Thursday, April 13, 2017

Daily Devotion for Lent 2017 - Day 38, Maundy Thursday

Today's Reading: John 19:16-30 (NRSV)

The crucifixion of Jesus is reported differently in all four gospels.  Verse 17 stood out to me where it states that Jesus carried his own cross.  There is no mention of Simon of Cyrene who is featured in the other three accounts.  It is important to know that the early church interpreted the crucifixion in light of Psalm 22 which allows us insight into the suffering of the faithful.

Verse 18 reflects the desolation of having people cast lots for your clothing.  The shame of public nudity was difficult for this culture and it added to the humiliation of crucifixion.

John fills out the cast of women present at the cross and gives us dialogue with them. John names Mary, the mother of Jesus as being present.  Matthew lists Mary, the mother of James and Joseph and Mark lists Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses. These are likely the same Mary.  This Mary is also likely the mother of Jesus.  When Matthew lists the brothers of Jesus, he begins with James and Joseph and when Mark lists them, he begins with James and Joses.  

We know that James, the brother of Jesus, becomes the head of the Jerusalem church. Could he be the beloved disciple who remains unnamed?  It does add credence to the verse, "Here is your son" because if he was the next oldest, the responsibility for care would go to him.  It is speculation but it is interesting.

Mourning loss is difficult.  It is
somewhat less difficult when shared with others.
As Jesus passes on responsibility for the care of his mother to the beloved disciple, how agonizing would this have been for Mary?  No one wants to outlive their children - this would be a special suffering that she would have to endure and as we read the conversation, you can imagine her anguish.

We know that when we are in the midst of grief, it may be that we can't even begin to think about resurrection.  For those times, it may be that we need to dwell in the grief for a season.  These verses remind us that isolation is not helpful for us when we are grieving.  Family comes together and Jesus sees to it that his mother is cared for.

The prayer for the day comes from the United Methodist Book of Worship for an untimely or tragic death:

Jesus our Friend, you wept at the grave of Lazarus,
   you know all our sorrows.
Behold our tears and bind up the wounds of our hearts.
Through the mystery of pain,
    bring us into closer communion with you and with one another.
Raise us from death into life.
And grant, in your mercy, that with our loved one, who has passed within the veil,
   we may come to live with you and with all whom we love,
   in our Father's home.  Amen.

Photo by Shawn Harquail via  Used under the Creative Commons license.


  1. Thank you, pastor, for these Lenten devotions. They have been a blessing to Quanah and me. God bless you with peace and rest.

    1. I'm so glad they've been helpful! May these final days of Lent leading into Easter be a blessing to you as well!