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he is not able to save himself! Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down now from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Even those who were crucified with him were reviling him.

Reflection

The Passion of Christ was very bitter for three reasons:

  1. The goodness of Him suffering is marked by three circumstances—First, He harmed no one: “He committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22 nrsv). Second, He most patiently sustained the injuries laid upon Him: “When he was abused, he did not return the abuse” (1 Pet 2:23 nrsv); “I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jer 11:19 nrsv). Third, He was doing good to all: “He went about doing good” (Acts 10:38 nrsv); “I have shown you many good works from the Father” (John 10:32 nrsv).
  2. The indignity of His death is marked by three things—First, He was judged, which was the most wicked of all: “But they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ ” (Luke 23:21 nrsv). Second, He suffered many indignities: “They gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head … and they spat on him” (Matt 27:27–30 nrsv). Third, because He was condemned to a most shameful death: “Let us condemn him to a shameful death” (Wisdom of Solomon 2:20 nrsv).
  3. The cruelty of those who crucified Him is seen from three things—First, He was very cruelly flagellated before death: “… after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified” (Matt 27:26 nrsv). Second, at the point of death He was given vinegar and hyssop to drink: “So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth” (John 19:29 nrsv); “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psa 69:21 nrsv). Third, He was wounded even after death: “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear” (John 19:34 nrsv).

—Thomas Aquinas

The Lord’s Work and Ours

Response

In His final moments on the cross, Jesus experiences total isolation and rejection. Spend time rereading and quietly reflecting on the details of this passage in Mark.[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 Six – Monday

Confession: Psalm 119:169–76

Let my cry come before you, O Yahweh;

give me understanding according to your word.

Let my plea come before you;

Deliver me according to your word.

Let my lips pour out praise,

because you teach me your statutes.

Let my tongue sing of your word,

because all your commands are right.

Let your hand be my help,

because I have chosen your precepts.

I long for your salvation, O Yahweh,

and your law is my delight.

Let my soul live that it may praise you,

and let your ordinances help me.

I have wandered like a lost sheep; seek your servant,

because I do not forget your commands.

Reading: Mark 15:6–20

Now at each feast he customarily released for them one prisoner whom they requested. And the one named Barabbas was imprisoned with the rebels who had committed murder in the rebellion. And the crowd came up and began to ask him to do as he customarily did for them. So Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the king of the Jews?” (For he realized that the chief priests had handed him over because of envy.) But the chief priests incited the crowd so that he would release for them Barabbas instead. So Pilate answered and said to them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one whom you call the king of the Jews?” And they shouted again, “Crucify him!” And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

So Pilate, because he wanted to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas. And after he had Jesus flogged, he handed him over so that he could be crucified. So the soldiers led him away into the palace (that is, the governor’s residence) and called together the whole cohort. And they put a purple cloak on him, and after weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on him. And they began to greet him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they repeatedly struck him on the head with a reed, and were spitting on him, and they knelt down and did obeisance to him. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him, and they led him out so that they could crucify him.

Reflection

Socrates, having expressed his idea of a perfect character—a truly virtuous man—ventured to predict the reception such a person (if such a one could ever be found) would meet with from the world. He thought that this man’s practice would be so dissimilar to others, his testimony against their wickedness so strong, and his endeavours to reform them so importunate and unwelcome that—instead of being universally admired—he would be disliked and hated. Humankind was too degenerate and too obstinate to bear either the example or the reproof of such a person, and would most likely revile and persecute him and put him to death as an enemy to their peace.

In this instance, the judgment of Socrates accords with the language of the Old Testament and the history of the New Testament. Messiah was this perfect character. As such Isaiah describes Him. Isaiah likewise foresaw how He would be treated, and foretold that He would be “numbered with transgressors.” He would be despised and rejected by the very people who were eye-witnesses of His upright and benevolent conduct. And thus, in fact, it proved. When Jesus was upon earth, true virtue and goodness were visibly displayed, and thereby the wickedness of humankind became conspicuous. For those He knew “preferred a robber and a murderer to him.” They preserved Barabbas, who had been justly doomed to die for enormous crimes, and in his stead they nailed Jesus to the cross.

—John Newton

The Works of John Newton

Response

Jesus’ perfection and sacrifice affects sinful people in one of two ways: It drives them away or it changes them. How has it changed you?[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 – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 119:25–32

My soul clings to the dust;

revive me according to your word.

I told of my ways, and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

Make me understand the way of your precepts,

that I may meditate on your wonderful things.

My soul weeps because of grief;

strengthen me according to your word.

Remove from me the deceptive way,

and graciously give me your law.

I have chosen the faithful way;

I have set your ordinances before me.

I cling to your testimonies;

O Yahweh, do not let me be put to shame.

I will run the way of your commands,

for you will enlarge my heart.

Reading: Mark 15:1–5

And as soon as morning came, after formulating a plan, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole Sanhedrin, tied up Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” And he answered him and said, “You say so.” And the chief priests began to accuse him of many things. So Pilate asked him again, saying, “Do you not answer anything? See how many charges they are bringing against you!” But Jesus did not answer anything further, so that Pilate was astonished.

Reflection

He is the First-begotten, after a transcendent manner. He is the creator of man. He is all in all—patriarch among the patriarchs; law in the law; the priest among priests; among kings, prime Leader; the prophet among the prophets; the angel among angels; the man among men; son in the Father; God in God; king to all eternity. He was sold with Joseph, and He guided Abraham. He was bound along with Isaac and wandered with Jacob. With Moses, He was Leader, and, respecting the people, legislator. He preached in the prophets, was incarnate of a virgin, and born in Bethlehem. He was received by John and baptized in Jordan. He was tempted in the desert, and proved to be the Lord.

He gathered the apostles together and preached the kingdom of heaven. He gave light to the blind and raised the dead. He was seen in the temple, but was not held by the people as worthy of credit. He was arrested by the priests, conducted before Herod, and condemned in the presence of Pilate. He manifested Himself in the body, was suspended upon a beam of wood, and raised from the dead. He was shown to the apostles, and—having been carried up to heaven—sits on the right hand of the Father, and has been glorified by Him as the resurrection of the dead. Moreover, He is the salvation of the lost, the light to those dwelling in darkness, and redemption to those who have been born. He is the shepherd of the saved and the bridegroom of the Church. He is the charioteer of the cherubim, the leader of the angelic host. He is God of God—Jesus Christ our Saviour.

—Irenaeus of Lyons

Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus

Response

Which of Jesus’ roles, listed by Irenaeus of Lyons above, is the most amazing to you? Why? Spend time praising Him in prayer and thanking Him for His roles and His work.[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 – Friday

Confession: Psalm 107:10–15

Those who sat in darkness and gloom,

prisoners of misery and iron—

because they rebelled against the words of God

and spurned the counsel of the Most High,

he therefore humbled their heart with trouble.

They stumbled and there was no helper.

Then they called to Yahweh for help in their trouble;

he saved them from their distresses.

He brought them out of darkness and gloom,

and tore off their bonds.

Let them give thanks to Yahweh for his loyal love

and his wonderful deeds for the children of humankind,

for he shatters the doors of bronze,

and cuts through the bars of iron.

Reading: Mark 14:66–72

And while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the female slaves of the high priest came up. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked intently at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean!” And he went out into the gateway, and a rooster crowed. And the female slave, when she saw him, began to say again to the bystanders, “This man is one of them!” But he denied it again. And after a little while, again the bystanders began to say to Peter, “You really are one of them, because you also are a Galilean, and your accent shows it!” And he began to curse and to swear with an oath, “I do not know this man whom you are talking about!” And immediately a rooster crowed for the second time. And Peter remembered the statement, how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times,” and throwing himself down, he began to weep.

Reflection

We recognize in the apostle two acts of will: the one, by which he willed not to die, a thing wholly free from blame; the other, by which he delighted to be a Christian, which was highly praiseworthy. In what then was the apostle blameworthy? Was it in that he preferred to lie rather than to die? Plainly this act of will was deserving of blame, for he willed to preserve the life of the body rather than that of the soul.…

He sinned, therefore, and not without the consent of his own will, which was feeble indeed and wretched, but certainly free. He did not sin by rejecting or hating Christ, but by loving himself too much. Nor did that sudden fear of death forcefully compel his will to this perverse self-love, but it proved it to exist. He was, without doubt, already such a man as this, but he knew it not—even though he heard Christ, from whom the truth could not be hidden, say: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times” (Matt 26:34 nrsv). That weakness of will—which was revealed, but not caused. It was by fear inspired. And it made known the extent to which he loved himself, and the extent to which he loved Christ. It was made known however, not to Christ, but to Peter.

—Bernard of Clairvaux

Concerning Grace and Free Will

Response

Do you love yourself—your comfort, your safety, your reputation—more than you love Christ? Are you defensive when challenged about these things, or are you repentant like Peter?[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 – 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.